Monday, 8 August 2011

Cacín Valley and nearer Granada, Granada Province.

A visit from an old friend.

I mean a friend of many years (but he is getting on a bit as well!!!), Angus and I have been birding together for more years than I can remember but this was the first time we had managed to meet up since I moved to Spain six years ago. He was on his family Holidays down near Nerja and managed to slip away for a day to come and visit my what turned out to be a birdless local patch. We started with a visit to a sight above the Cacín Valley hoping of some of the usual species we see out on this area of dry agricultural land but there was little to be found and we only recorded Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Woodchat (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Southern Grey Shrikes (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and a couple of Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua). Then moved on to a sight nearer to Granada hoping for and dipping on Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus), we did not any birds here but a few Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and one immature Woodchat. We then drove back to wards the lower end of the Cacín Valley and the day continued in the same vein with me telling Angus that for most of the year we have lots of this and that species here but August is a bad time to see them. We stopped on a cliff to along the gorge at the southern end of the valley and we did see Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Common and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). We turned around and headed north to the Embalse de Cacín where there were a few bits on and around the lake including Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and a couple of immature Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea).
The water level was slightly low so the mud near the southern end was exposed and there were quite a few waders resting and feeding. There were only two species but in good numbers, Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) were in to the thirties and there were at least 15 Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos). Several European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and Turtle Doves (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) were perched on the wires and in the marginal reeds we heard Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) and Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) both of which remained unseen. We continued on along the river to the small bridge just a few hundred meters further on where we added Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major).
A stop at the cliffs near El Turro only gave us better views of Crag Martin, so we pushed on to the small pond on the side of the A92 at Moraleda. Dragonflies were the main reason for stopping here and we managed a few species including Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea), Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis), Iberian Bluetail (Ischnura graellsii), Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata). On the margins we picked up a few more Green and Common Sandpipers and a pair of Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax) which flew in and tried to land on the water a couple of times and then departed, the size difference between the sexes was very obvious as they flew around. We also had 22 Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) arrive and settle into the dead trees around the margins, a single Grey Heron flew out and several Common Pochard families were out on the water. Our last stop of the day was near the merging of the Rio Cacín and the Genil at Mesia. On the Cacín just up stream from the village we had a nice flock of Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) flying between the Poplar plantations, A calling Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), good views of a Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea). In a reedy section of the stream I got some nice shots of both Copper Demoiselle and White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes), both species seen in tandem. We then headed up to the house to show Angus the house and have something to eat and drink. The birding was not great but I had a great day meeting up with a good friend and showing him where we have settled, thanks for coming up Angus and hope the Frank will be back with you in the spring!
Photographs from the top: Angus, 2x Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis), White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes) and Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum).

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