A cracking day despite the weather!
I headed off up to Granada to meet Ian, the journey up was a wet one and things had not got much better when Ian arrived. We headed out of the city and were soon picking birds up for Ian list; the first species seen included Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus). Once we were at the first site on the way over towards the Cacín Valley we soon added a fine adult Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) to the list which was perched on a road side pole, in the same area we added another Common Kestrel, Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), a nice male Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) with something fluffy in it’s bill (either prey of nest lining) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). We pushed on towards Cacín through Olive and Almond plantations on the flat plains above the village, on this road we made several stops, at the first we added the days first Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Singing male Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) and Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) both of which we got good views of eventually. In the same area we also picked up a nice Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) which perched on a nearby pylon, Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Garden Warbler (Curruca Mosquitera / Sylvia borin), Common Whitethroat (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and we also heard Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea). A little further on we found a female Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) sat in a dead tree and at the final stop before the village we caught up with one of the species that Ian had most wanted to see a really nice male Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) which showed well on the ground and in an almond tree. The species second on Ian’s most wanted list was the next bird, just as we entered the village there was a cracking European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) perched on a roadside wire. Once we were down in the valley the rain stopped completely and the sun appeared for all of around five minutes but soon moved back behind the clouds. We headed south along the river and one of the first birds added was a pale form Eleonora's Falcon (Halcón de Eleonora / Falco eleonorae) which was heading north along with good numbers of Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), this was the second record for this species in the same area. The first was an autumn record of a darker bird. A bit further along the road we again stopped to admire a small group of Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) feeding on the side of the road and in the air in the gorge we picked up the days first Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) three of these beautiful birds were in the company of a couple of Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and a few of the commoner House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica).
A few minutes later we had again come to a halt and were watching a pair of Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) flying up the valley quite low which meant we had some good views, here we also had Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), brief views of a male Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and heard a yaffling Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis).
We turn around and started to head north up the valley stopping near some poplar trees were we had more views of a male Golden Oriole, heard Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) and had good views of more Rock Sparrows and another male Blue Rock Thrush.
We pushed on to the Embalse de Cacín but it was generally quiet, out on the water there were a few Common Pochards (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), a single Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and at least one calling but secretive well hidden Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) which we could not find. In the air there were more of the Swifts and Hirundines already see along with a few Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia) and a couple of Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea). Other species here included Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea).We then stopped for something to eat in El Turro before looking at the cliffs nearby and adding a couple of distant Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) to the day list. We then move to an agricultural area nearby where we walked out on to the fields looking for Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) we had soon seen a couple of males, Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris), Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Heard Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix), and had fantastic views of at least 4 juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius). We dipped on the Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) on this visit but considering the weather I was happy with what we had seen. We decided to call it a day after this site and made our way back across country towards the city. As we drove I glimpsed a large shape between some olives on a raise field edge, reversed the car back up a few meters to find an adult Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) being harassed by a Common Magpie, as we drove back we also added a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and several Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) the list.
On a day where the weather was far from great, I was very pleased with a total of 84 bird species seen or heard.
Photographs from the top: Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea).