Sunday, 13 February 2011

Granada to the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Good day for the raptors.

Jayne and I firstly went for a mornings walk around the large market in Granada. Once we had battled our way around the stalls and picked up a few bargains we had a drink in one of the local bars and then went off birding in the El Temple area near Granada. The first birds of note were a couple of flocks of Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) in the fields near Chimeneas and a single Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) circling over the olive groves. We then came across a flock of at least 10 Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) feeding low over and down in the fields, a couple of Southern Grey Shrikes (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), a dozen or so Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and a single Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) which just passed through the small valley and disappeared as fast as it arrived. It was quite warm and still, so a few butterflies were out and about making the most of the fine weather, they included a lot of Small Whites (Artogeia rapae), a few Bath Whites (Pontia daplidice) and a single Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea).
We then moved on heading for the Cacín Valley, on the way we had some great views of a pair of displaying Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) being mobbed by a flock of brave Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and a pair of Common Magpies (Urraca / Pica pica), one of which seemed to actually land on the back of the Eagle for a couple of seconds! Further on we added our third Golden Eagle, Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus).
We then dropped down into the Cacín Valley and immediately added Golden Eagles four and five to the day list along with a male Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) which was flying rather slowly due to the weight of the catch in its talons. A bit further along the valley the Bonelli's was watched dropping in to the cliffs and eating part of its prey before taking the rest to a sitting female, she then left the male to the nest duties. At the small Embalse de Cacín there were a small group of 4 Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo) sitting on one of the dead tree stumps, the sixth Golden Eagle the last of the day, a displaying pair of Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and both Green (Pito Real / Picus viridis) and Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major). On the water, birds were few, they included 20+ Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), 2x Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), a few Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and a single Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus).
Further on towards El Turro the first Orchids of the year were seen, about 60 spikes of Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca) were flowering right on the road side. On the fields near by we added two female Hen Harriers (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) to a short but good list of birds for the afternoon.
Photographs from the top: Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos), Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus), View of Sierra Nevada, Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).

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