Saturday 3 November 2012

Grazalema area, Cadiz and Malaga Provinces.

Day two at Sue's and its still Raining !!

Narcisus cavanillessii.
The weather during the night was wild with some high winds and heavy rain but by morning it had eased slightly. The Siskins (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) which had been seen yesterday were still around and numbers had risen up to nine and were being joined by several Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) which was nice for a comparison. 
The Flooded site.
Out in the garden there was a pair of Nuthatchs (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea) chasing each other around in the eucalyptus tree along with a calling Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and in the air over the ridge there were surprisingly good numbers of Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) due to the very overcast conditions. 
Apteromantis aptera.
Once we were all ready we headed out towards Grazalema and then on to a site which I had not visited before to see a plant the Sue had seen a week or so earlier. We arrived at Los Álomos to find one hell of a lot of moving and lying water which made moving around hard going but we quickly located several plants of the uncommon Narcisus cavanillessii but due to the rain which had started again and the gusty wind the photographs were truly aweful as you can see!!!
Ranunculus bullatus.
Whist we were here we could here some frogs calling but at the time we were not sure which species as the wind was making it hard work to hear them clearly, we had a quick search around the area but could not locate anything but we did find some very small Mantis called Apteromantis aptera which took some spotting in the grass and several clumps of Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima).
Ranunculus bullatus.
A couple of days later Sue returned to the site and managed to identifiy them as Parsley Frogs (Pelodytes punctatus) and got a nice photograph. We then decided due to the rain we would head back to the main road and go and have some lunch at the bar on the way back to Grazalema. After we had eaten we made our way back towards Grazalema and Sue pointed out the spot where she had seen around a hundred plants of Autumn Lady’s-tresses (Spiranthes spiralis) a couple of weeks earlier and then on the way back down to the house we stopped briefly so that I could get some shots of the Autumn flowering buttercup Ranunculus bullatus.
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima).
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening identifiying my insect photo's.

Friday 2 November 2012

Travelling to and in the Grazalema Area, Cadiz Province.

Birds, Amphibians and Rain !

Some of the Acorn feed Pigs.
Jayne and I started out quite early to make our way over to visit our good friend Sue Eatock and her young son Sam near Grazalema. On the way we made a short at Laguna Duce near Campillos and had a look what was on the pool and surrounding fields. The water level was starting to rise again, last winter lack of rain was being somewhat made up for by the rain which had fallen over the last week or so and was also going to added to through the next few days. On the water there were a few birds but not the number I had hoped for, Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) and Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) were fairly numerous but the commonest ducks present were the 170+ White-headed (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) which formed several largish rafts in the centre of the lake. Also on the water were Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), 2x Northern Pintail (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Black-necked (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus). 
Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita).
On the far shore there was a small flock of around 50 Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), a couple of Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and over the reeds at least 3 female type Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus). The surrounding fields looked water logged but there were still a small flock of 10 or so Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) away in the distance and a small group of Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) off to the right hand side of the hide. In the marginal reeds and scrub I heard or saw Western Swamp-hen (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) and right infront of the hide a single late immature Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus).
Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita).
I then went back to the car and started off towards Campillos where we were calling at the supermarket to collect a few surpplys to take to Sues. But just as I reached the end of the slip road back on to the main carrageway a couple of Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus) flew over along with a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido /Circus cyaneus) which flapped lazily away over the lake. After calling at the supermarket we haded on to Ronda adding Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) to the trip list. We arrived at Sue's at about 11:30 and after a chat and some lunch we headed out towards Libar Valley near Montejaque where we were going to have a look for some amphibian speices in the wet areas near the head of the valley.
Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus),
But before we left I added 6 Siskin's (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) in the garden.
Jayne, Sue and Sam getting the picnic ready.
Once we were up in Libar new species were coming all the way along the track, we started with Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) near the village. As we continued on up Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) and Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) all got on to the growing list. 
Southern Autumn Crocus (Crocus serotinus).
Up in the Oak woods we made a stop to have a look at the Black pigs which were being kept under the trees and added a few more birds including Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea). We parked in the open area past the refuge and walked along one of the streams which were flowing well due to the recent rains, in one of the deeper pools we quickly found several Natterjack Toads (Bufo calamita), along with several Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus) which were amongst the rock surounding the area.
Old Oak in the pig area.
In the main pool we found lots of young Fire Salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) along with somewell developed tadpoles of the Iberian Water Frog (Rana Común / Rana Perezi) and some very large Great Silver Water Beetles (Hydrous piceus) thanks Sue. In the same are there were a couple of  Water Pipits (Bistita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), loads more Griffon Vultures and amongst some Spotless a few Common Starlings (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris). We then started our walk back to the car passing through carpets of Southern Autumn Crocus (Crocus serotinus) on the way back.
Wolf Spider species (Tarantula lycosa).
We then drove back down the valley adding Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia) to the list before the rain came and we headed back to Sue's via the visitors centre to drop the 4x4 back to Clive. Back at the house we went through a lot of my unidentified insect shot and put names to quite a few.  End of day one !!!

