Saturday 7 April 2012

Motril Area, Granada Province.

12 year ticks, 4 Granada Province ticks and 2 Spanish lifers.

Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea).
I was up and out of the house by 06:00 on my way to meet Juan for a days birding and Orchid hunting down in the Motril area. On my way down to Huétor Tajár and the A92 I got the first nice bird of the day when I saw a fine Barn Owl (Lechuza Común / Tyto alba) in the head lights perched up on a road side telegraph pole, a good start but it was only going to get better! Juan and I started the drive down to the coast and as we reached the Acebuches area on the motorway the very large broad wings of an Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) flapped in front of us, the second year tick and the sun was not even up yet.
Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea).
Once down near Motril we went and had a look at the agricultural area and marshes near Charca, straight away we picked up several Red Avadavat (Bengali Rojo / Amandava amandava) and started to hear calling Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix). in the reeds Nightingales (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) were all singing. In this area we also saw Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus) and Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Little (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) and Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris). 
Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea).
The one species I had hoped we would see here was Savi's Warbler (Buscarla Unicolor / Locustella luscinoides) but we did not see or hear any sign.
We then made our way around to the entrance of the reserve where we met up with several birders from Malaga, Manuel Mañani the warden arrived and we all went in and started to have a look around. Juan and I were only staying for a short period on this visit and returning later in the day as we were going to search for some Orchids nearby. 
We had 40 minutes or so there and made the most of it from the first hide on the anticlockwise route we saw a nice female Little Bittern (Avetorillo Común / Ixobrychus minutus) which was struggling through the brambles and dead reed stems on the left hand bank, Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and Nightingale
A view down the hill.
On the way around to the next hide we added at least 5 Night Herons (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea), Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and once we were in side the hide Western Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), White (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) were soon ticked off. We then walked back passed the office and around clockwise to the first hide on this side of the reserve, on this smaller pool we could hear several Sedge Warblers (Carricerin Común / Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) in the bushes on the far side of the reeds, a Western swamp-hen was sat on a pile of cuttings preening and a Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) called from deep cover and on the bank nearby I picked up my second Common Whitethroat of the morning but this time it was a male.
Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus).
We then made our way back to the entrance where Manuel let us out of the gates and we made our way further East along the coast and then inland and up a mountain. After some distance along a rutted dirt track Juan decided that his car was not really designed for this so we got onto shanks pony and legged it the last bit. Once in the area we started to find lots of Pink Butterfly (Orquídea mariposa / Orchis papilionacea), a few Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea), Fan-lipped (Orchis collina), Sawfly (Abejorros, flor de avispa / Ophrys tenthredinifera) and Mirror Orchids (Espejo de Venus / Ophrys speculum subsp speculum). There were plenty of wild flowers around including Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), White Asphodel (Asphodelus albus), Crown Daisy (Chrysanthemum carinatum), Galactites tomentosa, Field Gladiolus (Gladiolus italicus) and carpets of the problem Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae).
Baillon’s Crake (Pollueta chica / Porzana pusilla).
Butterflies were also seen and these included Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). On the walk around the two ravines we also saw Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and a female Blackcap
We made our way back down to the car and headed back towards Charca but this time took the road straight down into Motril over the mountain scrub area and then down through the pine woods. Along this stretch we saw or heard Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Great (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus).
Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus).
We arrived back at Charca just in time to have a word with the Malaga lads who gave us some very good information about what they had seen during their morning visit. We made our way to the third of the hides on the anticlockwise route where we quickly picked up a cracking Purple Heron which sat nicely in the reed, several Sand Martins (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia) which were feeding low over the water with large numbers of House Martins, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, Pallid and Common Swifts
A couple of Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus) then flew in and started to feed in amongst the stands of Yellow Flag Iris’s and in the reeds to the side of us we heard both Iberian Water (Rana Común / Rana Perezi) and Stripeless Tree Frogs.
Juan then got a fleeting glimpse of the Baillon’s Crake (Pollueta chica / Porzana pusilla) Which we had been told was seen from the hide we were in or the one opposite which was where Juan had seen it. We packed all our bits up and relocated around to the other hide and quickly got some cracking views of this smart little bird (Spanish Lifer 1) but the dam thing was just to quick for me to get any good photographs but I did manage a poor record shot. 
Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus).
After spending a hour plus watching this bird I decided that I wanted to go and have a try at seeing one of the Little Crake (Polluela bastarda / Porzana parva) seen earlier, so I made my way around past the main hide to the screens that run along side the long reedy pool on the western side of the reserve, I spent another hour or so here but other than getting views of another couple of Purple Herons and a Sedge Warbler I saw very little. I then made my way back around to Juan in the Baillon’s Hide, on the way I managed to get a shot of a rather tatty Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) which was one of two there but each time they settled a couple of Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta) chased them back into the air.
I had a chat with Juan before going to the main hide from here I picked up Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) which Juan had seen earlier and then out from the reeds right in front of the hide wandered a superb male Little Crake, it was in view for just a short time before it was flushed by a very territorial Common Moorhen and ran off into the vegetation to the right of the hide. 
Little Crake (Polluela bastarda / Porzana parva).
I called Juan on the mobile and he soon joined me in the main Hide. Whist we waited for the bird to show again we picked up a couple of Common Moorhens with strange bill colourations which looked very similar to a certain bird recently on the net, the bill was not right for a full adult bird but slightly brighter than the bird in question. 
We also saw a fine Squacco Heron (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides) and on the main island there were a couple of Grey (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and a single Purple Heron which had remained hidden until it flushed up and landed right in front of the hide on one of the tree stumps but as soon as I bought the Scope around it flew off, also there were a few Western Cattle and Little Egrets and 3 Glossy Ibis which made for a nice selection of heron type species. After some time the crake reappeared and showed very well but as with the Baillon’s it was quick moving and when it did eventually stay still it did it in the darkest corner of the reeds so the shots again are poor. I then went for a quick look at the Baillon’s which had swapped sides of the hide and was giving great views but was always behind plants or dead reeds. 
Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola).
Juan later joined me again before we went back around to spend the last of the time in the main hide and even this late in the day the birds still had a surprise in the shape of a very tied looking Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola) which did one circuit of the island before landing and trying to get some rest but one of the Western Cattle Egrets was not happy about this and started to chase it around but eventually left it alone to rest. The warden then arrived with his evening tour group; we continued watching the Little Crake whilst they were in the hide. We then made our way back around to the gate and left just after 20:00 for the drive home.

