09 July : Las Norias

The second part of Dave's birding week....

On the way back from Motril the next morning Gilly and I dropped into Las Norias for my treat before being dragged round the Roquetas shopping mall! On the first causeway were were greeted by a noisy flight of Black-winged Stilt and a flyover by a Night Heron. A Great Reed Warbler was giving some from the reeds over to the right. We scanned but never saw it, but did see the Squacco Heron fishing nearby. We saw about half a dozen female Red-crested Pochard but no males. Also seen were Great Crested and Little Grebe, Coot, Yellow-legged Gull, Grey Heron and Cattle Egret. Land birds seen included Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Jackdaw, Turtle Dove and an obliging sitting Zitting Cisticola
Moving round to the "Old Heronry" Gilly decided that she'd stay near the truck as there were suspicious characters around  whilst I had a check on the bird life. I shouted to her to lock up and come over. On the rocky outcrop apart from a flock of terns there were about a dozen Collared Pratincoles, our firsts of the year! The terns were Little and Gull-billed, plus a Common when I checked the photos later!  Avocets and Black-headed Gulls completed the crowd. Also seen was a Kingfisher and Reed Warbler
We ended up at the second causeway. We added Woodchat Shrike and Magpie to the list. I managed to take a shot of a Night Heron from a different angle as it flew over.
We had 34 species, but boy was it hot and humid. The flies were a right pain, but luckily no mosquitoes.

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.


06 July : Guadalhorce

Now that the balmy summer days are with us and that by 10.00 it's boiling, Federico and I were in to the Guadalhorce at just gone 07.30 this last Sunday morning. We didn't expect too much but nevertheless built up a respectable list of some 41 spp. during the 2 hours 30 were were in there.
young Stilt finding life hard
Waders, leaving aside the Stilts and the rather few Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers (subjeactively much fewer of each than last year at this time), theare was only a single Common Sandpiper which those bullies the Stilts chivvied around. But while to my eyes there were much fewer young plovers than  in previous years, the Stilts appear to have held their own very satisfactorily and there were plenty of young, some of which found life rather tiring as the photo shows. The pair of Avocets that started with four young have now reduced these to two juveniles which are capable of flight, to which you can add the parents plus 4 more adults, a total of 8.
We saw both Common and Pallid Swifts and  although it's hard to be sure, I had the feeling there was quite strong westerly drift. There were a few Barn Swallows and even fewer Red-rumped, although there were plenty of House Martins around, mainly under the bridge.
(L-R) male Ferruginous Duck, male White-headed Duck, Coot (sex unknown)
There had been reports during the week of two Ferruginous Ducks but we only saw the one bird, the male, plus a small selection of others which included Gadwall, Mallard (including a female with 5 ducklings), Pochard and the usual White-headed Ducks. As ever, it was nice to see Little Bitterns, a total of 8 birds it was reckoned , including a very visible juv. fishing in the laguna de la Casilla and a nice male at the laguna Escondida. There was a single Grey Heron which flew off upstream
The most interesting passerines in what is now the quite time with breeding over and moult starting were 3 Yellow Wagtails (2 juvs.) and one or two Reed Warblers still churring away, although they too are losing their vitality, and a single Melodious Warbler flew across the path.
We walke ddown to the seawatch mirador and watched a short while, turning up some 5 or 6 Cory's Shearwaters, altghough technically these Mediterranean birds are now more or less officially known as Scopoli's Shearwater from a recent split which I fail to find totally convincing, these possibly from colony in the Chafarinas Islands, plus a couple of Balearic Shearwaters winging their way out to the Atlantic.
All in all, not a bad morning considering the time of year and heat.
PS:  I forgot to add that last week, evening uncertain as I failed to ask him, my son (and possible heir if I don't blow it all on birding trips) plus two friends of his cycled through the reserve one evening on their way to El Palo and back and on the way back saw the Barn Owl plus two nightjars (sp. unknown) with greenish eyes glowing in the lights of their cycles.