Saturday 18 September 2010

Sierra de Loja and Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Pam and Johns second day.

Mist from Sierra de Loja.
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), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), 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).
Merendera pyrenaica.
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), Iberian 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.
More mist on the tops.
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.
Crimson Speckled Moth (Utetheisa pulchella).
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.
Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata) Male.
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).

Friday 17 September 2010

Osuna Area, Sevilla Province and Antequera, Malaga Province.

Dodging the storms around the Plains and Lagoons.

Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda).
Pam, John and I set off heading west for the Osuna area, the weather was not looking promising but the further we travelled the better it got. As soon as we arrived we started to pick up birds and some mammals, on a stubble field we counted at least 12 Brown Hares (Lepus europaeus) and a covey of 15+ Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa). On the bushes, fences and roadside vegetation we added Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) a nice bird sitting on a wire fence calling loudly and Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata). 
Pam and John watching the Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda).
On the surrounding pylons several Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax) and a Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) were perched and in the air good numbers of Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) were seen flying low south. Other birds in this area were Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops).
We moved on to the second of the new bridges that cross the still to be laid high speed rail link between Sevilla and Granada, as we approached several Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) flew into a small olive plantation were we saw several more feeding in the ridges. From the bridge we picked up a couple of Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) feeding in a recently ploughed field, several Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) sang overhead and on the far side of the bridge we then found the birds of the day, 6 Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) were seen walking across a stubble field before settling in a corner of the field. 
White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).
We took one of the tracks and got closer and had some fantastic views, after awhile the birds started to walk out on to the stubble again and this was when we discovered there were in fact 9 birds in the group. Also seen in this area were Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
We continued on along the road and passed a disused Cortijo with about 25 Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) hunting around it and also added Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus). 
Just before the junction to La Lantejuela we were treated to a view of about a thousand White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), some on the ground and many starting to move on in large flocks. On a small area of water under the newly constructed railway bridge we picked up several Greater Flamingo’s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis). In the air several House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) flew around low over the fields and several Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) dragonflies flew over the wetter areas. 
Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra).
On a pylon and wires four Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) were perched and a single Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) flew into some roadside fruit trees. Also seen in this area were Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris) and Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur). We had some lunch in Marchena and then had a quick look at a site on the edge of town where we had a cracking immature Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
We then moved on to Laguna Verde de Sal where there were a great many birds, mostly Eurasian Coots (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos). Mixed in with these were a couple of juvenile Whiskered Terns (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chlidonias hybridus), a female White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus). 
Ortolan Bunting (Escribano Hortolano / Emberiza hortulana).
In the bushes we located Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and Iberian Grey Shrike.
We then moved on a few Kms to another smaller reed filled Laguna, again we had most of the above including several male White-headed Ducks and loads of Red-crested Pochards
New species included Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris). In the air above the laguna by the time we were leaving there were hundreds of hirendines including Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). The weather closed in a bit so we started the drive back towards Antequera where we called at a small lagoon near the town. Just as we turned off the main road large numbers of Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), three White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) along with a single Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea)were seen. 
Ortolan Bunting (Escribano Hortolano / Emberiza hortulana).
In the thistle lined ditch we found a Willow Warbler (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochilus), Ortolan Bunting (Escribano Hortolano / Emberiza hortulana) x5/6, Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Whinchat.
On the water there were about 50 Greater Flamingo’s, a couple of Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa) and Avocets (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta) all feed in the mud. On the far back there we a few Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) dabbled around in the reeds and in the air there were Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Alpine (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). On the wires we saw Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Iberian Grey Shrike. The next stop was on the fields near the house where we got distant views of a small flock of Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).     85+ Bird species seen during the day.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Laguna Antequera, Malaga Province.

A new species for my Malaga list.

On the way over to the hotel Finca Eslava I again called at the small laguna, the usual flock of Greater Flamingo’s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) were feeding on the far bank, along with 5 Black-tailed Godwits (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), 13 Avocets (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), 20+ Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), in the deeper water 5 Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) stalked their breakfast and good numbers of Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) were following a tractor turning over a stubble field. On the water 100 or more Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and a dozen or so Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) all had their heads raised at the sound of the local hunter’s guns in the far corner of the laguna. In the air Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) hawked for insects and on the wires a solitary Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) watched for prey in the verge. 
On the margins several Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Crested Larks (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) were seen feeding amongst the Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra).
On the way back along the track several Cetti’s Warblers (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) were heard and large numbers of migrating Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) flushed from the grass. 
Also good numbers of birds were seen feeding on the dead thistle heads, including Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and the star bird an immature Ortolan Bunting (Escribano Hortolano / Emberiza hortulana) which sat up on the top of a spike for several minutes (they know when you have not got the camera with you). Out on the fields there were 20+ Northern Wheatears (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and a couple of Common Stonechats (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).