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Lobo Park, near Antequera, Malaga Province.

The howling night.

Daniel the owner.
This was another trip organised by the Ladies group, Amiga’s de Casa from Trabuco. I was not really looking forward to this one as I much prefer to see animals in their natural environment but I was very pleasantly surprised with the place. We met in Trabuco and headed over in convoy!!!! Well it was a good job we knew where we were going as we were soon on our own as we headed up the motorway.
Iberian Wolf (Canis lupus signatus).
We arrived and walked up to the visitor centre where we had a really quite good meal and then headed out with a very pleasant young lady onto the paths around the park. Due to the bad weather some of the tracks were not in very good condition but this was not too much of a problem as we had all been given a torch and Daniel the owner and main warden / ranger was following along in a large 4x4 which gave us some light as well.
European Wolf (Canis lupus lupus).
At the viewing point along side each very large enclosure Daniel gave us a very interesting and some time rather graphic account of a wolfs life at the park and in the wild, he did this with a great deal of enthusiasm and passion for the animals and was obviously very committed to there welfare. I learnt quite a lot and enjoyed the few hours we were there andwas quite surprised to find it was nearly 11:30 before we actually hit the road heading for home.
Alaska Tundra Wolf (Canis lupus tundrorum).
As we made our way back towards Antequera we were all stopped and breathalysed by the local police but were all on our way quickly without any problems. I had never been breathalysed until about two months ago and have now been pulled in at road blocks fourtimes since, nice to see the Spanish police doing something about a real problem!

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Huétor Fields (twice) and Moraleda Area, Granada Province.

A couple of hours birding with Bob Wright in the morning and the afternoon with Juan looking for the Dotterel.

Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).
I set out just before nine to meet up with Bob Wright (his blog) who had travelled up from near the coast. I got to the meeting point early so I had a walk along a small track out into the fields where I soon had Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) on the list along with Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and away off in the distance near the railway line one of the two Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) which was circling an old oak tree. It was a bit cooler than I had expected so I walked back to the car and had just sorted the fleece out as Bob arrived so we did the same walk again once he had go his camera and bins sorted out. One the one fields we counted around 70 Stone Curlews with about the same number of Northern Lapwing with these there were a few Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), a couple of Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) including a fine male, Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and a few Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis). We walked further onlooking for the Black-winged Kite I had seen earlier but there was no sign, we did however find part of the Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) flock which numbered 111 birds, Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and lots of Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto). We reached the tree where I had seen the Kite earlier with out any luck finding either of the birds so we started to walk back, we were around half way back when around 70 Stone Curlews flew passed us and dropped into a field not to far away, we assumed that these were the birds we had seen near the start of the track but as we arrived back there the original 70 or so birds were still there which ment tht the second flock had probably been hidden in one of the asparagus fields. We then got into my motor and headed out onto the fields for a look along the far side of the site and down along the Arroyo del vilano,the commonest species seen as we travelled through the area was by far the White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) which seemed to be everywhere. 
Male Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis).
On the far fields we had more groups of Northern Lapwing, good numbers of Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and down by the river a couple of Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Iberian Grey Shrike  (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa). Our next stop was down on the fields to the north of the disused station at Huétor where we parked and scanned the fields, there was still no sign of the Kite in its favorate tree but we did add Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina). Plus we had some better views of the Northern Lapwings and a couple of Little Bustards on the nearby Lucerne fields.Our last stop of the morning was on the western side of the town at anouth Lucerne field which is one of the favorate spots to see the main Bustard flock, we arrived but the crop had grown quite quickly since the last rains and all that could be seen of the birds were there brown heads and large eyes. We did however pick up a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) distantly over the olive trees and a few more Western Cattle Egrets before we returned to Bobs car and I headed off home to catch up with a few jobs. 
Later in the day I was off out again this time to meet Juan Perez over at Moraleda to go and have a look for the Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus) I had seen the day before near there. I started out a little earlier than expected so I made another stop near the disuaed station and the first bird I saw was one of the Black-winged Kites that had eludied us all morning (sorry Bob but thats Birding !!). I then went to the spot where I met Juan and we headed out to the agriculural area where I had been yesterday, on the way we had Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and several Black Redstarts. Once we were out on the site we quickly picked up a small flock of 4 Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which flew a little way from the track but landed again at a distance which gave decent views throgh the scope but was just to far to bother taking any shots. In this area we also had lots of Skylarks scuttling across the gound like hords of mice, several flocks of the much larger Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) with Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) also being seen. We move a short distance along the track to the disused Cortijo and had another group of 12 Sandgrouse on the winter crop fields off to our right, these also took to the wing as soon as we stopped the car but gave us some cracking flight views as they wheelled off into the distance. 
Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo).
Next we spent some time walking the field margins and scanning the area where the Dotterel had been but failed to relocate the bird but we did see a few Northern Wheatears (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) and a single Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) before we got back to the car and continued on around the site, we added several Common Starlings (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris) to the day list that were mixed in with a flock of a couple of hundred Spotless, Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) before heading of to balsa del Regidor down near the A92. As we approached the site I just had a glimpse of a small group of Sparrows as we drove passed some brambles and thought that the one bird had very white looking cheeks so we reversed back and sure enough my surpitions were confirmed when we had a nice male Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis) in the bins (a rae bird around here), we watched this bird for a while before it departed off towards the lake. We then did the same but before we went we added a nice male Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla) to the growing day list. On the water there were good numbers of  Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) x4 females, Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) x30+, Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and a single immature Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo). As dusk started to fall the local Western Cattle Egrets started to arrive to roost in the redbed at the far end of the lake and by the time we left 175 birds had arrived to get their heads down. Here we also had a Common Buzzard drift over and almost in the dark a male Hen Harrier which headed off into the olives nearby.

