Thursday, 19 February 2015

Padul and Charca de Suarez

Cormorant Cormoran Grande Phalacrocorax carbo
Wednesday 18 February

Still on my own so can bird when I want and after yesterday's rain with the sun and warmth once more back with us, I left after lunch to spend a little time at Padul before travelling back down tot the coast for the evening opening at Charca de Suarez.  In summary, I would say that the Padul reserve is not worth the extra journey as very little to be seen that cannot be seen just about everywhere else.  Indeed, the only bird worthy of note was the reed Bunting that made a hasty departure when I reached the boardwalk to access the old, but weather-proof, hide.  On the other hand, the Charca produced two new birds for the year with a Feruginous Duck and Little Bittern so certainly not a wasted afternoon.

Padul is a strange sort of birding site; neither a natural reserve nor arable fields.  Very much think a much smaller version of La Janda and very arable with, at this time of the year, little reed but plenty of water, but the latter almost devoid of birdlife.  Arriving just before 3pm I took a very wet track into the reserve from the southern approach road and quickly recorded White Wagtails and House Sparrows.  Up to a dozen Corn Buntings were resting on a bare tee and then a couple of Blackbirds "flipped" over the grass.  To my right, on the large sheet of water, just a handful of Cormorants, three pairs of Mallards and a couple of Coots.  A Kestrel passed overhead and then I move on round to the back of the stream.  The arable fields on either side of the track produced regular sightings of Crested Larks and nearing the water once more I even had a trio of Sky Larks take off in front of me.

Chiffchaff Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita
parking up at the end of a short track I then took the boardwalk to the hide.  A Reed Bunting rapidly moved away as a I parked and there were a number of Chiffchaffs feeding in the low vegetation. Just the one  Heron and a pair of Mallards on the water in front along with a pair of Cormorants who took one look at me an then, quite naturally, beat a hasty retreat.  Deciding there was nothing to be gained here after sitting or some time in the hide with no birding activity, I set off for the Charca de Suarez in Motril recording both Rock Doves and Spotless Starlings as I approached the main road to the coast.

The light breeze had now developed into a strong wind when I reached Motril and it was difficult to find anywhere to shelter as I waited outside the Charca de Suarez gates for almost twenty minutes till the opening time.  Apart from a single Collared Dove and a few Yellow-legged Gulls struggling against the prevailing wind, there was nothing to see for om outside the gate other than a pair of Mallards and a single Moorhen on the newly-filled pond on the left just inside the reserve.

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta

With the gates unlocked almost on time and four other birders now in the queue, I made my way straight to the southern hide on the Laguna del Trebol in the hope that either or both the Water Rail and/or Bluethroat might put in an appearance.  Neither did.  On the other hand, more good views of the potential breeding pair of Red-knobbed Coots as they continued to work on their nest site with, as I now know, collar-ringed 290 the male and the female (hopefully!) the un-ringed youngster from last year.  There was also a second ringed bird on the water but no evidence that he/she might have a partner for the coming breeding season.  Again, plenty of Chiffchaffs and Common Coots along with Mallards, Moorhen and many feeding Barn Swallows over the water.

Mr and Mrs (top) Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulical cristata
The proposed nesting site - conveniently close to the hide
But there was also one odd duck.  I would like to think that it was a pure female Ferruginous Duck but I have a sneaking feeling that somewhere in her genes there may be just a touch Common Pochard.  No Pochards on this water so, maybe, it is a pure bird and, possibly, the individual that was reputed to have inter-bred with a Pochard last year.  A Grey Wagtail did a quick clockwise flight round the water and then I, too, departed to look at the water from the opposite hide.  Nothing different to add other than a short sighting of a wandering Purple Swamphen in the reeds.

Female Ferruginous Duck Porron Pardo Aythya nyroca with, I suspect, a hint of Common Pochard flowing through its veins
The Laguna de las Aneas as expected produced a good supply of Cormorants along with both Coots and Moorhens.  No shortage of Mallards, Shoveler and Common Pochards and even a Little Egret resting immediately on front of the hide.  On the island in front a pair of Black-winged Stilts and at least half-a-dozen Grey Herons strategically resting around the perimeter.  Still a few Barn Swallows over the water but no other hirundines present.

Black-winged Stilts Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus on the Laguna de las Aneas

Singing Cetti's Warblers as I walked round to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco where I found this site to now be very full of water and certainly no longer any chance for waders.  A dozen Teal present and a couple of Mallards so I continued on to the Laguna Taraje in search of the Moustached Warbler, assuming that it has not already departed for pastures new.  Again, lots of Chiffchaffs along with Mallard, Coots and Moorhens.  There was a very brief exposure of a Purple Swamphen and an even briefer visit of a Little Bittern that flew into the reed and quickly disappeared.

Just in time to see the Little Bittern Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus

Only about twenty minutes to closing time so I decided to make a first and final call at the Laguna del Lirio, passing a couple of Serin on the way.  With the light dimming a number of Blackbirds were making their way into the reserve and from the hide, in addition to yet another collar-ringed Red-knobbed Coot and many more Chiffchaffs I also managed to add a male Stonechat.

Departing the site and driving home via Turtle Dove Alley the light was gone for picking out any Red Avadavats but I did come across a flock of fifty Cattle Egrets enjoying a pre-roost get together.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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