No time for birding lately with family visitors occupying my time. Daughter Louise, Husband Wade & 2 yr. old Grandson Arlo staying, plus Elena's Grandaughter Maria who is 7, so all-in-all a pretty busy time. However we did take Maria up to the Area Recreativa El Alcazar in the mountains above Alcaucin so I took my camera along. It was a beautiful sunny but cold day and there were lots of small birds that were glad of the breadcrumbs Elena spread on the picnic tables, not least this superb little Crested Tit.
Crested Tits are one of my favourites, Tiny, constantly active and usually high up in the canopy they are very difficult to photograph so I was pleased to have this opportunity, even though it was lured by breadcrumbs. The light was pretty good and we can see here the distinctive raised crest and a nice red iris on this very attractive little woodland bird.
Nuthatches were the most numerous, I don't think I have seen so many in one place before, something to do with the exceptionally cold spell perhaps but they were very eager for the chance of a free meal.
Quite a photogenic bird Nuthatches are sometimes easy to capture as they pause on the way up or down a treetrunk. On this occasion I was also able to get a nice close-up of one on the feeding table.
Others after the breadcrumbs were Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Chaffinch. A great Spotted Woodpecker was also seen.
Crossbills were numerous as usual up here, although they are not interested in the bird table there were plenty to be seen and heard in the surrounding trees.
The only other photo worth posting was not a bird but the local Fox, this guy is well known for being extremely tame, it will eat out of your hand which indeed is what happened when Maria offered it a fig. It accepted gladly.
Back home from Costa Rica and birding here in Spain is uninspiring, but I can't just cut the habit completely, cold turkey is too painful. So I went out looking for something, anything interesting at the local patches. Tried the Charca looking for Jack Snipe. There were Snipe & some said there were Jacks but I didn't see them. They all looked like Common Snipe to me but I did notice something odd about this bird in the two photos. If you look closely at the first shot you will see the bill is bent open from about halfway down! the next shot was taken within seconds but then the bill is perfectly straight. Odd?
I posted these on the ABS Facebook site and learned from member Ron Jackson that this phenomena is known as Rhynchonikensis - the ability to partly open bill when eg probing in mud, preventing ingestion of mud. Common to many waders. Well I didn't know that & still find it hard to understand how an apparently rigid bill can be bent from a point half-way along? weird.
Not much else to report from the Charca, saw a Kingfisher and a White Stork which has been hanging around for a while. I took a photo of a Teal just because I don't have any decent shots of this one, always good to make an improvement.
Following week we took a look at Fuente de Piedra with Bob Wright. Not much water in the Lagoon despite recent rains. No Cranes around but I did see a lovely Wryneck, and Elena and I spotted a Merlin flying low across the ground in front of one of the hides behind the Visitors Centre.
It was also nice to pick up a shot of a Song Thrush by the main Lagoon, we don't see many of these in Andalucia. Also I spotted the resident Little Owl watching me nervously from a tree, so took a quick photo & left him alone.
Bob, Elena and I decided to see the Old Year out with a trip to Cabo de Gata, looking primarily for the Trumpeter Finches that had always eluded me before. This time we were lucky. No sooner had we parked at the Lighthouse when a handsome rose-tinted male Trumpeter flew straight towards us and landed so close that I couldn't get a focus with my long lens. Incredible.
I actually did get a couple of shots as it moved away but I needn't have worried, next day we returned to find the entire grassy slope near the lighthouse alive with Trumpeter Finches, feeding on the yellow flowering plants that proliferate here.
As we watched the Finches Elena spotted a Wild Boar moving uphill alongside a distant wall, a rather unusual sight in broad daylight and worthy of note here.
We did pick up about 47 species on the two day trip, including Slender-billed Gull
and a few rather nice Pintail at Roquetas de Mar
We dipped on the Dotterels that we know are in the stony beach area east of Retamar but I did get good close-up views of a departing Stone Curlew
I will post a couple of nice shots of some very common birds, a Stonechat and a Black Redstart. Just because I like the photos.
and a decent image of one of the numerous Iberian Grey Shrikes that are quite common around here.
Retired seafarer living in Frigiliana, a white village in Malaga Province in southern Spain. Married to Elena. Keen bird and wildlife watchers.
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