My dear friend Quirri and I have had a wonderful dawn to dusk tour, visiting the mouth of Rio Velez, Maro-Cerro Gordo Cliffs and La Caleta Harbour.
Have a look at more pictures and the complete list of 64 species observed below!
The Rio Velez is the main river of La Axarquia, the easternmost district of Malaga province. The last section of the river flows amongst an old lush native poplar river forest from the bridge over the old N340 road downstream.
We parked the car near the bridge at dawn and started a very entertaining walk towards the beach in which lots of birds of many different species showed up: Cattle Egrets coming out their roost, Robin, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Crag Martins (that roost in the area in big numbers), Cetti’s Warbler (this is one of the best places I know for visual contact with them!), White Wagtail, Moorhen, Blackbird, Monk Parakeet, Goldfinch, Grey Heron, Siskin, Black Redstart, Great Tit, Common Waxbill, Skylark in the farms near the river, Citting Cisticola and Coot.
Once at the beach, many more seabirds and other lagoon species came into the list: Lesser Black-backed, Yellow-legged Gulls and Black-headed Gulls, Sanderling, Balearic Shearwater, Cormorant, Gannet, Dunlin, Purple Swamphen, Teal, Mediterranean Gull, a lonely Barn Swallow (the first surprise of the day!), Great Skua, Black-necked Grebe, Mallard, House Sparrow, Kingfisher, Serin, Greenfinch, Stonechat and Meadow Pipit.
The walk back to the car gave some more new species like, Snipe, Grey Wagtail, Spotless Starling, Bluethroat, Penduline Tit, Hoopoe, Kestrel, Collared Dove, Little Egret, Chaffinch and a fond of singing Wryneck that we could not spot among the leaves of a big poplar.
The day was very cloudy and there even were a few showers that made it difficult for me to reflect so much beauty in my pictures.
Tip: an early start here is very highly recommended as many other “birdwatchers” meet in this area from mid day (or earlier) on.
Our next stop was at Maro-Cerro Gordo Cliffs. It is the mating season of the Spanish Ibex and we could spot one of those majestic old males very close to the road. But there were forest and rock birds as well like Wren, Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler, Crested, Great, Coat and Long-tailed Tits, Rock Bunting, Thekla Lark, Chiffchaff, another lonely Crane flying over the cliffs to the west (the second surprise of the day!), Blue Rock Thrush and also Cormorant, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern and even an Audouin’s Gull on the rocks at the beach. We were just getting into the car to leave the area when a Peregrine Falcon flew into the sea from the cliff.
After lunch, our plan was watching the fishing boats come back to La Caleta Harbour as they are followed by seagulls and also Gannets and shearwaters. The little beach at the entrance of the harbour is a fantastic place for very close views of most of the seagull species in the region as well as little sea waders and even egrets and kingfishers.
Quirri says that there are fewer juvenile Gannets this year (maybe breeding conditions have not been optimal in the north) and the bulk of the Balearic Shearwaters has not arrived yet though we still could spot some of them from the breakwater.
The sunset was stunning and thousands of Mediterranean Gulls arrived from inland, where they go eating olives, to roost on the water in huge flocks. It was a beautiful end for a fantastic birding day with Quirri.
Complete list of birds observed:
|1||Audouin's Gull||Ichtyaetus audouinii|
|2||Balearic Shearwater||Puffinus mauretanicus|
|3||Barn Swallow||Hirundo rustica|
|4||Black Redstart||Phoenicurus ochruros|
|7||Black-headed Gull||Chroicocephalus ridibundus|
|8||Black-necked Grebe||Podiceps nigricollis|
|9||Blue Rock Thrush||Monticola solitarius|
|11||Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis|
|12||Cetti’s Warbler||Cettia cetti|
|15||Coal Tit||Periparus ater|
|16||Collared Dove||Streptopelia decaocto|
|17||Common Waxbill||Estrilda astrid|
|20||Crag Martin||Ptyonoprogne rupestris|
|22||Crested Tit||Lophophanes cristatus|
|27||Great Skua||Stercorarius skua|
|28||Great Tit||Parus major|
|30||Grey Heron||Ardea cinerea|
|31||Grey Wagtail||Motacilla cinerea|
|33||House Sparrow||Passer domesticus|
|36||Lesser Black-backed Gull||Larus fuscus|
|37||Little Egret||Egretta garzetta|
|38||Long-tailed Tit||Aegithalos caudatus|
|40||Meadow Pipit||Anthus pratensis|
|41||Mediterranean Gull||Ichthyaetus melanocephalus|
|42||Monk Parakeet||Myiopsitta monachus|
|44||Penduline Tit||Remiz pendulinus|
|45||Peregrine Falcon||Falco peregrinus|
|46||Purple Swamphen||Porphyrio porphyrio|
|48||Rck Bunting||Emberiza cia|
|50||Sandwich Tern||Thalasseus sandvicensis|
|51||Sardinian Warbler||Sylvia melanocephala|
|56||Spotless Starling||Sturnus unicolor|
|59||Thekla Lark||Galerida theklae|
|60||White Wagtail||Motacilla alba|
|63||Yellow-legged Gull||Larus michahelis|
|64||Zitting Cisticola||Cisticola juncidis|
- Sunrise from Rio Velez Sunrise from Rio Velez
- Fishing boat Fishing boat
- The Mouth of the Rio Velez The Mouth of the Rio Velez
- Sanderling (Calidris alba) Sanderling (Calidris alba)
- Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
- Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)
- Mediterranean Gull (Ichtyaetus melanocephalus) Mediterranean Gull (Ichtyaetus melanocephalus)
- Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
- Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus) Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus)
- River forest with poplars River forest with poplars
- Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
- Maro Cliffs (Nerja at the bottom) Maro Cliffs (Nerja at the bottom)
- Spanish Ibex (Capra pyrenaica) Spanish Ibex (Capra pyrenaica)
- Cerro Gordo Path Cerro Gordo Path
- Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
- Crane (Grus grus) Crane (Grus grus)
- Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae) Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae)
- Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus) Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus)
- Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
- Lesser Black-backed and Yellog-legged Gulls Lesser Black-backed and Yellog-legged Gulls
- Fishing boat approaching La Caleta Fishing boat approaching La Caleta
- Mediterranean Gulls roost Mediterranean Gulls roost
- Setting sail for a long working night Setting sail for a long working night
- Sunset at Torre del Mar Sunset at Torre del Mar