Saturday 25 September 2010

Tarifa Bird Fair, Sierra de la Plata, Playa de Los Lances and Raptor watch point Cazalla, Cadiz Province.

Meeting some old friends at the Bird Fair and seeing some stunning Migration.

Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
The first stop of the day was at the “International Bird Fair” at Tarifa, a short while later I was on my way to Bolonia and onwards to Sierra de la Plata. On the drive up I saw a single male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), good numbers of Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). 
As soon as I arrived at the sierra Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) were seen in flight around the crags, along with a couple of Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) which flew straight over the pines and out to sea. 
Up on the rocks more Griffons were loafing around, at least 3 Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) were chasing each other, Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) flew around the cliffs and over the woods. Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) were seen moving south along with good numbers of Sparrowhawks (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), in all at least 75 birds were seen in the hour I was there. In the woods below the road I added Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and in the air European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) hawked for insects. 
Common Tern (Charrán Común / Sterna Hirundo).
I had a short walk down the road and found a nice Southern / Blue Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) and a very territorial Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) which dive bombed me several time and eventually landed on my hat. On the drive back to the main road I stopped to check out a spiral of raptors heading out towards the sea, I was amazed to find a flock of 30+ Egyptian Vultures (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus) of all ages gaining height.
The next site was Playa de los Lances, I parked near the garage on the Cadiz to Tarifa road. I walked out on the board walk and picked up a large number of waders, terns and gulls off towards the sea. Most of the terns were Sandwich (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) but there was a single Common Tern (Charrán Común / Sterna Hirundo) was amongst them. This bird had a damaged wing but it still managed to fly off with the rest of the birds when a dog walker disturbed them. In a channel along the edge of the beach several Bar-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colipinta / Limosa lapponica) and 3 Red Knot (Correlimos Gordo / Calidris canutus) were feeding and out on the sand Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Little Ringed (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) ran around. 
A flock of several hundred gulls were also out on the sand, the flock contained large numbers of Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) along with a few Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii). 
Cazalla in the olden days.
On and over the fields behind the beach I picked up a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia).
The last stop of the day was at Cazalla Raptor watch point, a group of about 15 Spanish birders including a nice chap called Paco who gave me loads of info about what had gone on during the last week or twos passage. When I arrived the cloud cover was total but after about an hour it suddenly cleared and then what happened was fantastic. Birds just started to stream through, literally by the hundred. Groups of 50 or more Black Storks (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) and Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) came passed every few minutes making a change from the continuous flow of Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia). Lesser numbers of Egyptian Vultures (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus) 70+, Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) 90+, Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Honey Buzzard (Aberjero Europeo / Pernis apivorus), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus). 
Black Storks (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra).
Then a large bird came up over the ridge, I pointed it out to Paco but was already sure it was an Immature Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti), the bird flew close by and then out towards the coast but turned back and then amazingly it was joined by a second bird. Just then Andy Patterson from Torremolinos arrived and made it up to get good views. I unfortunately then had to drag my self away from a fantastic birding spectacle and head back to La Linea.

Monday 20 September 2010

Sierra Loja, Moraleda and upper Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Migrants and a returning visitor.

Erodium cheilanthifolium
I picked Paul up just off the A92 at Moraleda, the second time we have spent a day birding. The clouds were looking a little on the dodgy side so we first had a look at the small Laguna called Balsa de Regidor, here we started by seeing good numbers of Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata) and Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), all on the far less disturbed shore of the pool. A single Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), several Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) were also on the water. 
The only wader seen was a vocal Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) which was flushed from the pools main outlet stream. On the weeds along the entrance track we picked up the first of quite a few Whinchat’s (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra) along with Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula). Our next area was the fields to the north of Huetor Tajar, Crested Larks (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) were everywhere, a few Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) followed a ploughing tractor and in a small area of reeds along side one of the irrigation channels we added Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and a fine male Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). On a newly cut Lucerne field large numbers of Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) were feeding along with a few Whites (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). 
Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops).
A couple of Tree Sparrows (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus) were perched on the fence around a rather smelly goat pen and a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) flew up the dry river. A large flock of at least 70+ Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) were seen raiding one of the unnetted Fig trees growing out in the fields, several Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) also feasted on the fruits.
Sierra de Loja was our next port of call, the quarry just above the town was deserted and the crags were not much better. Once we were up on the tops we did start to pick up birds including several Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris). The stars were a cracking family party of Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) which showed well near the paragliding turn. Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) showed well at several spots on the drive to the goat cave as did Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius). 
On the way down a flock of hirundines were feeding low down amongst the pines trying to stay out of the wind, Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) were all seen. A single Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) and several Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) were added to the day list. Two flowers were seen in bloom whilst we were near the Charca del Negra, Merendera pyrenaica covered an area near the pool and Erodium cheilanthifolium clung to several rocks near the goat cave.
We then drove back towards and through Moraleda to the crags on the El Turro road, here at least 3 Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) showed well but distantly on the rocks, along with Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs). 
Paul watching the migrating Wagtails.
In the air we picked up a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and a Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus). The only butterflies of the day were also seen here, 3 or 4 Bath Whites (Pontia daplidice). In the pines on our way up to the agricultural area above the valley we heard and saw Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Great (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and Coal Tits (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater). On the fields there were large groups of migrating Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail, a flock of at least 70 Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), several Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and a male Hobby (Alcotán Europeo / Falco subbuteo) which flashed past quickly heading south. We then headed back to the starting point where Paul’s wife and other members of his family were waiting for him.