Relaxing with a cup of coffee and listening to the church bells chime 33 o’clock (the bellringer must have been on the shrooms again), I began to reminisce about the time, not that long ago, that the urban section of the rio Chillar down to the mouth of the river would at least have a trickle of water. Incidentally, I haven’t heard the bells ring since (about a week ago)…

As little as four years ago, there was always at least a trickle of water and waders – Ringed Plover, Little-ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper – were a regular and common sight.

Ringed Plover, Nerja
Little-ringed Plover

Swallows and Martins would fly up and down, feeding on insects and swooping down to the water. Martins would gather in large numbers to feed…

Martins in Nerja
Martins in the rio Chillar, Nerja

Various snakes and eels could occasionally be seen when there was sufficient water…There was even a very rare visitor to Spain, Allen’s Gallinule, which caused great interest and visits to the area by birders from all over when I reported the sighting. It was the first sighting in mainland Spain for over twenty years.

Allen's Gallinule, Nerja
Allen's Gallinule, rio Chillar in Nerja

The riverbank would be home to literally hundreds of Serin, large flocks flying up when you walked past. Still the odd one to be seen along the urban section of the river, but far fewer than when there was a flow. Also, a lot fewer wagtails and Goldfinch which, in the past, were plentiful. It probably doesn’t help that the annual ‘cleaning/clearing’ of the riverbank vegetation can only be described as ‘savage’. It eventually grows back, of course, but it takes quite a time.

Spotless Starling numbers seem to be fairly stable, but they are usually found in the orchards/farms/properties rather than by the river itself. Blackbirds are also maintaining a good presence.

Here’s hoping the water returns one day…and not just for a few minutes/hours following prolonged rains or storms.

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