Friday, 24 May 2013

Sierra Morena area, Jaen Province.

A long run but well worth it with three lifers.
(Deb and Ian Day Five).

The three of us were out and on our way well before dawn heading up to Sierra Morena a site that I usually visit in the winter for the Pardel Lynx (Lynx lutra) but today we were more interested in the birds. Before we even left the hose we could hear Red-necked Nightjar (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and we flushed some of the House Sparrows (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) roosting in the roses by the gate. We set off for the drive but added only Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos). We arrived on site and started the drive out to the main area, on the way along the first stretch we got some shots of the white Digitalis mariana subsp heywoodii first of all behind a fence but then we found some nice plants growing on some road side rocks. During this stop we had views of a nice male Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) which moved between the Oaks, Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus). In the same area we had views of a large stag Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) and a small group of Fallow Deer (Dama dama). A little futher along the track we had good views of a Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea) which was sitting on a wire on the edge of a field ful of large rock bowls, here we also Common (Urraca / Pica pica) and Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). We continued on turning on to a dirt track and continued towards the Embalse, on the way we stopped and had a look at several more species of wildflowers including Grey-leaved (Cistus albidus) and Narrow-leaved Cistis (Cistis monspliensis), Spotted Rock-rose (Tuberaria guttata) and the beautiful purple Iberis nazarita.
We stopped further on at a place I have spent many an hour looking for the Lynx during the winter, from here we soon had a small flock of Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) moving through the Oaks, along with several of both Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and a nice male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) which flew in and landed on the rock behind us. At this point a very large raptor came into view over the ridge and we had some cracking views of our first target bird and adult Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) it drifted off over the valley and was joined by a second bird before dropping out oview. The morning was moving on and the temprature was rising as were the Vultures, first we had several Griffons (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) drift over and then the second wanted species came into the valley, a couple of Black / Cinereous Vultures (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) followed the same path as the Eages had earlier. Once these birds had passed through we had a drive down to the Dam on the Embalse, on the way we found a dead snake on the roadside which turned out to be a Lataste's viper (Vipera latastei) which was the first time I had seen this species but it was unfortunate that it was not alive. We continued on down to the Dam and soon had House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) on the list along with both Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) but to there was not sign of the White-rumped Swifts (Vencejo Cafre / Apus caffer) we were looking for. Whilst we were scanning the skies we picked up a passing adult Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) and a couple of honking Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax). We started to walk across the dam and head through the tunnel to the other side of the crags but just as we set off a Swift came in close and we quickly picked out the slim white rump as it twisted and turned in front of us for the next few minutes. We lost the bird in the distance after some time, we then continued on over the dam to have a look in the gully on the far side where we soon had views of both White (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) as well as a single Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius). On the far side of the tummel we had very distant views of a Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) on a nest away on the far side of the Embalse which was a new species for Ian but not Deb. In the same area we saw plenty of Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) on the margins and in the concret ditch along side the track we heard but could not find the noisy Iberian Water Frogs (Rana Común / Rana Perezi). We made our way back to the car picking up several Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), Bellardia trixago, Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum), Red Phlomis (Phlomis purpurea), Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum) and Wild Gladiolus (Gladiolus illyricus). We then drove up to the Lynx area again and spent a while searching the tracks but only managed to see more Deer, Wild Boar (Felis silvestris) and lots of Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus).
We then decided to move down to the river Jandula to the North of the site where we parked at a point of the river just below the dam where the first bird seen was a group of Azure-winged Magpiessome Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster). In the river I had brief views of a couple of Viperine Snakes (Culebra Viperina / Natrix maura) and lots of both Mirror and Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio). We walked down the river and had some cracking views of a male Golden Oriole which I managed to get a couple of shots of as it sat in a river side Willow. Other species recorded here were Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). We then walked back to the car and went to the far side of the bridge where we got some much better views of one of the Black Storks which was feeding in the river near the road bridge. In the same are we also saw Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) and Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta). We then started the journey home but called at a bar on the way to Andujar where we had a coffee before the drive back home.

Photographs from the top: Digitalis mariana subsp heywoodii MDR, a view over a Bull field just after dawn MDR, Stone troughs in the same field IH, Iberis nazarita MDR, a view down to the Embalse MDR, Deb and Ian above the Embalse MDR, Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) MDR, Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) MDR and Deb and Ian down at the river Jandula MDR.

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