Wednesday 31 August 2022

Charca de Suarez, Motril

Tuesday 30 August

An overcast, cloudy and humid evening to pay a visit to the Charca de Suarez but still very warm at 31C.  A couple of spots when first arrived so hoped the 75 minutes spent at the reserve would get me back to the car before he rains came.  It never did and the evening continued to prove very humid and unpleasant and not helped by the state of the water; everywhere seemed to be covered in a dense growth of reeds and grasses save for the main water.

Collared Doves when I first arrived and then straight to the Laguna del Taraje where I found mainly Mallards and a couple of Common Coot but also a pair pf Purple Swamphen hiding away at the very back behind the grasses and a single Moorhen.  Moving to the hide at the far of the water, a quartet of Moorhen and a single Glossy Ibis.  The hide overlooking the Laguna del Alamo Blanco was a complete waste of time with just a pair of Mallard on the smallest clearing of water with the rest of the pool completely covered by tall grasses.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Walking down towards the rear entrance I found a resting Spotted Flycatcher resulting in me taking a distant record shot whilst overhead a number of Barn Swallows were observed. Back to the path and round to the main hide overlooking the Lagunsa de las Aneas and noting a pair of male Blackbirds on the way.  Once ensconced in the hid a number of both Cattle and Little Egrets along with half a dozen Heron.  Plenty of Mallards and Coots, both Common and Red-knobbed, before finding both a couple of Gadwall and the first of three Ferruginous Ducks to be seen during the visit.  Also present a good number of Black-headed Gulls and then more time studying the Little Egrets away on the far right-hand side which resulted in conforming a couple of Night Herons.

Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

Moving on to the Laguna del Trebol mainly Red-knobbed Coots, more Moorhens and a couple of Little Grebe. The hide on the southern side of the water produced nothing ne and the final hide overlooking the Laguna del Lirio had more Red-knobbed Coots plus a pair of Ferruginous Ducks. 

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca

Making my way back to the car to drive along the back of the reserve I picked up House Sparrows and a Kestrel to finish with 21 species for the short visit.

Heron Ardea cinerea

 Birds seen:

Gadwall, Mallard, Ferruginous Duck, Little Grebe, Night Heron, Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-headed Gull, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blackbird, Spotted Flycatcher, House Sparrow.

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Common Coot Fulica atra

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Night Herons Nycticorax nycticorax with Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

Record shot of distant Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata

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Tuesday 30 August 2022

Roquetas de Mar

 Monday 29 August

An early morning start from Elche to make the most of the low twenties before the sun really got to work ensured that I was at Roquetas de Mar before 11am for my final stop on the five-day return journey from Warsash to Velez de Benaudalla via the Portsmouth - Bilbao ferry.  What a visit, even if now cloudy and very humid with a few spots of rain in the air.  On the other hand, I obviously missed the short showers that either preceded or followed me and a final total of 37 species followed by a further five as I passed through Las Norias on my way home.  And even more impressive, this despite the low water levels in the main pools and all the salina scrapes bone dry so removing most close waders sightings.

Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina

First stop was at the large fresh water lake where still plenty of Common Coots to be seen along with a number of both Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  Immediately in front of me a single Red-crested Pochard plus, resting on a fallen tree, a pair of well-developed Marbled Duck chicks along with a single parent.  A little further away at least four Little Grebe counted plus a number of Mallard.

Young Marbled Ducks Marmaronetta angustirstris with Mum looking on

On a short visit to the "picnic pool" revealed a number of Mallard plus a single, moulting Muscovey Duck

Moulting Muscovey Duck Cairina moschata 

At the back of the water a lone Moorhen along with both Rock and Collared Doves. Then basically nothing until I reached access to the sight of the main water.  However, one of the dried salinas held a very large mixed flock of gulls, mainly Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed but also a number of Audouin's Gulls.

