08 July : Charca de Suárez (Motril),

Two missives in a row from Almería, published as separate entries, the first from Dave and Gilly who ventured in to enemy territory and teamed up with some of the Arboleas Group. Thanks for the condolences, Dave, I think you can be pretty certain that I won't be at the Bird Fair this year (or probably any other year in the future). I can go along with Red Underwing without any problem but shall leave the definitive word to Mick Richardson. By the way, what's this 'politeness' bit? Getting soft in the old age?

It may be hot and the Arboleas Birding Group's trips on temporary hold, but I was getting itchy feet stuck at home. I decided that Gilly and I would take a trip down to the Charca de Suarez bird reserve at Motril. 

I contacted Steve and Elena Powell and Bob and Jenny Wright out of politeness saying I was visiting their patch and they kindly agreed to meet us there. If you don't know this reserve I have to say it's a gem. It's only open at this time of the year, 18.00 - 20.00hrs each evening plus 09.00 - 12.00 at weekends. There has been a lot of work been done improving the site since I was last here.

Gilly and I arrived early at the gated entrance. 
We were blessed with an obliging Spotted Flycatcher to keep us company as we waited for the ranger to let us in. We were met by Steve and Elena. We first made our way to a new shallow lake. There we saw Black-winged Stilt, Yellow and White Wagtails, Little Egret and Ringed Plover. We were joined by Bob and Jenny, the latter still shell shocked after her recent car accident. We heard Reed Warbler and also saw Zitting Cisticola and Bee-eater. We carried on round towards one of the hides seeing Turtle Dove, Great Tit and Goldfinch on the way. 
We spent some time in this hide, which gave good views over a lake with some islands, on which were Cattle and Little Egret and Mallard. Bob identified a group of around 6 Ferruginous Duck down the far end and also a group of Audouin's Gull amongst the Black-headed ones. 
Also seen were Little and Black-necked Grebe. Gilly spotted a Little Bittern. At the next hide we added a solitary Red-knobbed Coot, then spent some time chatting about past and forthcoming trips. As time was getting on we hurried to the last hide. There we had good but distant views of Purple Swamphen and Night Heron. As we headed to the exit gate a large moth landed in the reeds by the path. The nearest ID we could find in the book was a Red Underwing. Perhaps one of you experts could confirm or deny it!

We ended up with 32 species. A really good time was had by all....the birds and the company!
I'm sure you'll all join me in offering our sincere condolences to Andy Paterson for the sad loss of his sister, Gay.

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