Monday 16 May 2022

Sunday 15 May

Charca de Suarez, Motril at 10 o’clock to meet up with friends Derek and Barbara Etherton for an enjoyable visit to this pleasant reserve. Waiting for the gates to open a couple of Common Swift passed overhead towards the beach and once inside and walking towards the bamboo hide overlooking the Laguna del Taraje Blackbird, Blackcap, Goldfinch, Collared Dove and a lone Robin recorded.  Once inside the hide very little to be seen on the water other than a handful of Mallard, a female Pochard, Little Grebe and a couple of a pair of Little Egrets beat a hasty flight away as we entered.  However, at the hide we met up with birding colleague from the UK, Don Mooney and most pleased that he was happy to join us for the rest of the visit including and onward exploration after departure from the reserve. Also heard whilst in the hide a Turtle Dove and number of Nightingales.

Walking to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco more calling Turtle Doves and very vociferous Cetti’s Warblers. The northern hide overlooking Taraje produced our first of many Red-knobbed Coots of the morning and another Great Tit.  Serins in the trees and then a first Zitting Cisticola but the delight of the second water was the handful of foraging Common Waxbill plus a single male Red Avadavat.

Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild

Before striking out for the main laguna we took a short walk to the rear entrance of the reserve and were delighted to find a Purple Heron that had been “hiding” in a ditch to our right.  Above and around us many House Martins along with a single Barn Swallow before Derek was first to spot the arriving Spotless Starlings.  Then, immediately close to our left, a Turtle Dove resting atop a pole.  A lone Yellow-legged Gull flew over our heads and then as we walked back to take the track to the main hide the calling Bee-eaters had all four of us looking up to find these gorgeous and beautiful coloured summer visitors. Moving on we saw more Cetti’s Warblers, Blackbirds, Common Waxbills and the first Reed Warblers.

Purple Swamphen Calamon Comun Porphyrio porphyrio

Once inside the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas we soon discovered, once again, that Red-knobbed Coots far outnumbered their cousins, the Common Coot.  A Purple Swamphen was preening immediately opposite us on the island and a second discovered not so far away.  No shortage of Mallard and even a lovely group of Pochard including growing ducklings.  Just the one Little Grebe seen but a couple of Common Sandpiper provided an alternative species.  A few Barn Swallows were feeding over the water and at the back right we picked up not only a couple of Grey Herron in the tall, bare tree but a Little Egret immediately below them and below the latter the first of three Squacco Herons that were to be seen during our visit.  More Little Egrets at the base of the tree and right at the back not only resting Mallards but a single Muscovey Duck, the latter more white than black and almost certainly either a feral bird or escapee. A single Black-winged Stilt paddled to the side of the island before we took our leave.

Distant Muscovey Duck Cairina moschata

Approaching the Laguna del Trebol we stopped to admire the hunting Spotted Flycatchers and the water itself produced many more Red-knobbed Coot plus a White Wagtail, many House Sparrows and our third Squacco Heron.  Moving on we recorded both a Greenfinch and a male Common Kestrel then more Common Waxbill before reaching the final hide overlooking the Laguna del Lirio which had nothing to show other than a few more Red-knobbed Coots.

Very distant record shot of Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

With about fifteen minutes to spare before closing tome we took a return visit to the Laguna Del Taraje and were well rewarded, not just with Cetti’s but a lone Olivaceous Warbler. Now that was a very welcome bonus!

Departing at 1pm we took the Camino Patria at the back in order that both Derek and Don would find it for future visits and even saw a further four Turtle Doves.  Then it was straight up to Velez de Benaudalla to take the track at the back of the Guadalfeo as Derek hoped that the Dipper might be on show and Don had never seen a Golden Oriole; one was to be disappointed and the other well pleased!

No sooner over the little hump-back bridge and onto the track northwards than we had a Blackbird followed by a number of House Sparrows and a Grey Wagtail resting on a log in the river.  Almost immediately not only a White Wagtail but Barbara and Derek watched an Iberian Yellow Wagtail fly up from the river and over the nearby fence; lucky them.  Then, for Don’s benefit, the first Golden Oriole of at least three calling from somewhere within the foliage of the nearby tree.

Next it was Serins and Chaffinches before a second stop and more Golden Orioles calling plus a very brief sighting plus calling Hoopoe.  Not surprisingly there were many calling Cetti’s Warblers and a nearby Collared Dove.  A few Spotless Starlings flew over and this stop also provided close views of Spotted Flycatchers.  Our final stop was at the packed picnic area with children, adults and dogs in and around the water so no chance of finding a Dipper.  We did, however, record yet more Golden Orioles and another brief sighting in addition to more Chaffinches, House Sparrows and Spotted Flycatchers.  And so our morning’s birding ended as Don set off for the now relatively close motorway and back to Mijas Costa in Malaga province and Barbara and Derek joined Jenny and I for lunch, being welcomed home by the nesting House Martins on the neighbouring houses and even a few Pallid Swifts at a higher altitude – and they, too, nest in the village.  Most enjoyable and such good company.

Distant shot of resting Little Egrets Egretta garzetta

Birds seen:

Muscovey Duck, Mallard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Nightingale, Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Blackcap, Great Tit, Golden Oriole, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Resting Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

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