Monday, 21 December 2020

Charca de Suarez

Stonechat Saxicola torquatus

 Saturday 19 December

With travel restrictions removed at midnight to enable one to cross provincial borders, where else would I be but at the Charca de Suarez on the western outskirts of Motril to enjoy a morning's birding, my first visit since late October.  Dry with a little cloud but very low, bright, sunshine casting shadows and silhouettes which had the potential for taking some of the shine off the morning. A couple of Cattle Egrets and a Collared Dove as I approached "Turtle Dove Alley" then my first Stonechat of the day.  No bird life along the now disgraceful concrete link road which has been more and more used for fly-tipping, an absolute disgrace and blot on the landscape, I was near the ruins before I found a good-sized flock of small seed eaters, mainly Common but also Black-rumped Waxbills along with more than a handful of Red Avadavats and maybe a dozen House Sparrows.

Entering the reserve itself a few local Spotless Starlings and the first of three Blackbirds seen during the visit.  Straight to the Laguna del Taraje where, in the misty gloom, I found mainly Mallards. A little patience and a single Little Grebe along with a trio of Coot.  Even a single Red-knobbed Coot put in an appearance and all around the reeds numerous Chiffchaff.

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita

Moving on to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco, noting a few more Mallards and another Red-knobbed Coot at the intermediate hide, I found it very full with water and no chance of a wader.  The resident White Stork was preening towards the back with more Mallards to the front and a dozen Teal at the rear.  To the extreme far right I enjoyed the appearance of a couple of eclipse plumaged Pintail whilst far away in the distance a Buzzard was making lazy circles in the sky.  It required a short walk to the left hand edge of the water to fully see the back waterway and there I found my Purple Swamphen.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

Approaching the Laguna de las Aneas I enjoyed the sight of my first Kestrel and once ensconced in the hide  a good collection of water birds along with a few nearby House Sparrows and a White Wagtail.  Mainly Common  but also very many Red-knobbed Coots along with Mallards towards the front and Shovelers to the back and right along with a quartet of Gadwall.  Two Herons in the reeds at far back on the left and then a trio of Lesser Black-backed Gulls put in a brief appearance. 

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata

So on to the Laguna del Trebol where I hoped to see a very special warbler.  Only two birders present occupying the side seats where they were busy photographing the feeding Bluethroats.  Ere long they departed and I had the hide to myself where I spent, perhaps, the next hour happily watching the Bluethroats along with very many Chiffchaff and the female Black Redstart.  A Stonechat paid a visit and then an inquisitive Robin and spending most of my time viewing form the northern window I had the low sun behind me.

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica

But more excitement was to follow.  Following the flighty Chiffchaffs to a small reeded island not ten metres away I jut happened to be looking at a Chiffchaff low on the right-hand edge when the low sun spectacularly highlighted the white moustache markings of the sought after Moustached Warbler.  What a wonderful bird and sighting.  (And the bird was also to be seen in the same place by following birders.)

Female Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros

Meanwhile back to my preferred window I had a couple of White Wagtails foraging below me followed by the arrival on at least three occasions of a Grey Wagtail.  And what was that creeping about in the undergrowth?  Eventually clear enough to confirm the presence of a Cetti's Warbler.

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti

My final stop for the morning at the Laguna del Lirio produced another pair of Red-knobbed Coots and the same number of Mallard and Moorhen plus so many feeding Chiffchaffs.  I found a sleeping Snipe on the left bank and the last bird of the morning was a passing Chaffinch that disappeared into the trees to my right.

Snipe Gallinago gallinago

A wonderful morning and so good to be back at the Charca but for how long will the provincial border remain open?

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea

Birds seen:

Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pintail, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Snipe, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Collared Dove, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Black-rumped Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Chaffinch.

Robin Erithacus rubecula
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica

White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita

Juvenile Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (back) and Teal Anas crecca

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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