Sunday 2 May 2021

Velez de Benaudalla

Sunday 2 May

A beautiful clear, warm and sunny start to the day as I set off for the Charca de Suarez on the western outskirts of Motril with "swarms" of pallid Swifts over the nearby apartment blocks to see me safely on my way.  A truly wonderful site that has been out of bounds until yesterday when the provincial border closure was lifted so, naturally I was very much looking forward to see how the site has changed since my last visit in mid-January.  With restrictive access during the breeding season no need to rush of early as the gates would not be unlocked until 10 o'clock.  Passing through "Turtle Dove Alley" all seemed very quiet with just the one Woodchat Shrike and a handful of passing Spotless Starlings. Exiting at the rear of the site the occasional Blackbird to add to the Wood Pigeon noted before entering the alley and scores of House Martins making use of the traditional nesting colony on the concrete wall.  A lone White Wagtail foraging on the road and then round the front to the main entrance.  

Waiting the five minutes for the gate to be opened I noted a couple of Collared Doves and then we were in.  But hold your horses, not so fast!  A new warden that I did not recognised called me back to check that my name was on his list and this point it became clear that admission arrangements had changed during lockdown.  Now you had to make a previous appointment to attend and as I had not, no excuses or simply signing the list with my details, I was expelled from the site.  So, if thinking of just turning up as used to be the case then one needs to think again and make the necessary phone call!

What to do?  A drive back to Turtle Dove Alley and explore a little of the abandoned ground just beyond the turning revealed Common Swifts, House Sparrows and Red-rumped Swallows plus a passing Lesser Black-backed Gull and a a very small charm of Goldfinch.

Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus

No point hanging around and as I was already in the area I drive up to Velez de Benaudalla and entered the picnic track rom the south.  Immediately I left the main road a couple of Barn Swallows and then stopping within less than a hundred metres I got out to search the trees for the Golden Oriole I could calling.  Very difficult but I did manage the occasional glimpse before two males flew over the adjacent river into the trees in front of me before continuing on slightly upstream.  What a wonderful sight and I was to hear at least two more individuals as I made my way up and beyond the the actual picnic area.  On the opposite side of the track a pair of Grey Wagtails were noted and the males looking particularly handsome.

Moving on the continuous calling of Chaffinches and the occasional Blackbird.  A pair of Mallard took flight from the river and then a beautiful male Serin resting on a branch immediately in front of me.  Add on a noisy Cetti's Warbler and a Nightingale at the far end of the track and it just about completed my morning before an early return to Mezquitilla.  However, taken the coastal road from La Herredura and a diversion to Cerro Gordo I did not find a White-rumped Swift but did manage to get the camera out in time to capture a shot of the magnificent male Ibex feeding alongside the road with not a care in the world.

Male Ibix Capra Pyrenaica

Birds seen:

Mallard, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Golden Oriole, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch.

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