Recent improvements made at the Rio Gaudalhorce reserve have benefitted much of its birdlife, and three waders in particular are now firmly established as successful breeding species.
Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus return to their Mediterranean breeding quarters each year from wintering grounds in Africa, and we picked up good views of the first arrivals on our last visit.
Up to 45 pairs have nested here in recent years, and as always they were a striking sight…whether they’re wading through the shallows looking for food on those impossibly long, pink legs, or taking a well-earned rest! Note the black patches on the back of the neck on the individual shown below. In breeding plumage, males usually show more extensive dark markings than the females.
We also had great views of Little Ringed Plovers Charadrius dubius, another breeding success on the reserve. Widespread across much of Europe in the summer months, this species also returns from Africa in the spring.
Note the short, black bill, the bright yellow eye-ring and the clean, snow-white underside in the first of the shots shown here.
Note also the white line between the brown cap and the black band across the forehead – a good point of detail that can help separate it from closely related species. The broad, black chest band – obvious in the “head-on” shot shown below – is typical of the family as a whole, however…
…but not for the the third and final species we have for you today. A rare sight in the UK, the Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus still has a Mediterranean stronghold, and with more northerly-breeding birds wintering down here and over in north Africa, this particular species pretty much has a year-round presence on the reserve.
Fractionally bigger than its Little Ringed cousins, the Kentish Plover often appears somewhat smaller…note the “hunched-up” posture of the individual shown above, and how the black band is replaced with a distinct, thin bar on either side of the plain, white chest.
There are other points of detail to look for, if you get a really good look – this time, the white forehead is separated from the brown cap by a black line!
Our visit to the Rio Guadalhorce reserve was a hugely enjoyable day, and it’s great to report back from a new destination. We run birdwatching tours and holidays here in southern Spain through most of the year…so to find out how you can join us, click here!