On Spain’s Southern coasts

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We headed south towards Malaga which was to become the start of a very wet week away. However we did get a good day (05/11/12) in at Parque Natural del Río Guadalhorce which is alongside not only a motor way but not that far from Malaga Airport. Leave the AP 7 at Km 232 which is on the south side of the bridge spanning the river. On entering the urbanisation turn left, but beware, as there are one way streets which make it not that straightforward. However there is ample parking by the school where there is a ramp that leads to the footbridge to cross this branch of the river. The site actually lies between the two arms of the river. The footbridge is only about 400 metres from the road bridge and once on the embankment both can be clearly seen. Pathways are good which connect the five hides. I know that we could have picked a much better time for the water levels were very high, it was windy with both cloud and some sun. On a better day we would have seen more than we did. The highlights were White headed Duck, Osprey, Marsh Harrier with Common Sandpipers being the only waders. This was our second visit here and it is certainly worth a visit of two to three hours at least. It is advisable to take some refreshment with you.

After a very wet six days we were in Villacana Resort which is within metres of Río Guadalmansa near to Estepona. We decided to head past Tarifa and visit the rice fields and the waterways of Río Almodóvar. This is easily located by taking the road towards Cadiz. On the left there is a junction which leads to Zahara de Los Atunes. Immediately opposite there is a camino that will lead you directly into this area. Your birding starts as soon as you turn in. There were White Storks in the hundreds in scattered groups and around midday there were at least one hundred riding the thermals. We had picked the right day for there was little wind and the temperature was in the mid-twenties. We saw Marsh Harriers, but the star raptor was a Black winged Kite that spent most of the day perched. While Michelle was photographing it a Kingfisher flew. Among the Storks there was an abundance ofCattle Egrets, Grey Heron with some Little Egrets. Add to this about 200 Common Cranes and about the same number of Lapwing. We soon saw four Green Sandpipers on the mud at the edge of the river and we watched these for some time. We expected to see more waders and some wildfowl but we were disappointed except for a good quantity of Mallards. We had some great views and this is one area that is well worth a visit again. We had fleeting views of what we now know were Kestrels although we had seen Lesser Kestrels before. Upon more examination of some of the photos taken we had a Black Kite flying and perched. We were aware that a blue object appeared to be attached to a wing of the Black winged Kite. It was showing a small light/bright blue tag on its right wing. We think that it could read possibly ‘a zero/o and the number 3’.For me this is a must visit site, easy on the feet for you can drive all of it.

Our second week was near the coast with Sierra Bermeja in the background from which the numerous streams and rivers flow. Access to the banks of Guadalmansa is very easy as there is a road which runs down to the beach and one that runs inland. I heard Cetti’s Warblers calling, and Blackcap and Chiffchaffs were feeding. Waterfowl – apart from Mallards – were none existence and so were waders. The description of this site in Butler’s book is correct and there is a very good view of the lagoon from the seaward end with sadly not a bird in view. I had great views of a hunting male Kestrel and four Turnstones on the beach but that was it. I expect that during the migration months and summer time would produce many more varieties. I have not listed all the birds that we saw and information for the sites are contained in J R Butler’s Second Edition of Birdwatching in Spain’s Southern Coast.