Saturday 12 January 2013

Cabo Sacratif, Motril Fish Port, Charca del Suarez and Near Moraleda, Granada Province.

A day of Birds, Butterflies and the first Orchids of the year.
Sun rise from Cabo Sacratif.
Juan Pérez Contreras and I travelled down to Cabo Sacratif where we carried out the RAM sea bird survey for January, it was a cracking morning with a very nice sun rise through about the only cloud in the sky. It was a shame that the birds were not as good, we did however record a few Balearic Shearwater (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus), Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and a small Skua species which was just to distant to be identified fully but was probably a dark phase Arctic Skua (Págalo Parásito / Stercorarius parasiticus) and we were quite surprised not to see a single Audouin's Gull (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii) during the survey.
Ophrys forestieri (one of the fusca group).
Other species seen during the time on the rock were Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) at sea, whilst on dry land we recorded Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Dartford (Curruca Rabilargo / Sylvia undata) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris). We decided to take the short cut down the hill from the sea watch point and on the way we found a dozen or so spikes of Ophrys forestieri (one of the fusca group) growing in amongst the scrub where the invasive Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae) had not yet smothered.
Our next stop was at the Motril fish port but as with the last visit the place was very busy with the loading of the Morocco bound ferry which meant the Gulls were fragmented and most were inside a newly fenced area which ment we could only check the species and not the rings numbers. Whilst there we did however add Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) before heading off to Charca via a coffee and loo stop in a bar on the way.
Ophrys forestieri (one of the fusca group).
We enter the site from the main port road and went through the Agricultural area on the way, along here we had a couple of small flocks of the naturalized Red Avadavat (Bengali Rojo / Amandava amandava), Several wintering Reed Buntings ( Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). We entered the reserve and started by going anti-clockwise to the first hide where a couple of chaps were working on the reed screens and were making quite a bit of noise doing it so we did not think much would be seen.
Western Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio).
As soon as we got into the hide we were proved wrong when a cracking male Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) was seen hoping around on the far shore, it was in great plumage with a bright blue throat, white spot and lot of red below. Also on this pool we located Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita). We then moved on to the next hide passed the willow scrub area where we saw two adult Night Herons (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax) which took some finding amongst the tangle of branches.
Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus).
In the next hide we soon had Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), Western Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) heard only, Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina) and  Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata) on the day list. We again moved around to another hide, on the way a confiding female Common Kestrel sat nicely for Juan and my cameras. Once in the hide year ticks started to be seen straight away, these included Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Eurasian Wigeon (Silbón Europeo / Anas penelope) and a female Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca).
Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta).
Other species seen from here included a well hidden Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadorna tadorna), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto). Again we continued on but this time it was back to the second hide where we were still hoping to get a view of the reported Baillon's Crake (Pollueta chica / Porzana pusilla) which was still about after its spring arrival. We did not see it but did add a fly over Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus). 1 o'clock soon came round so we had to leave the reserve, so we started our drive home and on the way had views of a soaring Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) along side the motorway. I dropped Juan back at his car before starting off towards home via the fields near Moraleda, I made a quick circuit of the site but it was fairly quiet.
Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca).
The only new birds for the day list were Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and nearer home I added both Common (Urraca / Pica pica) and Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki). During the day which was generaly sunny we saw a few species of Butterfly including Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea) and Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta).

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Rio Genil, Granada, Granada Province.

Searching for some Chinese quackers !

Jayne and I travelled up to Granada to visit Juan Perez and his wife Beatriz, on the way I saw Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
Once at there apartment Juan and I again left Beatriz and Jayne to their language studies and went for a walk along the Rio Genil just up above the city where we were looking for a couple of male Mandarin Ducks (Pato Mandarin / Aix galericulata) which Juan had found a week or so earlier. We started our walk and soon had Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) on the list along with Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala). We reached a large concrete bridge with sluice gates built into it and picked up the first of the walks Dippers (Mirlo Acuático Europeo / Cinclus cinclus) which gave us some cracking views as it swam and dived in the water.
We continued on adding Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) but there was no sign of the Mandarin Duck. We eventually reached Pinos Genil and had views of at least two more Dippers as we approached the town.
We scanned the Rio from the town bridges with out success so we retraced our way back to the car and then back to Juan apartment, on the way we saw a couple of flocks of Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) heading for the roost where Juan carries out a count each month.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

El Faro and Guadalhorce, Malaga Province.

A day down on the coast.

Purple Sandpiper (Correlimos Oscuro / Calidris maritima).
Jayne and I headed down to Fuengirola where Jayne went and did some shopping whilst I did a bit of birding near to El Faro light house. The target species were the regular wintering Purple Sandpipers (Correlimos Oscuro / Calidris maritima) that come here each year, there are just two or three birds and they can some times take some finding as today was to prove. I started by parking in the lay-by next to the large rock just along side the coastal motorway and walked west towards the lighthouse. The first bird seen was an immature male Blue-rock  Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) which was quite at home on the large rocky sea defences along this first stretch.
Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
On the beach there were a few Ruddy Turnstones (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres) turning over the tide line debris and amongst reed and wood flotsam on the rocks there were dozens of Meadow Pipits (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), a few White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and a couple of Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). I continued on along the road side until I was just below the lighthouse with out seeing another wader and was just about to turn around when a Turnstone flew in and landed on a small flat rock. I scanned the rock and found that there were more waders there including a dozen or so more Turnstones and two of the target Purple Sandpipers (Correlimos Oscuro / Calidris maritima) all of which were roosting. Out on the sea there were quite a lot of Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo). I then walked back to the car and went to pick Jayne up. We did some shopping before heading back to Malaga where I disappeared again, this time to the river mouth at the Guadalhorce.
Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
As soon as I arrived I started to do a count of the Common Scoters (Negrón Común / Melanitta nigra) and by the time I had worked my way through them at least three time I had a total of 117 birds in around nine different groups. Out at sea I also recorded at least 2 Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Mediterranean Gull (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and a Great Skua (Págalo Grande / Stercorarius skua) which came in very close to the beach and landed on the sea for a few minutes before moving off east. On the river there were a few winter plumage Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta). I then went and sat on one of the many benches along the top of the river defences, I spent the next hour or so scanning the reserve and the river. After not seeing any raptors all day I found the wintering Western Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) perched on one of the lower trees and whilst getting the scope on it a male Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) flew through my view and perched in a tree behind the Western Osprey. Next came two Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), a Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and two Common Kestrels (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) all soaring up above the main pool.
View along the beach at Guadalhorce.
A female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) then came in from the right hand side which
gave me 6 species of raptor in less than 5 minutes. On the same side of the river as I was sat I saw Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula).

Monday 7 January 2013

Sierra de Loja and Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

A day in the hills and down on the fields.

Wild-leaved Iris (Iris planifolia).
I started off by meeting Juan Perez at the Cortijo de Tajar hotel near the A92, on the way I started the day list off with House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis). We then headed off up the motorway past Loja to the Abades service area on the Granada bound side of the A92 where we met up with Bob Wright from the Axarquia Bird group before heading off up the Sierra. We started birding by the small disused quarry and quickly found Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula). We continued on up the hill to the larger disused quarry which was very cold as the sun had not got up above the crags.
Frozen pools at Charca del Negra.
On the gorse covered hill side we picked up three Dartford Warblers (Curruca Rabilargo / Sylvia undata), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and a flock Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) which wheeled around over the tops noisily. Along the main track up passed the crags we saw loads more Choughs, a few Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and at the highest point of the track on the bend we had a single Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), at least 3 Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), a male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia).
General shot from the Sierra.
Along the flatter areas in amongst the rock piles we added Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis). We went up passed Charca del Negra and the Goat Cave to the Hawthorn scrub a couple of KM on. Here we quickly located the first of around a dozen Ring Ouzels ( Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus). A little further on we stopped and scanned the bushes below a steep cliff where we saw large numbers of Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) feeding on the grass between the trees and us, Bob also had a sngle Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotraustes) but thedam thing dropped just as I got it in the scope. In the same area we also saw at least two Alpine Accentors (Accentor Alpino / Prunella modularis) which dropped down off the crags, Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus).
Juan and Bob near the Ouzel spot.
We then drove back down the hill and took some shots of the masses of flowering Wild-leaved Iris (Iris planifolia) on the way. We reached the service area and made our way to the fields at Huétor Tajar to find some of the species I had seen recently. We first went up over the railway from the small industrial area on the north of the town, along here we found a flock of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis). Our next stop was on the side of the river where we had views of some of the 28 Stock Doves (Paloma Zurita / Columba oenas) I had seen back in 2012, today we saw at least 18 birds. The first four were on the fields and later we saw a flock of 14 more birds up over the Olives. In this area we also saw singles of Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), a male was perched on a nearby pylon. We then went on along the arroyo and added Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina).
Stock Dove (Paloma Zurita / Columba oenas).
Next we went on around to the Loja side of the town and in one of the larger Lucerne fields we found around 30 Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which were well hidden in amongst the crop. We continued on and picked up a few of the wintering Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) and Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris). Our last stop was on the arroyo on the far side of the Mesia road, here we added a single female Brambling (Pizón Real / Fringilla montifringilla) to the day list which was by now standing at 57 for me and I know that Bob and Juan had both seen species I had missed so the total was probably over 60.
Thanks Juan and Bob for a great day.