Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Sierra Loja and the upper Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

A days guiding in the hills.

It was nice to get up the
Sierra again, I meet today’s birders on the car park of the service station and we started to make our way up. The first stop was at the small disused quarry where there were good numbers of House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) in the surrounding trees and we also had fly over Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus). Just as we jumped back in the car a pair of Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) were noted down in the dell next to the motorway. At the turning point further up we stopped and spent some time scanning the pine woods. A single Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) sat out on a branch giving good views and an immature male Common Crossbill was watched in the scope as it stripped a pine cone. Two Great Spotted Cuckoos (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) were seen flying along the hillside behind the pines and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlona / Sylvia hortensis), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) were all heard or seen. At the large disused quarry we looked for the Eagle Owls (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) which had been showing well for the last few weeks but as I had expected the you had fledged and the adults were not on show. In this area we did see Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia). On the bank a pair of Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and a couple of Common Cuckoos (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) were added to the list. Lots of Spanish Gatekeepers (Pyronia bathsheba) and Spanish Marbled Whites (Melangia ines) were feeding around the masses of wildflowers, these included Carduus granatensis, Viola dementria and Purple Vipers Bugloss (Echium lycopsis).
The next stop was on the crags, good numbers of Red
-billed Choughs were seen again along with Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus). Two female Spanish Ibex (Capra pyreaica hispanica) were seen fleeing across the rocky slopes below us.
On the tops the first of many Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) were seen, a cracking male and a drabber female. On the drive across to the pools at Charca del Negro we added Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) and at least two displaying Spectacled Warblers. (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata). On the flats near the pools we eventually had some distant views of both a male and female Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) but we had no luck tracking them down for better views. Upland Peony (Paeonia coriacea) and Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea) were also added here along with another 2 Griffon Vul
tures and a distant Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus).
The next stop was along the goat cave cliffs, more Red-billed Choughs, Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush x5 at least, dozens of Rock Sparrows and
two Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) were all seen before we made our way back to the pools to have a look at the Sharp-ribbed Salamanders (Pleurodeles waltl), several of which were seen under the carpet of Pond Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus Peltatus).
On the way down we picked up a nice female Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush before going and getting a late lunch near Huetor Tajar. On the sierra we also saw two Ocellated Lizards (Lacerta lepida) sunning them selves out on large rocks.

We only visited a single site in the afternoon which was the agricultural area of the Cacín Valley. Here we managed to added Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Crested Larks (Cogujada Común /
Galerida cristata), Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris) before we dropped on a cracking male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax). On our way out of the site a migrant Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) was picked up sat in one of the many Almond trees, a good end to what I hope the guests thought was an enjoyable day.
Photographs from the top:
Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathsheba), Upland Peony (Paeonia coriacea), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Carduus granatensis, Ocellated Lizards (Lacerta lepida) and Viola dementria.

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