A quiet sea but the birds posed at Charca.
Juan Pérez and I again made our way down to the Coast to carry out Decembers RAM sea bird survey. The weather did not look too good as we left but improved a bit by the time we reached the coast but with the wind blowing off shore we were not confident of there being many birds close in. Our original thoughts were right and numbers were indeed low, but we managed a 100+ each of Balearic Shearwaters (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) and Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), a few Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo) and a couple of Razorbills (Alca Común / Alca torda) but no Tern’s, Skua’s or Cory's Shearwater (Pardela Cenicienta / Calonectris diomedea) were seen. The usual Gulls turned up including Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
Other birds seen included Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis).
We later went down to the port but there was so much activity that the Gulls were very weary and were not allowing us to approach close enough to read any rings, we did add Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Little (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) and Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) to the day list.
We next went to Charca and as the sea bird survey had been quiet we arrived a bit earlier than usual and managed to have a good look around. From the first hide we got some nice views of a pair of Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), several Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and in the trees a little further along the track we had an immature and adult Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax). The second hide was by far the most productive and had the best light. As soon as we walked in there was a Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) showing well on the margins right next to the hide and a cracking Purple Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) feeding not to far away on the opposite bank. Ducks included Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata) and Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) plus several Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and a single winter plumaged Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis). A Water Pipit (Bistita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta) and a couple of Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago) were also seen around the margins along with at least four Purple Swamp-hens. Also on the margins were loads of Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), a Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) which posed nicely and calling but not seen Penduline Tits (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus). We moved on around the reserve picking up Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), a single Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Black Redstart and House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus). We returned to the second hide as the light was so much better there and spent the rest of our time there trying to get some more shots of the birds. On the way out we picked up a single Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and the only dragonfly of the day a Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope). We arrived back at the entrance at the same time as the warden and he showed us a bat which was roosting on the side of his office (still to be identified).
We then carried on back to Granada where I dropped Juan off at his car and continued on home, on the way I saw a single Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) along the edge of the A92 and a small group of around 20 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) in a nearby field. On the northern side of Huetor I stopped to have a look through a flock of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and discovered a small flock of 6 Stock Doves (Paloma Zurita / Columba oenas) feeding amongst them, I am informed that the Doves are quite rare down here in Granada Province. Also seen were a group of 18 Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia), 177 more Little Bustards, Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and lots of Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus).
Photographs from the top: Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica), Purple Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), the Bat, Stock Dove (Paloma Zurita / Columba oenas) and Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia).