Saturday 12 November 2011

El Temple, Granada Province.

First real dip in Spain.

Got the car back (thanks Santi) this morning and went with Jayne to a craft fair / market at one of the local hotels. I enjoyed it more than expected as we bumped into several friends that we had not seen for a while and Bernie and Carol who we had not seen all year, so it was good to have a chat and catch up with what had been going on. Later we went back home and had some lunch before I headed out on my first real twitch since I have been in Spain, an immature Pallid Harrier had been seen in an area near to Granada so I headed over to see if I could locate the bird again. I arrived at the spot but it was very windy, this did not bode well. 
I almost immediately had a cracking male Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) pass behind me flushing loads of Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Goldfinches (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) as it battled with the wind. I then sent a text to Juan Perez just to confirm I was in the correct place, he rang me a few minutes later say that I was in the right spot and that he would be joining me shortly. 
On the near by fields I added Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) to the days list, one flock of the latter must have numbered over a hundred birds and over the olives a Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) soared away towards the Cacín Valley area. 
Juan arrived and almost immediately so did a ring-tail type Harrier which flew very low and erratically, landed a couple of time briefly before disappearing as quickly as it had arrived over the olive trees to the west, I am convinced that this was the immature Pallid Harrier but in the wind and with the distance to the bird we could not be 100% sure, so the wait continued. 
We had some more views of the male Harriers, a female Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and a single Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) before we decided that we would change location and hope for another pass by the earlier bird. 
Out in the fields we picked up Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor). As the light started to drop we made our way back to the original spot as the harriers seemed to be closer. We again picked up what I believe was the Pallid but lost it amongst the vegetation which blocks the view of low flying birds. We did not see the bird again but had some cracking views of at least 4 male and 2 female Hens. Well this was my first twitch and dip in Spain.

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