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.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

El Purche, Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

Mountian birds and a broken clutch.

I dropped Jayne and our neighbor Carole off in Granada City, went and had some new tyers put on the front of the car and then headed off up Sierra Nevada to have a look around the El Purche area. As soon as I arrived I got some stunning views of a small flock of Woodlarks (Totovia / Lullula arborea) which scuttled around in the short grass near the road side. In the top of one of the nearby Pine tree a nice male Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) gave its distinctive chip call and on the next branch down was one of the species I had come for, a winter plumage male Yellowhammer (Escribano Cerillo / Emberiza citronella). 
It was good to get the prolonged views I had of this bird as the rest of the possible birds seen were all female / 1st winters and did not hang around long enough for me to get good views of. I walked around in this area for some time checking the finch / bunting flocks which were coming down to feed in the fallen leaves below the Sweet Chestnut trees. I picked up a couple of Rock Buntings (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), a cracking male and several female Cirl Buntings (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) in amongst the more numerous Common Chaffinches (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
I then moved up the road a short way to have a look under the Walnut trees plantations, here I quickly discovered my first Bramblings (Pizón Real / Fringilla montifringilla) of the winter, around 5 birds feeding amongst the more common Chaffinches and Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). Under the trees I also saw Common Magpies (Urraca / Pica pica), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor). I then turned around to scan the grassland area behind me and picked up several Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) a bird I had expected to see and then I found the most unexpected bird of the day a male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), it was quite a distance away near the rocks on the far side of the grass area but the clean white breast and flanks stood out so well sexing it was easy.
I moved further along the road and spent some time checking out the Hawthorn bushes on the hillsides back towards the main road up to the summit. Here I added Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and heard but cold not locate a Ring Ouzel (Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus). 
At the high point just before the drop down to the main road I stopped and spent some time getting some shots of Black Redstarts that were perching on some concrete picnic tables, also seen here were a number of Jays (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) along with a couple of species of butterflies, the most interesting was a very fresh looking Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychlorus) which flew around the spot a few times but did not settle. Time was getting on so I decided to start to make my way back down towards the city when it all went wrong, I pulled away from the parking by the picnic tables heard a bang a lot of noise and then the car stalled and I soon realized that the clutch had gone. 
After some thinking I decided to try and limp down to the city to meet Jayne and Carole and ring the breakdown people from there, so I started the car in first gear and managed to roll all the way down to the outskirts and then managed to do some gear changes using only the accelerator and the engine speed to make my way to the arranged meeting place where I called for help.

Monday 7 November 2011

Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

Found the missing birds at last.

White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba).
Jayne and I went down to Huétor to get some shopping and to order some more building materials and made our way home across the fields to the North of the town looking for the elusive Bustards. Along the tarmac section of the drive we picked up a small flock of the locally less common Common Magpies (Urraca / Pica pica), several Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata). 
Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
On the track along the river I was pleased to find a flock of 105 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) around half the number we usually get but at least they had turned up at last or had come out of hiding. They were on a recently cut Lucerne field amongst around 200 Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), equal numbers of Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and probably getting on for 500 Spotless Starlings. Other species seen included Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).

Sunday 6 November 2011

Along the A92, Granada Province.

Catching up with yesterdays photographs.

Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).
After a mornings walk around the market in Granada we returned home via the A92 and called in at the area where I had seen the Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) yesterday. We arrived to find the birds still present and I quickly did a count (40) and then took some shot but they were never going to be much good as the sun was in the wrong direction and there was no way of getting to the other side of the flock. 
Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus).
I also took some shots of a Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) which stayed nice and still for a while.