Saturday 4 February 2012

Huétor Tájar and the fields, Granada Province.

A quick but cold trip down to the Supermarket.

Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea).
It was far to cold to start the jobs early today as the over night temperature had dropped down to -9, so I headed down to the supermarket via the fields and along the river. The first bird seen was a nice female Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) which zipped low over the field and to my surprise it flushed the 40 or so Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), 100+ Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and 20+ Golden Plovers (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia) which had been hiding out of the freezing wind down in the bottom of the ridges crossing the field.
A female Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) that had been perched on a large clod of mud on the divided between the ploughed and planted fields also went up along with 2 of last years Stock Doves (Paloma Zurita / Columba oenas). So within a couple of minutes of arriving I had added two birds to the year list. Down on the river a couple of Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) were chasing each other, as were a pair of Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), I can not believe that this had anything to do with courtship yet but suspect they were just trying to keep warm. 
Also seen were Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba).
Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita).
The next stop was the supermarket which was extremely quite for a Saturday morning but I was not that surprised after feeling the wind in the street outside. On the way home I found three very cold looking birders stood in one of the fields watching some of the wintering Little Bustards so I stopped and was pleased to see that the one chap was Juan Francisco Jiménez a birder from Granada who I had not seen for quite a long time. 
As my Spanish is still bad we communicated through the young lady who was also there and the field guide before we drove back to the spot where I had been on the way to the supermarket. We crossed the frozen river and once on top of the bank we picked up a cracking Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) which was sat out in a quite empty field, the only birds still around were a few Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and some Woodpigeons (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) in the nearby Poplars. I gave Juan some info about what I had seen recently and where they had been before going back home to start work as the sun was now warming things up a bit.

Tuesday 31 January 2012

Home near Huétor Tajar, Granada Province, Spain.

A couple of local birds and end of the month totals.

Just popped down on to the fields below the house for an hours birding, highlights were a flock of nearly 200 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) on a newly ploughed field along the river. In the same area there were quite good numbers of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), 2x Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia) and a huge flock of at least 100 Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) flew from one Poplar plantation on my right over the river to another stand a couple of hundred meters away. 
On the stony margins of the river there were a couple of Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) feeding along with both Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) and lots of Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita). 
On the fields quite good numbers of Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) were following on of the tractors which were ploughing up an old Lucerne field and a single Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) was in one of the ditches stalking its next meal. I then went down towards the town of Huetor Tajar and to do a count of the Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) on their favourite wintering field, I just reached the end of the count in time (497) as the female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) which has been around all winter popped up over the railway line and flushed all the birds from the far end of the field. 
This did however work in my favour as I was able to added Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris) to the list. Other birds seen included Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis).

I ended up seeing 151 Species of Bird during January, 5 species of Butterfly and just a single Orchid.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Chipiona, Sanlúcar, Bonanza Salt Pans and the Journey home, Cadiz Province.

The last day of the trip.

Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis).
Our last day and after yet another good breakfast we headed off North West to Chipiona again where I was hoping to catch up with the Little Swifts (Vencejo Moro Culiblanco / Apus affinus) in what is meant to be its most reliable site in Spain but again there was no sign of any birds either around the disused factory or over the town. The journey was worth it though as I caught up with a flock of 6 Eurasian Oystercatcher (Ostrero Euroasiatico / Haematopus ostralegus) which flew past out to sea, a Great Skua (Págalo Grande / Catharacta skua) which was close into shore, more Caspian (Pagaza Piquirroja / Sterna caspia) and Sandwich Terns (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) and a single Bar-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colipinta / Limosa lapponica) which right on cue flew off to join the passing flock of Pied Oystercatchers and showed its bar-less wings. 
Slender-billed Gull (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei).
We then went and had a walk along the sea front at Sanlúcar, the sun was out but the wind was very cool when it whistled down the front. Along the beach I picked up another couple of Bar-tailed Godwits, Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) and a single Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) which soon pushed off in land. We returned to the car after having a coffee and made our way eventually after getting slightly misplaced in the centre of town to Bonanza Salt Pans. Along the entrance road the first birds seen were Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), a group of 12 Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), a couple of Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), a few cracking Slender-billed Gulls (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei) and Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus). 
Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber).
Further along we saw the first Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), a single Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and up on the wires beside the track a flock of around 20 Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and at least 2 Common (Spotty) Starlings (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris). At the end of the main track I decided to turn right after around 200 yards on the left hand side the bank gets a bit lower and you get a view over the salt marsh type habitat. The first bird picked up was a Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) which disappeared into a bush, this was followed by singles of Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) and Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus). 
Great Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba).
We continued on adding a single Lesser Short-toed Lark (Terrera Marismena / Calandrella rufescens) which was feeding out on the track and a couple of Great Egrets (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) along one of the ditches out on the salt marsh. At the end of the track the pools were quiet mainly due to a couple of people who were walking out in the marsh and had flush most of the birds. We did add a couple of Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluvialis squatarola) and a distant flock of around 10 Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus) which were following the path of the river. 
Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluvialis squatarola).
Other species recorded here included Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), a couple of hundred Black-tailed Godwits (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus) and Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata).
Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus).
We then went back towards Sanlucar and found a cracking place to eat called Publo something, the sea food was out standing, we started with a cracking mixed salad and a plate of stuffed peppers for starters, then a bowl of garlic Prawns between us and this was followed by a sea food and rice mix (similar to Paella but wetter). This cracking meal more than made up for the disappointing meal we had in Puerto. We then started the trip home via Jerez de la Frontera, Olvera, Campillos and Antequera, on the way we saw 2 Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) and quite a few Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).