Friday 14 May 2010

The Gorge at Alhama de Granada, Granada Province.

A stroll along the river.

Jayne, Barb and Martin.
Jayne's Brother and Sister eventually arrived yesterday, after a few days delay due to the Icelandic volcano. So we decided that a quiet day was called for, so we had an easy morning and then went for a walk along the Rio Alhama where it runs through the gorge below the town of Alhama de Granada. The weather was not great as the wind was quite strong but this improved later. By the pool at the start of the walk we picked up a couple of Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) on the water. 
Sarcocapnos enneaphylla.
Along the river the first species seen included Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) both singing nosily, White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax). In the poplar trees a couple of Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) called and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) sang along with several Nightingales (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos). 
The Gorge.
On the banks along the stream there were large numbers of wildflowers in bloom including Pallenis spinosa, Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea), Blue Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum creticum), Blue Alkanet (Anchusa azurea), Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major) and Linaria aeruginea
Linaria aeruginea.
Further along the gorge we added Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), , Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia). Growing high on the rocks we also spotted the unusual Sarcocapnos enneaphylla, Buckler Mustard (Biscutella frutescens) and Chaenorrhinum Glareosum.  
Rio Alhama.
Butterflies were surprisingly thin on the ground and we only picked up Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Small White (Artogeia rapae). Once we reach the town I doubled back to collect the car and the others went on up to Alhama and we meet up in one of the bars in the upper square. 

Monday 10 May 2010

Guadalhorce, Malaga Province.

Dam the Volcano.

This was just a quick visit to the site while we were waiting for the arrival of Jayne’s Sister and Brother at the airport. On a wide drainage channel just out side the Pardor de Golf I picked up a couple of
Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) feeding on the muddy margins. A single Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) was wading through the green slim which covered the surface and both House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) fed over head with several European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster).
Down at the sea watch point at Guadalhorce a small group of about a dozen Little Terns (Charrancito Común / Sterna albifrons) were roosting on the far side of the river. More Little Egrets were staking prey along the reedy banks and a few Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) were out on the water. On the sea good numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) roosted out on the disused platforms and several Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) followed distant fishing boats with hoards of other gulls. Just as I was leaving two Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) flew passed heading west and the Little Terns all flew out of the river and disappeared off east. On the drive back through the houses several Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and a small but noisy flock of Monk Parakeets (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) were seen. I then returned to Jayne in the shopping center to find that the flight had been cancelled due to this dam Volcano, Can we not block it using the bankers from Iceland that stuffed us last year, and if thats not enough I am sure a big % of the British one would not be missed!

Sunday 9 May 2010

Sierra Loja and upper Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

The ABS weather jinx continues. 

Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki),
Well what a day, as I arrived at the meeting place at Abades service area the skies either side of the sierra looked very black but the space over the hills were clear. As the time got nearer and the members of the Andalucian Bird Society started to arrive the sky took a turn for the worst and by the time we set off the drizzle had started, we had seen several Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) before we left. By the time we reached the disuse quarry just above the town of Loja the heavens had opened but a few of us did get to see one of the adult Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) sitting on the entrance to the nest platform. Some of the group used umbrellas to protect their scopes and to stay dry, I will deny it if anybody tells Peter or Pieter that I used one and I will hunt down any person who mentions that it had Pink and Purple hearts on it (it was Jayne honest).
Omphalodes commutata.
Any way some of the brave members wandered into the quarry and quickly picked up a Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorx pyrrhocorax) and Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia). On the bank a single Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) were heard, while both Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) fed low over the bank and Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) flew over much higher. On the track back down from the quarry we saw Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis), Pink Mediterranean Catchfly (Silene colorata), Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Cerastium boissieri, Dianthus Pungens, Hare's-tail Grass (Lagurus ovatus) and Omphalodes commutata. Once on the main track we started to head up the sierra but the cloud soon proved that we would be a complete waste of time, so we decided to make our way out to Moreleda to have a look at some near by agricultural land.
Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).
On the way we picked up European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris). Out on the fields Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) were heard along with Crested and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra). Once through the almond plantation the first bird was a cracking male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which did a splendid fly passed in front of us all. 
By the time we reached the ruin on the site the rain was again lashing down on the temperature had dropped considerably. Other species seen and heard here included Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) but there was no sign of the Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis). 
Southern Wild Tulip (Tulipa sylvestris ssp australis).
We then decided that the weather had done for us so a retreat for lunch in Huetor Tajar was the next stop. The rain continued but after lunch we decided to have a second attempt on the mountains, we dropped bob off at his car as he has a serious affliction, being a Chelsea fan and as they were playing at some point during the afternoon he had to leave early to get home for the TV. 
The rest of us set off and called at a small disused quarry where we picked up Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and a nice singing male Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus). Further along the track a couple of Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) were feed below the Pine trees, Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) was seen well in a sapling and a Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major) called loudly. Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus) and Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) were heard in the pines but our strict (cruel) list keeper Elle will only allow birds seen to be counted. 
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis).
We then returned to the quarry and the Owl was this time seen briefly by most of the group as it flew around for a moment after being harassed by a Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus). A male Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) flew down the slope and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) perched up giving good views. We then headed up on to the higher areas of the sierra picking up several Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), more Red-billed Chough, Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops). There were a few clumps of the Upland Peony (Paeonia coriacea) in flower along with Viola dementria, Navelwort (Umbilicus rupestrs) and Southern Wild Tulip (Tulipa sylvestris ssp australis). The rear two cars managed to see a male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) through the mist. 
Spanish Ibex (Capra pyreaica hispanica).
At Charca del negro several more Rock Sparrows and a male Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) were seen. Just as we were making our way down the weather started to break and we saw the first sun of the day, two Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax) were added. On the slopes in front of the main crags a single female type Spanish Ibex (Capra pyreaica hispanica) was seen. We then returned to the Owl site and the bird was sat out in the open nicely when we arrived but this was just as two Spanish gents were making their way down of the hill and the bird moved out of site as they passed below the crag. We then returned to the car park and made our ways home.