Saturday 5 January 2013

Laguna Herrera, Malaga Province.

A few more year ticks.

After having a look around the Garden centre on the Cordoba road out of Antequera we had a quick look at the lake near by called Laguna Herrera. The water levels were still very high which prevented us driving along the full lenght of the lake but we were able to get views over the flooded fields on the right hand side of the track from the bridge. The commonest species were Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), followed by Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadorna tadorna) and at least a dozen or so Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina). In the surrounding fields singing Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) could be heard from all directions and over head both Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) passed over in mixed flocks with loads of Meadow Pipits (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis). On the main lagoon there were hundreds more Gulls, a couple of dozen Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), more Mallards and a few Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus). We then turned around and retraced our steps ack to the Cordoba road, on the way we added Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and a Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallingao gallinago) which was feeding out on the flooded road.
We then took a track off into the agricultural area to the south of the lake and soon had Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus). Right at the far end of this track nearer to Mollina we scanned some more flooded fields and picked up a small flock of Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), also along this stretch we saw Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). It was quite suuny along this track and it had a verge that was covered in wildflowers which had good numbers of Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Small White (Artogeia rapae) butterflies feeding on them.

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

New Years day walk with the Loja RBL.

Just 6 of us dragged our selves out for this walk but I was not surprised when I saw the weather fist thing. We started from near the bridge over the Rio Genil in Huétor Tájar and headed off anti-clockwise around the town until we turned right just after the duck bar and contined out into the fields to the east of the town. On this first stretch I picked up few species including House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and a small group of five Siskins (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) which were feeding in some Alder type trees near the duck bar. Out on the fields the commonest species were the Larks including Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis).
We then skirted a poplar plantation and coninued on along the banks of the Arroya del Vilano, the mud along here made walking a bit more intresting but the birds were quite good. The best were Brambling (Pizón Real / Fringilla montifringilla), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) and Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus). We then made our way back along the far bank and then onwards to Mesia where we had a coffee in one of the local bar. On the way we saw Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus).
We had a lukewarm coffee in a bar which oviously ignores the no smoking ban as at least three chaps playing cards in the one room had them lit up. We continued on through the town and then on along the river to the bridge where we crossed and headed off into the campo back towards Huétor. On the return march we added Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos). We arrived back at the cars at about 14:00 and we all made our way home

What went on in 2012.

A review of my wildlife year.

Ophrys Tenthredinifera X O. Scolopax.
In general 2012 was a cracking year for new species and totals in general with one main exception to this being Orchids. After the extremely dry and cold winter the numbers of plants were down by around 90% in a lot of sites, with some species just not flowering at all. Embalse de Iznajar was a classic example, in the summer of 2011 the number of plants was so high that to reach some spots you had no choice but to walk on the odd spike of another species or two but in 2012 there were virtually no plants with just a handful of the common species showing up and most of the rarer plants not bothering to flower at all !! Even with Juan Pérez Contrera's help I failed to see any new species but did add a couple of Hybrids to my list including a spikes of Ophrys Tenthredinifera X O. Scolopax down near Mijas which was nice but even better was a spike of Ophrys Tenthredinifera X O. Picta found on the Andalucian Bird Society meeting at Sierra de Loja in Granada Province. Two more Orchid highlights for the year were seeing the very rare Ophrys Atlantica (Atlas Orchid) and Spiranthes Spiralis (Autumn Ladies Tresses) in Granada Province for the first time.
Rufous Bush Robin (Alzacola / Cerotrichas galactotes).
The birds were right at the other end of the scale as I saw more species in 2012 than in any other year since arriving in Spain, reaching 251 by the end of December. New species seen during the year included Baillon's (Pollueta chica / Porzana pusilla) and Little Crakes (Polluela bastarda / porzana parva) both seen at Charca del Suarez during the spring Northward migration, Rufous Bush Robin (Alzacola / Cerotrichas galactotes) and Desert Wheatear (Collalba Desértica / Oenanthe deserti) a fine adult male and Dotterel (Chorlito Carambolo / Eudromias morinellus) both seen down at Cabo de Gata. Dotterel was added to my Granada Province list later in the year, other new Granada Province species included Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola), Common Scoter (Negrón Común / Melanitta nigra), Iberian Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Ibérico / Phylloscopus ibericus), Ortolan Bunting (Escribano Hortolano / Emberiza hortulana), Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) and a cracking immature Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial / Aguila adalberti).
Niobe Fritillary (Argynnis niobe).
Butterflies were also seen in good numbers and by the end of the season I had identified over 90 species in 2012. July and August were by far the best and the Sierra Nevada was the place to see them, on a visit I made with Steve Powell and his wife Elana we had 50 species in a single day. Some of the new species we saw were Niobe (Argynnis niobe), Dark-green (Ardynnis aglaja) and Lesser Spotted Fritillary (Melitaea trivia), Escher's Blue (Agrodiaetus escheri) and Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxer montensis). Other species which were new were Great Banded Grayling (Kanetisa circe) and Spanish Purple Hairstreak (Laeosopis roboris) both of which were seen up in Andujar area whilst searching for the Iberian Lynx (lince iberico / Lynx pardina). Other interesting species seen included Nevada Blue (Plebicula golgus ssp golgus), Spanish Brassey Ringlet (Erebia hisania), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Lorquin's Blue (Cupido lorquinii) and Black Satyr (Satyrus actaea).
Pronged Clubtail (Gomphus graslinii).
Dragon and Damselflies also featured highly during the year with several new species being found, some of these records being new species for the sites and the Provinces which is less surprising than it sounds as the coverage in this part of Andalucia has been quite thin. One of the better finds was a small number of Black Pennant (Selysiothemis nigra) dragonflies which were found at Laguna Chica on the Granada / Malaga borders. Also found at the same site were good numbers of Dainty Damselflies (Coenagrion scitulum) and Long Skimmers (Orthetrum trinacria) the latter was a new species for both Sue Eatock from Grazalema and Steve Jones over from Cornwall. I visited Sue over in Grazalema at the end of June where I added several more species to my Spanish list including a cracking Orange-spotted Emerald (Oxygastra curtisii) on the river in her garden. We visited several other sites where I added Pronged Clubtail (Gomphus graslinii) and Orange Featherleg (Platycnemis acutipennis).
Natterjack Toad (Bufo calamita).
The Moth trap was also run on a regular basis and new species were added almost every night, these included Crassicornella agenjoi, Eastern Bordered Straw (Heliothis nubigera), Metopoceras felicina, Aplasta ononaria and Gnopharmia stevenaria. There is a lot more work to be done on the moths in this area, it is made harder by needing a permit to trap out side your own garden. This is difficult as the Spanish environmental authorities do not seem to want to make it easy to get one.
Mammals were as usual difficult to find, with just the regular species being seen. I only made a single trip up to Andujar area this year for the Iberian Lynx (lince iberico / Lynx pardina). But it was at the wrong time of the year (June) so I was not surprised when only one member of our group had views, although brief.
Amphibians are something that I do not see a lot of, so when Sue Eatock showed me a few species during our second visit of the year in November I was very pleased. We found several
Natterjack Toads (Bufo calamita), lots of young Fire Salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) and Parsley Frog (Pelodytes punctatus) which we did not see but heard during some very wet and blustery weather.

