Saturday, 28 May 2016

Axarquia Bird Group visit to Charca de Suarez

Dipper Mirlo-acuatico Europeo Cinclus cinclus
Thursday 26 May

Lovely to see 18 members of the Axarquia Bird Group at this month's private visit to the Charca de Suarez reserve on the western outskirts of Motril, our last filed visit before the summer recess.  No doubt, however, most members will continue their birding on every available opportunity so I look forward to some interesting reports which can be published on this site.  Great weather, lovely company  and some interesting birds including, for most if not all, a first hearing and/or sighting of a Golden Oriole.

As ever I am grateful to John wainwright who always sends me a report of his birding activities with the lovely Jenny even if, as on this occasion, I am actually there myself.  Rather than start a new report, I have based the finished article on John's original and just added where I think a comment might be needed.  Thanks John and also to Jenny for sending in some accompanying photos.

Arriving with Bryan Stapley at the same time as Derek Etherton and his four passengers along with David and Ann Jefferson, I was surprised to see Malcolm Austin cross the road and disappear into the reserve. Obviously, the gate had already been unlocked and some members were taking advantage of their early arrival.  Lovely to see that friend Arthur Oliver (Olly) had travelled all the way down from Roquetas de Mar and, as might be expected, John and Jenny Wainwright had already checked out the nearby beach before entering the reserve.  Add on Gerry Collins and new member Gerry Bennett along with Pat and Eric Lyon and were ready to spend the whole morning exploring the this lovely site before our expected departure at 1pm.

John and Jenny arrived at the reserve rather earlier than required, so they ventured down to the beach area hoping to get a few day ticks from the sea, but alas nothing was moving seawards, although they did get four Little Ringed Plovers in the small scrape midway along the boardwalk, plus a Crested Lark, Red-rumped and Barn Swallows, House Martins and lots of Common Swifts.  As they headed back for the reserve they picked up House Sparrows, a Chaffinch, Serins, a singing Blackcap and two Blackbirds.

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
We (John and Jenny) were joined at the gate by Ollie (nice to see him again), then the reserve gateman came up and offered us entrance to the site, which Jenny and I took while Ollie waited for the rest of the group.

As we walked down to the first hide (Laguna del Alamo Blanco), we saw Reed Warbler, Great Tit, Zitting Cisticola and a Sardinian Warbler and getting ensconced in the hide we saw Cetti´s and Reed Warblers, Blackbirds and a couple of Linnets flew over.  On the big pile of dead reeds a pair of Little Ringed Plovers were noted  and to their left three Black-winged Stilts were feeding although one of the latter took exception to the presence of the former and made them fly off, but they just did a circuit and re-alighted in their previous position.  A group of Bee-eaters flew over as did a Little Egret, while in the back stretch of water two Grey Herons were noted.  Three Mallards were feeding behind the Little Ringed Plovers as was a Moorhen and in the reeds above them several Spanish Sparrows were spotted along with a few Greenfinches.

Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio

Meanwhile, a few of us made the Laguna del Taraje our first stop in the hope that we might see the resident, presumably breeding, Little Bitterns.  Approaching the hide we watched a Hoopoe working ts way down the track but all appeared quiet at first with just a few Common Coots and the odd Mallard but then a couple of Little Grebes and three chicks paddled into view.  Whilst trying to photograph the first of very many Spotted Flycatchers that we were to see all over the reserve, the Little Bittern flashed down the water and disappeared into the reeds quicker than it had arrived.  Similarly, a very brief glimpse of a nearby Purple Swamphen then a second came out to feed giving longer and better views.  Mainly House Martins overhead but all around us the continuous song of Reed Warblers, which were also seen, and Nightingales along with a very vocal Blackcap.
Little Grebe Zampullin Comun Tachybaptus ruficollis chicks chasing after Mum

Then it was on to the new hide overlooking the Laguna del Alamo Blanco where we met most of the other members and discovered what had already been seen and managed to add a Common Sandpiper.  And so onto the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas.  Had we take the longer route a little earlier we would have heard the Golden Oriole that was calling and heard by a group of members and Pat and Eric Lyon actually managed to get a brief sighting.
Recently fledged Reed Warbler Carricero Comun Acrocephalis scirpaceus?

