Saturday 13 October 2012

Huetor Fields, Granada Province.

The local patch comes good with 8 Raptor Species !!

Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus).
Jayne and I started the day up in Granada at the Saturday market and then in the near by shopping center before heading back towards home. On the way I was lucky enough to see two decent sized flocks of Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), both of which were on fields of newly cut Lucerne on the southern side of the A92. The first was near exit 225 and the second 1km before the exit at Morelada. Once we got home we had some lunch and then at about 3ish I headed out to have a few hours birding dwn on the fields just a KM or so from the house. On the way down I started the list with a nice flock of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) coming up out of the Olives and crossing the road to feed on a nearby fig tree, also seen were Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) anda couple of large flocks of Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) numbering around 300 birds. 
Once out on the fields I followed the dry river for a very short distance and stopped by one of the crossing points which still had a large poodle of water in it after the rains of a week or so ago, here I got some nice views of a lone Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) which was feeding happily even with the field workers cars splashing close passed it.
Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus).
Small flocks of Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) also came down to the water to drink. I crossed the river and continued on slowly along the raised bank on the far side scanning the fields, this was when I picked up the first couple of raptors, a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) was flapping lazily over the tall maze crop and then what I thought was going to be a second female Hen came into view distantly over the olives. This bird quickly came closer and started to hunt over the same area but was quickly identified as a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), I have seen this species quite regularly during this autumns passage. 
In this area I also saw Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata). I moved on passed a largish Poplar plantation to the left of the road where there were more Iberian Magpies along with Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and on the roof of one of the many huts a fine Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).
Once clear of the trees my eyes were drawn to a pale looking raptor perched on the top of a nearby electricity pylon which was quickly identified as an adult Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) again another species which is becoming quite a regular on the local patch ! I drove around to try and get a little closer to this bird but while I was on my way a female Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) took a dislike to the bird and flushed it but luckily it stayed in the area and I watched it for around 40 minutes hunting over the olives and fields nearby. The bird eventually disappeared from view so I carried on birding. 
Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra).
I traced my tracks back to the road and then made my way don towards the town of Huétor, on the way I scanned a few fields adding a small flock of 8 Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) to the list along with 4 Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). On another field I found my first Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) of the winter along with some passage Whinchats (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra) with at least 9 here but 25+ were seen during the afternoon, a single immature Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and a calling Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) which was hiding in a very small patch of reeds along the railway line. Before I reached the town I again doubled back and continued on along one of the tracks which followed the river, here I picked up several Common Moorhens (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala). I then went back alont towards the bar where I had started from but instead of crossing the river I followed it and went out onto the fields where I had seen the Black-winged Kite from the other side. The first bird seen was the kite again but this was followed in quick time by 4 Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and a single Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) all of which were heading South west and three Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) which stayed around for quite a while. 
Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).
This time I also got close enough to the Black-winged Kite for some rough record shots, I left the bird sat on a power cable and went to the Loja side of Huétor to look for the one species that I had seen earlier in the day but not since I had been on the local patch the Little Bustards. Their favorite field had not been cut for a while the last time I looks which made seeing the birds difficult in the deep Lucerne but since my last visit the crop had been cut and the 150+ birds stood out well along with around 40 Western Cattle Egrets. Whilst here I had some more good views of the female Hen Harrier and added a cracking male Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) which flew within a couple of feet of the car. On the Lucerne there were clouds of Large (Pieris brassicae), Small  (Artogeia rapae) and Bath Whites (Pontia daplidice) along with several Clouded Yellows (Colias Común / Colias crocea) and both Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina) and Long-tailed Blues (Lampides boeticus). 
Other species seen during the three hours were Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs).

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.