Little Crake -
The word rarity means different things to different people. Hardened twitchers travel many miles for a glimpse of a vagrant from the New World or other far away places. However back where they came from such birds might be as common as sparrows are to us. To me a rarity is a bird that is seldom seen, either because there are not many of them, or their habitat may be remote, or they might be very secretive and wary of exposure. Such a bird is the Crake. There are probably very few Crakes anyway and they are extremely secretive and difficult to see as they hide away in dense reedbeds or grasses. It was therefore a source of great satisfaction and surprise to see three species of crake in one week. Having "spotted" a, er well, yes...Spotted Crake at Fuente de Piedra just a week ago I was now looking at a Little Crake right in front of the main hide at the Charca de Suarez. It was in clear view foraging on the bank oblivious to my presence just a few meters away. After observing and photographing this delightful bird for a while I wandered around to the Laguna del Trebol hide and caught glimpses of yet another one. Initially I thought it was spotted but having posted a couple of very poor photos on the web I was informed that it was actually a Baillons Crake. Now that is a rarity in my book. My photographs of this bird are very poor but I post one below as evidence and to illustrate the difference from its Little cousin.
Things hotted up on a trip to Las Norias in Almeria Province with the Axarquia Bird Group. This series of shallow lagoons is set amongst lots of plastic greenhouses, not picturesque but good for birding, as always it´s all about food. I believe the pond water is used to irrigate the greenhouse plants and as such are kept full to maintain supply, this consistency probably helps attract a healthy bird population.
A full report of the day trip, including details of the 60 bird species sighted can be seen on Bob´s blog here,-http://birdingaxarquia.blogspot.com.es/2012/03/axarquia-bird-group-visit-to-almeria.html
Three varieties of grebe were present and I was pleased to get some good shots of a male Black-necked Grebe, a truly stunning bird with fiery red eyes in a black face framed by golden ear tufts. The Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe look somewhat plain in comparison.
Another extremely attractive bird on the ponds was the Red Crested Pochard, of which there were quite a number in company with many of their less colourful Common Pochard cousins
The month started slowly. In the first fourteen days I made a trip between the picnic sites above Alcaucin, resulting in a reasonable shot of a Rock Bunting, a bird that frequents rocky, higher ground and is therefore quite numerous in the Axarquia.
Next day at the Charca de Suarez I caught a pair of Cettis Warblers gaving a stunning courtship display. The male perched on a reed stem above the female shaking his wings in a very agitated manner, calling loudly while the female cowered below. This went on for five minutes or more and the birds were too preoccupied to notice me taking pictures just a few meters away.
Retired seafarer living in Frigiliana, a white village in Malaga Province in southern Spain. Married to Elena. Keen bird and wildlife watchers.
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