Making our way round to the main hide we saw lots of Spotted Flycatchers, Great Tit and Long-tailed Tit, a Golden Oriole was heard as were Blackcaps.  Good views of the Great Reed Warbler were had by several of the other members as we met them on the track.  At the hide, three Red-knobbed Coots were seen (one of them uncollared).  Lots of Mallard here, but only the one Common Pochard seen, as well as Little Grebe, Common Coots and Moorhens, while in the bushes about here we saw Blackcaps, Nightingales and more Spotted Flycatchers. Moving on to the Laguna del Trebol we logged  a Turtle Dove and a few Goldfinches that were perched in the bare tree by the hide, while from the hide we saw White Wagtail, Little Grebe, House Sparrows, a Sardinain Warbler and another Red-knobbed Coot.  Very few gulls seen today with no more than a handful of Yellow-legged Gulls.

Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata

Very little at the Laguna del Lirio but we did see a Purple Swamphen, albeit perched halfway up a reed bed and only partially visible, except when it moved its head,  More Red-knobbed Coot chicks in a nest, plus a very, very young one with its mother at the far end of the water.

White Wagtail Lavandera Blanca Motacilla alba with, it would seem, a large family to feed

So around to the Laguna del Taraje (some of us for the second time), where a Spotted Flycatcher gave everyone present some good photo opportunities.  We also added a Purple Swamphen, Little Grebe and, just as we were about to leave the hide, two Night Herons and a Little Bittern flew in but landed out of sight in the reeds.  Just time for  a final visit to the new hide overlooking the bottom of this water and then back for a final visit to the Laguna del Blanco.  All the previous birds were still on show, there were now four Black-winged Stilts, but Jerry Laycock noticed the movement in the nearby reeds to the right as a small party of Black-rumped Waxbills flew in and disappeared down the stems but occasionally still giving a brief view.  Whilst here, Derek and Barbara Etherton along with Micky Smith told us about the the family of Penduline Tits that they had recorded in the reed on their first visit to this hide.

Turtle Dove Tortola Europea Streptopelia turtur (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Time was against us here so eleven of us moved on to "Turtle Dove Alley" where the first major sighting was of a Little Owl atop a ruin ad a second flew out of the tree opposite and landed in a tree across the meadow where it was joined by the other Little Owl. While we were here we heard at least three Quail calling, then some waxbills  and apparently these are not the Common Waxbill (with blackish/brown vent) but Black-rumped Waxbill (rump not vent), as we have been informed by the Spanish birders at the reserve.  Also about here we saw White Wagtails, Cetti´s, Reed and Sardinian Warblers.  Also noted were Jackdaws, a Common Kestrel, Blackcaps, Goldfinches and House Sparrows.  More Bee-eaters were heard but not located.

Then it was a fairly long drive down to the picnic site at Velez de Benaudalla where we hoped to find (and succeeded) the breeding Dipper.  After parking up and having a look around we heard a Golden Oriole calling, this was followed by a very quick sighting, although I believe others were located and seen later.  As we moved down to the look for the Dipper it flew off downsteam, it had been bathing in the shallows  un-noticed by us, Regardless of this it was seen ample times during our stay here.  In fact both of the adults were noted and one bird even posed on the floating canes for its photo to be taken.  Other birds here were Grey and White Wagtails, Chaffinches, Blackcaps, Nightingales, House SparrowsBlackbirds, Melodious Warbler and Long-tailed Tits.whilst all around there was a constant supply of Spotted Flycatchers.

Dipper Mirlo-acuatico Europeo Cinclus cinclus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

As John said, a very successful day and it produced 50 species.
For the Lepidoptera enthusiasts among us there were really wonderful views of the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), plus Large White (Pieris brassicae), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Pale Clouded Yellow (Colias hyale).

Monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Birds seen:
Mallard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Yellow-legged Gull, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Dipper, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Penduline Tit, Golden Oriole, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Black-rumped Waxbill, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

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

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