Saturday, 13 October 2012

Huetor Fields, Granada Province.

The local patch comes good with 8 Raptor Species !!

Jayne and I started the day up in Granada at the Saturday market and then in the near by shopping center before heading back towards home. On the way I was lucky enough to see two decent sized flocks of Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), both of which were on fields of newly cut Lucerne on the southern side of the A92. The first was near exit 225 and the second 1km before the exit at Morelada. Once we got home we had some lunch and then at about 3ish I headed out to have a few hours birding dwn on the fields just a KM or so from the house. On the way down I started the list with a nice flock of Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) coming up out of the Olives and crossing the road to feed on a nearby fig tree, also seen were Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) anda couple of large flocks of Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) numbering around 300 birds. Once out on the fields I followed the dry river for a very short distance and stopped by one of the crossing points which still had a large poodle of water in it after the rains of a week or so ago,here I got some nice views of a lone Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) which was feeding happily even with the field workers cars splashing close passed it. Small flocks of Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) also came down to the water to drink. I crossed the river and continued on slowly along the raised bank on the far side scanning the fields, this was when I picked up the first couple of raptors, a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) was flapping lazily over the tall maze crop and then what I thought was going to be a second female Hen came into view distantly over the olives. This bird quickly came closer and started to hunt over the same area but was quickly identified as a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), I have seen this species quite regularly during this autumns passage. In this area I also saw Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata). I moved on passed a largish Poplar plantation to the left of the road where there were more Azure-winged Magpies along with Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and on the roof of one of the many huts a fine Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis). Once clear of the trees my eyes were drawn to a pale looking raptor perched on the top of a nearby electricity pylon which was quickly identified as an adult Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) again another species which is becoming quite a regular on the local patch ! I drove around to try and get a little closer to this bird but while I was on my way a female Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) took a dislike to the bird and flushed it but luckily it stayed in the area and I watched it for around 40 minutes hunting over the olives and fields nearby. The bird eventually disappeared from view so I carried on birding. I traced my tracks back to the road and then made my way don towards the town of Huétor, on the way I scanned a few fields adding a small flock of 8 Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) to the list along with 4 Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). On another field I found my first Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) of the winter along with some passage Whinchats (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra) with at least 9 here but 25+ were seen during the afternoon, a single immature Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava) and a calling Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) which was hiding in a very small patch of reeds along the railway line. Before I reached the town I again doubled back and continued on along one of the tracks which followed the river, here I picked up several Common Moorhens (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala). I then went back alont towards the bar where I had started from but instead of crossing the river I followed it and went out onto the fields where I had seen the Black-winged Kite from the other side. The first bird seen was the kite again but this was followed in quick time by 4 Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and a single Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) all of which were heading South west and three Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) which stayed around for quite a while. This time I also got close enough to the Black-winged Kite for some rough record shots, I left the bird sat on a power cable and went to the Loja side of Huétor to look for the one species that I had seen earlier in the day but not since I had been on the local patch the Little Bustards. Their favorite field had not been cut for a while the last time I loks which made seeing the birds difficult in the deep Lucerne but since my last visit the crop had been cut and the 150+ birds stood out well along with around 40 Cattle Egrets. Whilst here I had some more good views of the female Hen Harrier and added a cracking male Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) which flew within a couple of feet of the car. On the Lucerne there were clouds of Large (Pieris brassicae), Small  (Artogeia rapae) and Bath Whites (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) along with several Clouded Yellows (Colias Común / Colias crocea) and both Common (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus) and Long-tailed Blues (Lampides boeticus). 
Other species seen during the three hours were Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs).
Photographs from the topGreen Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus), Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra) and Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).

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