Saturday 6 February 2010

Motril, Granada Province.

Our monthly RAM survey and visit to the Fish Docks and Charca.

Drying the catch at the fish dock.
Juan and I made our monthly trip down to Cabo Sacratif, starting out in the dark from Granada and heading south along the new Autovia. Dawn broke whist we travelled and by the time we reached the coast road birds were starting to emerge. The first species noted was a Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius) moving out from its roost no doubt looking for some unfortunate small prey. Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) were also moving out into the fields and marshes in quite large numbers and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) scampered around on the roads and verges feeding. 
Drying the catch at the fish dock.
We arrived at the sea watch site and immediately picked up Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) all singing their hearts out, made you think spring is well on its way. Up on the rock Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) were also singing and as we were setting our selves up a Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) flew passed carrying prey back towards the cliffs. 
Night Heron (Martinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax).
We then started the two hour sea watch picking up the usual Balearic Shearwater (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) only in small numbers, many Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo), Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), unusually large numbers of Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), a few Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and three Great Skuas (Págalo Grande / Catharacta skua) two of which were quite near shore. All in all a quiet but much warmer RAM than last month. The Fish docks were also quiet today except for the fishermen hanging their catches out to dry. We noted good numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Great Cormorants and a few Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) and Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) were roosting out on the main breakwater. The final visit was to Charca de Suárez and as usual we saw plenty of species but the highlight was a very confiding immature Night Heron (Martinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) which was roosting in the reeds amongst willow scrub. 
Night Heron (Martinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax).
We started at the long pool picking up Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and some of the hundreds of Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) at the site. Moving on we found and photographed the Night Heron and went around to the next hide, here we added a small group of Red Avadavats (Bengali Rojo / Amandava amandava) which few into the sedges and disappeared. Further on we heard Western Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) grunting and screeching form cover and added Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común), Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) to the day list. 
Night Heron (Martinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax).
From the main hide the light was no good for photographs, this was a shame as several duck species were sat right out in view, these included 3x Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), 6x Eurasian Wigeon (Silbón Europeo / Anas Penelope), a single male Northern Pintail (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta), several Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and a small flock of Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata). We also managed some distant views of Western Swamp-hen, watched a Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti)singing from cover (as usual), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and finished off by adding two summer migrants making their way north, Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) x3 and a single House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). A couple of butterflies were seen on the walk around Charca, these were
-->Small White (Artogeia rapae) and -->Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). 
Viperine Snake (Natrix maura).
Amphibians were represented by Southern Tree Frogs (Ranita Meridional / Hyda meridionalis) which were heard and seen and Iberian Water Frog (Rana Perezi). Reptiles also featured with several Spanish Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) and a single Viperine Snake (Natrix maura).

Friday 5 February 2010

Around Puente Genil and Sierra Subbetica, Cordoba Province.

Lagoons and Mountains

Laguna Zónar.
Jayne and I headed out towards Antiquera and then North along the brand new Autovia (complete with subsidence) to Lucena to get a few bits from the centre there. On the way we picked up several Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and a couple of Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax) all resting on telegraph poles. Jayne then came out with her well know line of "BIG BIRD", which was flying low over the olives and turned out to be a species I had mentioned only a few minutes earlier, a nice male Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus). 
After time spent in the town we decided that as we had come out this far that we would make a day of it and picked a place nearby that we had not visited before from the road atlas and set off. Puente Genil was just a few KMs away so we were soon there and having a walk around what turned out to be a busy and very interesting town, one which I am sure we will return to.
Large Cuckoo Pint (Arum italicum).
Later we visited the Nature reserve of Laguna Zónar a few KMs to the north, Jayne sat in the car and read her book as it started to spit with rain as we arrived. I walked down to the first hide (only usable hide) and picked up a few nice species including several White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), a single female Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) and Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos). Out on the water there were also good numbers of both Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Great Crested Grebes (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) along with a few Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo). 
A few Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) were skimming low over the water feeding. Other birds seen included Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major). 
Southern Daisy (Bellis cordifolia).
Amongst the Olives and other trees that surrounded the lagoon several plants were just starting to break through, these included Large Cuckoo Pint (Arum italicum), Purple Vipers Bugloss (Echium lycopsis) and Southern Daisy (Bellis cordifolia). I enjoyed the reserve but was disappointed in the viewing and access that was allowed, most of the water remained unchecked. We then started the journey home but went across country via Cabra and Priego de Cordoba, a nice but twisting drive. We did not see a lot except for good numbers of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki and I spotted the first Orchids of the year, Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca / foresteri).

