Saturday 2 February 2013

Guadalhorce and Rio Grande, Malaga Province.

A change of venue.

Superb Starling (Estornino Soberbio / Lamprotornis superbus) taken by Jacinto.
This months RAM was done at the sea watch point at Guadalhorce as Juan Perez was visiting family in the city for the weekend. So at 08:00 Juan, Jacinto Villalvilla and I met on the top of the bank near the sea watch point where we spent some time scanning the main reserve for early moving birds in very windy conditions. As the light grew we were picking up loads of Gulls which were coming in off the sea including Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) along with these there were masses of Great Cormorants (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) which were going both ways.
During time we were watching there we also saw a single Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra).
We then moved up to the end of the bank where we set up the scopes and started the survey, almost straight away we were seeing Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), Balearic (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) and Cory's Shearwaters (Pardela Cenicienta / Calonectris diomedea), Great Skua (Págalo Grande / Stercorarius skua), 6x Razorbills (Alca Común / Alca torda), 36x Common Scoters (Negrón Común / Melanitta nigra), plus Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) and Ruddy Turnstones (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres) all of which either flew passed or landed on the rocks.
Other species seen from here included White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis). After the survey we walked along the bank down to the bridge, on the way we saw more Great Cormorants, Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis).
Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta).
Once we were on the reserve we soon had Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) before we reached the first hide. On the pools just before the hide we picked up a couple of Common Pochards (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), a winter plumaged Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata). We then spent some time in the hide where we added White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and deep in the tamarisk trees of to the left there was a Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) and at least one Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia). We then moved around to the next hide were the wind was in just the wrong direction and was blowing straight through the viewing slots so we did not stay there very long before we moved on to the raised mound looking over the next pool where we found an immature Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus).
We moved on down the bank on the opposite side of the pool, the first hid just had more of the same species as we had already seen but we had some nice views of a couple of Greenshanks (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), a Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), several Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallingao gallinago) and both Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius). We continued along the bank to the sea watch point, out to sea there were more Common Scoters, Mediterranean Gull (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita).
On the beach Juan picked up 3 Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) and then I found a single Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus) on the opposite side of the sea watch point. We then retraced our steps back along the bank seeing Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta). As we reached the cross tracks at the end of the bank we decided to go and have a look for the Superb Starling (Estornino Soberbio / Lamprotornis superbus) which had been seen on a nearby Golfcourse for some time.
Black-tailed Godwits (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa).
As we arrived we were greeted by loads of Monk Parakeets and a single Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops). We wandered around the club house for a few minutes before the Starling flew passed calling and disappeared over the building, we walked around the back of the club house and found the bird on a fence top where Jacinto got a nice shot. We watched the bird for a while before we went back to the cars and Juan and Jacinto headed back to Malaga. I decided to have a quick look at Rio Grande just to the north after talking to a wildlife guide on Guadalhorce who reconned that Great White Egrets and Black Storks (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) were common during the winter. Well after driving up and down for quite some time I found just a single Little Egret along with more Green Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers along with 3 Black-tailed Godwits (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa) a year tick. I then headed off towards home.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Barbate saltpans, Zahara de los Atunes, La Janda and Los Lances beach, Cadiz Province.

93 species in a day.

Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
I got up early and drove through to Barbate along the winding roads passed Tarifa and Zahara de los Atunes and parked on the main road in Barbate. I had hoped to meet up with Steve Daly from Andalucian Guide but he was already working so it turned into a self guided day but with the knowlage I had got from Steve on a passed visit I had a good idea of where the birds were. Where I got the best deal I have ever had for breakfast, a large coffee and a decent toast with tomato for €2. After topping up the caffin levels I drove back out of Barbate and crossed the Rio Barbate and parked on the right near what looked like a sewage treatment works.
Common Crane (Grulla Común / Grus grus).
I got here just as the sun was starting to come up and the Gulls were just starting to come in off the sea in there hundreds, most were Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) but they were joined by many Lesser Black-backs (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michaellis). As the light improved I started to see formations of Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), the odd Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) along with a flight of 9 Spoonbills (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia). I then walked back towards the bridge and flushed a Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), a couple of Crested Larks (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). The pools on the landward side of the road were very quiet but I did see a single Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluviali squatarola) and a few Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) but not a lot else.
Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus).
As I walked back towards the car a winter plumaged Caspian Tern (Pagaza Piquiroja / Sterna caspia) flew in from the sea and away out on to the marsh and while I was following this bird a massive raptor came up out of the marsh and dropped almost immediately back into cover. I would have liked a lot better view of the bird but thought that it was probably an immature Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) but not sure so I did not count it on the day list. I then moved down the road a short way and checked two larger pools on the landward side and a wet area on the beach, on the beach there were a good number of waders including Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) and a single Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos).
Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).
On the two larger pools there were more Grey Plovers, Sanderlings, Mallards, Black-headed Gulls and Western Cattle Egrets these were seen along with a couple of Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), a single Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea). In the air several flights of Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) came in off the sea and headed up river and there were good numbers of Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris). My next stop was a little further down the road amongst some small holdings where there were several groups of resting Western Cattle Egrets, a small group of 6 Northern Bald Ibis (Ibis Eremita / Geronticus eremita), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis) and a White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia) sat on the roof of one of the farm houses. I then found a track up behind the building where I had views out over some wetland pools, here there were at least 8 more Spoonbills, a couple of hundred Sanderling, a few Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina) and quite a large flock of Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii).
Immature Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax).
I then dropped down the coast towards Zahara de los Atunes where there were hundreds of Crag Martins along the river so I thought it had to be worth a scan through them to see what other species were there and it payed off with a couple of House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and at least 6 Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). On the river there was a small group of 4 Audouin's Gulls and 20 or so Sandwich Terns (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis).
I then went inland to La Janda, as soon as I arrived 3 Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus) flew across the track and 2 Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) which were hunting over near by fields which made for a good start to a good visit. I then followed the main collector canal and soon had Western Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Reed Bunting ( Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) on the day list.
Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra).
On the wet fields there were quite a few Western Cattle and Little Egrets, White Storks, Grey Herons along with hundreds of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and a flock of around 100 Golden Plovers (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia). After a few Km I turned up the track towards Cortijo de la Mediana on the way several Pheasants (Faisán Vulgar / Phaisanus colchicus) were out in the cereal crop fields on both sides of the track and just as the track started to go up towards the cortijo there was a nice Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) sat on the top of a pylon. I went through the farm and into the olive woods on the ridge adding another Booted Eagle on the way, amongst the trees a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) was making life difficult for the smaller birds including Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major). 
Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba).
In the same area there was a Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei) calling, loads of Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and in the sky above the olives there was a flock of around 30 Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), a Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and during the half an hour I was watching in this area there were a couple of flocks of around 50 Common Cranes that passed over heading north. White Storks were also coming over the area in large numbers with some kettles holding a couple of hundred birds. I continued on along this track to the track between Benalup and Facinas, I headed towards the latter and soon had fabulous views of a cracking male Hen Harrier which came up off the side of the track and started to quarter the nearby fields. Further on I saw at least four more Black-winged Kites, another Black Kite, more Ravens, Griffon Vultures and two Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which were sunning them selves on the top of some fence posts.
Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba).
I continued on along this track for around 6 KM before turning around and heading back towards the marshes on the way I added Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris) which seemed to be commoner than the Spotless along this route, Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita). I passed through the Olive woods again seeing another couple of female Hen Harriers, a Black-winged Kite and loads of Blackcaps which seemed to be oozing out of the roadside trees. I dropped back down onto the fields and then back out onto the track along the canal, almost straight away I added three new species to the list including an immature Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), a adult Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) and a Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) which was sat on the edge of the smaller ditch with a group of Grey Herons.
Wooden Fence in the Olive woods.
Before I got back to the road Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Barn Swallow, House Martin and Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) were seen. During my visit to this cracking site I also saw a single teneral Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Large White (Pieris brassicae) and masses of the beautiful Paper White Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus).
Paper White Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus).
I started to drive back towards Tarifa stopping at Los Lances beach on the way but it was full of kite surfers and boarders so there were just a few Sandwich Terns on the usual posts and a good number of Audouins Gulls roosting on the beach. The sea was breaking through the sand bar and where the waves were breaking into the pool there were a few Sanderlings and a dozen or so Kentish Plovers. I then made my way back to the hotel and Jayne and I went out for a very nice Chinese meal in the town.

Monday 28 January 2013

Los Barrios, Cadiz Province.

A mix of Shopping and birds.

Jayne and I set off down towards Algecrias for a three day trip to do some bits and birding, on the way down we saw Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo).
Our first stop was at the shopping centre near Algecrias where we picked up the first of the things we had gone for before heading into the town where I was hoping to see the ship assisted vagrant Tropical Mockingbird (Mimus gilvus) which had been seen by Juan Francisco a week or two earlier but we were not lucky.
In the area I did see 3 x Siskins (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). After spending some time looking for the bird we heading out to another shopping centre on the outskirts of the town and then on to the wetland areas on the edge of Los Barrios.
Here I was looking for and found a very nice Western Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) which was sitting on one of the many pylons along the river. Also in the area we added fine Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis), Western Cattle (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs). Our next stop was at the Hotel in La Linea, we checked in and then went on to Gib, did some shopping and went for an Indian meal. The meal was mixed, the starter was good but the main meal was disappointing to say the least!!

Sunday 27 January 2013

Travelling to and and a Plaza de San Nicolas, Granada, Granada Province.

A walk above the city.

Jayne at Plaza San Nicolas.
Jayne and I got what needed to be done sorted out during the morning before heading off up to Granada City where we went for a walk through the narrow streets of the Albazin to reach the Plaza. We were hoping that by the time we got there that the clouds might have cleared enough for us to see the snow behing the Alhambra Palace but apart from a couple of small breaks it was obscured.
The Alhambra from Plaza San Nicolas.
We spent some time wandering around the area before returning to the car, where we had parked on the main road up from the city the pavement was covered in broken grass and at least one car had had its side window smashed and it had been stripped. It looked like this was a common occurance due to the continual line of the glass along the whole area, so we will be parking down in the city and either walking up or more likely getting the bus.
The Alhambra from Plaza San Nicolas.
During the Journey either way we saw a couple of Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus), one either side of Morelada on the A92, also seen were Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), 100s of Woodpigeons (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).