Monday, 22 February 2010

Rio Velez, Malaga Province and Charca del Suarez, Granada Province.

Day Four, Lots of water down on the Costa.

We set of after a leisurely start and made out way passed Zafarraya and down the slope towards the coast, on the way down we pulled off the road to check out a couple of raptors, one was a Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) and the other a passage Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus). The rest of the journey was uneventful and when we got to Torre del Mar Sharon and Jayne went to the shopping centre and John and I did some birding down on the river.
There was so much water in the river today that the birds usually found bobbing about on a gently meandering stream were quite understandably absent, except for a few Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus). We walked down the eastern bank of the river and found what was left of the reed beds and searched for the wintering Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) after just a couple of minutes a fine male with a very obvious white spot in the centre of a crisp blue throat was picked up. Also seen before we went down to the beach were Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago) and Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos).
We then waded through the mud to the beach where we had some great views of five adult Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), loads of Mediterranean Gulls (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) probably 200+, along with Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis). Out on the sea singles of Arctic Skua (Págalo Parásito / Stercorarius parasiticus), Balearic Shearwater (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) and Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) were all seen. On the beach a Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) and a small group of Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) were feeding. As we walked back towards the car another Bluethroat was seen this time with a solid blue chest, three Common Waxbills (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild) called from the reed tops and three Monk Parakeets (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) flew over calling nosily as they usually do.
We then picked the girls up and went for lunch at the Chinese Restaurant on the beach before heading off towards Motril and the nature reserve of Charca del Suarez which only opens for 2 hours in the afternoon in the winter. We arrived a few minute early so we went and had a look on the beach just as it started to rain again, we stuck it out and I managed to see a new species for my Granada list, a couple of Kentish Plovers were feeding with some Sanderling and a single Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres). We had search through the gull flocks on the sea and again picked up 5 Audouin’s, Mediterranean, Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged. We then went on the reserve which was very wet and all the pools were full, from the first hide we watched half a dozen Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) feeding low over the water. Further round a single Immature Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) was again found roosting in almost exactly the same place as a week ago. We then went in to the main hide and soon added Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Eurasian Wigeon (Silbón Europeo / Anas Penelope), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) and Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) to the duck list. Also seen here were Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Black-necked (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo), Greater Flamingo’s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) x3 and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea). We then went to the last hide which was were quiet, so we went back to the car and had a coffee before a quick run back around to the main hide via the last hide. Here this time we could hear a Purple Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) but it did not want to show. We went to the main hide again and added a single Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) but nothing else. Sharon and I then walked back towards the car and John rushed around to the one hide we had not looked at and jammed in on a Swamp-hen sat out in the open. We then returned home via Granada.
Photographs from the top: Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae), Hollow-leaved Asphodel (Ashodelus fistulosus) and Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax).

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