Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Charca de Suarez

Wednesday 8 July

Back from my short UK visit and once again able to go Spanish birding.  A lovely evening, calm, clear and sunny, to visit the Charca de Suarez site on the western outskirts of Motril where I met with great friends and company in the form of Steve an Elena Powell along with Dave and Gilly Elliott-Binns who had driven down from Arboleas, north of Almeria city.

Now what's upset this little flock of mixed gulls?
Taking a very short diversion approaching the site so that I could drive "Turtle Dove Alley" I was not disappointed to find a pair of Turtle Doves on the road along with a small flock of Serins.  A single male Kestrel flew over to land on a nearby pylon.  House Sparrows were also about but right at the end of the short, concrete lane a single Red Avadavat jumped from the road and away.  Even better on the return journey as I once again made the same detour before joining the recently-opened nearby motorway section as I had not only a couple more Avadavats but also a handful of Spanish Sparrows along with up to ten Turtle Doves.  Why so many of the last this early in the season?  I always associate this "alley" with late August/early September for my migrating doves; do they know something that we do not?

Spotted Flycatcher  Papamoscas Gris  Musciapa striata

Entering the reserve proper, it was obvious that there were a number of Blackbirds about and a stop at the Laguna del Taraje produced, in very small numbers, the first Coots and Mallards of the evening.  At the very far end a single Purple Swampen was busying itself climbing the reeds.  Then on to the end of the track where I found, in total, a handful of Spotted Flycatchers before taking a longer look at the newly-created large laguna.  (I must get an updated copy of the site's guide so that I can establish the name given to both this laguna and the neighbouring area.)  Feeding on the muddy edges were a small number of White Wagtails and a trio of Yellow Wagtails of the iberian sub-species (Blue-headed) including a couple of juveniles.  Just the single Ringed Plover and Little Egret but also a pair of Back-winged Stilts along with a very small number of Mallards.  Overhead, not only a regular passage of mallards to the main site but scores of House Martins and the occasional Barn Swallow.  Jenny even managed to find a Hoopoe flying over the adjacent field having walked a little further on down the track.  All this and the regular calling of passing Bee-eaters with only a very rare glimpse of the last.

Little Grebe  Zampullin Comun  Tachybaptus ruficollis

The walk to the hide overlooking the main laguna (Laguna de las Aneas) produced both Cetti's warbler and Zitting Cisticola along with a Turtle Dove, Spotted Flycatchers and a single Great Tit.  On the water itself, the expected Coots and Mallards along with a few Moorhens and Little Grebes.  Evidence of late breeding with some very young Coot chicks whilst the juvenile Mallards seemed almost fully grown as they paddled alongside their mothers.  The island in front of the hide in addition to the resting Mallards also held both a single Cattle and Little Egret.  When the relatively small number of gulls landed at the back of the water it became apparent that, in addition to the couple of Black-headed and handful of Yellow-legged Gulls, there was also a party of eight Audouin's Gulls.  More House Martins and Barn Swallows overhead and the occasional Reed Warbler that flitted in and out of the reeds below the hide and then Gilly made the big "spot" with the sighting of a Little Bittern on the right-hand edge of the laguna.  The bird seemed quite happy to both pose in the shade and wander about so able to get a couple of distant record shots.  Meanwhile, I had also found the Ferruginous Duck family at the far left rear of the water where Mum and Dad were taking four off-spring for a paddle round the perimeter.

Distant record shot of the Little Bitten Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus
Walking round to the Laguna del Trebol we duly found more Coots and Mallards along with a single Red-knobbed Coot wearing the obligatory neck collar.  More Reed Warblers and even Spotted Flycatchers using the water-side reeds to hunt out their insect food along the periphery.  Soon it was time to make our way back to the exit but not before a stop at the Laguna del Lirio which not only produced another Purple Swamphen at the back but also a juvenile Night Heron resting in the reds on the water's edge along the right-hand side.  Again, a most obliging "sitter" even if it did have single reeds protruding in front of the body to spoil the photograph.

Juvenile Night Heron martinete Comun Ardeola nycticorax on the Laguna del Lirio

And that was it, time to say farewell and make our way back to Casa Collado via Turtle Dove Alley as above and discover, even with this short diversion and keeping the cruise set at 95 kph on the motorway, that we can now actually travel between Charca de Suarez and home in one hour and five minutes; a direct drive in about and hour or less.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed  Plover, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava iberiae), White Wagtail, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zittig Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Red Avadavat, Serin.

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

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