Another Day in the Cacín Valley.
Chris Cook and his sister Jill and her husband Roger drove over from the accommodation in Montejaque, Cadiz Province for what I hoped would be a memorable days birding. We started with a short stop by a waterlogged field hoping to pick up Greater Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) which we did with in a few minutes along with singing Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis).
We then moved on to the Poplar woods at the Rio Genil and Rio Cacin junction were as soon as we arrived the new birds were coming,
A flock of Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) were feeding on the track just before the Rio and a Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla) could be heard in the distance.
Along the Cacin we heard more Nightingales and Cetti’s Warblers, Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) and Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) but the Hawfinches (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes) only gave us brief views. We then visited an area of agricultural land above the Cacín Valley and almost straight away Jill picked up two Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) second before they flew off north.
From the ruin a nice male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) was watched distantly and several Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) sang over head. A female Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) flew gracefully along the distant ridge flushing Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and both Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
On our way around the site at least two more male Bustards were heard and a cracking bird flew over us during a display flight. Along the far side of the area a couple of Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) were perched up on one of the rock piles and a single Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) showed well in an Almond tree.
On some rocky rough ground Mirror (Ophrys speculum) and Yellow Bee Orchids (Ophrys lutea) were found in flower along with some nice spikes of Common Asphodel.
Butterflies were also around in good numbers and they included Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes), Iberian Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthameli) and Swallowtail (Papilio machaon).
The next stop was at the Embase de Cacín but again the waterfowl numbers were very low, a few Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) and Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) were the only duck seen. Two Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and a single Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) were also on the water with Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra). Chris the called a Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) over the ridge on the opposite side of the lake, the rest of us looked and said that they were too big. Chris replied that its is a Marsh Harrier and that there was only one, so we soon worked out that we were watching different birds, as the two we were watching circled it was quickly apparent that the were both sub adult Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) and Chris had been watching a nice female Marsh Harrier.
Just as the two Goldens disappeared they were replaced by two Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), one of which drifted nicely overhead. Other birds noted whilst all this was going on included White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).
Lunch was the next stop, later we had a look for and found Bonelli’s Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) getting nice views of a male. Several Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and lots of Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) called nosily along the gorge; Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra) butterfly were added at this stop.
In the valley on the way back to Morelada we added Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) were added and at the crags Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) was seen on the rocky ledges. We then made our way back to the start point at Huetor and Chris, Jill and Roger started their journey back to their accommodation hopefully after enjoying a good day out. Later in the week I bumped into them over near Montejaque as they had not been able to return home due to the Icelandic Volcano mess up.