September 2018 – Charca de Suarez, Motril

The first visit by the Andalucia Bird Society to this lovely enclosed site at Charca de Suarez just west of Motril in Granada province.  Greeted by light rain, sufficient to have most entering in either raincoats and/or with umbrellas, the weather soon cleared up to leave a cloudy and ever-increasing humid morning.  Shame we were still carrying the now unnecessary rain gear!  Given the fact that this was a very early start and a distance away from most of the regular field visit participants, it was lovely to see 17 members join me for the morning

including some from west of Malaga and Barry and Jan Avis who had travelled all the way west from Murcia province.  Again, a special delight to see Dianne Cockayne with us after her recent bereavement and looking so positive, determined and (relative) happiness given her recent experience.  Look forward to seeing Dianne again when she returns from her Sheffield home back in the UK.

Perhaps a little too early for the winter waders with just the one Snipe seen and not a single Cattle Egret and with just the one Little Egret and a single over-flying Grey Heron before a second took up residence splendidly poised on a large post in front of the hide overlooking the Laguna del Alamo Blanco.  At the same hide, in addition to long-residing White Stork, we also had a very special visitor.

On arriving at the hide a I had a very brief sight of what looked like a diminutive Moorhen until I realised I was looking at a crake, possibly a Little Crake.  Less than five seconds in view then gone before anyone else could be alerted.  Who would believe me?  But patience is always a virtue and eventually the bird not only wandered out from the reeds but decided to take a short walk through the water giving excellent views to all present.  Photographs taken and with a better, longer sight the bird was confirmed as a Spotted Crake.

Our morning had started at the “reedy” Laguna del Taraje where Barry, first to arrive, was greeted with a brief sighting of a Water Rail as it crossed a gap at the back of the water but immediately in front the hide.  No Little Bitterns but we did record our first Purple Swamphens and Red-knobbed Coots along with Little Grebe, Mallard and Moorhen.

So on to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco as above where we also added a number of Mallards, Teal, Common Coots and, overhead, both Common Kestrel and a passing Booted Eagle.  A single Night Heron was circling above the trees before disappearing from sight but found later along with six others as they roosted in a dead tree at the back of the main water.

The gathering of Night Herons Martinete Comun Nycticorax nycticorax mainly juvenile
Walking to the Laguna de las Aneas we added Blackbird and heard Turtle Dove.  Driving down “Turtle Dove Alley” I had already record and photographed a pair along with a Hoopoe and another of the latter was added a little later on during the morning.  A small flock of Serin were feeding in a tree just before the main hide and, once inside, we quickly added a number of both Mallard and Common Pochard.  Another Grey Heron was on the island and, at the back, a couple of Ferruginous Ducks.  At the front the island amidst the Mallards we also managed to pick up a couple of Shoveler.  Paul saw the only White Wagtail of the morning and both Cetti’s and Reed Warblers were singing/calling.  A Kingfisher, having already flown across the previous water, presented itself by perching on top of the depth marker post for a lengthy time and then, seen as well as heard, a small number of Bee-eaters, presumably making their way westwards towards their final destination before crossing over to Africa.  Not a single gull or hirundine on or over the main laguna so just as well I recorded a few Barn Swallows whilst waiting for the reserve gate to open and also a handful of Audouin’s Gulls on the neighbouring beach.

More calling Turtle Doves then the first of a number of sightings of Spotted Flycatcher.  But, whilst watching a number of Red-knobbed Coots on the Laguna del Trebol followed by brief sightings of both Cetti’s and Reed Warbler we had our first Kestrel of the morning fly overhead.  And so on to the hide on the other side of the water.  Nothing new to add but as we made our way back to the main track we stopped to admire the two resident Chameleon, as pointed out to us by one of the wardens.  Whilst watching these lovely, on this occasion bright green, creatures we had a visitation from a small brown warbler.  Lucky for us it hung around long enough to pick out the very white throat and back markings to confirm the obvious sighting of a Common Whitethroat.

Nothing new to add in the remaining thirty minutes so we assembled at the main gate to say our farewells and eight of us carried on up to the picnic area at Velez de Benaudalla.  Our journey took us down “Turtle Dove Alley” but no birds of the same name on this occasion.  We did have a flock of Serin and just past the old ruin we finally came across a trio of Red Avadavat.  Then, to my right, a lone Northern Wheatear beat a hasty, low retreat through the neighbouring bushes of Pampas Grass and our final bird was a Spotless Starling as we approached the main road.  As for the picnic area itself, the very heavy rain and thunderstorms of the previous evening and night had drenched the site and covered the track to the site with enormous puddles stretching from side to side.  Indeed, the only bird recorded was a Chaffinch.

Time to return to our respective home after a very pleasant and interesting morning’s birding in great company.

Bob Wright

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