|White-headed Duck at Rio Guadalhorce|
It was the final day, and with all the targets in the bag we decided to look for Lynx in the morning, before slowly making our way to our overnight destination of Malaga, stopping at a couple of sites en-route. We chose the viewpoint we’d spent great time at yesterday, and the morning sounds of Golden Orioles, Azure-winged Magpies, Crested Tits, Hoopoes and Bee-eaters had to, sadly, be left behind at around 10:30. Andujar is fantastic – I aim to be back one day, in order to give dedicated time to trying to see the Iberian Lynx.
We chose to stop at the historic city of Cordoba on the way down. A large heronry is described as being here, in between two bridges that run over the Rio Guadalquivir in the middle of the city, but there was little to be found. I’m not sure if the dry winter had moved stuff about, but only 1 Night Heron and a handful of Cattle and Little Egrets were seen. A Whiskered Tern was a surprise. Having explored the stunning mosque, we fed up on tapas and got back in the car, continuing our journey south.
|Another drake White-headed Duck|
Laguna del Rincón was the next destination. It’s a small lagoon, seemingly miles from anywhere, and we opted to visit here over the more renowned Laguna de Zóñar. Having driven down a bumpy track we found ourselves in a smart car park, with a visitor centre adjacent to it. Eerily though, there was literally nobody around. Indeed, in the hour or so we were there we saw not one human, but we did see plenty of birds. A Marsh Harrier flew low overhead as Great Reed, Reed, Cetti’s and Melodious Warblers sang from the reedy fringes. A singing Western Olivaceous Warbler was a nice surprise, typically doing so from a tamarisk on the north side, and after we eventually found an opening it was clear plenty was on the water.
|A warning sign on the beach...|
5 White-headed Ducks were the stand out birds, with 4 males showing well in between dives. 2 summer-plumage Black-necked Grebes and a pair of Red-crested Pochards were also present, along with at least 1 Crested Coot. However, these birds were introduced here, and so not of wild origin. The heat was searing, and we got back in the car for our final leg towards Malaga, where the last birding of the trip would take place at the Rio Guadalhorce reserve, an estuarine wetland just 10 minutes from the airport.
As we crossed the bridge into the reserve a Gull-billed Tern flew down the river mouth, and once on the paths it was clear Zitting Cisticolas would be a constant presence. We walked to the first hide, and I glanced out, to my surprise, to no less than 9 White-headed Ducks. Not only were there so many, but they were very close in, and I was able to get some respectable images. The birds, of which 7 were males, were a joy to watch, with the Red-crested Pochards and Black-winged Stilts a mere sideshow. Having got my fill, we headed to the beach, where I was delighted to get some decent views of breeding Kentish Plovers. A Melodious Warbler in scrub was the last bird at this site, and we headed to our hotel very content with the days birding.
|...and that's why. Breeding Kentish Plovers|
It’s little surprise southern Spain is, arguably, the most popular birding destination in Europe. The variety of species, often good weather and myriad of habitats, explored and not, allows for all sorts of birding, from fulfilling self-finding to specific directions to targets. I will be back, and give this trip a 9/10. It loses 1 mark for not being longer.