Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Huétor Fields (twice) and Moraleda Area, Granada Province.

A couple of hours birding with Bob Wright in the morning and the afternoon with Juan looking for the Dotterel.

I set out just before nine to meet up with Bob Wright (his blog) who had travelled up from near the coast. I got to the meeting point early so I had a walk along a small track out into the fields where I soon had Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) on the list along with Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and away off in the distance near the railway line one of the two Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) which was circling an old oak tree. It was a bit cooler than I had expected so I walked back to the car and had just sorted the fleece out as Bob arrived so we did the same walk again once he had go his camera and bins sorted out. One the one fields we counted around 70 Stone Curlews with about the same number of Northern Lapwing with these there were a few Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), a couple of Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) including a fine male, Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and a few Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis). We walked further onlooking for the Black-winged Kite I had seen earlier but there was no sign, we did however find part of the Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) flock which numbered 111 birds, Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and lots of Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto). We reached the tree where I had seen the Kite earlier with out any luck finding either of the birds so we started to walk back, we were around half way back when around 70 Stone Curlews flew passed us and dropped into a field not to far away, we assumed that these were the birds we had seen near the start of the track but as we arrived back there the original 70 or so birds were still there which ment tht the second flock had probably been hidden in one of the asparagus fields. We then got into my motor and headed out onto the fields for a look along the far side of the site and down along the Arroyo del vilano,the commonest species seen as we travelled through the area was by far the White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) which seemed to be everywhere. On the far fields we had more groups of Northern Lapwing, good numbers of Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and down by the river a couple of Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Southern Grey Shrike  (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa). Our next stop was down on the fields to the north of the disused station at Huétor where we parked and scanned the fields, there was still no sign of the Kite in its favorate tree but we did add Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina). Plus we had some better views of the Northern Lapwings and a couple of Little Bustards on the nearby Lucerne fields.Our last stop of the morning was on the western side of the town at anouth Lucerne field which is one of the favorate spots to see the main Bustard flock, we arrived but the crop had grown quite quickly since the last rains and all that could be seen of the birds were there brown heads and large eyes. We did however pick up a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) distantly over the olive trees and a few more Cattle Egrets before we returned to Bobs car and I headed off home to catch up with a few jobs. 
Later in the day I was off out again this time to meet Juan Perez over at Moraleda to go and have a look for the Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus) I had seen the day before near there. I started out a little earlier than expected so I made another stop near the disuaed station and the first bird I saw was one of the Black-winged Kites that had eludied us all morning (sorry Bob but thats Birding !!). I then went to the spot where I met Juan and we headed out to the agriculural area where I had been yesterday, on the way we had Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and several Black Redstarts. Once we were out on the site we quickly picked up a small flock of 4 Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which flew a little way from the track but landed again at a distance which gave decent views throgh the scope but was just to far to bother taking any shots. In this area we also had lots of Skylarks scuttling across the gound like hords of mice, several flocks of the much larger Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) with Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) also being seen. We move a short distance along the track to the disused Cortijo and had another group of 12 Sandgrouse on the winter crop fields off to our right, these also took to the wing as soon as we stopped the car but gave us some cracking flight views as they wheelled off into the distance. Next we spent some time walking the field margins and scanning the area where the Dotterel had been but failed to relocate the bird but we did see a few Northern Wheatears (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) and a single Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) before we got back to the car and continued on around the site, we added several Common Starlings (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris) to the day list that were mixed in with a flock of a couple of hundred Spotless, Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) before heading of to balsa del Regidor down near the A92. As we approached the site I just had a glimpse of a small group of Sparrows as we drove passed some brambles and thought that the one bird had very white looking cheeks so we reversed back and sure enough my surpitions were confirmed when we had a nice male Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis) in the bins (a rae bird around here), we watched this bird for a while before it departed off towards the lake. We then did the same but before we went we added a nice male Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) to the growing day list. On the water there were good numbers of  Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) x4 females, Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) x30+, Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and a single immature Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo). As dusk started to fall the local Cattle Egrets started to arrive to roost in the redbed at the far end of the lake and by the time we left 175 birds had arrived to get their heads down. Here we also had a Common Buzzard drift over and almost in the dark a male Hen Harrier which headed off into the olives nearby.
Photographs from the topLittle Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo).

A total of 64 bird species were seen during the day.

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