Wednesday 23 October 2013

Cacín Valley and Huétor Fields, Granada Province, Spain.

A days guiding with Andy and Naomi from Nottingham UK.

Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).
I met Naomi and Andy just down the road and we made our way straight out towards the fields near Moraleda, on the we saw the usual common species including Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata).
The birds were quiet but we guessed that could be put down to the change in the weather from fine to wet and cool. Just as we reached the first site we picked up a regular Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which was sat out even in the dull conditions getting some air and a little further along the road a flock of around 10 or so Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) gave us a nice start. Once we were out on the fields we picked up Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and up near the disued Cortijo a single distant flying Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which was a new species for Naomi and Andy but we did not get great views so I was pleased later when we had much better views of three birds.
White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba).
We moved around the site and through the Almond and Olive groves and on the way we added several more species including Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus).
From here we dropped down in to the valley and stopped at a couple of spots in the woodlands along side the Rio Cacin. Birds included Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Mistle (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Song Thrushes (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala). From the bridge we also saw a single Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum), several Small (Artogeia rapae), Large (Pieris brassicae) and Bath Whites (Pontia daplidice) which I was pleased with as the conditions for any flying insects were not good.
Andy getting a shot of a Bath White.
We continued on up to the lake and scanned the water where we picked up Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) but they were only heard.Other species here included an unexpected party of 5 Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) which were feeding up before moving through a little later than exected, several Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) on the wires along with Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and a Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) which flew up from the road side. Also on the wire we added Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) to the slowly growing day list.
Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo).
We then continued on down the valley to Cacín and then up on to the platuex above the village looking for raptors but a part from a Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) we failed (mainly due to the weather conditions) but did get good views of a couple of singing Woodlarks (Totovia / Lullula arborea),lots of Red-legged Partridges (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius). In the weed filled fields around this part of the tour we saw loads of the common day flying Crimson Speckled (Utetheisa pulchella).
We returned to Cacín and started to make our way back up the valley but not before having to make a stop to check out a raptor on a pylon, it turned out to be just a Buzzard but a bird with lots of white in its plumage making it look very odd. Our next stop was at the crags below Moraleda where we scanned the cliffs and soon added Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) to the list with at least 4 males being seen around the arera along with a single female Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica). 
Naomi at Balsa de Rigedor.
On the way back to the house we stopped at the small lake on the side of the A92 at Moraleda called Balsa de Rigedor to look for Dragonflies which we were hoping might be up and about as the weather had improved a tad. As soon as we arrived Andy got a new species for his list in the shape of a nice male Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), next came Blue-eye / Goblet-marked Damselfly (Erythromma lindenii) but only Naomi and I saw that as it disappeared whilst Andy was getting some shots of the Dropwing and to finish the dragons off we added Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii). Birds here included Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis). We also saw loads of Stripe-necked Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) sunning them selves out on the logs around the margins. Our last bit of birding was around the fields at Huétor looking for the Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) but they remained elusive but we did get a few nice species to finish the day list off including Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and best of all and a tick for Naomi and Andy a female Northern Goshawk  (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis).
Andy watching a male Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii).
At our last stop Andy got some shots of the butterflies which were feeding out on the Lucerne fields where we missed the Bustards and they included Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Lang's Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous), Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus) and Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea).

Thanks Naomi and Andy for supporting GRANADA WILDLIFE by spending a day out in this wonderful countryside.


Anonymous said...

het is op zich al heerlijk om met vrienden de natuur in te trekken en dan ook nog zoveel mooie waarnemingen te hebben is toch genieten.

mrwhit said...

Although the weather was rather against us, we had a great day out seeing quite a few new species for us.
Highlights for Andrew were the Violet drop-wing, the wasp spider (which he's been hoping to see for a long time) and the white buzzard.
With Micks help, Naomi has finally worked out how to tell the difference between the crested lark and Thekla's lark. Wood larks sang for us and three black-bellied sandgrouse stayed in the air long enough to give us a really good view through the binocs.
It is quite obvious Mick is very knowledgeable in so many wildlife subjects and the places where they can be seen: birds, dragonflies, butterflies and moths, and he told us about some good spots where we might find orchids. I suspect he knows quite a lot of other natural topics, too.

Thanks once again Mick, we will be back!
Andrew and Naomi, Nottinghamshire.