Over all I had a cracking year and look forward to 2013, not only for the species I will see but also for the fact that Granada Wildlife my new venture goes on line offering Wildlife tours here in Western Granada Province.

All the very best to all and thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings, regards Mick.

Monday 31 December 2012

Embalse de Bermejalis and the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

A cone collecting trip !!!!

After doing a few bits in Loja Jayne and I set off through Salar and made our way to the Pine woodlands which surround Embalse de Bermijalis, on the way we picked up a few species on the journey including Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Mistle (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Song Thrushes (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis).
We parked near the dam, Jayne immediately started searching for cones while I started birding and looking for Orchid rosettes, on the large concrete gully which had water flowing rapidly into the Embalse where I found a pair of Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) which were feeding along side several White Wagtails and lots of Common Chiffchaffs.
On the far bank a single Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) was roosting in one of the small Tamarisk trees and further across the far side of the lake there were around a dozen Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) also roosting in some larger dead trees. In the trees around me there were good numbers of Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Coal Tits (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus). On the ground there were loads of Leaf rosettes of next seasons Wild Orchids, these included Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea), Ophrys foresterii and Giant Orchids (Himantoglossum robertiana).
Jayne had filled her bag with cones so we started to make our way back towards home via the Cacín Valley, the first stop was on the cliff tops above the main gorge. Here I had distant views of a soaring Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) away over the Olives, also seen were Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus).
We moved on up the Valley stopping at the Embalse de Cacín where I found 50+ or so Common Pochards (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), several Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and on the mud there was a small group of feeding Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus).
Our last stop was above El Turro but this site was very quiet, however I did see a couple of Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), several Bramblings (Pizón Real / Fringilla montifringilla), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and nice female Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) which zipped throught the site in just a couple of seconds. We then headed home.

Sunday 30 December 2012

Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

Quick look at the local Patch.

After dropping our son Alan back down to Malaga for his flight back to the UK yesterday to spend the new year with Becky his girl friend I had a couple of hours spare today to have a look around the fields. I started by checking the stunted Almond and Pomegranate trees on the way down to the local bar where I had some cracking views of a small flock of Bramblings (Pizón Real / Fringilla montifringilla) which included a couple of smart looking males. In the same trees there were large numbers of Common Chaffinches (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinches (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Greenfinches (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), House Sparrows (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). 
I then went and parked on the track behind the bar and scanned the fields along the river where I added White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita). I then moved on along the river seeing several more Green Sandpipers, Bramblings and adding Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and a female Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) which was perched on the top of an irrigation channel. 
The Mesia road fields were the next port of call, along the river I found even more nicely plumage Bramblings and a male Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) which fed in the reeds which had been flattened in the river. Along here I also found Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). 
I then went back via the river fields and added one of the Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) which was perched in a track side fig tree and a very big female Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) which had just taken one of the many feral Pigeons which hang around in the area and was sitting in the middle of a nearby field watching me watching her. I then headed back to the house. 
During the drive around I saw several Butterflies including Small Whites (Artogeia rapae), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and a Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus).