Saturday 25 May 2013

Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

A photography Day along the Cacín Valley.
(Deb and Ian Day Six).

Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) taken by Deb.
We started the day on the side of the very noisy A92 looking for a Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) I had seen in the area a few days earlier. We started by scanning the wires and pylons in the area but could not find the bird but we did get the list going with Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
From here we went out on to the fields near Moraleda looking for some special birds, straight away we found a Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) sat out on the road and just as we turned into the areas of the fields a Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) did pretty much the same but on the top of a stand of cut hay.
Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) taken by Deb.
We drove past the first of the Almond plantations and up to the ruin on the ridge, as soon as we were out of the car we heard but could not locate a flock of Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis). We could also hear a distant Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) on the fields near to the lower Almond groves, eventually we located the bird and had good views. Whilst we were watching the Bustards a pair of Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) flew over the ruin and started to display in the nearby Almond Grove giving us great views. Around the ruin we watched a single Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) which was flying rapidly around the building along with several Small (Artogeia rapae) and Bath Whites (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and a Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera). We got back into the car and dropped down to where we had seen the Bustard to try and get Debs camera within range but the bird had moved a considerable distance down the field.
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) taken by Deb.
We continued on and had more nice views of a Short-toed Lark which sat out on the track just in front of the car, further on we turned onto an area harvested hay and soon had another Little Bustard in our sights and this time it performed superbly for the camera and for those of us with just the bins. We spent quite a while watching this brilliant bird before it wandered over a small ridge and gave us the chance to move on with out disturbing it, We returned part way along the track we had come on before heading along another track into another area of Almonds and with in seconds we had the main target bird for the day in our sights. in a dead looking Almond about 100meters in front of us was a cracking 1st summer Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius). Deb had the camera rattling quickly and after she had taken some distant record shots we moved in closer and she took some more and then we move a little closer and then closer until we were just 20 meters or so away.
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
I then took some shots through the scopebefore we closed right in and parked about 3 meters from the bird on the track, Ian managed to get some very nice video through his little compact camera, at this point I was getting concerned that the bird was ill or injured in some way so I got out of the car and walked towards the bird to check it out. I was only a meter away from the bird when it flew off and looked fine and fit, we came to the conclusion that it was just well chilled out and was happy to pose. We moved on again but not far as just around the corner we relocated the pair of Rollers and they also performed well for the camera and just showed well for us all. In the same area we also had Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), a pair of Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica).
Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) taken by Deb.
From here we dropped down into the Cacín Valley and made our way along the river to a spot in the Pinewoods and scanned the ridge opposite were we soon had a fine Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) soaring over the pines, several Coal Tits (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) which called nearer to us, Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes). A little further along the road but still in the Pines we added Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) to the day list along with Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and glimpsed a couple of Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) which were very elusive in the dense branches.
Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) taken by Deb.
On the side of the road here we found a dead Horseshoe Whip Snake (Coluber hippocrepis) again run over, it was by far the larges example of this species I had seen and must have been at least 1.3 meters in length.
Our next stop was at the bridge across the Cacin just below the embalse where we first of all had a look at the reeds along the river and had views of Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster). We walked along the road and into the mixed stretch of woodland along side the river were we found a few orchids growing in the deep shade including Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera), Small Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys picta) and some tatty looking Yellow Bee Orchids (Ophrys lutea), plus Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata), Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum), Red Phlomis (Phlomis purpurea) and Pitch Trefoil (Psoralea bituminosa).
Horseshoe Whip Snake (Coluber hippocrepis).
Birds included Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and a Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) which popped into its nest behind a peeling strip of Eucaliptus bark right next to the track. We retraced our steps back to the car and went up to the lake above this site and scanned the water. The water level was back to its normal level but it was very coloured which was probably why the number of birds was low, we did however record 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 Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis). In the sky above the site we picked out Pallid (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris).
Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera).
By now our thoughts were turning to food so we headed towards the bar in Cacín but on the way we picked up a raptor which was sat on the top of a roadside pylon but was well obscured making Id difficult, eventually we got to a position to see that it was a cracking female Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis) which flew off giving us nice views in flight before it turned and disappeared into the nearby Poplars. We had lunch at the bar before starting out again and heading up out of the valley on the road towards Ventas del Huelma, once we were up on the tops we picked out a soaring Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and whilst we were watching this we also had a male Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) and a Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) pass over.
Deb photographing the plants.
In the same area we heard and saw Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). Further on we parked on a bend with a great view over the surounding countryside up to the Sierra Nevada and whilst scanning from here we soon had a pair of Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) in the bins. we again moved on and headed to a track out into the campo where I regularly search for the larger raptors found in the area, as soon as we came off the road we had more close views of a Booted Eagle, Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and another Common BuzzardAt the furthest point along the track we had another pair of Golden Eagles which put of a fine aerobatic show in the strengthening wind, also seen here was another male Little Bustardseveral Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) and Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).
Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops).
We retraced our way back to the road and started to head back towards Cacín, we stopped on the way to watch the Golden Eagles again and take some shots of the wildflowers in the area which included Large Blue Flax (Linum narbonense), Linum tenue, White Flax (Linum suffruticosum), Crambe filiformis, Cynara cardunculus, Salvia lavandulifolia, Ground-pine Germander (Teucrium pseudochamaepitys) and Yellow Restharrow (Ononis natrix). Other birds seen here included Melodious Warbler, White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata).
A little further towards home we stopped in an Olive grove where Deb got some cracking shots of a group of Hoopoe's and just above Cacín we had a pair of soaring Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) a good way to end the birding for now but not the day.
Us with Santi senior.
We got back and Jayne and I headed up to Joyce's house out in the campo near us where she had kindly held Santiago's First Communion party, we had a nice time and some good food with the family before heading back to have a drink with Deb and Ian. We sat out on the roof terrace and had a glass or two of wine, during this we saw a passing Red-necked Nightjar (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis), heard both Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) and Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and later well after ark we heard at least a couple of Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus) pass over, a good end to a very good day.

Friday 24 May 2013

Sierra Morena area, Jaen Province.

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

Digitalis mariana subsp heywoodii.
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 Iberian Lynx (lince iberico / Lynx pardina) but today we were more interested in the birds. Before we even left the house 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.
A view over a Bull field just after dawn.
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), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei) 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 Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Stone troughs in the same field taken by Ian.
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 wild flowers 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.
Iberis nazarita.
At this point a very large raptor came into view over the ridge and we had some cracking views of our first target bird an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) as it drifted off over the valley and was joined by a second bird before dropping out of view. 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 Eagles 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.
A view down to the Embalse
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 no 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.
Deb and Ian above the Embalse.
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).
Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus).
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).
Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra).
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 Iberian  Magpiesome 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).
Deb and Ian down at the river Jandula.
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.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Laguna Herrera, Mollina, Fuente de Piedra, Laguna Dulce and Arroya Marin, Malaga Province.

A day around the fields and wetlands with another new spacies
(Ian and Deb Day Four).

Possible hybrid between Spanish (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis) and House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus).
The three of us headed off down the A92 again and out on to the fields just to the North of Antequera where we checked out Laguna Herrera, straight away we could hear and see several noisy Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) which were feeding low over the main pool along with three summer plumaged Black Terns (Fumarel Común / Chlidonias niger) which also spent all their time travelling up and down the water dipping for food. On the water there were good numbers of Eurasian Coots (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and three or four pairs of Great Crested Grebes (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) with one pair seen a little later feeding three young striped chicks. We then had a look on the field opposite which had all but dried out, on the far side there was just a small slither of water which had a pair of Avocets (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta), Little Ringed (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and a dozen or so Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus).
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Alzacola / Cercotrichas galactotes) taken by Deb.
On the dried out area several Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) were feeding amongst the new shoots of the weeds which were starting to come through and on the field side a Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and several Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) were calling. We then turned our attention back to the main lagoon and on the nearside margins we located a group of three Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), one adult and two immature birds along with several Common Moorhens (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), another Kentish Plover and several more Spanish (Yellow) Wagtails. We moved along the track until we reached the barn and parked again, here we had views of what looked like a hybrid between Spanish (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis) and House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), House Sparrow, Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), a singing Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and on the opposite side of the track in the reed filled ditch the commoner Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus).
Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus).
Out on the water we had nice views of a pair of White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) which drifted out of the reeds, immatures of both Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), plus a few summer plumaged Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis). We moved just a little further on and were soon added Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), a flock Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus) which kept flying and eventually dropped in on the hidden lagoon and Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta).
Bellardia trixago.
In the air over the water there were good numbers of birds feeding including Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), plus House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and both Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica).
All the way along the margins of the pool we were flushing up hundreds of newly emerged and older Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and out on the water several of both Blue / Common (Anax imperator) and Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope).
We moved on around the site to the drier fields on the southern side nearer to Antequera, along the side we soon had nice views of Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula).
Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) taken by Deb.
From here we got back on to the motorway and went to a site near Mollina where we parked on a track side amongst the fields and waited for the locally uncommon Rufous-tailed Scrub Robins (Alzacola / Cercotrichas galactotes) that breeds here to appear, Ian and Deb had seen them earlier in there trip but the views we got here were quite special. After about ten minutes of waiting the bird appeared on a vine covered fence just a few meters away and then came nearer and nearer and eventually finished off hovering above the bonnet of the car looking in at us watch it before landing about 3 meters away and singing from the top of the fence for the next five minutes. In the area we also saw Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis).
White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala).
Our next stop was at a bar in Fuente de Piedra where we had some lunch before heading down to the Laguna. All the pools near the entrance track and by the boardwalk were surprisingly dry considering how much water was in the main laguna and the pools at the back of the centre. We first of all went out on the board walk and as far as the first bend just before the track goes up on to the ridged walk, here we had nice views of lots more Greater Flamingo's, several Northern Shovelers (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), good numbers of summer plumaged Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Black-winged Stilts and Avocets. From here we went to the pool below the view point but did not add anything new but we did see several Stripe-necked Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) and a singing Great Reed Warbler. We then spent some time scanning the main lake looking for some of the four reported Lesser Flamingo's (Phoenicopterus minor) bu we we not in luck but we did see Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans). From here we went around to the two hide which over look the freash water pools at the rear of the centre, on the way we had views of a singing male Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Crested Lark and we heard calling Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti).
Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) taken by Deb.
We scanned both of the pools but saw just a couple of Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) on the water and in the air Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) all new for the day list. After checking the second hide we retraced our way back around the tracks to the visitors centre and using the loo's and getting some icecreams. During the walk around we saw several butterfly species which included Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina) and Mallow / False Mallow Skipper (Carcharodus alceae / tripolinus). Plants included Bellardia trixago, Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), Mallow-leaved Bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides), Pitch Trefoil (Psoralea bituminosa), Small Melilot (Melilotus indica) and Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca).
Iberian Orchid (Ophrys vernixia)
Our next stop was at Laguna Dulce which proved to be quiet and produce just White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia) for the day list but did give Deb the chance of some nice shots of both White-headed Ducks and Black-necked Grebes.
We started to head back towards te house but detoured via Archidona to the wooded Arroya Marin valley looking for woodland species, straight awat we could hear singing Nightingales (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), calling Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) and we also had a brief view of a fleeing Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei). We then heard a singing Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) which was the main species we had come for, so the search began, after a few minutes we had the bird in our bins and had some cracking views.
Deb photograhing Bee Orchids.
In the area we also added an immature Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and  Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur). We also saw lots of wild Flowers and Orchids including the rare Iberian Orchid (Ophrys vernixia), Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera), Rosy Garlic (Allium roseum), Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major), Southern Daisy (Bellis cordifolia), Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata), Crown Daisy (Chrysanthemum carinatum var discolor), Grey-leaved Cistus (Cistus albidus), Narrow-leaved Cistis (Cistis monspliensis), Blue Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum creticum), Wild Carrot (Daucus carota), Squirting Cucumber (Ecballium elaterium), White Mignonette (Reseda Alba) and Bladder Campion (Silene Vulgaris).

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Sierra de Loja, Granada Province.

A day in the hills and another lifer.
(Deb and Ian Day Three).
Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba) taken by Deb.
Deb, Ian and I again set off out into the countryside but this time we were staying fairly local with a day in the fantastic surroundings of Sierra de Loja, one of my favorate local sites. We started by having a look in the lower part of the pine woods near to the Motorway, the vehicle noise made hearing the birds hard but we did see and hear a few including Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes) taken by Deb.
On the sides of the track on the way up to our next stop at the turning circle wepicked out quite a few wildflowers including Chickweed (Cerastium boissieri), Mediterranean Catchfly (Silene colorata), Navel-wort (Omphalodes commutata), Pitch Trefoil (Psoralea bituminosa), Southern Daisy (Bellis cordifolia), Bellardia trixago, Tassel Hyacinth (Muscari comosum) and White Mignonette (Reseda Alba).
We left the car at the turning point and started to walk up to the disused quarry and almost immediatly we heard but did not see a couple of Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), a singing Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) which eventually showed before disappearing off down the slope and several Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) which set off clattering through the branches as we started to make our way along the track. Just before we left the trees we found som flowers of the very nice Viola dementria in amongst the rocks along with White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Wild Gladiolus (Gladiolus illyricus), Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium) and Rosy garlic (Allium roseum).
Poppy grassland along the crags taken by Deb.
On the walk up we also recorded the first butterflies of the day, first we had several Spanish Gatekeepers (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba), followed by male Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes) and Panoptes Blue (Pseudophilotes panoptes), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). The hill sides on both sides of the track was covered in Mediterranean scrub and darting in and around the larger bushes were a couple of family parties of Dartford Warblers (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) most of the time they remained out of site but on a few occasions an adult or youngster would site out nicely and give us good views. On the rocky areas on the track side we found some more flowers and a couple of Orchids, the flowers included Centaurea boissieri, Centaurea prolongoi, Common Centaury (Centaurium erythraea), Wild Leek (Allium ampeloprasum), Meadow Saxifrage (Saxifraga granulata) and the Orchids were Pyramidal Orchid (Orquidea Pyramidal / Anacamptis pyramidalia), Small Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys picta) and the hybrid between Small Woodcock Orchid x Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera).
Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata).
At the point where it is possible to park the car we set up the scope and scanned the rockface above us and found an adult Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) sat on it's usual ledge, along with this we soon had our first Rock Buntings (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) of the day. In the quarry there were some extreamly noisy Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), a male Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) and several House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica).
Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron) taken by Deb.
We then started to walk back down to the car, on the way we saw Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). We then started to drive up along the crags where we made a couple of stops to scan the hawthorn bushes below the track and the cliffs above, the first obvious speices were the large numbers of Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) which were whirrling around in the wind with quite a few more Red-billed Choughs, also seen here were the first Common Stonechats (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) including several young birds newly fledged, a singing male Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) which showed nicely from the top of one of the Hawthorns, a distant male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and two Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which sat in the open right on the top of the cliffs.
Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) taken by Deb.
Our next stop was on the bend at the top of the crags where we saw a couple of butterfly species that were new for the day and one species which was new for my site list which was a Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron) which Deb got a couple of shots of along with Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas). in the area around the marble quarry where Ian wandered off to get some shots of the workings whilst Deb and I worked on some shots of the flowers which included Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea), Red Phlomis (Phlomis purpurea), Yellow Phlomis (Phlomis lychnitis), Iris Subbiflora and Carduus granatensis. 
Carduus granatensis.
Just a little further on we had our first Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) of the day along with several Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) which drifted passed distantly at eye level, Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). We eventually reached Charc del Negra and sat and had our lunch but just as we started the bird of the day a male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis) appeared on a rock at the far end of the fence which now runs along the Northern side of the pool, this gave us nice but distant view which were quite good throught the scope, the bird disappeared so we got back to our food. A few minutes later two male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes zipped in and out again but the views were down to 10 meters which although brief were very good. After the food we had a look in the pool and glimped a couple of the Sharp-ribbed Salamanders (Pleurodeles waltl) and then went and had a look at the plants on the low cliff nearby which included the uncommon Saxifraga Camposii.
Common Stork's-bills (Erodium cicutarium) taken by Deb.
On the way back to the car we could hear a Natterjack Toad (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita) calling and added Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina ssp hispulla) and Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) to the day list. Once back at the car we continued on around the track to the goat cave area where we had views of more Blue Rock Thrushes, Black Wheatears, Rock Sparrows, Rock Buntings and added our first Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris). The ground in places was carpeted in the pink hugh of thousands of Common Stork's-bills (Erodium cicutarium) and up on the rocks there were several clumps of Erodium cheilanthifolium.
Erodium cheilanthifolium.
At this point we started to make our way down the hill and picked up a fine male Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica), some Paeonia coriacea, Linaria anticaria and Brown Bluebell (Dipcadi serotinum). We eventually reached Loja and made our way back to the house.