We made another visit to the Charca de Suarez with Bob Wright on Sunday and Bob was impressed with the progress that has been made here, particularly the latest hide on the new "Wader" pond. We sighted Wood, Green and Common Sandpiper, Water Rail, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Black Winged Stilt, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Reed Warbler, Yellow and White Wagtail, Turtle Dove, Red Avadavat and most interesting of all, a Black Rumped Waxbill, shown to us by Juan ? a naturalist friend of Mick Richardson who had the bird in his scope.
It is similar to the Common Waxbill but without the cross barring on the plumage and it has a distinctive black tail with white edges. According to Juan this escaped cagebird from Southern Africa is now established and breeding in this area. The photograph above is an archive shot included here to illustrate the species.
Birding often happens in bursts. After being shown the Waxbill Juan said "There's a Squacco", but I what I saw was a Little Bittern which was confusing until I spotted the Squacco Heron a few meters to the right. As we watched these two a Water Rail emerged from the reeds and made a sudden dash across the mudflat at breakneck speed. It ran so fast back and forth across the mud that I quietly named it the Ussain Bolt of the bird world.
Being such a long stretch of mud, water and reedbed means that most of the birds on this pond are some way off, making good photography difficult. The only other shot worth posting from here is this nice Wood Sandpiper that came relatively close.
On a final note, we saw Kingfishers from five of the six hides visited today. The one below was using the conveniently placed sticks in front of the Main Hide, ideal for photographs.
This is a wildlife blog and here are a few photos that were not taken on a trip. For example the Pallid Swift below was one of many that were flying in and out of palm trees on the Balcon de Europa in the centre of Nerja. I took the camera down one morning to get a few shots of the action and I like this one it because in this swoop it gives the bird a different look from the classic scythe-like swift profile we are all familiar with.
This Peregrine Falcon is a nice record shot as it was taken from our own terrace, it spent a while wheeling around over the house looking for prey in the surrounding countryside.
All nine of our House Martin nests have been fully occupied this season and the second brood is almost fledged already. It has been fun to observe some of the various insect food that is brought in to feed the young. The Red & Black Bug has been common this year and this shot shows an adult bird arriving with quite a cluster of them in its beak.
It's not certain how much they are appreciated by the fledgelings however as the Bugs often escape by just walking back out of the nest. The one below for example got away, albeit well camouflaged with feathers from inside, smart bug ha ha.
A recent visit to the Charca de Suarez revealed the appearance of three new hides as work on developing the Reserve progresses apace. The best new addition looks out across the large new wader pond which had become quite overgrown recently. The new hide however has an open view up the full length of this long expanse of water and we enjoyed watching a variety of species including Red Avadavat, Reed Warbler, Water Rail, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, B W Stilt, Little Egret and Yellow Wagtail amongst others. All of these sightings were too far away for any decent photography however, unlike the Long Skimmer Dragonfly that rested on leaves quite close in front of the hide
The only other photo worth posting is of another little Stripeless Green Tree Frog - hyla meridionalis, always nice to see and this year quite prolific.
On the animal thread we have seen some nice lizards recently, the pick of the bunch being this young Ocelated or Eyed Lizard in Sierra Nevada, displaying some nice colour and some super spots. King of the Mountains for sure.
Here are a few more butterflies from Sierra Nevada. The one below could be a Southern Brown Argus, but the very small black lhw spots suggest it is more likely to be Mountain Argus but I am just not expert enough to really be sure.
The insect below is much more like the classic description of a Brown Argus with very distinct, large black spots on the lhw, which leads me to believe the one above must be axerxes, not agestis.
The Scarce Swallowtail below was taken using fill-in flash as the light was not good in a shady grove. I don't usually like the black background created by over-use of flash, but in this case I think the effect is ok.
The humble House Sparrow below is included because the little lady only has one foot. It did not prevent her from seeking scraps around the tables at a restaurant where she was able to use the stump to steady herself.
I photograph Small Skippers in the hope that they might turn out to be something different. Similar species include Lulworth, Essex and Large Skippers. Close examination of the photos however reveal that sadly this is just a common Small Skipper, but a decent shot anyway.
The dragonfly below is a female Epaulet Skimmer (I think). It's a common species around here except that this shot was taken above 2000 m up in the Sierra Nevada, and not close to any water. Quite remarkable I would say.
On impulse Elena & I drove up to Sierra Nevada this morning to give my 180 mm lens a workout on the butterflies up there. We drove straight up on the main road & made our first stop in the Botanical Gardens a kilometre or so before the ski resort. From memory the species seen in here included Great Banded Grayling, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Clouded Yellow, Brimstone, Small, Large, Iberian Marbled and Bath Whites, Small Skipper, Common Blue and Speckled Wood.
Nothing particularly rare or unusual turned up but it is always nice to see the very attractive Queen of Spain Fritillary, and I enjoyed getting some decent shots of it in good light.
From here we moved on up above Pradollano & ventured out onto the "ski slopes" in the 4x4, following a rough road through the meadows, stopping occasionally to try to photograph the Apollo butterflies that frequent this open area. I have never managed to capture a really good image of the Apollo as although it's a very large insect the colours and markings are not distinctive, being rather wishy-washy, and it is always on plants that it blends-in with and so it does not stand out from the background. Nevertheless I did the best I could which was an improvement on previous efforts & I was reasonably happy.
In order to eliminate the background I tried some extreme close-ups in macro mode, but the insect still looks quite tepid, oh well, some of us are just not photogenic either.
There were a few other species about the including the Meadow Fritillary below, but I got the feeling that it was all a bit too late as many of the species I had hoped to find were not around, I get the feeling that as well as late perhaps it has been too dry this year. Not to see a Knapweed Fritillary, Black Satyr or Swallowtail for example is very disappointing.
On a much more positive note I was very pleased indeed to pick up a new species for my life list. It was one that we had hoped to see on previous visits without any luck, but this time some little Blues that were frequenting the muddy road by a crossing stream were later confirmed by friend Mick Richardson as Nevada Blues. Very nice.
As a footnote it is also worthwhile mentioning some of the birds seen. Although I was not using a birding lens we noted Short-toed Treecreeper, Whitethroat, Long tailed Tit, Rock Bunting, Northern Wheatear, Alpine Accentor as well as other more mundane species. On the little back road down to Huetor Sierra we stopped by a freshwater spring/basin and enjoyed watching a very large Goldenring dragonfly hawking around, which unfortunately did not settle for a photo, oh well, another time perhaps.
I found this nice image of a Blue Spot Hairstreak when revisiting the folder to delete unwanted files. It had remained un-edited but I'm glad I checked the RAW file before deleting it as I really like all the matching layers of brown behind the insect, they supplement and enhance the colour and texture of the butterfly's wings.
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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