Monday 8 October 2012

Rio Alhama Gorge, Alhama de Granada, Granada Province, Spain.

A morning of two halves (Loads of birds before 10:00 and a lot less later)!!

Pantaneta de Alhama.
I set off from home and made my way down to Alhama de Granada and then on to the small pool called Pantaneta de Alhama where I was meeting Sheila and Bill Nicol from Loja and the Daughter and her partner for a walk along the Gorge. On the way down I picked up a few bits which were seen along the road, these included Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus). I arrived at the pool quite early so I spent some time scanning the pool and the trees near the hide on the car park. On the water I picked up several Common Pochards (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), two male Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), two female Northern Shovelers (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), several Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and at least three Great Cormorants (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo). The margins are made up of reed beds and willow trees in this area Cetti’s Warblers (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) could be heard calling regularly and were seen darting from one patch of cover to the next, Reed Warblers (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus) were also heard but remained elusive as did a SINGING Iberian Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Ibérico / Phylloscopus ibericus) unlike the dozens of Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) which were flicking around in the trees. 
Autumn colours.
Also seen in the trees around the car park were Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), a cracking pair of Firecrests (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tits (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius).
A Red Squirrel (Sclurus vulgaris) was also seen cracking Walnuts it was pinching from down near the dam. Sheila and the others then arrived and we had a look at the species out on the lake which were pretty much the same as I had been watching except the Northern Shovelers had drifted out of sight. We then set off along the Gorge and on the slopes to the right we had some not so great views of a couple of male Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), several Rock Sparrows and a nice male Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) due to the fact that we were looking almost straight into the sun. We continued on down to the bridge adding Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia) up on the crags. As things warmed up we started to see a few butterflies and during the walk we complied quite a nice list including African Grass Blue (Niña esmaltada / Zizeeia knysna), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias crocea), Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus), Grayling (Hipparchia semele), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera). Dragonflies also featured with the rarest being a single Western Willow Spreadwing (Lestres viridis) which sat nicely on a fennel stalk, other species included Red-veined (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum), Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma) and Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta).
Western Willow Spreadwing (Lestres viridis).
We continued on along the gorge but birds were few and far between with just Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Woodpigeon, Willow Warbler (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochillus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus),  Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) being added. We had a coffee up in the town and then made the return journey seeing much the same species as on the walk out but managed a single female Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) just before we reached the dam, a very large Spanish Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa) sat on the dam top and a Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata) in the car park. Sheila and the others then went across the road to have some lunch and I headed back towards home.
Other species seen during the walk included Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanica) and wildflowers included Ballota hirsuta (dry), Cliffhanger (Chaenorhinum villosum), Mediterranean Daphne (Daphne gnidium), Delphinium gracile, Dianthus broteroi, Euphorbia nicaeensis, Heliotrope (Heliotropium europaeum), Putoria calabrica, Hoary Mullien (Verbascum pulverulentum) and Xanthium spinosum.

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