Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

The birds sit for the Camera But NOT MINE!!!!!

I met Steve Powell and his wife Elena at the Cortijo de Tájar hotel just off the A92 and we all headed out along the motorway and then down into the Cacín Valley for a days birding. Our first stop was at the river just on the outskirts of the village of the same name where we had a look from the bridge and added the first species to the day list which included Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula). From here we went for a walk along the River, a family party of Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) performed nicely out on the dead branches of a river side tree along with both Great (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), a Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) which flashed across between the trees further along the track and then our main target bird put in a nice but very brief appearance when a female Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) flew up and away from the river bank. Along the walk we also added Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) heard only, Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris). At a clearing some way along the track we spent some time looking for more Orioles, hoping that they may fly between the poplar plantation but apart from a couple of elusive calling males we had no joy, we did whoever add Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and a distant soaring Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) to the list. Several species of butterfly were also seen along the track side including Large (Pieris brassicae) and Small Whites (Artogeia rapae), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Brown Argus (Aricia agestis) and Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea). We then retraced our steps and just as we were getting back to the vehicle I had a fleeting glimpse of a male Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlona / Sylvia hortensis) as it flashed along the riverside vegetation, unfortunately by the time I had got on it, it had gone out of sight. Back at the car we had another quick look at the river and picked up Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata) and Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula). We then went into the hills looking for more raptors; on the way up we had a nice Juv Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) fly across Infront of the car and land on an Almond tree quite near to us. Once up on the top of the ridge we quickly found a cracking Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) which sat nicely for Steve to get some very good shots and this was followed closely by the next species which was a soaring pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus). We stopped on the roadside for a scan over the fields and almost straight away had a Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) fly across in front of us (a bird Elena had wanted to see), here we also saw Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia). We also saw a couple more butterfly species, Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba). We then dropped down off the tops and headed up towards the Embalse de Cacín, on the way Elena expressed her wish to not only see a Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) but she wanted close views both Steve and I said that it would be nice to see one but close was not easy. We made a stop along the river which was flowing at full speed and was almost coming over the bridge, here we saw more Great Tits, Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), plus some butterfly with Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus) being new for the day.
We then moved on and the first bird see as we came around the corner near the Embalse was as required a Golden Eagle and as you will see from the shots Steve got we got dam close but not as close as the mad Magpies!!! After the excitement of the Eagle we had a good look at the Embalse which had a lot of exposed mud as the water level was as low as I had ever seen it. On the margins there were at least 3 Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), 6+ Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and out on the water a few Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), a couple of Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and a single Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus). Here we also saw or heard White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina). Our next stop was on a large area of Olives and cereal fields where we unfortunately dipped on the Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) but we did pick up Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and a cracking male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax). We also went for a walk into an Almond plantation looking for butterflies and we did very well seeing Black-veined White (Banca del Majuelo / Aporia crataegi), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Berger’s Clouded Yellow (Colias alfacariensis), Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and also seen were several Ant-lions (Myrmeleon formicarius). We then started to journey home calling in at a man made laguna on the side of the A92 to have a look at what dragonfly species were about. On the water there were at least 40 Common Pochard, Mallard, Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhen and Little Grebe and in the trees a couple of Nightingales sang and a pair of Golden Orioles flew along the far side of the pool low over the Olives. Dragons included several Black-tailed Skimmers (Orthetrum cancellatum), Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea), Blue / Common (Anax imperator) and Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope), a teneral Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and both Iberian Bluetail (Ischnura graellsii) and Common Blue Damselflies (Enallagma cyathinerum). We then headed back to the house for some lunch via Mesia and across the fields, new birds included Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus). At the house we had a very nice lunch which Jayne had made for us before Steve and Elena made their way back down to the coast.

Photographs from the top: Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Juv Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), 2x Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos), Ant-lion (Myrmeleon formicarius), Black-tailed Skimmers (Orthetrum cancellatum) and Common Blue Damselflies (Enallagma cyathinerum). All the bird shots on this posting were taken by Steve Powell, thanks Steve for letting me use them here.

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