Friday 9 March 2012

La Malahá, Embalse de Bermejales and back to La Malahá, Granada Province.

A few more Orchids for the year.

Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs).
I drove over to the area near La Malahá and stopped at Cortijo del Marchalejo where I caught up with my first Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) of the year with around 15 birds being seen out on the fields nearby and a couple coming into the roof of the Cortijo. Also there were several Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común /
Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
Galerida cristata), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and lots of Feral Pigeons (Columba livia domestica). I then moved on to where I was meeting Juan and started to set up my scope just then Juan turned upa nd surgested that we should go to Embalse de Bermejales to look for some early Orchids which might be in flower. 
Feral Pigeon (Columba livia domestica).
We drove down there in Juans car as mine was full of fencing for a job to be done over the next few days. We arrived and parked by the main dam and statred to search amongst the pine trees, we quickly started to find plenty of Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca), along with a few Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum robertiana) and just a single half eaten Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera). 
Somber Bee Orchid (Ophrys fusca).
There were also a few birds about including Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Sardinian Warbler, Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), a single Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), 2x Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo).
Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).
We later returned to the spot where we had met and spent some time looking over the fields and waste ground to see if any of the winter raptors were still around. The first bird to whizz through was a Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius) which flashed along the lefthand fence line and disappeared as quickly as it had arrived, a couple of Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) were nocking around and to finish off we picked up a single Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) which again briefly displayed over on the left hand side of the site. Other birds seen included Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).
Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera).

Thursday 8 March 2012

Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

Winters movers and Spring arrivals.

Out on the fields today the changes were quite obvious, the Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) flock has dropped down in numbers over the last week and all I could find this morning were a remnant group of 7 birds. The three males were going the game though, trying their hardest to impress the 4 remaining girls. The Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) were in much the same state with around 30 birds on the usual fields down from a winter high of nearly 700. Along the river much smaller numbers of White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) could still be found, while Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia) and Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) numbers had actually almost doubled, I guess due to birds coming back North from Africa.
New arrivals or species in transit included lots of Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) which were pushing through in small groups, several of our local birds were also back on territories down near the town as were lots of House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). The first two Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) flew up from the side of the road and a male Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) was perched on the roof of one of the small field huts where for the last few months there had been Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
There were a couple Black Redstarts still about but most birds had gone, as had all the local Song Thrushes (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus). Along the river there was a single pair of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) chasing each other around, Steve Daly of Andalucian Guides (see link on right hand side) had told me that down his way near Barbate he had a pair of Plovers already sitting on eggs a week ago!!!
The resident birds were quite active as well, Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) were singing and they will hopefully be joined by the summer visiting Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) in the next few days. Several groups of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) were moving nosily through the still bare Poplar trees which in a week or two will echo to the superb call of the many Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) that come to here to breed. In amongst the Olives and scrubby verges the cracking Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) can be heard along with the almost continuous oop-oop-oop of the beautiful Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops).
Spring has not fully arrived here yet (-3 last night) but its well on its way and for a trip down to the supermarket this was not a bad hours birding.