Saturday, 25 August 2012

Pantaneta de Alhama, Campo de Zafarraya, Embalse de Bermejalis and the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Steve, Lynn and Adams last day in the field before heading to Grazalema.

We again headed out across country for a small pool just beyond Alhama de Granada called the Pantaneta de Alhama where we were hoping for some more dragonflies for Steve’s list. We were not disappointed but the only new species seen during the visit to the area was Copper Demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis). We started by having a look at the pool from by the two bars and out on the water we picked up several Common Pochards (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinu la Chloropus). We then walked down the hill and around to the lower view of the dam across the pool at the bottom of the dam wall, almost straight away we picked up a pair of Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) which were drinking from the stonework. The male then flew up and landed in a conifer tree right next to us which had Steve’s camera going full blast but unfortunately the bird did not land in the right place and the light was not good! Next came a couple of Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) which chased each other around for a while, more Common Pochards and Eurasian Coots and a single Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea). Down on the concrete sides to the run off pool there was a nice male Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi) and on a branch of a willow a male Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata). A little further on a few passerines were moving through the pine trees and they included Great (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs). We then walked down the dirt track along the far side of the pool passed the hide until we reached the far end of the car park. Just as we left the road we had good views of a male Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and heard another couple of Short-toed Treecreepers calling. We checked out a couple of areas of scrub along the waters edge and on the bank above us picking up good numbers of Adonis Blues (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus) along with Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Southern Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Southern Gatekeeper (Pyronia cecilia) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) were also very common along this stretch including a couple with strangely coloured brown / grey flanks to the thorax, but we eventually had to give up trying to discover a new species. Right down in the far corner of the car park we had a species which I had not seen at the site before in the shape of a female Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens) which eventually sat nicely for the camera until it was flushed by a male Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator). In the same area we had quite a few White Featherlegs (Platycnemis latipes) and a couple of Iberian Bluetails (Ischnura graellsii). We made our way back around to the dam and had a walk along the stream as far as the first bridge, the water was again tainted with sewage which is an all to common occurrence but still had good numbers of Copper Demoiselles flying along its banks. In this area we also had Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) and just as we were leaving a male Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis) did a close fly passed giving us brief but superb views. We then sauntered back to the car and had lunch over looking the lake and afterwards headed towards Embalse de Bermejalis via the closed road which runs along the top of the gorge. We arrived at the lake which its self as usual was pretty much bird less except for some feeding House Martins and a few Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). On the very dried out margins and in the large concrete gullies we found more Orange-winged Dropwings, Broad Scarlets and a few Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) but nothing more exiting. The time was drifting on so we had a drive north along the Cacín Valley doing some birding but being August it was quite quiet. We did however see more Azure-winged Magpies, Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta). At the Embalse de Cacín and at the first bridge we picked up and added Bonelli’s Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Pochard, Common (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) heard only and Willow Warbler (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochillus). From here we headed back towards the house stopping briefly to have a look at the Visigoth graves near Moraleda, here we also saw a couple of Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) and a Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
Photographs from the top: Adonis Blues (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus), Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens), The Graves and Lynn and Adam at the Graves.

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