Saturday 3 December 2011

RAM, Motril Port and Charca de Suarez, Granada Province.

A quiet sea but the birds posed at Charca.

Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera).
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. 
Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica).
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).
Western Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio).
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 Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) to the day list.
Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula).
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 Western Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) feeding not to far away on the opposite bank. 
Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis).
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 Western Swamp-hen. 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). 
Bat Species.
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). 
Stock Dove (Paloma Zurita / Columba oenas) One of 6.
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. 
Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia).
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 Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki).

Thursday 1 December 2011

Frontil Industrial Estate, Loja, Granada Province.

Lots of birds but none seen.

I was making a quick visit to Santiago the mechanic we use in Loja to get the Speedo sorted out; when I arrived there was a note on the door saying "be back in 20 mins". Well 45 mins later he arrived towing a car in which had broken down some where down the way, but straight away he got to work and the Speedo was sorted in a few seconds and I was on my way. Just as I was pulling out of the garage I heard the loud calls of some Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus) from the dark skies over head so I parked up and listened. The birds continued to pass for some time and the noise just got louder and louder as more birds came over, it was so noisy that some of the workers in other units came out to see what it was. I guess that there were well over a hundred birds, if not several hundred as it’s hard to judge in the dark but the noise was incredible.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

El Temple, Granada Province.

Birding at a raptor roost.

Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus).
I arrived at a site in the area known as El Temple near Granada where I was meeting Juan Pérez Contreras for a spot of birding. I was an hour or so early so I set up the scope and made a start, first a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) came in to view from behind a small row of trees and quartered the weedy area right in front of me. A few seconds after the bird arrived a cracking adult Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) shot into view and started to mob the harrier until after some 10 minutes the harrier pushed off in the same direction that it had come from but did not disappear before it flushed a single Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) into the air. 
Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus).
The Kite then started another fight with one of the Common Kestrels (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) which were around; this battle went on for some time before the Kite settled down in a distant tree for a well earned rest. I decided to try and get some better views of the bird so I relocated along the road some way which reduced the distance down considerably, as I was re-setting the scope Juan arrived and we enjoyed some cracking views of this fine bird. Whilst we were viewing and getting some shots we also recorded at least 4 Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris) in amongst the Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) flock, loads of Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and both Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis). 
We later moved back to my original spot where we located a male Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) sat out on one of the nearby ploughed fields and a couple of Dartford Warblers (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) which were seen flicking between the dead Thistle plants that cover the area. 
Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris).
As the light started to drop at least 4 male and 3 female Hen Harriers (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) arrived at the site and spent sometime flying around together probably looking for a late evening snack of one of the Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) or Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) which were in amongst the weeds. Other species seen during the afternoon were Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa). 

Monday 28 November 2011

Rio Velez, Malaga Province and North of Zafarraya, Granada Province.

Loads of strange people and just a few birds.

I made the wrong choice and went down to have a look at the river on the Malaga side of Torre-del-Mar but found little but people who should really keep their clothes on and other more sinister people hanging around the bushes.
Anyway down to the few birds I did see, in the riverside vegetation and on the shingle banks I picked up a single Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) which was the only wader seen, several Western Cattle (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and a couple of Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) stalked the reeds, Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) were all on the water and while a single Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) flushed up from the reeds calling noisily. From the beach the sea watching was not up to much with just a single Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) and the four commonest species of Gull being recorded, 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). On my way back up the river I added little else with the highlights being Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris).
On the way back towards home I had a quick search around the fields just North-East of Zafarraya and found some far more interesting birds which included Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus). Things got even better as I got back on to the local patch when we again bumped into the Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) flock and counted at least 400 Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) on a field where they have roosted during the day since winter arrived.