Godalming area birds

Godalming area birds

Thursday, 11 May 2017

9th-10th May

With time currently on my hands, I took advantage of some very cheap return flights to Malaga (£27 with Easyjet), primarily to take in the raptor migration of the Straits of Gibraltar, but also to enjoy the sun of the Costa del Sol with my girlfriend. With conditions and wind direction ideal (indeed, possibly perfect), some big tallies were notched up on both (brief) migration sessions, with the Wednesday particularly bonkers. The highlight was an extremely lucky encounter with a 2nd or 3rd-year Rüppell's Vulture, migrating with Griffons, which represented a very welcome Western Palearctic tick for me. The number and views of Honey-buzzards was both enjoyable and useful ahead of the summer in England.
Rüppell's Vulture over Punta Secreta

One of the other bird related activities involved a morning visit to Bolonia, where White-rumped Swift was dipped. This site is no longer considered reliable (an area east of Malaga is the new go-to place), and it was perhaps a bit early in the season. Before the airport, we made a visit to Laguna de Feunte de Piedra, home to the second biggest Greater Flamingo colony in the WP (second only to the Camargue). Here, in windy conditions, the distant flocks of up to 20,000 birds contained my target, and it took a good hour before I finally picked out two Lesser Flamingos, the second lifer of the trip. These birds are thought to be expanding north from sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. there's a small population in Mauritania), and whilst the odd collection escapee has been found in the colony, the consensus is that, like the aforementioned Vulture, this is another species moving up.

On that note, the surprise of the trip was a Laughing Dove over the C341 near Huertas y Montes. I must confess to being ignorant to their presence here - apparently a small population exists, and yet again seems to be a case of a species moving north. I enjoyed several of these delightful birds in Morocco earlier in the year, and they were a pleasing addition to a final trip list of 76, which also contained decent bits like Western Olivaceous Warbler, Gull-billed Tern and Iberian Green Woodpecker. Highlights from the 3 main birding sessions are as follows:

9th

14:00-16:00

Gibraltar (Upper Rock): 19 Honey-buzzards, 33 Black Kites, 14 Booted Eagles, 17 Griffon Vultures, 1 Egyptian Vulture, 2 Lesser Kestrels, 1 Peregrine, 100+ Yellow-legged Gulls and 5 Sardinian Warblers.
Greater Flamingos at Laguna de Fuente de Piedra

10th

11:10-12:15

Punta Secreta: 1 Rüppell's Vulture (11:28, with 6 Griffons), 41 Honey-buzzards, 44 Black Kites, 24 Booted Eagles, 6 Short-toed Eagles, 68 Griffon Vultures, 1 Egyptian Vulture, 1 Bee-eater, 1 White Stork, 10 Pallid Swifts, 3 Serins and 10 Yellow-legged Gulls.

15:00-18:00

Lagune de Fuente de Piedra: 2 Lesser Flamingos, (approximately) 20,000 Greater Flamingos, 30+ Gull-billed Terns, 2+ Western Olivaceous Warblers, 4 Zitting Cisticolas, 1 Booted Eagle, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Montagu's Harrier, 8 Lesser Kestrels, 10 Avocets, 20 Black-winged Stilts, 1 Sanderling, 10 Little Stints, 2 Wood Sandpipiers, 2 Kentish Plovers, 2 Crested Larks, 15 Ringed Plovers & 1 Garganey.