Saturday, 7 February 2015

Motril Seabird counting & Charca de Suarez

Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus
Saturday 7 February

Up unbelievably early to be away for the mountain by 6.45 in order to meet up with Mick Richardson and his Spanish birding pal, Juan by 8.10 am on the cliff above Torrenueva to the east of Motril for the monthly sea-bird count from 8.30 to 9.30; one hour's concentrated counting of everything passing west and east excluding Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls of which there were many. No sooner had we arrived and we were counting Gannets by the score with a regular trickle of Balearic Shearwaters and, a great spot by all three of us ,even a couple of Mediterranean Shearwater (also referred to as Levantine or Yelkouan Shearwater).  Just the on Audouin's Gull but numerous Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls.  A couple of skeins (?) of Cormorants exited the nearby harbour and Juan even managed to find a very distant Arctic Skua. A single Little Egret flew in from the sea towards the shelter of the harbour and as we returned to our cars we had the pleasure o a very brief sighting of a peregrine falcon.

Then it was on to Motril Harbour where more of the local gulls and Cormorants were recorded along with a single Great Crested Grebe and a number of White Wagtails.

White Wagtail Lavandera Blanca Motacilla alba; washed, looking and rejected!

Duty done, we made our way to the west of the town to spend over a couple of hours at the Charca de Suarez.  No sign of the Little Bittern at its usual haunt in the reeds of the Laguna del Taraje, probably due to the renovations currently being undertaken but it did not stop Mick, who was ahead of the rest of us, finding not only a wintering Wryneck but also the "usual" Moustrached Warbler. For myself, I check out the new Lagauna del Aalamo Blanco where plenty of Teal along with a few Mallards were in residence but precious little else.  On the other hand, I did have Blackcaps, Serins and Goldfinches and before leaving the site we also managed to add a single Grey Wagtail.

And so to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas.  A good selection of ducks including Mallard, Shoveler and Pochard along with Little Grebe and a plentiful supply of both Common Coots and Moorhens.  Chiffchaffs fliterred about here, there and everywhere along with Stonechats and White Wagtails.  Three Grey Herons rested on the pool with a small number of Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls whilst, feeding above, was a good-sized flock of Crag Martins and a single Barn Swallow.

Next up the Laguna del Trebol where we found more Coots and Moorhens abut also  most of the imported Red-knobbed Coots along with the sole, no collar ring, survivor from last year's breeding season.  A male Blackbird beat a hasty retreat as we approached and upon leaving we were entertained a y a delightful female Black Redstart.  From the shore-side hide, recording a resting Common Kestrel on our approach, we not only picked up another three Red-knobbed Coots, one staking out its preferred nesting site, but also our first Purple Swamphen.  Again, many more Chiffchaffs along with a couple of Cetti's Warblers.

The last water to be visited, the Laguna del Lirio, not only had Moorhen, Coot and Red-knobbed Coot but also a trio of Gadwall.  Needless to say their were scores more Chiffchafffs and even another pair of White Wagtails and Stonechats.

Just the one Purple Swamphen Calamon Porphyrio porphyrio in clear view
The last session was spent back at the Laguna del Taraje where renovations had now ceased for the day.  No sign of the Little Bittern or Moustached Warbler but, in addition to Chiffchaffs, White wagtails and StonechatsCrag Martins we did find another Purple Swamphen and a pair of Penduline Tits.

Penduline Tit Pajaro Moscon Remiz pendulinus (PHOTO: Mick Richardson)
Also recorded at the Charca was a Great Tit and checking out "Turtle Dove Alley" on my departure I managed to add a Hoopoe, Cattle Egret and Spotless Starlings.

Male (above) and female Gadwall Anade Friso  Anas strepera

"That's where the wife's got to!"  Looks like these Red-knobbed Coots Focha Moruna Fulca cristala have their nest site.

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Real, Pochard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Mediterranean Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Gannet, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Arctic Skua, Mediterranean Gull, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull,Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Wryneck, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Penduline Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch.

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

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