|White-headed Duck Malvasia Cabeciblanca Oxyura leucocephala|
Our first stop was on the middle causeway giving views over the majority of the water to left and right. Immediately it was obvious that there was a wide range of ducks and grebes plus an assortment of other water birds. Lots of Red-crested Pochards plus Common Pochard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Mallard and White-headed Ducks. All three Grebes; Little, Black-necked and Great Crested, the last by far the most numerous, were to be seen and, indeed, there were a number of viewings of Great Crested Grebes going about their mating rituals with lots of head shaking, etc. In addition to the many single sightings, there was a large gathering of Cormorants at the far end and the northern edge resting amongst the reed. Naturally, there were scores and scores of Coots and the occasional Moorhen.
Having noted a Common Sandpiper and single Heron, we moved on to the far end and, parking on the causeway, spent a considerable time exploring the small pool to the east of the bridge as well as a limited walk around the southern edge of the main water. The water levels, whilst receding, were much higher than I had ever seen before and covered the main path so both restricting our walk and leaving very little feeding opportunities for the waders. However, a later walk to the flooded field at the far end of the causeway did bring forth some limited success.
|Squacco Heron Garcilla Cangrejera Ardeola ralloides|
Near at hand, we had close views of Red-crested Pochard and then, having found our first Squacco Heron, suddenly discovered that there were another three at close quarters and even clearer to the eye. Likewise the Night Herons; find one and suddenly we had a dozen individuals in close proximity. Overhead, we had regular sightings of quartering Marsh Harriers with small numbers, very small numbers, of feeding Barn Swallows. In addition, the main gull contingent consisted of Black-headed Gulls but there were also a very small number of both Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A large flock of approaching 150 Teals moving overhead was even more impressive that the twenty or so Red-crested Pochards that we had seen above the first causeway. Just as lovely were the 8 Avocets that flew overhead and landed on the main water before returning over our heads just before our departure.
There were very few waders initially but we did have a couple of Black-winged Stilts and then a rapidly disappearing Snipe. Before walking to the flooded field at the far end of the road, Pat also managed to pick up a trio of Whimbrel departing the site. Walking down the road accompanied by lots of Chiffchaffs, a few Willow Warblers and a Sardinian Warbler feeding in the adjacent shrubs and trees, we were soon amongst a good collection of White Wagtails and then our first of a number of Yellow (Blue-headed Iberian) Wagtails. Before taking a closer look at the lone Glossy Ibis, we also had a Meadow Pipit and then a single Green Sandpiper followed by a trio of Little Ringed Plovers. High overhead, a very distant female Marsh Harrier plus also another individual being “seen off” by a Booted Eagle.
|Little Bittern Avetorillo Comun Ixobrychus minutus|
Moving on to pools and salinas to the west of Roquetas de Mar, we first paid a very short stop to check what was on the large fresh-water pool - but not before Eric and I had seen a Cuckoo flying slowly westwards over the reeds as we approached the water from the north. The water held mainly Coots and Red-crested Pochards along with Shovelers and Lesser Black-backed Gulls so we carried on to the small enclosed water “ponds” behind the far house. Not so much the Barn Swallows overhead or the House Martins even higher, the target bird was the known resident, the Red-knobbed Coot. And in this we were not to be disappointed, albeit the most obvious individual was “number 84” with his wide collar. However, we did also manage to see a couple of youngsters with less prominent “red gobstoppers” stuck on their foreheads!
Next it was back in the cars and off along the narrow road towards Almerimar, where lunch was taken, passing both Kestrel and Stonechat on the wires before turning in towards the lighthouse. With the water levels so high it was disappointing from a wader perspective but we did see Flamingos (with the water levels up their bellies), Little Egret and a single Redshank before turning the cars to park and check out the small water at the far , western, end. Indeed, whilst turning the cars, we had a lovely sighting of a Southern Grey Shrike perches on top of a nearby bush.
A very small number of Barn Swallows over the water and a pair of Marsh Harriers to the end whilst, on the water, we had 8 Shelduck and a small number of Shovelers plus the odd Little Grebe and Black-necked Grebe. However, pride of place went to the four Garganey, three drakes and a duck, that for most, I am sure, was the “Bird of the Day.”
|Quartet of Garganey Cerceta Carretona Anas querquedula with Shelduck Taro Blanco Tadoma tadoma at back|
So, trying to complete the list whilst we enjoyed our lunch, we could all look back on some fabulous birds seen during the extended morning and, I think for all of us, much justification for making the long journey eastwards to the Axarquia Bird Group’s first visit to Almeria province.
Charca de Suarez
|Green Sandpiper Andarrios Grande Tringa ochropus|
|Yellow Wagatail Lavandera Boyera Motacilla flava|
From the hide we had both a single Snipe and Green Sandpiper feeding immediately below us plus a Little Egret and Cormorant to the rear of the pool. Moving to the neighbouring hide with Cetti’s Warblers screaming all around us, we were greeted by very close views of both Blue-headed Wagtails and Chiffchaffs and then, well-spotted Pat, a female Reed Bunting which remained in view most of the time until our final departure. However, it was when we made our way out with a stop at the opposite hide that we got another treat for the evening. First, we found once again the resting Night Herons that had come to the reserve, but on this occasion only one of the three that were previously seen by Stephen and Elena before seeing, sitting immediately in front of the hide we had just left, another Snipe happily drinking at the water’s edge. Just to the bird’s right, a Purple Swamphen was perched on top of the reeds trying to decide whether to fall asleep or carry on eating. Then, to cap it all, Elena spotted the “resident” Bluethroat (we all thought that he should be long gone) below the Swamphen. Finally, icing on the cake, the Bluethroat was joined by another, so proving that there is more than one bird wintering at the reserve. Then, as we departed, we were entertained to the arrival of flocks of Cattle Egrets returning top their evening roost from their neighbouring feeding fields.
So ended a marvellous day’s birding with a final total of 69 species.
Note:For the next few months the Charca de Suarez Reserve will only be open fro 5.30 -7pm on week-days. With the breeding season now started all visitors will be escorted by one of the wardens and, unlike previous years, prior bookings will be necessary. Also, please note that once admitted at 5.30 the gates will be locked until closing time at 7 pm.
|Take a look at that "hair-do" on the Red-knobbed Coot!|
|Female White-headed Duck|
|"Geronomo!" screamed the little Blue-headed Wagtail|
|A surfing Coot! Well, somebody has to have some fun on the water.|
Birds seen:Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Garganey, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Heron, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Booted eagle, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Bklack-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Snipe, Whimbrel, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.