Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Another days guiding in the fantastic Cacín Valley.

I met Neal Erickson and his wife Ronna who were very keen birders visiting Granada City from Massachusetts in the US. As soon as we were loaded up we headed out of town and down the motorway heading South towards Motril before turning off and heading along the road to La Malaha. Our first stop was at the Cortijo del Marchaleja where we immediatly located around 10 Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) which were breeding in the main part of the ruined house. Here we also found a couple of Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) and several Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) which sat on a wire fence on the opposite side of the road and down in the dry ravine nearby we heard and had fleeting glimpes of both Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta). Also seen here were Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula). We then moved on to La Malaha and out onto the fields to the West of the town where we soon started to find new species including Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster). After turning off the tarmac onto one of the many dirt tracks, along here we saw a few more Lesser Kestrels and soon started to see the first of many Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and a little further along this track we passed a cluster of small plastic lined pools where we were surprised to find a pair of Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus). Here we also added males of both Marsh (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) and just down the track we added a small group of Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which was made up of a male and at least two females. The male flew out and circled around behind us and a few minutes later it and another male flew right passed us together giving great views, while we were stood watching the Bustards we also picked up a small number of Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) on a ploughed section of field and a single Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) which flew up and dropped out of sight over a ridge. We drove slowly through the rest of the site picking up a couple more Montagu's Harriers, a female Marsh Harrier, Red-legged Partridge and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), along with Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Small White (Artogeia rapae).
Our next stop was on the edge of Ventas del Huelma where we scanned the wires and skies picking up good numbers of House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) which was heard in a nearby field, House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus). While we were at this site Ronna performed a rescue mission in a couple of roadside puddles where she realised some stranded Natterjack Toad (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita) tadepoles back into the main puddles but ultimately I guess that with the hot weather we are having the puddles will dry out before they develop enough to survive. We then drove along the 14 KM road towards Cacín, on the way we stopped and checked a site amongst some Poplar trees and reeds, here we found a Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) sitting on a nest, so we moved on to the far side of the site so that we did not disturb the bird. In the area we also saw and heard Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and several calling Iberian Water Frogs (Rana Común / Rana Perezi). We drove on to Cacín, on the way we took a track out into the fields, we did not see a lot of birds along here but we did get views of an Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) while we were looking for this we saw Purple Viper's Bugloss (Echium plantagineum), Pink Med Catchfly (Silene colorata), White Mustard (Sinapis alba), Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum), Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), Scentless Mayweed (Matricaria perforata), White Mignonette (Reseda Alba), Field marigold (Calendula arvensis), Eruca (Eruca sativa), White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris), Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca) and Gorse (Ulex europaeus) all flowering on the roadside.
We continued on and had nice views of a male Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), heard a couple of Hoopoes (Abubilla / Upupa epops) in a nearby Almond grove and as we dropped down into the town another Booted Eagle but this time it was soaring and showing nicely. Once we were down in the Valley we drove South into the Gorge where we parked up and had our lunch whilst we were watching the skies for raptors, on the cliffs and in the sky there were Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura). Eventually we also had views of the female Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) sat on the cliff. Grey-leaved Cistus (Cistus albidus), Rock Phagnalon (Phagnalon saxatile), Warty Spurge (Euphorbia squamigera), Southern Red Bartsia (Parentucellia latifolia), Kermes Oak (Quercus coccifera) and other plants were also seen here along with my first Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi) of the summer. We finished eating and then moved back up the valley stopping at the Roman bridge but on the way we called in at a particularly showy bank covered in flowers, they included Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Mallow-leaved Bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides) and by the side of the car there was a nice stand of Yellow Bee Orchids (Ophrys lutea). At the bridge we got views of Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and a singing Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) which remained out of sight.
Our next stop was at the Embalse de Cacín where the water level was still low, on the margins we saw a Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Common Redshank  (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) and out on the water a nice male Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), several Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and a pair of Northern Shovelers (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata). We also recorded a single summer plumaged Whiskered Tern (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus) which was feeding up and down the lake. Here we also added Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
We then moved on to the bridge just below the dam and walked down the road into the woods where we found a couple new species which included a male Pied Flycatcher (Papamoscas Cerrojillo / Ficedula hypoleuca), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and a hard to see Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) plus a couple of Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) butterflies. Back at the bridge we had more views of European Bee-eaters, Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and in the water channel we found an exhausted looking Southern Water Vole (Arvicola sapidus), we tried to get him to climb a stick to get him out but with out success, so we had to leave him to his own devises.
We then continued on and stopped near the sub-station where we saw several spikes of Ophrys forestieri which were growing right on the road side. We had brief views of a female Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) just as we dropped down to the side of the river to try for better views of the Nightingales we had been hearing all day but as we arrived they all went quiet. We did see a small Iberian Water Frog and a  Signal Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) which was stranded in some mud. Birds wise we added a Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) to the list but little else. We continued on to our final site of the day which was in the agricultural areas near Moraleda but due to the heat we did not see many birds but we did added Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and had nice views of an immature male Montagu's Harrier. Up near the Cortijo we had a few butterflies including Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Large White (Pieris brassicae) and Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) before heading back to the motorway and up into the city.
I hope that Neal and Ronna enjoyed their day as much as I enjoyed showing them the Spanish Wildlife, Thank you for supporting Granada Wildlife.
Photographs from the top: Neal photographing the flaowers, Ronna and Neal, Violet Cabbage (  ), Yellow Bee Orchids and 2x Southern Water Vole (Arvicola sapidus).

1 comment:

juani espejo jurado said...

Muy buenas, estas imágenes y un gran montaje
Un gran saludo de un seguidor tulló