Four Audouin's Gulls Larus audouinii in front of a mix of Lesser Black-backed L. fuscus and Yellow -legged Gulls 

The only bird that I did see on the main track was the Common Sandpiper that flew in front and landed on my side of the car not too far ahead, so enbabling me to get a little closer and take a few photos. 

Common Sandpiper Actitus hypoleucos

Checking the first stretch of water I found a plentiful supply of Flamingo along with both Little Egret and Black-winged Silts.  Then it was on tot the end of the track next to the ruined pumping station and here there was a plentiful supply of birds.  Not just Flamingos and Little Egrets but also waders such as Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and three Oystercatchers.  A single Glossy Ibis flew in to join the party and then time to check out the many resting terns.  Mainly Whiskered but also at least a half-dozen Little Tern.

Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus with an overflying Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

Working my way back along the t rack I stopped at the first pool and fond both a Slender-billed Gull and a a newly-arrived Iberian (Blue-headed Yellow Wagtail.  And the resting flock of gulls now had both Ringed and Kentish Plovers running around and, overhead, both Common Swift and a single House Martin.

Slender-billed Gull Larus genei

So back to the main round, round the freshwater lake and to the far access to the beach where there is access to a small wetland behind the sandbanks;   On this water a pair of Avocet and behind them a resting juvenile Collared Pratincole.  It was searching for a second Collared Pratincole that I found the Curlew Sandpiper working the shallow water at the back.  

Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta with juvenile Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola

Juvenile Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola

Before turning inland towards San Augustin I parked outside the entrance road to the lighthouse and walked along same to check out the water.  A very low level but a resting Purple Swamphen and to my left a Kentish Plover and Dunlin at the water's edge.  A little further out resting on the protruding rocks a number of Collared Pratincoles and the occasional Slender-billed Gull. Finally time to depart and a lone Greenfinch resting atop a bush at the exit and, just round the corner before approaching San Austin, a large flock of Spotless Starlings.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola

My return journey enabled me to take a loop round the large irrigation reservoir a Las Norias where, almost devoid of bird life, I did find many feeding Sand Martins along with a few Barn Swallows.  On the water mainly Great Crested Grebes with a couple of Heron resting at the reeded edges.  It was also at the back of the water as I passed through the many plastic greenhouses that I came across the single Cattle Egret beside a small pool.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Birds seen:

Muscovey Duck, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Marbled Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Glossy Ibis, Flamingo, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Collared Pratincole, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed (Iberian) Wagtail, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch.

Record shot of Blue-headed Wagtail Motacilla flava iberiae

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

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El Fondo

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

Sunday 28 August

Well on my way back home in Velez de Benaudalla so an overnight stop slightly south of Elche in Valencia province meant that I could make an early evening visit to the local reserve at El Fondo.  Still very hot at 31C but at least cooler than most if the day; clear blue skies, an eventual setting sun and the (very) occasional light breeze.

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata

No sooner had I arrived than never mind the Collared Doves on the wires but a couple of Common Swifts above me.  The local House Sparrows were foraging around the closed Visitors Centre and overhead a small flock of passing Glossy Ibis.  A look at the dried up pond behind the Visitors Centre produced a couple of Moorhen along with a trio of Red-knobbed Coots before taking the boardwalk across the first water.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

A very busty little lake with a score or more Flamingos along with a quartet of Little Egret and maybe a dozen Mallard.  Just the one female Shoveler but also a Marbled Duck making its way slowly across the open water.  No shortage of Common plus a few more Red-knobbed Coot.  Needless to say more Moorhens and even a handful of Purple Swamphen including one female with two well-grown chicks.

Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris

As for Glossy Ibis there was a resting flock of at least two score plus regular passing flights which probably averaged a score each.  Just three Little Grebe noted but there were also a number of feeding Barn Swallows above the water.

A few of the very many Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

So onto the two hides.  With a couple walking ahead of me and turning the smaller hide on the left I decided to carry on to the hide overlooking the main water and then pay a visit to the former hide on my return journey.  Just as well I did.  Obviously there had been no visitors for some considerable time for as I approached the path up to the hide through some low heather a female Little Bittern that had been foraging in the area near a small puddle suddenly upped and away - but not before seen by me.

