A warm day in the Valley.
Today I was back down the Cacín Valley with Catherine and her parents who I was meeting on the car park of the Cortijo de Tajár Hotel just off the A92. Whilst I was waiting I picked up a few species including 9 Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), a calling Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus). Once we had met up we headed off to Balsa del Regidor a small very naturalized man made water deposito, here we quickly picked up good numbers of Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) out on the water. In the surrounding trees and bushes there were Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and a couple of Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) which dropped in for a short rest before pushing on towards Granada.
In the air over the site we also saw Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and a flock of Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) which passed over noisily. Small dark heads of Spanish Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa) were seen bobbing up and down in the rather green water with a few sat out on the marginal log piles which were also being used by a single Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos).
Our next stop was out on the agricultural plains near Moraleda where we started off with the resident Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which was sat on the edge of the field and was being mobbed by a very annoyed Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). There were again loads of Barn Swallows and Swifts over the fields along with a couple of Common Kestrels (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) which were calling from the Almond trees. We moved on around the site to the far side of the Solar panel farms where we picked up several Lark species in the clearer areas between the Olive trees, these included several Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), a Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and two flocks of Calandra’s (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra). Whilst here a Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) dashed down through the Olives and away and we also heard a Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) which was in the near by Almonds but it remained elusive. Other species seen here included Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), a Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) which was perched up high on an Olive, Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and quite a few Hoopoes (Abubilla / Upupa epops) which were feeding in a stubble field.
We moved on and made a quick stop for a Coffee in the bar in El Turro before continuing on down to the bridge which crossed the Rio Cacín just below the Embalse; here we had bird of the day which was a roosting Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) sat in a cliff face cave. On the river there were several Copper Demoiselles (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis) flitting around amongst the reeds along with a Mediterranean Skipper (Gegenes nostrodamus) which we got in the scope, several Small (Artogeia rapae) and Bath Whites (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice). In the near by pine trees a Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) and Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) were calling. We then picked up our first eagle which was a soaring dark phase Booted (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and on nearby wires a couple of European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) perched and showed nicely through the scope. We moved on up to the Embalse which to my surprise was full again, the water people must have let a considerable amount out of Embalse de Bermejalis to top it up. On the water there were much the same species as at the Balsa earlier but we did add Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and the first Cattle Egret since we had started the tour. In the area several Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) were seen crossing from the ridge on our side of the lake to the pine trees across the way. We started to get a bit warm here so we moved on down the valley and did a bit of a walk along the Rio Cacín just out side the village, we started with a nice male Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) in the ditch next to where we parked and then added Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) heard only, Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and a little way along the track under the Poplars a single Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla) which was feeding on the ground amongst a flock of Serins and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs). Butterflies included Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus), Long-tailed (Lampides boeticus) and Lang's Short-tailed Blues (Leptotes pirithous) and Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli). We the did the drive up the ridge and over to Ventas de Huelma, along here we picked up our only Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), a pale phase Booted, Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava). We stopped for lunch in a bar in the town before heading to the motorway and back to the hotel due to the afternoon heat being a bit to much to continue to bird in.
Thank you to Catherine and her parents for a nice day in their company and I hope they enjoyed what we did see at this quiet time of the year.
Photographs from the top: Spanish Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa), A view from the deserted Cortijo near Moraleda, Copper Demoiselles (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis), European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Mediterranean Skipper (Gegenes nostrodamus) and at Embalse de Cacín.