The promise of a sunny day so collected visiting Swedish birder, Hans Borjesson, from Nerja and made our way up to Motril for the restricted opening of the Charca de Suarez reserve. Looking forward o showing Hans Purple Swamphen and Red-knobbed Coot and, hopefully, both Squacco and Purple Heron would still be on site and, for me, maybe either/both Water Rail and Spotted Crake. We had fifteen minutes to spare so took the concrete road known as "Turtle Dove Alley" having just recorded Collared Dove and Spotless Starling and made a careful approach noting Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola and Hoopoe. However, pride of place went to the single (Iberian) Yellow Wagtail on top of a low bush on the right. Then after Barn Swallows and the very busy nest-building House Martins at the back of the reserve we arrived and parked. Still time to take a quick look at the sea before reaching the entrance gate and the "white van" already in place inside in readiness, so we believed, to open on time at 10, However, all was not as it appeared as fixed to the gate was a notice informing visitors that the site would be closed for the morning for tree planting! Which to do first; apologise to my Swedish guest having made the wasted journey up from the west or utter a few expletives! Very little compensation to see a Common Kestrel drift over the entrance.
Plan B was soon put int lace and we drove up to the picnic area at Velez de Benaudalla to check if the Dippers were once again nesting in their traditional site. Lots and lots of Blackbirds about and as we drove down the track to the picnic area a good number of Chaffinches. Cetti's Warblers were very loud and then our second disappointment, although we should have expected this one. Even at this hour, before 10.30, the picnickers had already arrived and a number of barbecues were on the go - presumably cooking breakfast! A walk around the area produced White Wagtail, Blackcap, Serin and Goldfinch. A single Mallard landed heavily on the river and overhead we had feeding Common Swifts. The superior hearing Hans soon picked out both Firecrest and Short-toed Treecreeper and ere long we had also added both Great and Coal Tit.
Leaving the masses behind we then drove up to the Padul Wetlands after a brief stop on the dam of the nearby reservoir where we found more feeding Crag Martins. Not only was everything appearing devoid of birds but the sun had disappeared and we now had light rain with which to contend. An initial drive through the site produced a good number of singing Cetti's Warblers before we parked up to walk the boardwalks. Now we had better birding but in the light rain and neither of us wearing suitable clothing! Lots of Cetti's Warblers and Nightingales and then the first of a few calling Reed Warblers. The first birds seen were the resting Barn Swallows that had been feeding over the water and the only other birds seen on the large pools were a pair of Cormorant.
Making our way to the hide at the very far end we eventually were rewarded with both a pair of Coots and Moorhen. How exciting can that be? But, on the other hand, we heard at least three calling Water Rails and also saw a pair of departing Wood Pigeons. Having waited until the latest shower had finished we then made our way back along the almost flooded boardwalks and stopped to see both a pair of Booted Eagles over the nearby mountain and then a male Blue Rock Thrush perched on top of a concrete electricity post and a passing Peregrine Falcon. Time to sort ourselves out for the return journey and no sooner had we started than we stopped to see the raptor Hans had seen approaching the wetlands and were able to identify the bird as a Marsh Harrier. What might be deemed as hard work to record our 36 species but at least I had finally found my first Yellow Wagtail of the year. And the nearer we got to the coast the more the cloud cleared and, as you might guess, it had been sunny all morning back in Nerja and Mezquitilla!
Mallard, Cormorant, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Common Swift, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Nightingale, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Firecrest, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch.
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