Hundreds of Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus on the lakes

On the water itself very many Flamingos plus at least a score of Little Egrets and an hundred or more Black-winged Stilts.  Just the one Redshank noted but as I was departing I noted the single departing Black-tailed Godwit overhead and came across the large flock of Black-headed Gulls. Once back at the smaller hid I noted another couple of Little Grebe plus a fishing Whiskered Tern.  The return walk over the boardwalk confirmed the large number of resting Glossy Ibis and many Purple Swamphens and both Common and Red-knobbed Coots but both Shoveler and Marbled Duck seemed to have disappeared into the tall reeds.  Indeed, a very enjoyable ninety minutes and well worth the visit.

Some sort of hotel reservation for Little Egrets Egretta garzetta!

Birds seen:

Mallard, Shoveler, Marbled Duck, Little Grebe, Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Flamingo, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Whiskered Tern, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, House Sparrow.

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Friday 26 August 2022

Farewell Warsash and Britain; Hello Europe

Immature Gannet Moras bassanus

Thursday 25 April

The rain final stopped late morning so enabling me to take a walk up the Hamble River to the conservation area and back, even though with the tide only on the ebb for the past hour or so no beach to provide food albeit some of the river’s grassy banks were now exposed.  Cloudy and breezy but nor dull as I started out.  Initially, nothing but a few Black-headed Gulls but once at the grassy banks not only more resting individuals but also a couple of Herring Gulls.  Then, to my delight, over a score of sleeping Black-tailed Godwits.

Once up at the conservation area a few more Black-headed and Herring Gulls but also the remaining flock of Black-tailed Godwits to bring the number present up to just over an hundred compared to the 70 plus Black-headed Gulls.  Also present a trio of Grey Plover and a single Oystercatcher along with a Heron and quartet of Little Egrets.  Time to start the return journey and before reaching the grassy banks in the river an encounter on the path with a very close pair of male Northern Wheatears,  Then, on the grassy banks, a couple of Dunlin and no less than 30 Ringed Plovers.  Add the occasional Carrion Crow, a pair of Mallard and a quintet of Wood Pigeon and it proved to be an enjoyable fifty minutes or so.

Lunch finished, car packed and all sorted so time to make my way to Portsmouth to catch the evening ferry to Bilbao.  A beautiful bright and sunny evening as we set off and rounded the Isle of Wight with many Black-headed and Herring Gulls to be seen.  Then time to settle down for the evening and prepare of the two night journey.

Gannets by the dozen

Friday morning saw me in front of the foremost window in the dining room just north of Finistere in the Bay of Biscay. No camera or bins of course and, therefore, through the clean (for a change) window not just the occasional Manx Shearwater but suddenly many score all gathered together along with a handful of Gannets in what appeared to be a feeding frenzy,  And, at the same time, the arrival of eight Dolphin (or were they Porpoises?) to join in the entertainment.  Most of the mid-morning was then spent relaxing on the aft deck watching the many Gannets circling around the back of the ship.  The great majority seemed to be immatures with their mottled plumage with just the occasional adult and juvenile.

Distant Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus

Birds seen to date:

Mallard, Gannet, Little Egret, Heron, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Manx Shearwater, Wood Pigeon, Northern Wheatear, Carrion Crow.

Lots more immature Gannets Puffinus puffinus

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Sunday 21 August 2022

Titchfield Canal

 Sunday 21 August

Now that the Barn Owl youngsters have fledged and settled about a mile further down the canal path at Titchfield, I thought I would take a morning walk to check suitable habitats in readiness for an early evening visit tonight when the birds might just be up and about and waiting for their photos to be taken.  How wrong I was.  Upon arriving I found I was in the middle of some large-entry road race between Southampton and Fareham and using the canal-side path as part of the course.  Hundreds of participants, so the site of an occasional dog walker was a blessing!

