Sunday, 8 January 2017

Charca de Suarez

Saturday 7 January

Lovely clear, sunny day as I set off to the Charca de Suarez, Motril with Lisette Heikoop where we were joined by Olly and Corrine Hibbert for a good three hours at the reserve,  a first visit for the latter and only the second for Lisette following her introduction to this lovely site whilst s[pending a couple of months in nearby (to me) Caleta last winter.  A great morning and rewarded with some lovely, unexpected birds.

A sunny morning at the Charca de Suarez with snow-covered Sierras in the background

 But first the New Year Competition.  Can you identify the following (answers at the end):

1.  Now who might this be?

2.  But who is sheltering behind the Cormorant?
3.  An easier, expected bird of the grasses?
4.  Guess who is hiding in the reeds?

Approaching "Turtle Dove Alley" lots of Spotless Starlings on the wire and a couple of Collared Dove and once on the concrete track we added Blackbird, Kestrel and House Sparrow.  A more concentrated study of the grasses also revealed a female Reed Buntng along with many Chiffchaff.  The, meeting Corrinne and Olly, it was into the Charca and straight to the Laguna del Taraje, passing more Blackbirds, in the hope that the Little Bittern might be see; it wasn't. But, in addition to the very many Chiffchaffs, we did find a couple of Coot and Mallard plus a very agile Purple Swamphen which a very deep-throated "honk" that, having explored the base of the reeds decided to climb the almost two metres to the top.  Meanwhile, on the water itself, a pair of Little Grebes were going about their daily business, a Moorhen paddles away towards the back of the water and a pair of Stonechats, one a very pale youngster, constantly fidgeted about the reed tops without appearing to feed.

Chiffchaff Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita
Next it was on to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco where we found the hide already occupied by a trio of local birders and reports that the resident Water Rail was active to our left.  Whilst I only got fleeting glimpses, Corrinne had a great view as she was watching from further left in the hide.  Again, lots of feeding Chiffchaffs and at the back a couple of Green Sandpipers and a handful of Teal.  Also resting next to the Teal on the "straw island" were at least three Snipe and nearer to the hide a Water Pipit put in an appearance.  We duly walked outside to get a clearer view of the soaring Buzzard and, later on, a passing Booted Eagle.

Very distant Buzzard Busardo Ratonero Buteo buteo

The main Laguna de las Aneas had its fair share of Coots and Moorhens along with a number of Mallard, Shoveler and Pochard.  Nearer the far bank more Teal and a the far end a neck-ringed Red-knobbd Coot.  The single White Stork was still present and within inches of where seen on previous recent visits near the opposite scientific hide; almost as if it had been tethered!  On the large island immediately in front of the hide apart from the Shoveler were a number of Cormorants plus a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls.  It was, however, rather surprising to find a roosting single Black-tailed Godwit.  Lots of Crag Martins feeding over the water and both White Wagtails and Chiffchaffs making use of the conveniently placed perches in the water.  Corrinne also managed to find a Bluethroat on the path outside.

Shoveler Cuchara Comun Anas clypeata
Visiting the Laguna del Trebol I had both a Robin and Black Redstart on the track in front of me and on entering the hide a Red-knobbed Coot so close that any close and it would have been in the hide with me.  This water produced a whole raft of these uncommon coots including many in their natural state and without collar rings.  In addition to Mallards and Moorhens the water also had a trio of Wigeon which was a rather delightful sight.  On round to the far side and the inward-looking hide where, again, more sightings of Red-knobbed Coots along with a single Heron.  Most interesting here was the great number of sunning Terrapins along the western bank; must have been a score or more.  A "honk" from outside from the warden's van informed us that it was closing in time in five minutes so our three-hour stay was at an end and  we made our departure for a welcome coffee in the neighbouring cafe outside the main gate.  With the birds seen and heard today, me thinks I might be making a return visit next week.

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristala

Birds seen:
Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Heron, White Stork, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Collare Dove, Crag Martin, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Reed Bunting.

Another look at the very many Chiffchaffs Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita
Yellow-legged Gull Gaviota Patiamarilla Larus michahellis at rest

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

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