Thursday 11 August 2011

Laguna Herrera, RFH walk, Laguna Dulce and Rio's on the way to Malaga, Malaga Province.

A day of many sites and sights.

Banded Groundling (Brachythemis leucosticte).
The first stop of the morning was as usual at the Laguna, bird numbers were still quite good with a nice flock of Avocets (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta) feeding out in the middle of a quickly drying up lake which was now divided down the centre by a mud bar. Also on the margins were 6x Curlew Sandpipers (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea), 8x Little Stints (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), lots of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), a single Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), 20+ Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and around the same number of Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus). The Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) numbers were still quite high and they were joined by a couple of immature Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and a few Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius).
I arrived at the hotel and met the guests and we did the walk from Park Atalya along the Antequera Golf Valley and up to the Magdalena Hotel and then onwards across the olives and herb scrub to Nacimiento. On the first part of the walk I identified at least 3 male Orange-winged Dropwings (Trithemis kirbyi) flashing quickly along the trail, with several Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and a single Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope). Birds included a very nice male Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlona / Sylvia hortensis) which sat up nicely in a trackside Oak tree, Dartford (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Melodious (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Cetti’s (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius).
White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes).
Butterflies were also quite common and included Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Grayling (Hipparchia semele), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina), Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia), Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).
After the walk I made my way out to Laguna Dulce near Campillos were again the water levels had started to drop and show a small muddy margin but I could only find a couple of Black-winged Stilts, a Common Sandpiper and 3+ Little-ringed Plovers.
Squacco Heron (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides).
Out on the water I spent quite a long time scanning and counting the waterfowl, they included Common (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) and Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Black-necked (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), a single Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna) and the two stars were a nice male Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca) and the pair of Red-knobbed Coots (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata) away over too the right in the tamarisks. It was good that the one bird had a white neck collar on which stood out at a distance or I would probably not have picked out either amongst the masses of Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra).
Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta).
Also seen in the area were more Greater Flamingo’s, Western Cattle Egret, Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Sand (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
I then pushed on south along the road toward Malaga and made my next stop on the shoreline of Embalse de Guadalteba near Ardales. I was hoping for and found several Banded Groundling (Brachythemis leucosticte) Dragonflies which played hard to get a photo of for some time and even though I did eventually get some shots I was not very happy with them. Continuing on south I stopped at the Arroyo de Casarabonela where last year I had seen Ringed Cascader (Zygonyx torridus) but Dragonfly numbers were much reduced, not helped by the appalling state of the river. There was raw sewage running straight in to it just below the bridge, it smelt awful and had covered the banks of river in a black sludge.
Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus).
However I did see a couple more Orange-winged Dropwings, Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma), Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea), Iberian Bluetail (Ischnura graellsii), Red-veined Darter and Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata).
I then went back north just a few Kms to the second turning to Pizarra where I had a quick look on the river but turned up nothing new, so I went a couple of Kms further on to just on the out skirts of Pizarra and had a look at the Rio. Here I had some nice views of White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes), Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), Blue-eye’s / Goblet-marked Damselfly (Erythromma lindenii) and either Small or Large Pincetail.
I then dropped back south and pulled in on to the banks of the Rio Grande, there were at least 70 Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta), along with good numbers of Squacco Herons (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides), Little-ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilt, Common Sandpipers and 3 Kingfishers (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis).

Monday 8 August 2011

Cacín Valley and nearer Granada, Granada Province.

A visit from an old friend.

Angus on the Rio Cacín.
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 Iberian Grey Shrike (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
Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis).
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).
Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis).
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). 
White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes).
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 Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) 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. 
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum).
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 that Frank will be back with you in the spring!

Sunday 7 August 2011

El Chorro, Malaga Province.

RFH Walk.

Today’s walk due to the heat was around the shorter route at El Chorro and I was walking with two very nice Spanish ladies called Elena and Estefania. We walked out along the River through the Pine woods to the start of the Kings walk and then back on the upper track to the lake where the ladies had a nice swim. On the way round I noted Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Cetti’s (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Dartford (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica).
On the rockier part of the walk near the Kings Walk I tried with out much success to get some shots of a pair of Western Spectre (Boyeria Irene) Dragonflies which went into tandem and settled just out of reach on a bush above the track. There were also loads of Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) about during the walk and also by the lake.