Saturday, 18 September 2010

Sierra de Loja and Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Pam and Johns second day.

When we walked out to the car things did not look very promising, a thick layer of fog had dropped over the valley during the night and visibility was down to a few yards. Not put off we headed through Loja and made our way up and through the cover to a bright and sunny day on top of the sierra. In the pines we could hear good numbers of birds but could not see any, they included Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla). Once we were above the mist things started to show well, first a small flock of Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) flew along the crags calling, a couple of Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) chased each other up and over the cliff tops and went out of sight and were replaced by a group of Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae). On the grass ledges Red-legged Partridges (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) all scurried around and fly passes by Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) added to the list. Once we were up on the flatter areas more and more birds appeared including good numbers of passage Tawny Pipits (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), a stunning immature male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) which showed very well perched on a rock at the road side, Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and lots Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) which only a few weeks ago were noticeable by there total absence. Two nice male Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) were seen near the Charca del negra pools along with plenty of Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax). In the air large numbers of birds were passing over, including Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), a single Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) started what was a slightly disappointing raptor list, it was soon followed by the days only Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus). A small group of migratory European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) passed over quite high whist we were getting some good views of several juvenile Spectacled Warblers (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) chasing around in the broom scrub. Wild Flowers were few but we did manage a nice show of Merendera pyrenaica by Charca del Negra.
The next stop was on the agricultural areas above Moraleda, We dipped on both the resident Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) and Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) but we did add a Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) to a growing list. The numbers of Tawny Pipits out on the fields was a surprise, we must have seen 50+ in just half an hour or so. While we walked around this site the ground flashed white beneath our feet with the number of Crimson Speckled Moths (Utetheisa pulchella), along with a few Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli) butterflies. On the Embalse de Cacín we added Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata).
Along the crags at Moraleda we did not see any new species, so we moved on to a small pool near the A92, we picked up Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and I saw a Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) briefly as it flew off. On the margins there were amazing numbers of dragonflies, nothing unexpected but lots of them. They included Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope), Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea), Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum), Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathinerum), Iberian Bluetail (Ischnura graellsii) and Small Red-eyed (Erythromma viridulum).
Photographs from the top: View of mist from Sierra de Loja, Merendera pyrenaica, Another view, Crimson Speckled Moths (Utetheisa pulchella) and Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata).

52+ Bird, 5+ Butterfly, 8+ Dragonfly and 1 Wild Flower species seen during the day.

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