Monday, 20 October 2014

Charca de Suarez

Sunday 19 October

Up early and off in the dark to collect Rosie and Ann from their hotel in Torremolinos and then over to the Charca de Suarez reserve in Motril for the morning.  By the time we arrived just before ten the sun was already beating down from the clear blue sky and temperatures starting to soar.  Come departure time at one o'clock there was a slight breeze to compensate for the heat which had by then reached the low thirties.

Male Red Avadavat Bengai Rojo Amandava amandava
Driving towards "Turtle Dove Alley" we had a good sized flock of Spotless Starlings in the fields and at least a score of Collared Doves on the wires.  Stopping as soon as we had entered the concrete alley we had Goldfinches, House Sparrows and a Greenfinch but on this occasion no clear sightings of any Red Avadavats.  A question now of relying upon a sighting once inside the reserve.

No sooner had we entered the main gate than we could hear numerous calling Cetti's Warblers and a male Blackbird flew across the track and into the reserve proper.  At about the same time the first of a number of Cetti's Warblers was actually seen.  Straight down to the new lagoon, Laguna del Alamo Blanco, where we found a single Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt  and a juvenile Flamingo. About  score of ducks which seemed evenly split between Mallards and Teals but also a pair of Shoveler in eclipse plumage.  Just the single Grey Wagtail and a lone White Wagtail foraging on the muddy shires.  As we approached a Snipe took to the skies but we soon found a second individual along with a single Green Sandpiper.

Little Grebe Zampullin Comun Tachybaptus ruficollis on laguna del Taraje
Whilst here we were joined by Barry Avis, I thought that he had driven back to Mercia province last Friday following our Rio Velez meet but, nevertheless, a very welcome surprise, and also Allen and Yvonne Hartley.  Before taking our leave to continue on an anti-clockwise circuit of the reserve to try and keep the sun behind us for as long as possible, we had a very short sighting of a male Sparrowhawk as it dashed parallel low over the reeds to our right and either into the back of the large tree or away behind it out of sight.  It certainly put the birds up into the air and just a shame it could not be found to get even a record shot.  Not the only raptor seen here as we also had a second sighting of a Common Kestrel quartering the area.  In addition to the raptors we also had a number of smaller birds including Chiffchaff and Zitting Cisticola.  However, I suspect that the ladies were more thrilled to actually get some close views of the many Red Aadavats that were darting about here and there but, more often than not, dropping straight down to the base of the reeds to prevent really close inspection.  But we were able to pick out the red males and dull-green females with their bright undersides.

Having come across a few Serins on the walk to the Laguna del Lirio, the water produced a second Grey Wagtail along with a few Coots and Moorhens including a pair of juveniles of the latter.  The female Stonechat that put in an appearance was a welcome sighting but not so much as the Kingfisher that flew in front of the hide, made a brief landing on the dead stick in front and then shot off towards the back of the water where it was quickly followed by a second individual. A pool too soon as we found a single, collar tagged, Red-knobbed Coot on this water which gave us much pleasure as we identified the little red knobs above its white plate and the chance to compare its shape and outline with the nearby Common Coots.

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Motuna Fulica cristata on Laguna del Lirio
Walking towards the Laguna del Trebol we had a pair of Great Tits and having arrived more views of the Red-knobbed Coots.  However, having waited only a few minutes, we were rewarded by the sight of the feeding Bluethroat looking most handsome with its white spot shining from its blue bib, surely an adult male.  Unfortunately, the bird only remained long enough for all three of us to watch and, I must admit, I did not adjust the camera to allow for the shade, hence the enhanced photograph.

Record shot of Bluethroat Ruisenor Pechiazul Luscinia svecica on Laguna del Trebol
The continuing walk round the track to check out the water from the opposite hide produced a single Robin and yet more singing Cetti's Warblers but nothing new to add, albeit we did have a closer view of a Snipe, so on to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas.  Not as many Coots as I expected and only a single Little Egret and two Grey Herons.  However, there were half-a-dozen Cormorants resting on the island immediately in front of the hide.  Having seen the Mallards,  another couple of Shoveler and a handful of Teal we then discovered a trio of Common Pochard, two males and a female.

Record shot of Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago

Finally, Rosie spotted the target bird as a Purple Swamphen paddled away from the island to the right to climb out and explore the reeds for food.  Almost straight away a second individual repeated the same journey and we then had a pair sharing their dining arrangements.  No gulls to be seen but we did get a fleeting glance of a handful of hirundines pass high overhead.  However, much as I suspect that they were Crag Martins down from the mountains for the winter, the hide's window prevented us being able to get any chance of a better sighting; they were seen and gone!

The feeding Purple Swamphens calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio on laguna de las Aneas

We finished the circuit be returning to the original water but not before joining many others to look at, and photograph, the little green frog, Mediterranean Tree Fog Ranita Meridional Hyla meridionalis, that had been found on a reed stem.

Mediterranean Tree Frog Ranita Meridional Hyla meridionalis

Our last stay at the Alamo Blanco produced yet more Red Avadavats and a couple of Ringed Plovers had arrived since our earlier departure along with a female Ruff (Reeve).  Our first Cattle Egret of the morning flew over and was joined by the Little Egret from the water below.  Shame that we were not able to confirm the hirundines as Crag martins as that would have taken the species total for the day to the round 40.  On the other hand, a call at the Malaga Parador on the way home did produce a number of Monk Parakeets so perhaps we could include those.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Flamingo, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Red Avadavat, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for a very enjoyable few hours. Rosy