A morning in the windy valley.
I met up with Bob Wright from the Axiquara bird group at the Hotel Cortijo de Tájar just off the A92 at junction 203. We had a coffee and a chat before heading off to the Cacín Valley for a few hours birding. Our first site was an agricultural area where we immediatly started to pick up large flocks of Larks, mainly Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) with a few Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) also in the mix. A very nice male Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius) was then seen dashing low over the tops of the Almond trees, no doubt a small passerine was in it's sights. We parked and spent some time scanning the fields for the elusive Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis), Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) and Stone-curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) but the only sign was of the Sandgrouse which we only heard. I was not surpprised that the Little Bustards were absent as they tend to move off and form large winter flocks but having seen good numbers of the Curlews a few days earlier I was quite disappointed that we did not see them. A Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) was seen in the ruien of an old Cortijo and several other species were picked up in the area including Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Miliaria calandra), a single Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) was heard from some scrub, Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus).
We then headed down to Embalse de Cacín a small lake with a dam at one end and reed beds at the other. Yesterday I had been here with the SEO birds group and we had located a single male Red-knobbed Coot (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata) amongst the reeds, fortunually the bird was still there but soon went into hiding in the marginal vegitation. About 180 Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) were spread out on the lake along with good numbers of Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo) x7, Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and a single Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis). Whilst we were here we also picked up Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) was heard from the reeds, a single Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) was noted on a gate post, Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), several Southern Grey Shrikes (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba).
We then retuned to the hotel where Bob headed off to Alhama to see the Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca) located the day before during the gull survey.
Pictures from the top: Sierra Nevada, Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Embalse de Cacín and Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina).