Raptor's displaying in the Cacín Valley.
After a call from John Wainwright from Salar to say that the male Red-knobbed Coot (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata) was still about, Jayne and I went for a drive down the Cacín Valley for a couple of hours fresh air. On our way down to the Embalse de Cacín Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) and Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) were all noted. At the lake the bird numbers were much reduced, with only about 50-60 Common Pochards (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) compared to near 200 a couple of weeks ago but the greatest drop was in the number of Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) with only about 30 birds being seen this visit. The Red-Knobbed Coot was again only seen very briefly before it dived for the reed beds. The winter plumaged Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) was still there along with 25+ Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and singles of male Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), male Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata) and a female Northern Pintail (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta). In the dead trees at the southern end of the lake several Great Cormorants (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo) and a couple of Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) were spending some time roosting quietly until they were all flushed by a very smart female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) which flew the full length of the Embalse and off over the Poplar trees. As I walked back to the car along the bank I flushed a pair of Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) which flew away scolding me loudly as they moved up into the next bay where they joined a small group of 5 Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Sardinian (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Cetti’s Warblers (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) were also added to the list.
We then moved to a site for a pair of Bonelli's Eagles (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) both birds were seen along with magnificent views of a pair of Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) displaying in the valley. We also picked up Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).
The next stop was at the Pantaneta de Alhama to see if the Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca) seen there a couple of weeks ago was wintering or just passing through. The numbers of birds at this site were also much lower and the duck was nowhere to be seen. There were no new species seen and as there was a brisk cold wind blowing across the pool it was a brief visit.
We then stopped for a drink in Alhama de Granada and made our way back home along the road to Salar. During the journey several large groups of Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and Corn Buntings (Triguero / Miliaria calandra) were picked up, along with Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos.
Photographs from the top: Sign near Pantaneta de Alhama and a View of the Embalse de Bermejales.