A total of 64 bird species were seen during the day.

Sunday 28 October 2012

To Granada and Back, Granada Province.

Another new species for my Granada list on the way back from the Market.

Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus).
Jayne and I decided to go and have a wander around the large Sunday market up in Granada as the weather was looking quite nice after the last few day of rain. We left the house and headed down to Huétor going to the motorway. On the way we saw a single Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) perched in the same tree as I had seen the two birds yesterday, Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis). As soon as we got onto the motorway we had a Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) fly across us after making a dash across the carrage ways, a little further on we saw a small flock of just 15 or so Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) and just before Santa fe another Black-winged Kite which was hoovering over the land along side the airport. We then spent an entertaining 3 hours around the market getting a few bits including some nice looking fruit before having lunch nearby.
Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus).
After lunch we headed south along the Motril motorway and came off heading towards La Malaha and then to a nearby industrial estate where I spent some time scanning the agricultural land around the site. In the close fields there were good numbers of Larks including Thekla  (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Calandra  (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) along with several Song Thrushes (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), more Iberian Grey Shrikes and a calling Dartford Warbler. In the air I picked up a fast moving Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), several Common Kestrels (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) and a soaring Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo). We then carried on through Ventas de Huelmaand on towards Cacín, on the way we took a couple of tracks out into the Olive groves looking for Raptors and this proved reasonably successful as we added a Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius) and 2 Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) to the list, one of which was watched catching a rabbit. Along this stretch we also saw a  Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) sat on a pylon, dozens of White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus). We then dropped down through the village of Cacín and drove up to the Embalse de Cacín where I spent a while scanning through the waterfowl on the lake which was surprising low after the rain we have just had. The commonest species of duck were the 50 or so Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), followed by 25+ Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), 20+ Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata),a scattering of Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and a very nice pair of Eurasian Wigeon (Silbón Europeo / Anas Penelope). Also on the lake there were a good number of Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis),with at least 3 Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) feeding in the shallows. Our next stop was in an area of agricultural land near El Turro where we added Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis) and several Northern Wheatears (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) to the list before we found bird of the day! I was watching a female Common Kestrel which was sitting on the ground not to far away from the car when I notice a movement on the edge of the track which at first I thought was going to be a Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia) but as soon as I got the bins on it and saw the thumping great supercillium and the breast band I realised it was a partially moulted Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus) a new bird for my Granada list. We watched this bird for quite a while before continuing on around the site but apart from a few more Northern Wheatears and loads of Black Redstarts we did not see any thing else.  

 Photographs from the top: 2x Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus).