A Sea Bird Survey followed by ring reading and some general birding, a nice combination.
I left home just after five in the morning to meet up with Juan Perez at the usual spot in Granada, on the way I have cracking views of a Red-necked Nightjar (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis) which was sat on the road between the house and Huétor Tajár. Once Juan and I had met we headed down towards Motril and then on to Cabo Sacratif where we were doing the RAM seabird survey for August. As we approached the coast the cloud cover increased and the air grew more and more unpleasantly hot and sticky. We walked up onto the high point at the sea watch point from where we could see the bright flashes of the lighthouse through the mist. The sea was flat calm but with the mist it was difficult to judge distances and to focus the scope but it was immediately obvious that there were more birds around than on the last survey morning. Cory's Shearwaters (Pardela Cenicienta / Calonectris diomedea) were by far the commonest species seen during the period, I am not sure of the final number but I suspect it was over 150 birds. Most were just milling around a few hundred meters out to sea and at times forming sizable rafts. We also recorded a couple of dozen Balearic Shearwaters (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) and a single immature Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus). Gulls included lots of Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and a few summering Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) plus Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii). Juan also had a single Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) but that eluded my best efforts. A small pod of Dolphins passed heading east; they were particularly easy to see as the surface of the sea was very still. Other birds seen during the watch included two Peregrine Falcons (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
We completed the survey and headed around to the port where we hoped to see some gulls with rings to read and we were not disappointed, amongst the flocks of gulls made up mainly of Audouin’s and Black-headed with a couple of Meds (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) amongst which we found a couple of Lesser Black-backs with rings but most of the twenty or so rings recorded were on the Audouin’s plus a single Black-headed. One of the Audouin’s was from Italy, the Black-headed originated from Poland and one of the Lesser Black-backs was from Holland! We moved on to Charca after checking through the flocks for a walk around the reserve, we arrived to find a Spanish chap doing some ringing in the main office and he allowed us to take a shot of a Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta) which he had just processed. We then moved on around the hides, from the one that over looked Laguna del Lirio we started the list with Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Reed (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus) and Cetti’s Warblers (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and a fly through Red Avadavat (Bengali Rojo / Amandava amandava). In the water there were lots of Spanish Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) and in the air several Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea) and Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) Dragonflies. We then moved around to get a view from the southern hide over Laguna del Trebol from where we saw pretty much the same species but added Purple Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Pallid Swift, House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). On the floating weed several Black Percher (Diplacodes lefebvrii) and a single Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria) we picked up along with several Black-tailed Skimmers (Orthetrum cancellatum) which preferred the reed stalks higher up for sitting on. From the hide on the far side of the same laguna we just heard but did not see a Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) before we moved around to the main hide. On the way we picked up Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) which was blowing raspberries at us from the reeds. Once in the main hide we soon had a very nice Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) in the scope, which was soon followed by a Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and Little Bittern (Avetorillo Común / Ixobrychus minutus) which I missed as it flew across the main Lagoon. We spent quite a while here but did not see a lot else so we went on around to the last hide over looking Laguna de Taraje, here we saw several of the stripy humbug young of the Little Grebes, a Sedge Warbler (Carricerin Común / Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) which I again missed as it dipped back in to the reeds before Juan had the chance to put me on to it and slightly more worrying were at least three of the destructive introduced Yellow-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) a close relative of the Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans). Then just as we were leaving a large Catocala elocata Moth was found attached to one of the log poles of the hide, a nice end to a cracking day. Well almost the end as on the way back to Granada we saw singles of Short-toed (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and Booted Eagles (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus).
Photographs from the top: 3x Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Yellow-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) and Catocala elocata.