Thursday 22 November 2012

Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

An afternoon stroll around the local patch.

Jayne had gone over to Trabuco for the weekly Craft Group meeting and the sun was out so I decided to go and have a stroll around the closer parts of the local patch. I left the house and walked down hill through the village and out into the Olive groves further down the hill. On the way the first species to be seen included Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris). I then moved out into the agricultural area which surround the town and continue along the Rio Genil right the way to Granada in the west and way on past Loja in the east. 
The first bird that showed up was a very confiding Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) which showed down to about a meter in the very edge of an Asparagus field which had been left to grown to fronds over the winter. Crested Larks (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) flew up from the ploughed field on the opposite side of the road along with loads of White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) which winter around this area in huge numbers. Next came the first of the three female Hen Harriers (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) I saw during the walk, quickly followed by a male Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) which was perched on one of the many over head cables. As I walked down the road towards the bar more species were added including Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops). 
I then passed the bar (that took some doing) and went out on to the fields and walked along the river. On the harvested fields to my left there were a small number (25) of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), around 50 or so Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), the second female Hen Harrier which was easily separated from the first as it looked much darker in the wings and a huge flock of Iberian Magpies which flew the full length of the open area between La Fabrica and the nearest Poplar plantation and must have contained nearly 150 birds. I continued the walk along the raised bank which followed the river down to the first reedbed where it got to muddy to continue, along here there was a sizable flock of finches which was made up mainly of Common Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Serins but as they flushed up into the Poplar trees there were at least 5 Bramblings (Pizón Real / Fringilla montifringilla) mixed in with them. 
On the river which was quite swollen after resent rains there were a small number of Common Moorhens (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and a male Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) which had a completely blue throat with out a spot. I retraced my way back along the bank and checked the ground between some young Olive trees which gave me some nice views of a female Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) which when it saw me flew up and landed in a Poplar tree nearby. Within the next few meters of the walk I also had a male Sparrowhawk which was sat up in a conifer tree slightly further along the bank eating a male Greenfinch it had just caught, unfortunately it flushed but only dropped on to the opposite bank of the river where it continued to pluck and eat it catch. 
I got back onto the main track along the river and scanned the fields down towards the town, in one of the Lucerne fields I could see some brown heads and necks sticking up which belonged to a few of the wintering Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) and in a nearer ploughed field there were at least 70 Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) in one of their day time roosts roosting. The Curlews (up to 900 in a good year) usually collect on a small area of land near the town but this year the strips in this area are still planted with maze so they are scattered but still in good number, it just makes counting tem difficult. 
This winter we have had a couple of Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) on the site but I had not seen them for a week or so but while I was checking this same area I picked up one of the birds perched in a very low bush near the railway line. I was pleased with this and even better was a sighting of the second bird which dropped out of the top of a dying Oak tree, again down near the railway line. 
I then walked back passed the bar and on along the road back up to the house, along here I added Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) before getting home.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Rio Guadalhorce, Malaga Province.

Benalmádena landfill site (better known as the car boot sale) and a quick visit to the Guadalhorce river mouth.

White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba).
We parked in Benalmádena and walked up passed the very nice parque de la Paloma to the car boot sale nearby. On the way we saw a couple of tatty looking Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterflies gliding around the flower beds. We then spent quite a while wandering around the market looking through the stuff people were trying to sell, 99.9% of which should be in a landfill site and the other 0.01% was well over priced (sometimes higher than buying a new one). We came away totally empty handed and headed to the very good Gusman Garden Centre not to far away before I dropped Jayne in to the Larios Centre in Malaga and went birding at Guadalhorce for a couple of hours.
As I drove through the Guadalamar estate I heard and saw the expected Monk Parakeets (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus), several Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and hordes of Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), one of which was doing a cracking Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) impression and another which was taking off a Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) to perfection. I dug the bins and scope out of the car and walked up to the end of the raised bank and set my self up, I did not move from here for the next two hours and spent the time either scanning the sea or back on to the Nature reserve.
Just below me on the rocks there were a small number of Ruddy Turnstones (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres) and a couple of Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and amongst the masses of rubbish which had been washed down river in the last rains there were several Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), a Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and a pair of Common Stonechats (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). Out at sea I could see hundreds of Gulls most of which were wintering Lesser Black-backs (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), with surprisingly few Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and as far as I could see just a couple of Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii). These were joined by good numbers of Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) and Sandwich Terns (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), along with lesser numbers of both Cory's (Pardela Cenicienta / Calonectris diomedea) and Balearic Shearwaters (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus).
Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres).
Off shore there are two rather ugly structures which as you would expect were covered in Gulls and a few Great Cormorants (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo) but today they were joined by not just one but two Western Ospreys (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) which was a bit of a surprise, I have seen them on the reserve regularly but not out at sea! Behind me on the river singletons of both Little (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta) and Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and a noisy fast moving Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis). During the couple of hours I was sat there I scanned the reserve several times and added Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and two immature Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber) to the growing list. As the time came to leave I walked back along the edge of the ditch which runs down the western side of the ridge where I flushed a real Greenshank and picked up Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), a female Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and the star bird a nice blue throated Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica). I then went and picked Jayne up and we continued the shopping part of the trip with a visit to Ikea, Leroy Merlins and Decathlon before heading home, arriving back there at just before 22:00. Well we did make a full day of it as we had left home at 08:30 !

Monday 19 November 2012

Loja, Granada Province.

Late passage or wintering birds????

Jayne and I were driving into Loja to collect some bits and pieces, on the way we passed through Esperanza where a sizable flock of hirundines drew my attention, so we stopped and scanned the birds finding that the flock contained at least 2 House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), a single Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and about 50 Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris).

Sunday 18 November 2012

Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

A quick whizz around the local patch.

Whilst Jayne was doing some baking I decided to go and have a quick look around the fields just down the road and see what was about. I started on the fields just behind the bar near our house and spent quite a while sat there just scanning the pylons and the tree tops looking for one of the two wintering Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) but with out any success, I did however see a couple of Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) one of which  has been around for a while and is almost black, Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) and a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which was perched up on the roof of a nearby disused Cortijo.
Down on the fields and along the river there were plenty of passerines including loads of White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Meadow Pipits (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer Montanus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), a cracking male Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and on the wires which cross the whole area there must have been around 400 Woodpigeons (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) which had come up off the fields when a couple of female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) started to quarter the fields. I then dropped down towards the town on the back road and parked on the railway bridge which gave me a nice elevated view of the site, from here I picked out around 150 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) on a nearby Lucerne field, a dozen or so Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) which were lying low in some deep furrows and a single Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) which flew along the railway line. 
I then move back to my original spot and had one last scan and added Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), a single Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) which dropped into a near by ditch and started to pick off what looked like young Iberian Water Frog (Rana Común / Rana Perezi), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula). On the way back up to the house I had a good few minutes watching and trying to count a flock of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) that were moving quickly through the Olive trees near the house, by the time I had finished I guessed that there were around 125 birds in this single group.