Back at the car 90 minutes later having a covered over two miles, my sum total of species was a magnificent 14!  Pick of the day probably the passing male Kestrel but also lovely to see a couple of cock Pheasants and not just a quartet of Barn Swallows but in excess of 30 House Martins feeding low over the meadow.  Also about very many Wood Pigeons plus a couple of Collared Doves along with Carrion Crow, Magpie and Jackdaw.  Smaller species included Wren, Goldfinch and Blackbird plus a flock of, maybe, forty Common Starlings.

Cock Pheasant Phasianus colchicus

Birds seen:

Pheasant, Cormorant, Kestrel, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Wren, Blackbird, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, Goldfinch.

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Saturday 20 August 2022

Workmans Lane, Warsash plus Shore

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

 Friday 19 August

The morning drizzle had cleared and now all bright and beautiful with warm sunshine but a good breeze.  Time to test if my left foot was sufficiently rested/mended to see if it would cope with the 6km figure of eight walk through Hook with Warsash Nature Reserve.  It was, albeit feeling tired by the time I got back to the car.  Starting a the top of Workmans Lane I took the direct route down to the shore of Southampton Water. A Blackbird on the road and a number of Carrion Crows at the northern end of the horse fields behind the hedge to my left.  A couple of Magpies and then, spending a few minutes at the entrance to the horse fields, saw more Carrion Crows plus a couple of Rooks flying towards me.  No sooner on the final narrow path than greeted by a solitary Goldfinch on the wire above.

Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris

Once on the shore I was surprised to see how close the water was given that there was still three hours before high tide.  Just two birds to be seen, fairly close, at the water's edge, a Little Egret just into the water and a resting Common Gull.  After  200 metres rather than take my intended route back up to Workmans Lane I decided to carry on as far as the Meandering Pool then through the burnt gorse patch to the Scrape.  Good job I did as approaching the start f the pool I stopped to photograph a small group of Starling including fledged youngsters when three Glossy Ibis rose from in front of me and headed to the far end of the meandering Pool.  Reaching the other end of this water I discovered there there were four individuals along with two Little Egret, a few Mallard and even two of both Gadwall and Teal, plus handful of birder who were looking for the reported Glossy Ibis.  (As a result of my direction of walking they now had four rather than one individual to study!).

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

Walking alongside the gorse patch no Dartford Warblers on this occasion but a good-sized charm of Goldfinch included a couple of Linnet. At the back of the area a constant movement of Wood Pigeon and  more Magpies. Then, as I left the gorse area to take the grassy stretch towards the Scrape a resting Northern Wheatear on the grass in front of me which conveniently moved slightly inland to perch on the adjacent fence posts.  And there the Wheatear remained to allow even closer contact and continued use of the camera.

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

Arriving at the Scrape it was sad to note that the Spoonbill had moved on but still three Little Egret, five Heron and about 60 Black-tailed Godwits present.  A trio of Black-headed Gulls on a small sandy island to me right and a Common Sandpiper foraging along the shore.  Searching the water I found a few more Mallard and a trio of Little Grebe. A Rock Dove was also recorded on the far bank.

Very many Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa with a single Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Making my way back along the shore to take my original path back up to Workmans Lane I watched a lone Sandwich Tern make its way slowly up Southampton Water close to the shore on its fishing expedition.  Half-way up the path a single Herring Gull passed overhead and then I was at the entrance to the horse fields. No sooner ate nearest hedge and a local Dunnock was disturbed and having checked the large number of feeding Carrion Crows present I also found a handful of Jackdaws.  Only the occasional Barn Swallow feeding over the fields but a Robin did put in an appearance before I took a left and headed up to the top lane where I found a trio of Stonechat.  And so back, via the small spinney, to the car and home.

Stonechat Saxicola torquatus

Bird seen:

Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Little Grebe, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret, Heron, Back-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Barn Swallow, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Goldfinch, Linnet.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta and with Glossy Ibis Plegdais falcinellus

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