Saturday 30 April 2011

Laguna Herrera and Ronoral Pine Woods, Antequera, Malaga Province.

More White-headed Ducks and the 31st Orchid species of the year.

White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala).
The weather was not great but I thought that I would have a very quick look at the Laguna as I had left home later than usual so time was tight. I had a brief look at the gate looking over the flooded fields and picked up the first of the Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), along with a few Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and more surprisingly about 20 Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) which were still lingering on from the winter. Further along the track on the main lagoon there were a couple of nicely plumaged Little Stints (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta) picking their way through the mud with a couple of pairs of Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) and a Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos). The Great Reed Warblers (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus) were singing (well rattling and gratting) from the growing reed beds and from the stream on the side of the track Cetti’s (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Melodious (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta) and Reed Warblers (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus) could all be heard. 
Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta).
Out on the water around 50 Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) were feeding with the odd Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and the male White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) seen a couple of days ago. On the far side of the barn I was very pleased to find another 4 male White-headed Ducks, along with single female, it would be very nice to find that these birds were breeding on this site as it is under threat from the proposed high speed rail test track and they may help with the case for it's relocation. A couple of cracking Black Terns (Fumarel Común / Chlidonias niger) were hawking insects over the water along with 10 or so of the more regular Gull-billeds (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica).
Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra).
Other birds seen around the area were Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis).
The next stop was the Hotel to meet up with the three ladies for todays hike up through the Pine woods at Ronoral in the hills above Antequera. This is a nice fairly level walk which passes through several diferent habitats. The first area is open low thyme grassland, here we saw several Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), a small flock of around 8 Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and heard singing Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli). 
Bee Orchid (Flor de abeja / Ophrys apifera).
Wildflowers included Ground-pine Germander (Teucrium pseudochamaepitys), Tragopogon porrifolius, Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum), Blue Woodruff (Asperula arvensis), Field Gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus) and Linaria hirta. We then spent most of the walk in the pine woods adding Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). In the shaded parts of the wood there were still a few orchids in flower including Small Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys picta), Yellow Bee Orchids (Ophrys lutea) and the 31st species for the year Bee Orchid (Flor de abeja / Ophrys apifera). 
The Ladies.
Along the eastern side of the site there are some areas of Oak woodlands which we pass through in this area we added Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and just as we got back to the car we heard a singing Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus). The masses of Pink Butterfly Orchids (Orquídea mariposa / Orchis papilionacea) seen a couple of weeks ago were over with but there was still a couple of Champagne Orchids (Orchis Champagneuxii) in good condition.

Friday 29 April 2011

Sierra de Loja and above the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Adalucian Bird Society April meeting.

Pyramidal Orchid (Orquidea pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia).
We set off up the Sierra de Loja in warm bright sunshine, IN MY DREAMS it was peeeeeing down and cold the same as last year, but eleven brave soles were willing to contend with the weather. Our first brief stop was at a small quarry just above the motorway where we picked up Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). We quickly moved on up through the pine woods stopping again for the first Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) of the day flying between some small oaks, also seen here were Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and at least 3 Woodchat Shrikes (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). Further on we took the track up to the larger disused Quarry hoping for a view of the Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) which breeds there but the rain and wind did not entice the bird out on to the ledge to be seen.
Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica).
In the quarry we did see a pair of Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), a pair of Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) going in and out of their nest hole, Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and a male Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) which flashed across the crags and away. On the bank over looking Loja a few of the group heard a Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix) call a couple of times and we also added Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and a Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) which did a quick fly by. Several Pyramidal Orchids (Orquidea pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia) and lots of Yellow Bee Orchids (Ophrys lutea) were still in flower along with Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major), Cerastium boissieri, Dianthus Pungens and Brown Bluebell (Dipcadi serotinum), Ground-pine Germander (Teucrium pseudochamaepitys) and Thapsia (Thapsia villosa).
Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
We then continued on up the crags and made our way out to the goat cave and Charca del Negro, on the way we saw several Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and a Weasel (Mustela nivalis) which was carrying a dead young Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Up near the Goat cave we were looking for Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) but only four of the group saw this species (Peter seeing two males), the rest of us had to make do with More Rock Sparrows, Rock Buntings, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina).
Erodium cheilanthifolium.
On the run back down we saw Viola dementria and Erodium cheilanthifolium flowering on a road side rocks and a couple of Sharp-ribbed Salamanders (Pleurodeles waltl) in Charca del Negro. We continued on down to the motorway seeing Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) on the way. More Wildflower species were seen including Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), Blue Hedgehog Broom (Erinacea anthyllis), Yellow Restharrow (Ononis natrix) and Upland Peony (Paeonia coriacea).
We then had a very nice Menu del Dia in the Hotel Cotijo de Tajar on the outskirts of Huetor Tajar and in the afternoon continued on to an agricultural area above the Cacín Valley. On the way we added Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) to the day list. The track was just a tad muddy so we all decanted in to the groups 4X4 vehicles and move out into the area, on the way to the ruin where we watched the area from we picked up a couple of Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), a single Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and the main bird we had come for 6x Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which flew across the site but were distant.
Blue Hedgehog Broom (Erinacea anthyllis).
We parked at the ruin and quickly found two male Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and two Great Spotted Cuckoos (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) which flew across calling nosily. We then walked down the track a bit further adding another Little Bustard, more Larks and Marsh and Montagu's Harriers. The drivers then managed to get us off the site through the mud and back onto the road where we ended the day and we started to make our ways home.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Laguna Herrera and Archidona, Malaga Province.

Little Bustards every where!

Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).
I called in for my usual morning visit to the Lagoons before the hike with Rio Frio Health at the Hotel Eslava in Antequera.
As soon as I turned in to the site on the road nearer the Autovia I picked up the first two male Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) one on either side of the track. Several Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) were running around on the track giving good views and a nice male Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) did a fly by and landed on a small stone building before going through a hole in the wall and relieving a female bird of her incubation duties. Also along here I picked up Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Crested Larks (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster). 
Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra).
I then moved around to the flooded fields along the next track and again as soon as I left the main road I could hear at least another two male Little Bustards calling and one of then was sitting out in the open on a large pile of earth. A little further on I parked on the bridge over the drainage canal that runs along the track side and had a look through the gates where I picked up Avocet (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and a small flock of around 5 Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta). 
Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Just then a car pulled up and out got Bob Wright from Axarquia bird group on his way to Fuente de Piedra to meet up with Andy Patterson (AKA Birding the Costa blog), we chatted for a while and added Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus) to the list before going to have a look at the main lagoon. Waders were few here today with a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) being the only addition, other species included a few Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and the surprise of the morning a pair of White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) which were the first I have seen on the site. 
Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae).
Also seen along here were Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Sand Martins (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).
Time had run out so I started to make my way to the hotel but on the way I saw another male Little bustard and picked up several Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) hunting over the fields. At the hotel I met the group and we had a run out to the start of the hike at Archidona. The main walk is a loop through wooded scrub, Olives and agricultural land and to finish off we do the walk through the pine woodlands from the town up to the monastery at the top of the hill over looking the area. On the way around I picked up a male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) hunting over the olives, Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea). 
White Mignonette (Reseda Alba).
The only flowering Orchid was Yellow Bee Orchids (Ophrys lutea) but a few butterflies were seen including Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Swallowtail (Papilio machaon).
On the climb up to the monastery the only new species noted were several immature Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra).
Blue Alkanet (Anchusa azurea).
 Several species of wild flowers were seen on the way around including Field Gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus), Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena), White Mignonette (Reseda Alba), Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum), Ground-pine Germander (Teucrium pseudochamaepitys) and Blue Alkanet (Anchusa azurea).