Thursday, 22 October 2009

Zafarraya, Pantaneta de Alhama and in between, Granada Province.

Well what a day for birding.

I set off to meet the birders from the Axarquia bird group for the first time in a howling gale and heavy rain. On the way the weather improved a bit so I stopped at a couple of places on the way, on the fields between Salar and Alhama I picked up several Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), along with Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Miliaria calandra) and Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
I went to the meeting point but I was quite early so I went and had a coffee and tostado in the bar nearby. Later I returned to the car park and started to sort the optics out of the boot as the rain had died down from torrents to just dam heavy, whilst doing this several more Rock Sparrows were seen and heard and at least two Alpine Accentor's (Acentor Alpino / Prunella modularis) flew over calling in the low cloud. Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) were also seen.
Then to my surprise through the heavy rain three vehicles appeared loaded with intrepid / mad birders from several places along the coast. We allquickly decided to beat a retreat to the bar again and had a coffee and every body was introduced to each other by Bob Wright.
After a while we made our way to the first site in the fields behind Zafarraya where we picked up Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).
The next stop was at Pantaneta de Alhama a small pool near the end of the Alhama Gorge, Here we picked up Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), several Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) on the pool and on the opposite back we heard a Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) calling. Over the pool several hundred Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), a few Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and a single House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) were feeding. In the trees around the pool Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) and Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) were all heard and seen.
Later we made a stop at the end of the Alhama Gorge and walked along the stream a little way, here we saw a hundred plus Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
Our last stop was back at the meeting point where the weather had cleared up. We walked along the old railway line for a few hundred meters to a point just passed the tunnel seeing several Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), a single Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia).
I then left the group to go and enjoy their Menu del dia in the local bar and made my way home via the fields north of Zafarraya and the Salar road. On the return trip I saw similar species to the drive over plus Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) and on the local patch 211 + Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), Stone-curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) and a couple of Water Pipits (Bisbita Alpino /Anthus spinoletta) on the river with both White (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea). Once I was back at the house a large flock of Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), 70+ birds flew out of the fruit trees in our neighbors garden.
Photographs from the top: Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Rainbow near Zafarraya, Common Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).

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