Friday 6 April 2012

Loja Easter parades, Zafarraya and Huétor evening parade, Granada Province.

A couple of Easter parades and some Orchid hunting.

The Censers in white, groups of 8 members called Corrías.
Jayne and I headed down to Loja to watch the start of the Good Friday Easter parade; we parked up and made our way to the far end of town where the masses were congregating. It started pretty much on time and made its way down the main street and on wards around the town. Even for people with no religious beliefs they still make for a spectacular and enjoyable event.
The Censers in Black, groups of 8 members called Corrías.
We later headed out towards Zafarraya calling in at a couple of Orchid site to check whether it was worth organising another wildlife walk towards the end of April but on the showing today I suspect that May might be a better idea. At the first stop I found a good number of Conical (Orchis conica) and Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum robertiana) in full bloom along with a few Southern Early Purple (Orchis Olbiensis), Sawfly (Ophrys tenthredinifera) and a single Mirror Orchid (Ophrys speculum).
One of the many younger musicians.
In the same area there were other plants but they were along way from flowering including Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia) and Lange's Orchid (Orchis langei). A few birds were seen and heard including Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Wood (Totovia / Lullula arborea) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) and Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus). 
The main Float.
A couple of Bath Whites (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), a tatty Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina) and a Provencal Hairstreak (Tomares ballus) were also recorded.
Conical Orchid (Orchis conica).
We then moved on towards Zafarraya to the second stop and again Conical and Giant Orchids were common but I also saw a few Fan-lipped Orchid (Orchis collina), along with the rosettes of Small Woodcock (Ophrys picta), Small Tongue (Serapias parviflora), Pyramidal (Orquidea pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia), Pink Butterfly (Orquídea mariposa / Orchis papilionacea) and Lizard Orchids (Himantoglossum hircinum). Birds included Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus). 
Conical Orchid (Orchis conica).
We then went and had a cracking menu del dia at the last bar on the left just before you go through the arch into Malaga Province. We made our way back home across country to the Salar to Alhama road and the back up to Loja. 
Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis Olbiensis) Hypochromatic form.
On the way round we added a pair of Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), a couple of dozen of Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis Olbiensis).
We returned home and Jayne called me to the back door where a Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) could be heard out in the Olives. Later we went down to Huétor to watch the evening parade there which was very enjoyable also.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Local Patch, Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

Another couple of species for the year list.

Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius).
I popped down the fields for a couple of hours to have a look if the Spotted Crakes (Polluela Pintoja / Porzana porzana) I had seen a couple of days ago was still about but there was no sign of either bird, this I think was mainly due to the water had nearly dried up. 
Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina).
On the way down I saw several Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), a very dull looking female Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Willow Warbler (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochillus), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus). 
Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis).
At the spot there was a pair of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) which kept seeing off the couple of remaining Common Moorhens (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and numerous Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae). 
Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae).
A Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) was singing from one of the stands of reeds but remained well hidden, the first year tick were at least 5 male Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) which were singing and flying between two Poplar plantation and then the second year tick, a calling Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla) which although it was just on the far side of the dry river remained out of sight. 
Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae).
Other species seen here included Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator).
After spending an hour or so looking for the Crakes I decided to have a drive out towards Mesia and have a look at more of the irrigation and drainage channels. On the way round I added Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), at least 5 more Green Sandpipers, Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), loads more Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail including one that posed nicely and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba).
I then had another quick look at the Crake spot but did not see any thing new so I started to head home picking up another Woodchat Shrike on the wires and a flock of around 10 European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster).

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Fuente de Piedra and Laguna Herrera, Malaga Province and Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

A couple of year ticks and a new species for the patch.

Temmincks Stint (Correlimos de Temminck / Calidris temminckii).
I started off with an hour or so birding at Fuente de Piedra while Jayne was at an appointment. I first went and had a look from the wooden walk way over the ponds and this was about as far as I got. 
Water Pipit (Bistita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta).
There were good numbers of waders on the flashes on either side of the path including at least 5x Avocets (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta), several Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), a dozen or so Curlew Sandpipers (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea), a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), 15+ Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), half a dozen Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax), 4/5 Wood Sandpipers (Andarrios Bastardo / Tringa Glareola) and best of all was a single Temmincks Stint (Correlimos de Temminck / Calidris temminckii) which spent most of the time I was there hiding in amongst marginal vegetation. 
Water Pipit (Bistita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta).
A Water Pipit (Bistita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta) was seen several times on the muddy margins of the small islands along with a couple of Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) and several Spanish (Yellow) Wagtails (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae). 
Spotted Crake (Polluela Pintoja / Porzana porzana).
I then bumped into Andy Patterson and a friend (sorry names gone) who Andy blamed for starting him off on birding many years earlier, we had a chat and then relocated the Temmincks before I had to leave to meet Jayne. Other species seen here included Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) heard only as usual, Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), 6x Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) distantly on main Lagoon, Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). 
Spotted Crake (Polluela Pintoja / Porzana porzana).
Whilst on the exit road I had a look over the lake which runs close to the fence, here I saw another couple of Wood Sandpipers, Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata).
Spotted Crake (Polluela Pintoja / Porzana porzana).
I met Jayne and we then went to the Garden centre near Antequera on the old Cordoba road and then visited what I had expected to be a totally dry Laguna Herrera. 
On the track we added single males of both Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) and Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), a Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and several Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) to the growing day list. 
When we reached the laguna I was very pleased to see some water in it, the first shallower half was covered in Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), along with around 50 Gull-billed Turns and plenty of Black-winged Stilts
Spotted Crake (Polluela Pintoja / Porzana porzana).
The second deeper half had good numbers of Avocets, Little Stints 70+, a single Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), several pairs of Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Ruff and another 3 Wood Sandpipers. On the wires there was a single Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and a couple of Southern Grey Shrikes (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis). 
We then went up to the shopping centre in Antequera to get some fuel and then headed home, on the way we saw a pair of Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax), a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula).
Later in the day I went for a couple of hours birding down on the nearby fields, on the way good numbers of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) in the olives, Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and my first well over due European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) of the year. 
Along the river I bumped into John and Jenny Wainwright and we had a chat before I headed off down one of the many dirt tracks locally, along here I had both Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus) and Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus). 
Then on a short stretch of water lying in an all but dry river bed I found the birds of the day, two Spotted Crakes (Polluela Pintoja / Porzana porzana) were walking up and down the muddy margins. As I arrived the Common Moorhens all flushed and one of the Crakes disappeared into some reeds and then over the bank and away but the second bird showed well. 
It was not long before  John and Jenny had found me and they were soon watching this cracking bird as well.