Sunday, 16 March 2014

Charca de Suarez and surrounding fields, La Malaha and Ventas de Huelma areas, Granada Province.

A morning down on the coast and an afternoon on the fields.

I got up and out early to travel up to Granada to meet Juan Perez for a days birding, on the way I saw Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis). I picked Juan up from his address on the outskirts of Granada and we headed off down to Charca de Suarez on the Granada Coast near Motril. The reserve was not open when we arrived so we checked out the agricultural area to the north west, as soon as we arrived a Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) flashed across the road and when parked we could hear a calling Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix) in amongst the sugar cane and pampas grass plants. Next came a fine male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), several noisy Zitting Cisticola's (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), fly over Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata). A little further on we watched a couple of mating Hoopoes (Abubilla / Upupa epops) at it on a fence, heard a couple more Common Quail and added Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), a calling female Red Avadavat (Bengali Rojo / Amandava amandava), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) to the list. 
After a while we went around to the reserve and met Manu the warden and headed for the main hide for a quick check there to see what was about on the large pool, out on the water there were a few Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), a female Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis). On the island there were several Great Cormorants (one of which was ringed), a single Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), a Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago) and around the margins Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and Purple Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio). We moved on around the reserve to Laguna del Taraje where we soon picked up several Sedge Warblers (Carricerin Común / Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) and one of the wintering Moustached Warbler (Carricerin Real / Acrocephalus melanopogon). After some time we both caught a glimpes of a small Crake species as it flashed across a channel in the reedbeds but could not put a name to it at that point, a little later Juan picked up the bird again and was identified as a male Little Crake ( Polluela Bastarda / Porzana parva). We saw the bird breifly a couple more times along with a Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) which was equally elusive flashing betewwen the reeds at speed. Laguna del Lirio was quiet and I only added Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) and introduction Red-knobbed Coot (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata) at Laguna del Trebol. Between the main hide and the side gate we saw Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Viperine Snake (Culebra Viperina / Natrix maura) and Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa). We returned to Laguna del Taraje hoping for better views of the Crake but there was no sign of the bird, we did see several Yellow-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta). 13:00 came around all to quickly and we had to leave the reserve, on our way around to the exit we found a Stripe-less Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis) on a leaf of the flowering Yellow flag-iris (Iris pseudacorus).
We made our way back up to Granada and I dropped Juan off at his home before heading back via the fields near La Malaha and Ventas de Huelma. On the way I had great views of a couple of Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos), several Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina). Back on the local patch I finished the list off with Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) and Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) before reaching the house.

Photographs from the top: Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca), Sedge Warbler (Carricerin Común / Acrocephalus schoenobaenus), young Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa), Stripe-less Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis), Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).

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