More new birds on the year list and the first of the Orchids.
I met Juan Perez as usual on the Aki car park in Granada and we headed off down to Cabo Sacratif just to the east of Motril to carry out the January RAM sea bird survey. We arrived a little early but this was great as we saw a cracking sun rise from the top of the cliffs. The sea birds we were hoping for were again a bit thin on the ground, Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) were by far the commonest species recorded followed by Balearic Shearwater (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo). Half a dozen or so Razorbills (Alca Común / Alca torda) whirled past on their rapidly moving short wings and a single Great Skua (Págalo Grande / Catharacta skua) went west. Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) were common, Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) less so and there was just a single immature Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii). Other species recorded here included Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
We then had a quick look at the Port in Motril but as with last month there was a lot of activity and the gulls were very jumps so no rings were seen but I added Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) and Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) to the year list.
Our next stop was a rapid look at Charca de Suarez just to catch up with a few more species for the year list, from the first hide we heard but did not see Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) but did add Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti). On the way round to the second hide we caught up with the adult Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) which has been roosting in the willow scrub along the main track. Once in the hide Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Purple Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) were so picked up along with Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus). A very quick stop was made in the next small hide and then we had a few minutes in the main hide where a couple more species were picked up, Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) and Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata). We then quickly made our way around towards the exit via the last small hide were a Purple Swamp Hen posed nicely so it would have been rude not to get a couple of shots and as we were leaving we saw two of the earlier elusive Penduline Tits just briefly.
We then made our way back towards Granada but went on the old road and then across country on a route that Juan had done some years ago to look for Orchids and wildflowers. We stopped in a small car park on the roadside and walked out to a small picnic site in the pines woods on the far side of a small stream and started to look for Orchids and wildflowers, I quickly found several spikes of the very early flowering Orchid Ophrys malacitana which was only the second time I have seen it and the first time in Granada Province. Also found were several bushes of Balearic Box (Buxus balearica) which was not flowering but it had hundreds of small buds on the branches so I think it was not going to be long before it flowered. Also seen here were Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs). We pushed on and we next found an Erica species which I have still to identify, we continued on along a track which linked with the road from the coast up to Padul which Juan had forgotten was getting on for 20kms of rough driving, so this took some extra time. I dropped Juan off at his car and then headed back home, on the way along the A92 I again picked up a single Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus), a couple of Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), one of which was being mobbed by at least 8 Common Magpies (Urraca / Pica pica).
Once I was back on the local pitch I decided to go back home via the fields north of Huetor Tajar where I picked up a Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), 40 odd Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) and a couple of hundred Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) all lined up along the deep furrows in an asparagus field keeping out of the wind.
Photographs from the top: The Sun rise, Purple Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Ophrys malacitana and Erica species.