It may be an "unlucky" day is Spain, similar to our Friday 13th, but that was not the case for the sixteen members of the Axarquia Bird Group who were able to be present for the private access visit to the Charca de Suarez reserve on the western outskirts of Motril. Travelling from as far afield as Fuengirola, Salar and the Lecrin Valley, not to mention our own Axarquia villages and towns, we were able to eventually record almost forty species during our morning stay. Indeed, if you add on the additional birds seen at the follow-on to the picnic site at nearby Velez de Benaudalla the we certainly topped the double score.
|Spotted Flycatcher Papamoscas Gris Muscicapa striata|
Leaving just after 8 am with relatively close neighbour Bryan Stapley we had time to drive to the entrance via "Turtle Dove Alley", a concrete track in the middle of former sugar cane fields just outside the reserve. Having seen Crested Lark, Spotless Starling and House Sparrow we the heard and saw our first Turtle Doves of the morning. Both Blackbird and Zitting Cisticola were recorded immediately followed by a range of hirundines including Barn and Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin and Common Swift. Indeed, the large communal nesting apartments of the local House Martins on the side of a factory unit at the back of the reserve were very active, so much so that it was almost too difficult to note the occasional Collared Dove.
Promptly at 9.30 Manu opened the main gates for our group and we were left to our devices for the next 3½ hours with what appeared to be very many calling Turtles Doves - which were duly seen and photographed by many if not all. Where to go first? Like about half the group, I headed for the Laguna del Taraje where we found the odd Mallard, Little Grebe and Coot but also a single male Little Bittern. The single Little Egret was very difficult to track as it concealed itself in the back of the reeds. On the far side a Great Tit was seen in the trees and a couple of Reed Warblers were calling loudly. The last took off to the other end of the pool and when we arrived were in time to get a hidden look once it had settle at the far side.
|Distant record shot of the Little Bittern Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus|
|Adult Purple Swamphen Calamon comun Porphyrio porphyrio and one of the full-grown chicks|
|The lovely little Common Waxbill Pico de Coral Estrilda astrid|
|Juvenile Zitting Cisticola Buitron Cisticola juncidis|
|Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea|
|Adult and juvenile Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristata|
A final visit to both Lagunas taraje and Alamo Blanco produced nothing new so we gathered at the gates to say our farewells. However, nine of us continued up to the picnic site at Velez de Benaudalla to not only eat our own picnics but watch the activities of the resident Dippers who were busily feeding their young.
|Our local Dipper Mirlo-acuatico Europeo Cinclus cinclus|
|At last, up close to a male Golden Oriole Oropendola Oriolus oriolus|
Mallard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Yellow-legged Gull, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, White-rumped Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail (M.f.flavissima), Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Dipper, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sedge warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Golden Oriole, raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Black-rumped Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Chaffinch, Goldfinch.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.