Monday, 10 June 2013

Guadalhorce, Malaga Province and Sierra de Loja, Granada Province.

A Day starting on the coast and finishing in the mountains.
(Jane Hibbert's Tour, Day One).

I set off down the coast on the motorway, went around Malaga and then back inland to pick Jane up from Alhaurín de la Torre. On the way down I picked up Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Barn Swallow(Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). I arrived a little early but Jane was ready to go so we then went back down to the coast and spent some time at Guadalhorce catching up with some species that we were unlikely to see during the next two days. We started with a quick scan of the sea from the first seawatch point, from here we did not see much out on the water exept for several Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), lots of Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and a few Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). Over on the reserve we had House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) hawking over the river, Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) calling noisily from the patches of Giant Reeds, Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus).
From here we made our way out on to the main reserve and towards the main hide, on the way we looked at a small pool where we saw several Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus) all of which appeared to be sat on nests, Avocet (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta) and a female White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala). Once in the hide we scanned a quiet pool but we catch up with a small group of Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) which flew around a few times before disappearing off North, a group of European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), a noisy Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and both Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius). On the water there were a few Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis). A Little Tern (Charrancito Común / Sterna albifrons) then came in and started to feed before setting down on one of the small islands and on the back of the lake we picked out both Little (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) along with a couple of Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea). From here we walked around to the next hide and again we had nice views of several White-headed Ducks, Common Pochards and the first Common Kestrels (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) of the day. We moved around to the two hides on the bank, from the first we had great views of an adult Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea), several Reed Warblers (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti). From the second new species included an injured Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur). We continued on along the track and checked the pool on the right hand side of the track, here we added just Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus). From the sea view point at the end of the track we saw nothing what so ever so we returned along the bank and made our way back to the car. On the reserve we also saw Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa), Iberian Water Frog (Rana Común / Rana Perezi), Large Psammodromus (Lagartija colilarga / Psammodromus algirus), Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla) and Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas).
Once back at the car we drove up to Loja and made our way up the sierra for some mountain birding, our first stop was in the shade of some pines where we had our lunch, whilst here we had several new species for Jane including Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata). We then parked at the turning circle and walked up the track towards the quarry to look for the Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) which breed there but they were not on show. On the way we picked up Adonis Blue (Niña Celeste / Lysandra bellargus), Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Spanish Marbled White (Melanargia ines) and both Southern (Pyronia cecilia) and Spanish Gatekeepers (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba). Birds included Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina). We then moved up along the crags but we did not stop as we were picking off species and the most important one which we had no chance of seeing any where else was the Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis) so we drove across the hill until we reached Charca del Negro where I had seen this species regularly. On the way we did stop to have views of several species including Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Black (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) and Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax). Once at the pool we added Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris). We did not get the thrush here so we made our way around to the goat cave and eventually found the bird in that area along with more Black Wheatears and Blue-rock Thrushes. We then started to make our way back down the hill but called in at my usual spot for the cracking Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) and we soon had nice views of a pair low down in the thyme plants and a little further on we had cracking views of a Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) which Jane got a nice shot of. During this part of the day we saw Cardinal Fritillary (argynnis Pandora), Blue Spotted Hairstreak (Satyrium spini) and Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus lavatherae).
From here we headed back to the house and sat out on the terrace, during this time we saw lots of Azure-winged Magpiesa Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and to finish a pair of hunting Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus).

Photographs from the top: Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea), Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) x2 and Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) taken by Jane.

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