Friday 27 November 2009

Near Huétor Tajar and Húetor Tájar, Granada Province, Spain.

First day on the Winter Birds Atlas.

Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis).
I started out from the house on the first part of this winters atlas, the first two itineraries are through the Olive groves around the house. The most notable things seen was a very large concentration of finch species feeding on the newly turned ground between the trees. Several hundred Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) made up the bulk of the flock but there were also hundreds more Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Miliaria calandra) and House Sparrows (Gorrión Común). In the Olives Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Blackbirds (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) were the commonest species. 
Huetor Fields.
Once out on to the agricultural areas I started to pick up Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) with a flock of 30+ birds in a row of Fig and Pomegranates, Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) and a single Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) which was to be the only raptor recorded. In a row of road side Almond trees several Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) were all added to the growing list along with a single unexpected Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata). I then walked the fields along the river bank, here there are a lot of areas cultivated with Asparagus which at this time of the year is nice and tall and gives good cover for a lot of species. 
Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus).
Along this stretch Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) were seen along with the distant wintering flock of over 200 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).

Thursday 26 November 2009

Rio Velez, Malaga Province.

Good Birding amongst the Filth and Rubbish.

Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta).
After a dampish drive down to Torre-del-Mar on the Malaga Coast I was pleasantly surprised to find it was warm and quite pleasant by the time I reached Rio Velez. I parked the car and the first birds seen were a very smart Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) preening in the riverside reed beds, Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and a couple of Robins (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) doing Bluethroat impressions in the reeds. Walking further down the river towards the sea I started to hear a call from the tall reeds at the side of the track which I knew were coming from some Penduline Tits (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) but I could not see them until eventually they dropped down on to the Reedmace (Typha angustifolia) on the main marshy area.
There I could see that there were 6 males and 2 females in the group, but all too quickly they were off again foraging through the vegetation. Along here I also picked up a small flock of Reed Buntings (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus) at least 6 birds flew up from the side of the river when the two horses that were wandering around wandered just a bit to close. Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and a single male Red Avadavat (Bengali Rojo / Amandava amandava) were all seen before I reached the beach.
Returning fishing boats.
On the beach a little further east a large gull roost had formed with several thousand birds of five species included Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) a few hundred, Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) 1000+ probably the commonest gull I saw during the day, Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii) 50+, Lesser-black backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) 1000+ and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) 100s. Out at sea there were many more gulls along with good numbers of Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) and a raft of 36 Balearic Shearwaters (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus).
On the beach side of the reserve a large pool held a few Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhens, Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), bathing Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and just as I was leaving to head back to the car a group of 5 Monk Parakeets (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) flew through.
On the way back I meet another couple of Birders and we had a pleasant chat and I then returned back to the beach for a while whilst we talked, they told me about a Greylag Goose (Ansar Común / Anser anser) they had seen just back up the river, so I headed back to have a look. By the time I found the bird it had moved down the river and was right by the car. A couple of Migrant Hawkers (Aeshna mixta) and several Clouded Yellows (Colias crocea) were the only insects seen. On the way out of the site several Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) were noted feeding over the fields near the road bridge.
Greylag Goose (Ansar Común / Anser anser).
A good few hours birding, the only down side to the day was the amount of rubbish and filth that was discarded at the site, some by the river waters from upstream but quite a lot of it was obviously deliberately dumped.