An afternoon by the sea.
Jayne and I set off for an afternoons walk down on the beach at Motril and to have a look at Charca de Suarez nature reserve nearby. We started the walk from near the entrance to the reserve and walked west away from the port for the next couple of hours. On the way I had nice views of several small groups of winter plumaged Sanderlings (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) running up and down the shingle like wind up toys, with them there were several Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) and three Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina). On the sea there were good numbers of Gulls including Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis). Further out large flocks of birds were following a couple of fishing boats feeding on the scraps and escapes, most were Gulls but they were joined by lots of Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), a few Balearic (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) and Cory's Shearwaters (Pardela Cenicienta / Calonectris diomedea) all of which were being harried by good numbers of Great Skua’s (Págalo Grande / Catharacta skua). In one flock alone I counted 11 Skua’s and saw at least another ten individual birds and all of them were giving the other sea birds a real pounding. Other birds seen out to sea were Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo), Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Sandwich Terns (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis). On the beach I was surprised to find a very late female Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) feeding amongst the tide line debris along with several White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Crested Larks (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata).
We eventually arrived back at the entrance to Charca after a nice stroll. We went in and worked our way around the main track in an anti clockwise direction. The first hide was as usual quiet so we pushed on to the second getting nice views of an adult Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) which was roosting in the track side willows on the way. Here the first bird was a Water Pipit (Bistita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta) in exactly the same place Juan and I had photographed one a couple of weeks ago, today it was joined by a Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) and a very smart Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago). Out on the water there were Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis). In the air there were several Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) feeding on the plentiful flying bugs, they were joined by at least a couple of late / wintering Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and in the reeds swarms of Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) flicked around with a few Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) and Cetti’s Warblers (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti). We then moved around to the main hide where there was a tour party just leaving, we settled down and picked up a single Purple Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and from here we counted at least 6 Barn Swallows feeding low over the water. We then made our way back towards the entrance adding Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) to the list. Insects included Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) butterflies and Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum), Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) and Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) dragonflies.
Photographs from the top: Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), 2x Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) and 2x Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago).