Sunday, 17 March 2013

Charca del Suarez area and the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

80 odd species in a day.

I met up with Juan Perez at 07:30 and we made our way down towards Charca del Suarez near Motril, on the way in we checked out the agricultural areas near the site and a couple of pools on a Golf Course near the beach. On the road thought the crops we found a Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) out on the tarmac, Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta) which sat preening in a rush tussock, a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which was sitting on a farm building roof, Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) calling from the pampus grass fields and in the air above the site there were quite good numbers of Crag (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) and a fine male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) which quartered the fields. We then moved on down the coastal stripe and checked out a pool on the edge of a golf course where we soon had Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), several Yellow Wagtails (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) of two races, iberiae and flava, Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis) and Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti). We then had a look on the beach and found three adult Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), also in the area where several Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), 20+ Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo). On our way back to the car we scanned another pool on the golf course where we added Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus).
At 09:00 we got to the entrance and went into the reserve and into the first hide. Almost as soon as we got in there the rain started to pour and went on for a good while. From this hide we located the first of several Sedge Warblers (Carricerin Común / Acrocephalus schoenobaenus), more Little Grebes, Common Moorhens and Eurasian Coots. The rain eased a little so we moved around towards the next hide checking out the willow scrub where we located at least three Night Herons (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) roosting in the lower branches. We then continued on around the walk way to find that the first hide is barriered off so we continued on to the next location where we stayed for a while mainly due to the fack that it was humming it down with rain. The rain forced some of the hirundines to perch on the reed tops which gave me the chance to get some shots, at one point there were Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, House and Sand Martins all sat on the same reed stem but they all flew off before I could get the camera on to them. From the same spot we also added Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallingao gallinago), Purple Swamp-hen(Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti). Around at the main hide we were again pinned down for a while by the rain but picked up Eurasian Wigeon (Silbón Europeo / Anas penelope), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Crag Martins which were flying in and landing on the shelves on the out side of the hide, Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and several quite noisy Stripeless Tree Frogs (Hyla meridionalis). We then moved on around to the last hide but we saw very little but we did get some cracking views of a couple more Sedge Warblers and heard the crocking row from a couple of Purple Swamp-hens. Juan and I then headed down the coast a short way to the eastern side of Salabrena where we were looking for a Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) but we dipped even though we had Juan's nice big 4X4 to go along the embankment in which gave us good views. We did see more Mallards, Little Egrets, Yellow Wagtails and hundreds of hirundines. After we dropped down off the embankment we crossed the agricultural area again on our way back to the motorway junction and added two cracking male Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica). We then headed off up the motorway back to Granada where Juan dropped me back to my car before heading home, I headed home but the long way round via La Malaha and the Cacín Valley. My first stop was at a large disused Cortijo where I soon had my first Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) of the year along with Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis). From here I headed west to the large industial area near La Malaha and spent some time driving around the fields in this area where I saw lots more Lesser Kestrels, a single Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), several Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), along with Crested, Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis). I continued on heading west through Ventas de Huelma and on to the road to Cacín, after a few KMs I turned off on to a dirt track and drove out into the fields where I soon located more Lesser Kestrels, Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). At the far end of this track I stopped and parked and whilst I scanned the fields a flock of 9 Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which flew up from near the track and dropped down on the top of a ridge half way down the field. I then made my way back to the road and continued on towards cacín, on the way I found an immature Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) hanging in the strong winds coming up of the ridge, the bird was being mobbed by 20 or so Jackdaws but they had little effect and the bird continued hunting. I made a short stop at the Rio Cacín but only added Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) in the willows. Further along the valley I called at the Embalse de Cacín where I was surprised to find that even after all the rain we have had the water level was still low and there were some quite large muddy margins. On the mud there were quite a few Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), a couple of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and lots of White Wagtails. On the water there were a few Eurasian Teal, Common Pochard, Northern Shoveler, Mallard and a couple of Little Grebes. In the air a male Marsh Harrier was display flying over the reed beds and over the water there were large numbers of hirundines including Sand, Crag and House Martins along with both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows. I then moved North along the Valley through El Turro to the crags, on the way I saw dozens of spikes of Ophrys forestieri growing on the roadside. At the crags I soon had both Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) on the day list along with Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater). My last stop of the day was on the local patch at the flooded fields along side the railway line, from the bridge I could see several Green Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers, a couple of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), a Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Little Egret, Grey Heron and to my surprise there were three Egyptian Goose (Ganso del Nilo / Alopochen aegyptiaca) grazing on the far side of the water. Other species seen in the area included Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), White and Yellow Wagtails. I then made my way back up to the house after seeing 85+ species during the day.
Photographs from the top: Crag Martin  (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), 2x Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), 2x Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Speckled Wood and 2x Egyptian Goose (Ganso del Nilo / Alopochen aegyptiaca).

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