Saturday 16 May 2009

Trip to the Guadix area, Granada Province.

Rollers and Stock Dove.

Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus).

Andy Mountford and myself set off to a site near Guadix where we picked up at least 8 Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) at two different sites. Also seen were the first Imm Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator glandarius) of the season, along with Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Black-eared (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Northern (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis). Black-belled Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) were heard amongst the Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) Song.
Red-eared Terrapin, (Trachemys scripta).
Later in the day we picked up Stock Dove (Paloma Zurita / Columba oenas) at one of it's only sites in Andalucia. Also seen here were Little Grebe (Zapullin Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Common Sandpiper x 4 (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Common Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra). Out on the pool there was a large Red-eared Terrapin, (Trachemys scripta) basking in the sun, an unwelcome introduction from North America.

Trip to Guadix area, Granada Province.

The Dragonflies.

Common Blue Damselflies (Enallagma cyathigerum).
On the pool in the afternoon 10's of thousands of Common Blue Damselflies (Enallagma cyathigerum) could be seen low over the water and in pool side vegetation, many in tandem. Also seen in the same area were Red-viened Darter (Trithemis arteriosa) again many in tandem, Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea) and a single Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope).

Thursday 14 May 2009

Donana and return journey, Several Provinces, (day three).

North of Hinojos, Donana and Fuente de Piedra, Campillos Lagoons and Teba Gorge, Malaga Province.

Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).
We started the morning along the Arroyo del Algarbe looking in the poplar trees and olive groves for birds. Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Nightingales (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Serin's (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) were heard all the way along the river with Great Spotted (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and Green Woodpeckers (Pito Real / Picus viridis) calling it made for quite a dawn (ish) chorus. A second pair of Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) were seen displaying over the pine woodland with Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla) singing from amongst the trees.
Cath with her cammera in action.
Further along the road we picked up Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur).
We then drove straight to Fuente de Piedra in Malaga Province and went straight out to the pool with the board walk. Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula), Little Ringed (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Avocet (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina) and Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) were all out on the muddy margins. Moving around towards the view point we scanned through the Tern flock which was roosting on the mud where Whiskered (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chlidonias hybridus), Black (Fumarel Común / Chlidonias niger), Gull-billed (Charrán Piconegro / Gelochelidon nilotica) and Little (Charrancito Común / Sterna albifrons) were all seen. From the view point several thousand Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) and 4 Lesser Flamingo's (Phoenicopterus minor) could be picked out along with Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus cachinnans). 
Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus).
After a while we drifted around to the hides over looking the fresh water pools and here Cath got another bird she really wanted to see a male White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala). Also here we picked up Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus). The next stop was briefly at a road side colony of European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and then it was on to Teba Gorge and Sierra. Here we picked up Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), White (Lavandera Blanca / Motacill alba) and Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia).
Lesser Flamingo's (Phoenicopterus minor) x4.
Later we passed by a couple of the lagoons near Campillos seeing Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Curlew Sandpiper (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula). Just as we were setting off back for Loja Cath and Heather both had brief views of a flying Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Donana, Huelva and Sevilla Province, (day two).

El Corredor Verde and J A Valverde visitors center.

Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus).
We started the second day along the Corredor Verde a track that is one of my favourite places to visit in the Donana area, the first half of the track (coming from the north) is in good condition but after the rains of last winter the southern half of the route is quite bad and care is needed as you could quite easily damage the underside of your car.
Our first stop was made by the Lagoon of Quema, a man made pool for irrigating local fields, here we saw Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Little Grebe (Zapullin Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Common Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) out on the water. In the Tamarisks surrounding the pool Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) were added to the list. Just over the bridge passed the shrine to the Virgin Mary we made our second stop and quickly picked up a pair of Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus). Also here were several Iberian  Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Miliaria calandra), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and in the Tamarisks nearer to the river a single Olivaceous Warbler (Zarcero Pálido / Hippolais pallida). 
Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae).
At Balsa de Manchazuhillo a largish pool with several dead tree stumps in it we had what were the birds of the trip for me, four Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Ganga Ibérica/ Pterocles alchata) did a brief but welcome fly past and along with cracking views of Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) this was a very pleasing stop. We continued on the track but as it was so badly rutted I was spending a lot of time dodging potholes and not seeing the birds.
When we reached the end of the track and rejoined the road to the visitors center we made the decision to go and have a coffee and some breakfast. Once we were sorted we made our way along the road from Venta del Cruce back towards the Visitor centre stopping at several pools and lakes along the way. During these stops we picked up Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica), Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) and Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser) as new birds for the trip.
During the drive to the J A Valverde visitor's center several Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla)and a pair of Lesser Short-toed Larks (Terrera Marismena / Calandrella rufescens), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) were seen and a single Pin-tailed Sandgrouse was seen briefly. 

Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax).
The heronry at the centre was packed to bursting with Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Squacco (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides), Night (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) and Purple Herons (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea) along with Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) and Spoonbills (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia) it was quite a sight.
On the way back to the hotel we picked up a single Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba), 3x Western Swamp-hens (Calamon Común /Porphyrio porphyrio), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and a Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus).

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Donana, Sevilla Province, (day one).

Travelling to and at Donana.

Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus).
Heather, Cath and myself set off from Loja in Granada Province at 06:00 and headed towards Sevilla on the A92. In the area around Osuna we diverted on to some side roads looking for birds in the arable fields. The first and probably the most common species of the morning was Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) followed by Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Greater Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola) and a nice group of Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) near Sevilla.

Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea).
We then moved on in to the Donana area to the marshes of El Rocio along side the town of the same name. Both Whiskered (Fumarel Cariblanco / Chlidonias hybridus) and Black Terns (Fumarel Común / Chlidonias niger) skimmed the water, feeding on the insects along with Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Sand Martins (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and the much larger Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) which appeared to be surprisingly successful at catching dragonflies. Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucrodia), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) and Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) were all seen wading out in the shallow waters. Also there were Red-crested (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos).

Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina).
Our next stop was at the La Rocina information center, we walked out on the board walk to the eastern most hide and here Cath (a biologist from my local area back in the UK) had a species she had always wanted to see a Western Swamp-hen (Calamon Común /Porphyrio porphyrio) which was sitting quite motionless in some tussock grass doing absolutely nothing. Again Spoonbill, White Stork and Little Egret were seen along with Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Savi's (Buscarla Unicolor / Locustella luscinoides), Cetti's (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Great Reed (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Reed (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus) and Melodious Warblers (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and a Group of 7/8 Common Waxbills (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild) landed in some dead Dock stalks for a few seconds.
Just as we were leaving the last hide Heather pointed out a very large but distant raptor which turned out to be our only view of a Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) as it drifted east. 

White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).
We then moved on to El Acebuche the visitors center a little further towards the coast. We first admired the White Storks nest on the building with it's two chicks, more nests were seen in the pine trees on the far side of the pools. Next we visited some of the hides seeing much the same species as we had already seen but adding Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Collared Pratincole.
On the road out we also picked up a pale morph Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito /Aegithalos caudatus).