Friday 26 June 2009

Cacin Valley Granada Province.

The Birds.

Cortijo de Capitano.
Pam, John and myself set out for a days birding along the Cacín valley. We started the day where the Rio Cacín joins the Rio Genil at Villanueva Mesia and the first birds seen as we climbed out of the car were a family party of Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes). The adult male was feeding a fledgling on the branch of a Poplar Tree. Several Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) and a Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla) were calling from the plantation trees, both species were seen briefly in flight. Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) and Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) were also seen.
We then moved on to an agricultural area to the south and soon picked up Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla). Taking a dirt track between the fields and Almond groves we soon came across two female Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) and a pair of Common Magpies (Urraca / Pica pica) with five young Great Spotted Cuckoos (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) pestering them to be feed. A pair and then another single Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) flew across the site just before we left to go and have a look at the Embalse de Cacín.
Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator).
At the lake we picked up several more juv Great Spotted Cuckoos, Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis).
We moved further on down the valley and stopped above the gorge and watched a Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) as it soared up out of the valley very close to us and away North. Juv Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) all went on to the days list.
We then started the return journey back along the Rio Cacín and stopped at a bridge near El Turro. Here Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) and Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) were heard and Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) were all seen.
Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo).
On the cliffs just to the North of El Turro we were lucky enough to find two adult and at least one juv European Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) all out in the open sunning them selves, quite a sight.
Our last stop of the day was at Balsa de Regidor near Moraleda de Zafayona which has just recently been very quiet but to day we managed to pick up Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Pochard, Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Golden Oriole.

Balsa de Regidor and Rio Cacín, Granada Province.

The Dragonflies.

Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii).
Along the Rio Cacín several Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and a single Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalia) were seen in the reed beds.
Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum).
Later in the day we stopped at Balsa de Regidor near Moraleda de Zafayona, a naturalised water deposito for the local farm lands. Here dragonflies filled the air with many more Red-veined Darters, Violet Dropwings (Trithemis annulata), Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea), Small Red-eyed (Erythromma viridulum) and Common Blue Damselflies (Enallagma cyathigerum) and a single male Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria). 
Male Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria).
The Long Skimmer is a rare dragonfly which is common in Africa but has a patchy and little know distribution in Southern Spain.

Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

The Butterflies

Blue-spotted Hairstreak (Satyrium spini).
Throughout the day butterfly species were on the wing and several interesting species were noted. Blue-spotted Hairstreak (Satyrium spini) and Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes) were both seen feeding on the spiny flowers of Field Eryngo (Eryngium campestre) whilst several Scarce Swallowtails (Chupaleches / Iphichides podalirius feistameli) flew rapidly past looking for the larger flowers of the thistle plants.
Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes).
Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphichides podalirius feistameli).
Also seen in good numbers were Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina) and Long-tailed Blues (Lampides boeticus), Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), Small Heath (Ninfa de Linneo / Coenonympha pamphilus f Iyllus), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx rhamni), Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia) and several species of White including Bath (Blanquiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Small (Blanquita de la Col / Artogeia rapae) and Large (Blanca de la Col / pieris brassicae).

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Cattle Egrets, Huetor Tajar, Granada Province.

Unseasonal flock.

Whilst driving towards Granada on the A92 a flock of 17 Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) were seen feeding in a harvested Lucerne (Medicago sativa) field near Moraleda de Zafayona. This is not an uncommon sight for most of the year but during the height of summer only the odd singleton is seen.