Friday, 19 December 2014

Charca de Suarez

Cormorant Cormoran Grande Phalacrocorax carbo
Wednesday 17 December

A beautiful, clear, warm and sunny afternoon to collect my friend Ceri Levy from Nerja and drive over towards Motril to introduce him to both the picnic area above Velez de Benaudalla and the delights of the lovely Charca de Suarez reserve on the western outskirts of the town.  What and introduction with an eventual sighting of 44 species in less than three hours.

A Kestrel almost as soon as we approached Salobrena and no sooner had we arrive in the village of Velez de Benaudalla for a walk along the top path to the natural spring than we were seeing both Black Redstarts, and lots more later on at the Charca de Suarez, Blackcap, House Sparrows, White Wagtails, Collared Doves and the first, single, Cattle Egret.  The short drive up to the picnic area produced at least a trio of Grey Wagtails and, whilst a Dipper was not seen at least I was able to show Ceri the traditional breeding site.

The it was back down to the coast to visit the reserve by way of "Turtle Dove Alley" and whilst the named birds had long departed for southern climes we did see the first of a number of Wrens, Goldfinches, RedAvadavats, Stonechats and a Greenfinch.  Indeed, as we left the lane we seen on our way by a single Southern Grey Shrike acting as a sentinel for all who passed that way.

A resting pair of Shoveler Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata
Greeted by both Rock and Collared Doves as we entered the reserve we walked past the reception hut and on down to the Laguna del Taraje seeing our first Blackbird on the way but not before a rather lovely female Marsh Harrier had drifted overhead.  Cetti's Warblers were calling and on the water we had a few Coots and Mallards along with a handful of Shoveler.  Chiffchaffs were everywhere.  Chiffchaffs here, Chichaffs there, every chiffing way you looked yet another Chiffchaff. These little winter warblers even made the occasional White Wagtail seem like a rarity!

How many Chiffchaff  Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita can you see in one session?
Leaving the first pool to visit the newly created Laguna del Alamo Blanco we had the delight of a dark morph Booted Eagle and then discovered just how much the reads had grown over the past two tr three months.  A single Little Egret at the back along with a Green Sandpiper whilst  White wagtails wandered about in front and a trio of Ringed Plovers occupied the middle area of exposed mud.  Just to the left we found four Snipe and then the Teals, Shovelers and Mallards hove into sight on the opposite side of the water.

A gorgeous Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea

Next to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas with Goldfinches flitting around us as we made the short walk and were then greeted by a plentiful selection of birds including, apart from more Chiffchaffs, Coots, Moorhens and Mallards.  A closer look also revealed both Shoveler and Teal and a small number of Little Grebes.   We even found a handful of Common Pochards on the back of the water.   A good number of resting Cormorants and the occasional visit from both Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls added to the attraction and then, of course there were those lovely Grey Herons.  A single Black-winged Stilt posed on the island in front of us.  But, perhaps, best of all was the single Little Bittern that Ceri managed to discover skulking in the tall reeds to the left.

Record shot of "Ceri's" Little Bittern Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus

Next up was the Laguna del Trebol passing a single Robin on the way where, apart from more Coots and Moorhens, we eventually found our first (collar ringed) Red-knobbed Coot along with a couple of Purple Swamphens. However, it was when viewing the water from the hide on the southern bank that we found not only another pair of Red-knobbed Coots but also their, unringed, youngster of the year.  Even more surprising, having not seen one of the local Bluethroats, was the Water Pipit that put in an appearance to our right albeit in a very shady area.  Our final sighting was the first, followed by dozens more, of the local Cattle Egrets as they arrived to take up their roosting spaces for the night.

Juvenile Red-knobbed Coot  Focha Moruna Fulica cristata
Time to press on as it was almost 6pm and closing time and no sooner out of the hide than Ceri picked up a handful of buntings on the left and closer inspection identified the birds as Reed Buntings including a lovely male rapidly developing its black head.  It seemed silly to completely miss out on the final Laguna del Lirio so we popped in for a couple of minutes and added Gadwall to the list as well as finding another Purple Swamphen and our final Wren of the afternoon.

Water Pipit Bisbita Alpino Anthus spinoletta
I trust it was a very successful introduction to the Charca de Suarez for Ceri and now, hopefully, he might find time to pay more regular visits.  And just to add the icing to the proverbial cake, no sooner had  I got Ceri back to Maro and there was Jackie to welcome us in with coffee and chocolate biscuits.  What more could a birder ask for!

The start of the evening roost for the Cattle Egret Garcilla Bueyera Bubulcus ibis
Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Southern Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Red Avadavat, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting.

An evening Purple Swamphen Calamon Porphyrio porphyrio as the sun sinks in the west

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

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