Tuesday 28 May 2013

Home near Huétor Tajar, Granada Province,Spain.

Goodbye to Deb and Ian.
(Deb and Ian Day Nine).

We were all up and about early for Deb and Ian departure to Malaga Airport and on to the next part of their adventure in Northern Scotland.
We finished their visit seeing over 160 species of Bird which included several lifers for them, along with a good number of Wildflowers, Orchids, Butterflies, Dragonflies and smaller numbers of Mammal, Amphibians and Reptiles.
Good luck with the next part of your trip, hope the info helps and looking forward to hearing from you both when you return home to Australia (hope there's not to much work to catch up with).
All the very best and thank you for supporting Granada Wildlife, Mick and Jayne.

Deb and Ian's comments:

Dear Mick and Jayne.

We can't thank you enough for such a fantastic stay, we will be back!!        
Mick your Knowledge of the area and it's flora and fauna is amazing and your determination to get us the best views and photographs of the birds was incredible.
Highlights were probably the Rufous Bush Robin hovering in front of the windscreen having a good look at the birders and getting so close to a Great Spotted Cuckoo we had to get out of the car to check it was alright!!! The Rollers, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture, Both Bustards and Alpine Accentors (ect ect) were also hard to beat.
The flora was also stunning and our favorites were probably the Spanish Rusty Foxglove and Nigella Papillosa. The Butterflies and other insects were pretty special too. We have never used a guide before and to have someone who knew the area and it's flora and fana so incredible well was fantastic. Thanks for taking us to the local Tapas bars and for being such great company, we had a ball!!! The accommodation was perfect, we loved Jayne's cooking and all also the evening chats while watching the Red-necked Nightjars,

Hopefully you will come and visit us in Australia!! Love Deb and Ian.

Monday 27 May 2013

Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

A Lifer up in the snow and some wild flowers in the Northern Valley's.
(Deb and Ian's last tour, Day eight).

View from El Purche.
We made our way up the hill on the main road and turned off on to the road up to El Purche and parked in amongst the Pine woods. We then had a wander along one of the tracks out into the more open areas beyond the Pine belt in to the gorse scrub, here we were checking out what plants were still in flower and found Paeonia coriacea, Sedum mucizonia, Polygala boissieri and Berberis hispanica. Whilst we were in this area we had good views of a singing Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), a calling Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), a pair of fast moving Crested Tits (Herrerillo Capuchino /Parus cristatus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), plus both Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Coal Tits (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).
Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica) taken by Deb.
At the furthest point from the car we found a couple of Orchid species growing under the pines the first was the very common Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea) which had finished flowering down in the lowlands several weeks ago but up at 1500 meters or so they were still hanging on, the second species was the much rarer Orchis cazorlensis which I had seen in the area for the last few years. We then moved on to a nearby site, a large area of sloping grassland with scattered Hawthorn trees and several small wet flushes. I was hoping to find some flowering Fragrant Bug Orchids (Orchis coriophora) but they were a good couple of weeks away from flowering but the site was worth visiting just for the views and both Ian and Deb took several shot.
View on the Barranco de San Juan.
We did record Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) plus Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina), Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) and Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas).
From here we went up to the car park at 2500 meters and parked by the green Army building, on the way we had good views of a neck collared male Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica), at the top we scanned across the still sizable snow fields and picked up Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), House (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and both Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) but there was no sign of the target Alpine Accentor (Acentor Alpino / Prunella modularis) so we started to walk up towards the upper ski station.
Alpine Accentor (Acentor Alpino / Prunella modularis) taken by Deb.
On the way we saw several more Northern Wheatears feeding out on the snow picking off all the insects blown from the surrounding rocks, along with both House (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) plus a couple of singing Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) which we only see and hear at this sort of altitude. After a good walk we picked up a small flock of birds which dropped down on to an area of bare ground amongst the snow, as soon as I saw and heard the birds I knew we had found our quarry. We walked up the nearby crag and out on to the snow field and had some great views of a bird which flew straight passed us and on into the ski station so we followed and found it drinking from a puddle near the chair lift station.
The three of us at the upper ski station.
Deb got some shots of this bird while Ian and I watched from further back, it flew up on to the roof of the lift house which was at the same level as us due to the snow so Deb moved around and walked up to the bird and got very close to this cracking species. After good views were had we started to walk back down to the car seeing Draba hispanica subsp hispánica on the way and then dropped down through the upper part of the hill and took the old road very soon we started to find new species of flower and butterfly as well as a few birds. Our first stop was near the top of the road just after we turned on to it and we found good numbers of the beautiful Southern Wild Tulips (Tulipa sylvestris), Meadow Saxifrage (Saxifraga granulata), Blue Hedgehog Broom (Erinacea anthyllis) and Yellow Phlomis (Phlomis lychnitis).
Southern Wild Tulip (Tulipa sylvestris) taken by Deb.
We then dropped a little further down the hill and parked on a bend next to an area of open grassland, here we had our lunch and started to search for new species in the surroundings, we soon found Tragopogon pratensis, Southern Red Bartsia (Parentucellia latifolia), Gagea lacaitae, Onosma tricerosperma subsp granatensis, Southern Early Purple Orchid (Orchis olbiensis) in both white and deep pink forms and a nice group of Lange's Orchids (Orchis langei). Butterflies included Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Spanish Gatekeeper (Pyronia bathsheba), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Marsh Fritillary (Euphydrayas aurinia beckeri), Brown Argus (Aricia agestis), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Panoptes (Pseudophilotes panoptes) and Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina) and Black-veined White (Aporia crataegi).
Ian photographing the Peonies, taken by Deb
Again we continued on down this narrow road stopping at another couple of spots amongst the Sweet Chestnut woods picking up Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur). We also recorded several more wildflower species including some just going over Barton's Orchids (Dactylorhiza insularis), Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia) and Water Avens (Geum rivale).
Onosma tricerosperma subsp granatensis.
Down at the lower levels of the valley we stopped at a spot where after some searching we eventually located a Dipper (Mirlo Acuático / Cinclus cinclus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) on the river Genil and in the air above us a couple of Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Crag Martins. Our last stop was on the road side where we photographed a nice clump of the beautiful Spanish Rusty Foxglove (Digitalis obscura) which Deb commented was plant of the trip for her.
Tragopogon pratensis.
We then headed back down through Guejar-Sierra and Pinos Genil to the motorway and back to the house where I had a master class in the correct way to cook on a barbie from Ian who produce along with Jayne a cracking last night meal. Whilst eating we had a last view of the local Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) and Red-necked Nightjar (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis) which both did a nice fly by.
Enjoying the BBQ back at the house.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Charca del Suarez and Surrounding area, Padul and Granada, Granada Province.

A day on the coast and amongst the wetlands.
(Deb and Ian Day Seven).

Stripe-less Tree Frogs (Hyla meridionalis).
We set off at 07:00 and headed to the coast via Granada, we arrived a little early and had a look at the agricultural area to the North West of the Charca del Suarez Nature reserve. We started to check the area and soon we started to add species to the day list including Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and a singing Savi's Warbler (Buscarla Unicolor / Locustella luscinoides) which remained hiden but called for quite some time. As we moved along the road we had a fly over Squacco Heron (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides) and a little later two Purple Herons (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea) flew off in the same direction. At this point we were very lucky to have the company of my good friend Juan Perez who had also come down to the area to have a morning at Charca. We spent some more time searching in this area and heard or saw Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) and lots of fly over Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
Squacco Heron (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides) taken by Deb.
We then entered the reserve and started to make our way around the hides in an anti-clockwise direction starting with the hide with looks over Laguna del Trébor, from here we saw Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), the first of the re-introduction Red-knobbed Coots (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), a couple of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) which were resting on the floating platforms, Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and a late passage Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia). From here we headed to the Main hide searching the trees and bushes on the way looking for the locally rare Mediterranean Chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) but the cold cloudy weather meant that we did not see any of this cracking critter but we did see a couple of Stripe-less Tree Frogs (Hyla meridionalis) and heard plenty of the much commoner Iberian Water Frog (Rana Común / Rana Perezi).
Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea) taken by Deb.
From the hide we saw a couple more of the introduced Red-knobbed Coots, Western Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), another Squacco Heron which sat nicely for Deb and Ian to both get great views of and for Deb to get some good photo's of, an adult Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), both Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and a very noisy Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti). We continued on around the site and checked the area out near Laguna del Taraje, on the walk to the site we had cracking views of a flight of three Purple Herons before they dropped back on to the main reserve, Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and on the way to the exit we had great views of a couple of Spotted Flycatchers (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata).
Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) taken by Deb.
During our visit we also saw Blue / Common (Anax imperator) and Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope) and Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Monarch (Danaus plexippus) and Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa). The reserve was generally quiet so we exited at 11:30 and headed out towards the beach near the Golf Complex, we were soon picking up lifers for Deb and Ian, the first was a couple of Cory's Shearwaters (Pardela Cenicienta / Calonectris diomedea) which were heading East at around mid distance and these were soon followed by a Balearic Shearwater (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) which was picked up at great distance by Juan. Here we also saw a flock of passing Sandwich Terns (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), a couple of more distant Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) and half a dozen or so adult and immature Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii). We then moved back to the point along the road through the Agricultural area where we had first met Juan and again as soon as we arrived we could hear the calls of several Common Quail (Codorniz Común /Coturnix coturnix) which remained elusivly out of sight but we did see more Turtle Doves, Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator).
Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus).
At this point we returned to Juans car and said goodbye to him and thank him for his help, we then started off North heading towards Granada via the wetlands at Padul. Our target bird here was Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) and we soon had it under the belt, just after we arrived we found a couple of immature birds on the extreamly polluted main canal. We continued on down to the hide but apart from some good views of a couple of Great Reed Warblers (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), a Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta) and a pair of brightly plumaged Common Stonechats (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). We retraced our steps back to the spot where we saw the Water Rails and decided to sit down and stake the site out for a while and see if we could get views of an adult bird, after a short while we had some good views of the immatures again and then a nice adult bird came into views and showed well but briefly. We then eventually managed to get up off the ground creaking and groaning all the way and headed off to a site on the edge of Granada City looking for a couple of exotic species.
Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) taken by Deb.
We arrived and quickly added Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus) to the Granada  trip list, a Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) this was followed by a fly passed by 5 Monk Parakeets (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) and we eventually had views of a male and female Red Avadavat's (Bengali Rojo / Amandava amandava). From here we headed back to the house.