A morning of mixed wildlife, included another three year ticks for the bird list.
Juan Perez and I set off from Granada at 06:30 and headed for the area around Charca del Suarez near Motril, our first stop was on the road through the field just North of the main reserve. Straight away we started to see good numbers of both adult and immature Red Avadavats (Bengali Rojo / Amandava amandava), most were feeding on the roadside picking throught the vegetation for seeds but some sat up nicely on the Pampus Grass tussocks and showed well. In the areas of thicker cover there were several calling Common Quail(Codorniz Común /Coturnix coturnix), Cetti's Warblers (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Nightingales (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) but we could not hear the species I most wanted to see the Savi's Warbler (Buscarla Unicolor / Locustella luscinoides) which Juan had heard a few days earlier. On a semi ruined farm shack there we watched a Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) have a bit of a stand off, we guessed that both species were breeding in the gapes in the block walls but neither was very happy with their neighbours. We continued on to the junction and again parked and had a bit of a walk around the site listening for the conspicuour reeling call of the Savi's but we failed to see or even hear the bird during the visit, we did however have very nice views of an immature Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) which was warming its self on the side of the track. The snake was only about 25cm long but it was quite happy to strike at the camera when it had warmed up a bit before heading off into the grass. Along this track we also added both Turtle (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) to the day list along with Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus). We got back to the road and Juan went and fetched the car so that we could head towards the golf course pools to check what was in this area, we arrived and quickly sorted out Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major). We took the track which led down towards the beach via the small pool and reedbed on the golf course, along here we added Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), a couple of Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra), at least 8 Northern Wheatears (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), on the beach a single Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) and out to sea an adult Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus). We then started to make our way back to the car but stopped and cheched out an area of scrub and shrubs which looked good for migrants, almost straight away we located an Olivaceous Warbler (Zarcera Pálido / Hippolais pallida) which was flycatching from some Caster-oil type plants and then a Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta). Before heading to Charca we had a look at the second larger pool on the course and quickly located a Squacco Heron (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and a Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia). We entered Charca through the back gate with the work party which placed us on the far side of the reserve so we had a look at the hide which looks over the small pool near to the main hide. From here we had the first of a few Purple Swamp-hens (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), both male and female Little Bitterns (Avetorillo Común / Ixobrychus minutus), several Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). We later moved around to the main hide and were soon watching a very nice Whiskered Tern (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus) which was skimming the pool feeding, Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), a fly over Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea) and a squabbling pair of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) which flew around the pool but did not land. We then spent some time watching and photographing a nice male Little Bittern which was perched on a log in the water straight out from the hide. After a while we walked out of the hide and spent some time searching the area of planted trees on the edge of the reserve behind the hide, this turned out to be a good move as we soon added a Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata) to both our year lists. We returned to the hide just in time to see the Little Bittern swallowing a very large Iberian Water Frog (Rana Común / Rana Perezi) which I got a couple of shots of. I then left Juan in the hide and went back out to try and get some shots of the Flycatcher but it had gone more distant by the time i found it but I did see my second Olivaceous Warbler of the morning along with a couple of Willow Warblers (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochillus), another Melodious and the third year tick for the day a skulking Garden Warbler (Curruca Mosquitera / Sylvia borin). I returned to the hide where Juan was talking with the chap who does the ringing there, he then went out side and found us a fine Mediterranean Chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) which was happy to have his portrate taken, later I found a second slightly smaller individual which was much less happy to have its photo take and moved higher up in the bush much quicker than expected. While we were watching these beauties several European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) flew over along with Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus). After a cracking morning we made our way back to the entrance and out of the reserve and back to Juans car but we did see a couple of Stripe-less Tree Frogs (Hyla meridionalis) on the Iris leaves near the gate. We headed back to Granada and then I headed home, on the way I added Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus). Also during the visit we saw several other species including Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). Photographs from the top: Mediterranean Chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon), Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), 2x Little Bitterns (Avetorillo Común / Ixobrychus minutus), Mediterranean Chameleon and Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur).