Little Egret

Another day at Magor Marsh waiting for Mr Otter but no luck. I have been there six times now and seen an Otter on two occasions. That sounds quite good but another way of looking at it is that I have spent about 20 hours there and the Otter has been in view for about 30 seconds.

There are normally Little Egrets on the far side of the lake. This one was lit up nicely by the evening light.


Two wet days in Wales.

Two wet days in Wales and I made a new friend!

Having spotted an Otter on Thursday I was encouraged so spent Saturday afternoon and most of today, Sunday at the same place hoping for some better views. No luck, it did show for literally two seconds on Saturday. Just surfaced and dived, never to be seen again.

It rained most of the time so I took a couple of rainy shots.

There is not a lot of bird life at this reserve, Mallards and Teal, mostly. I did see some Little Egrets on my first visit but none this weekend. Also on that occasion a Kingfisher did a quick fly past. I did spot one Gadwall, and in the bushes behind the hide I snapped this Goldcrest, I had hoped it might be a Fire crest as its crest was quite Fiery but after cropping the photo to get a close look I could see there was no eye stripe, so it is just a Goldcrest….still nice though.

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There are quite a few Little Grebes and they are quite photogenic so I took a few shots of them when they came close to the hide.

I also had the company of a Rat, not shy at all. Despite being a rat he/she also looked a bit ratty as in disheveled and tatty sort of way.  I took sympathy and gave it a few bits of my lunch… Nan bread with bacon filling,   it seemed fairly happy with it and came quite close, about a foot away at which point I did shuffle my feet noisily to warn it off.  It was all said and done a rat.

More birds along the Rio Guadalquivir

Apart from a Purple Gallinule which I was delighted to see, there was lots of other interesting stuff.

This is a marshland area, but its salt marsh as the river is tidal, big ships come up all the way to Seville.

There are tidal lagoons, this one had lots of Black-winged Stilts and a few Spoonbills. There is a bird hide but I was not sure how to get to it…swim maybe.

Plenty of small brown jobs, commonest ones were Crested Larks, Fan-tailed Warblers, Stonechats, Cetti’s warblers and Chiffchafs…. always Chiffchafs.

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Not bad for raptors, I saw 4 species which were Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. I am never sure if it is a Kestrel or Lesser Kestrel, both are found in this area.

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An interesting little bird is the Waxbill, a pair turned up whilst I was waiting for a good view of the Purple Gallinule…. you have seen my Purple Gallinule haven’t you?  I am sure you would like to!

Also a rabbit made an appearance.

And there were several Moorish Geckos on an old building enjoying the sun…  Moorish like chocolate truffles or Turkish Delight?…. no North African.

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Spotted this one on the East bank of the river Guadalquivir.

This is a major river which divides Andalucia with the province of Huelva on one bank and Cadiz on the other. Where we are staying in Sanlucar de Barrameda is on the east bank and at the estuary, on the opposite bank is the famous Coto Donana reserve. You can cross over by ferry but access is highly restricted, no roads and really you can only walk or cycle along the beach.

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However on our side there are extensive marshes and some reasonable roads so most of the bird life that you get in Donana also occurs here. Including this rather stunning bird.

At first I only heard it, there were some Coots about and also a Moorhen but it was too noisy for them and also made lots of low sonorous almost snoring noises with the odd more coot like cluck.

It was deep in the reeds, so I waited and watched, not knowing what to expect, then I saw some movement and got a smidgen of a view,   Purple, bright purple so then I knew and I waited and eventually got a couple of shots where you could see its head with the red eye and red bill.

I did get a couple of shots of its rear end which is also quite distinctive and diagnostic but there was no doubt about what it was. Unfortunately it stayed put, deep in cover so that was the best I got. Eventually it started to get dark so it was time to give up.

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However whilst watching the Gallinule also called a Swamp Hen I was entertained by a Sparrowhawk flying by,  a pair of Cetti’s warblers, a pair of Waxbills ( introduced originally to Portugal and now spreading),  a  Marsh Harrier, and lots of Chiffchafs, also a rabbit briefly appeared and a horse walked past on the other bank.


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Sanlucar waders

There are some rocky areas a little walk along from where we are staying and at low tide they are exposed and a small selection of waders turn up.  So today I sat on one of the rocks for  a couple of hours and photographed what decided I was not too great a  threat and thus approached a bit closer.

First was a Bar-tailed Godwit, probing in the sand for a juicy worm. You can see the bars on it tail.

The commonest birds there are Turnstones and I did get a shot of one turning a stone.

Second commonest are Sanderlings, delightful little birds, always on the move.

There were some Plovers, mostly Kentish but also some Little Ringed Plovers.

I also saw in the distance, Little Egret, Cormorant, Yellow Legged Gull, Dunlin and probably a Whimbrel but it might have been a Curlew. .

And this is the local beach, the rocky bit is behind me…. Not many people about, just the occasional dog walker or couple taking a stroll.  No sunbathers this year!


Sanlucar de Barrameda birds

Poor weather this year in Andalucia so I have been taking a few bird photos locally near our flat, even from the terrace.  There are potentially several different Hirudines in this area at this time. There are some that even pop over from N Africa, though with the weather the way it is I can’t think why.

I snapped away and got lots of blanks but did get a few which have allowed me to identify this one as a Crag Martin…. the clincher is the ‘windows’ in the tail feathers which only show when it spreads its tail. They are not gaps but white coloured feathers.

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There is a bit of a scrubby area down from our flat and it holds some good birds. I saw a Hoopoe and always hear Cetti’s Warbler, there are lots of Chiffchafs and this Fan tailed warbler also called a Zitting Cisticola.


On the beach there are a small mix of birds, there are Sanderlings and Turnstones, along the strand line, Lesser Black backed and Yellow legged gulls a bit further back in and then some Egrets, both the Cattle ones with yellow bills and the Little Egret.

Plenty of Sparrows about, House Sparrows, not Spanish though I did see some Spanish Sparrows a few days ago at a lagoon about 20 Kilometers inland.

Otter hunt; Lydbrook

18th October 2018… guess what… no Otters however a couple that I was talking to said they saw one yesterday.. This looks like a suitable Otter spot???

Anyway as you can see it was a lovely afternoon with the sun picking out the developing Autumn colours.

There was a Kingfisher up and down but preferred to perch well away from the bank.


The water was still flowing fast with quite a few apples floating down stream. In the river there was one brave little Moorhen.


Up and down the bank were three Robins chasing one another round and round, I don’t know if it was formation flying for fun or territorial disputes but the three of them kept it up for almost an hour with only brief stops for a rest. (The little dots visible to the left of the photo are not dirt on my lens they are midges)


And the good news was … today there were no fishermen in the water.