On the first evening at the Costa Esuri Apartments near Ayamonte on the Spain/Portugal border we had a stroll around the golf course and noticed there were many small birds to be seen around the watered greens and fairways. I decided to venture out on the course again tomorrow in better light if possible.
Next day we all made our way to nearby Castro Marim over the Portuguese border. This is an area of wetland heath and marshes with a Reserve Visitor Centre. There was not too much water about after such a prolonged drought but those pools that were still wet did have some interesting waders, not least a Spotted Redshank. However I am more interested in small birds, passerines and songbirds are my main interest and I was delighted to capture some decent shots of one of my favourite species, the Dartford Warbler.
In my youth I had always hoped to see this little bird but never did. Its population in the UK declines quite drastically in severe winters, it almost disappeared in the 60s when I was looking. Fortunately with global warming winters have been very mild since then so the species is doing much better and now can be seen on heathlands or in Reserves across much of Southern Britain.
Yes, I know it's a lot of photos of one species, but I like it and was so pleased to get them. The Dartford Warbler.
In the afternoon we went back to the golf course and with permission from the course manager ventured out to look for some other small species. It didn't take long to pick up a flock of Common Waxbills flitting around between some bushes, they liked picking up dropped seeds from the path as you can see below.
Just a bit further along on the same path, a Bluethroat ventured out from the undergrowth, also looking for seeds or insects.
My practice of shooting first and asking questions later paid off with the next little brown job, I briefly saw movement in a bush & fired off a quick shot or two, it was identified later as a female Common Redstart, a good capture.
Northern Wheatears were abundant and I post this shot of one on a special kind of fence purely for the composition.
Hoopoes are always a good bet on a golf course, they like the watered fairways which are great for their soil-probing bills seeking out insect food. The Iberian Grey Shrike was a bonus as it was the first we had seen on this trip surprisingly.
Later we all ventured out with the course manager himself who arranged a golf buggy convoy for us, to one of the only ponds that still contained any water. Here we were treated to the spectacle of a good variety of wildfowl and waders. The star of the show was a Wigeon which is very rare in S. Spain. It was a bit too late in the evening for a worthwhile photo of it but I couldn't resist this Purple Swamphen that put on a good show right in front of all of us....
...and a Black Winged Kite that flew overhead and commenced hovering over a nearby fairway, giving us all a fine display and rounding off another good day.
Next morning we made a very early start to get to Malaga Airport in time for our flight to London on family business. It had been a good trip and I believe the group's species total was 117, which is not bad for late October and I am sure Elena and I had seen nearly all of them.