Ventorros de San Jose, Granada Province.

First Orchid of the year.

Somber or Dull Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca subsp fusca).
As usual the first orchid species to poke it's head above the ground is Somber or Dull Bee Orchid (Ophrys Fusca subsp fusca), These plants were growing on a damp rocky bank just North of the town. There were three plants seen and the tallest was abot 20cms.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Raptor's displaying in the Cacín Valley.

Think I can pass????
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 Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) 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 Iberian 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.

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Rio Velez and Fuengirola Harbour, Malaga Province.

Spanish lifer in Fuengirola.

Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus).
Jayne and I went down to the coast via Salar, Alhama to Torre-del-Mar, I then dropped Jayne off at the shopping centre and headed to Nerja to collect some new glasses. I then returned to pick Jayne up via Rio Velez, which was unrecognisable, since my last visit the river has washed away most of the reed beds and is now filling the whole of the channel. 
Without much cover to be found the birds were thin on the ground, the single Greylag Goose (Ansar Común / Anser anser) seen on my last visit was skulking around under some flattened Giant reed along with a single Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), these were the only duck species seen. I quickly made my way down to the beach hoping to find a few more species, several Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) rushed around the shore line along with a single Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina) and out on the sea I managed to track down a winter plumaged Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), good numbers of Mediterranean Gulls (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), 100s of Black-heads (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and a few Yellow-legs (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis). A couple of Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii) flew out of the river and followed several Sandwich Terns (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) off east along the coast.
Common Guillemot (Arao Común / Uria aalge).
I decided to then walk back up the side of the swollen river and picked up Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis). The remaining time was spent trying to catch a puppy with a length of drainage pipe stuck on it's head. I assisted a Finnish lady trying to help the dog but it escaped, a phone call later in the afternoon from this lady said that she and her husband had managed to catch the dog and remove the pipe, good news!
Common Guillemot (Arao Común / Uria aalge).
We then decided that the time was going well so we would kill two birds with one stone and drive the coast down as far as Fuengirola, where we had planned to go in a few days time. We had some lunch and then walked out into the harbour to look for a Common Guillemot (Arao Común / Uria aalge) which had been reported a few days earlier on Andy Patterson’s Birding the Costa Blog. The bird was first seen at the far end of the main channel, I then retuned to the car to get the scope and made my way back to try and get some shots. By the time I returned the bird had vanished. 
I decide to walk along the outer sea wall to the mouth of the harbour but did not see any sign; on the walk back I again found the bird amongst the fishing boats and took some photographs. Whilst I was at the docks I picked up Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and several Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris). On the way home Jayne spotted a nice pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) which drifted over the motorway near Guadlhorce, Malaga.

Sunday 31 January 2010

To Huetor and back, Granada Province.

A stroll in the fields.

Add caption
After we had completed the tasks of the morning Jayne suggested that we should go for a walk down to Huetor and come back across the fields. We set off and were quickly waylaid by the sight of Santiago one of the local Spanish children and a lot of black sausages drying at his grannies house. We continued on down the hill picking up large numbers of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki and Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla). Out on the fields Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Miliaria calandra), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común) and Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) were all seen in good numbers. As we approached the town and were passing a cropped lettuce field a group of about 70 Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) flushed up and moved back amongst the dead feathery stalks of the asparagus plants. White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) were also out on the same fields and a group of 20 or so Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) were following a ploughing tractor. 
The sausages.
We stopped for some lunch at one of the bars and then continued our walk back towards home. The temperature had started to drop so we quickened the pace some what but did pick up Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), many singing Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis).