Wednesday 31 July 2013

The Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

A day birding along the valley with 78 species seen, not bad for the last day of July.

Jonathon and I set off at 07:00 and headed out to our first site which was the agricultural areas near Moraleda, on the way we started the list with several Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and just as we neared the motorway a single Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) flew over the road in front of us. A little further on and nearer the site we also saw Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and several Turtle Doves (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur).
We made our way out on to the site and started to add new species to Jonathon's list, these included Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) just as we came on to the track, a little further along we heard but only had distant views of a singing Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and down by the large solar panel farm we had a some very nice views of a Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla). We continued on to the far fields and as we arrived we picked up a flock of six Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), a Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica). We turned around and made our way back towards the solar panel farm and took the track along the side of them, along here we had some very nice views of a family party of Woodchat Shrikes (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs).
Our next stop was down in the valley near a disused substation building where we were looking for species in the Pine Woodlands but here it was quite quiet and we only saw Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla). We moved on down the valley to the bridge which crosses the Rio Cacin where we parked up again and walked down the track towards the dam, we soon had several new species for the list including European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and up near a large White Poplar we heard a Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), had brief views of a male Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis) and had nice views of a family of Hawfinches (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes). We walked up to the dam and here we saw several Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata) and as we started to walk back we scanned the ridge and picked up a pair of adult Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos). We walked back along the track and passed the car along the road, as we walked we were followed for a while by a dragonfly which when I eventually got good views turned out to be a Western Spectre (Boyeria Irene) a new species for my Granada Province. We continued on along the road and then took the track along the stream, along here we added Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), a Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla) which was only heard, Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus). In the same area we also had Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas).
We then went up to the Embalse where we scanned the lake and found a few new species including several Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) out on the water and on the muddy margins a Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), several Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), a single Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and two Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus). Whilst we were there several birds started to mob a bird in amongst the dead trees in the water which turned out to be a female Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), one of the species mobbing this bird was a juvenile Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae).
Our next stop was down at the bottom of the valley above the gorge, we did manage to add a few species here but it was much quieter that usual, however we saw a nice male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), several Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and a Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).
We called in at the bar in Cacin to collect a sandwich and then headed off up on to the ridge above the village, we parked after a few KM and had our sandwich but we did not see much so we carried on along the road towards Ventas de Huelma, on the way we had great views of a very pale immature Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) before we turned of along one of the tracks where we had a female Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) hunting over the Olives and a little further on along the road a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) showed Well over head.
From here we went back to the site where we started the day off at near Moraleda hoping to pick up the Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) that we missed earlier in the day and almost as soon as we drove on to the site we picked up a pair in a stumble field, they flew just after we picked them up but only went a short distance so we had good view.
Our last stop was at the small pool on the side of the A92 called Balsa de Regidor just so that we could add Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), this bought the days list to a very pleasing 78 which for this time of the year is a good total. Thanks Jonathon.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Balsa de Rigedor, Granada Province.

An hour photographing Dragonflies and of the creepy crawlies.

Ornate Shield Bug (Eurydema ornata).
Jayne, Sue, Sam and myself headed off for a couple of hours local Dragonfly hunting at a small pool not too far from the house. As we arrived we met a Spanish chap called Carlos who we had a chat with and exchanged a few site details with. We then started to check the area for insects, the first were several Small Red-eye's (Erythromma viridulum) which were on some floating vegetation near the concrete platform. In the same area we had a couple of nice male Black-tailed Skimmers (Orthetrum cancellatum), Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathinerum), Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii) and Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator).
Ornate Shield Bug (Eurydema ornata).
Out on the water there were good numbers of Common Pochards (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and around the margins and in the air there were Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala).
Ornate Shield Bug (Eurydema ornata).
From here we moved further around the pool after Carlos called us over to look at a beautiful male Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea) which kept on returning to the same perch, knowing that this was one of Sues target species which see had seen many time but wanted to get better shots of I let her in to the spot first, this had nothing to do with the fact that there were loads of thistles and spicky plants that needed flattening.
Whilst Sue was getting here shots a cracking male Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria) dropped in right next to the Broad Scarlet. After Sue's great work at clearing the spot I went in and had a go but the Long Skimmer stayed well out range but the Scarlet returned. In the same spot we saw several more species including Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) and Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata).
Ornate Shield Bug (Eurydema ornata).
Again we moved a bit further around the pool to a patch of white mint plants which were covered in insects including Ornate Shield Bug (Eurydema ornata) in some of it varied colour forms and ages. On our walk back to the car we had some nice views of White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes), Swallowtail (Papilio machaon), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Small White (Artogeia rapae). We then headed off home as the temprature was climbing nicely.