Monday, 1 September 2014

Charca de Suarez

Sunday 31 August
Distant male Red Avadavat Bengali Rojo Amandava amandava

Jenny and I joined Steve and Elena Powell at the Frigiliana festivities on Saturday evening then stayed over for the night.  This enable Jenny to drive back to her church service in Velez Malaga, Elena to bake a plum pie and Steve and I to arrive a little late for a morning's birding at the Charca de Suarez.  Everybody happy and contented and even a great roast pork lunch cooked by Steve following our sighting of a round forty species at the Charca!  No wonder we needed a genuine Spanish siesta before eventually heading back to the mountains.

Turtle Dove Tortola Europea Streptopelia turtur in its named alley

No sooner had we turned into "Turtle Dove Alley" than a Red Avadavat, the first of a few for the morning, crossed the road and settled in the tall grasses where we also recorded Serins.  Within metres we had our first Turtle Dove of the morning and a little further down the track another pair which obligingly posed in the road-side tree.  Then it was on to the reserve recording a small number of both House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings.

We were greeted onto the site by calling Cetti´s Warblers, a passing Collared Dove and another Turtle Dove and then it was on to the Laguna del Taraje where we encountered three other birders with large cameras.  (Good to see birders taking advantage of this reserve but, on the whole, it was quiet and just about perfect for us all.)  A number of Mallards and Coots along with the odd Moorhen and even a Purple Swamphen before the Little Grebes put in an appearance.  Continuing on down the track and round the corner we approached the new, large Laguna del Alamo Blanco to see what waders might have been encouraged in as the autumn migration begins to get into full swing.
The Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus is still present at the Charca
The little Egret at the back of the water stood out really well with a Common Sandpiper almost alongside.  Steve picked out the Curlew Sandpiper but, in addition, there was also a pair of Dunlin and skulking nearby a single Little Stint.  To our right the wagtails were busy.  First a White Wagtail feeding close to a female Grey Wagtail and then a Yellow (Blue-headed) Wagtail hove into sight.  Not to be outdone, we then found the single Glossy Ibis that had been previously reported as at the site.  Meanwhile, the House Martins fed overhead and the quartet of feeding Black-winged Stilts towards the back of the water carried on irregardless.  However, having already seen a couple of Red Avadavats outside the reserve it was rather lovely to have a breeding-plumage male come down to feed on the small island in front of us.

Common Teal Cerceta Comun Anas crecca
Next it was on to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas with a good number of calling Bee-eaters above us and we were greeted by the expected mallards and Coots.  Not many Moorhen present but the Little Grebes, young and old, were busy feeding.  A good luck at the ducks found a female Teal followed by a couple of Shoveler.  Just the one Pochard on the island in front of the hide but a somewhat strange marking; not a lot but just enough to make you take a second look at this single bird, that in itself being somewhat unusual.  I cannot say for sure but I suspect that this individual may be the result of a cross between Comon Pochard and Fuerruginous Duck.  This bird looked too "old" to be one of the current year's youngsters but I suspect that this is a long-standing pairing at the site.

The ever active Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio
A Purple Swamphen flew across to the island from our right and eventually worked its way through the tall grasses in the front where it was able to be photographed.  The same could not be said for the Little Bittern that was scrambling about in the reeds to the extreme right and then disappeared from view.  Over the water a good number of House Martins were feeding including many juveniles looking almost brown rather than blue.  A few Red-rumped Swallows joined in the feast along with the occasional Barn Swallow.  Right at the back right a single Grey Heron was sheltering in the thickness of the low branches of a waterside tree.  meanwhile, on the island next to the roosting Mallards, a Cattle Egret dropped in and, on moving slightly right to get a better view, found the sleeping Cormorant.

Spotted Flycatcher PapamoscasGris Muscicapa striata

As we walked round to the Laguna del Trebol the first of many Spotted Flycatchers appeared on the scene.  These delightful birds seem not to be shy of human company; rather they come across as "posers" always waiting to have their photograph taken!

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulca cristala youngster born at the Charca with adult below

In addition to more Mallards, Coots and Little Grebes we found another Teal at the back of the water and a single immature Lesser Black-backed Gull to the right.  The introduced Red-knobbed Coots were exposed ad, indeed , we found an individual without a collar marking band.  This bird looked quite mature so may have been one the three chicks raised for the first time in 2013.  I wonder when we will be told of any breeding success for this year?  Unbelievably, another Little Bittern had been sitting quite concealed under the bank immediately in front of the hide and we only became aware of its presence when it decided to move away.  In addition to these three Red-knobs that kept together, there was a single Squacco Heron.  This individual moved slightly further away from us upon arrival but then remained, in a far more exposed view, until we finally left.

A variety of shots of the obliging Squacco Heron Garcilla Cangrejera Ardeola ralloides

More Spotted Fycatchers as we walked on the Laguna del Lirio where we finally recorded a Goldfinch.  Then, is this a record?, we had yet another Kingfisher fly up and down the water.  This meant that we had seen numerous Kingfisher fly-pasts, not necessarily numerous individuals, at all four of the original lagunas. 

Kingfisher Martin Pescador Alcedo atthis seen many times at all four original pools
What a morning and then, no sooner had we started to drive away from the reserve, than a female Marsh Harrier drifted over the road to give us a final total of 40 species for the visit.  But not forgetting the lunch which was absolutely scrumptious!

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Barn swallow, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Blue-headed Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Cetti's Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Red Avadavat, Serin, Goldfinch.

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