Thursday 24 October 2013

Travelling to and at Rio Velez, Malaga Province, Spain.

A cracking couple of hours at the river mouth.

Western Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus).
I dropped Pippa and Jayne off in the town to have a look around the market and to wander around the shops whilst I went to the Rio Velez where on my last couple of visits I have seen very little but today was much better. I parked down near the pump house and except for a couple of the weirdo's that are usually hanging around here the place was quiet or so I though, after giving the first stretch of river a scan and picking up a few species for the day list including Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and a party of three Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola) which flew east west along the beach and out of sight.
Western Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus).
As the Pratincoles disappeared another birder came down the river but he missed them and had not seen a great deal else, we had a chat and the moved on along the bank of the river and in to the reed area around the beach pool, in this area we had views of Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and both Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba).
At this point I stopped to get some views of the Dragonflies that were knocking around and the other chap wander off out towards the beach, the dragons included Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta), Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea), Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii).
Western Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus).
After a short while I made my way out of the reeds and caught up with the chap again and we flushed a female type Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) out of the Juncus tussucks and into the open on a shaft of Giant Reed along the track, we also saw several Common Waxbills (Estrilda astrild) at ths point we bumped into a German birder but apart from the Pratincoles he had not seen anything else of interest
I continued to try and get some shots of this bird while the other birder went on to the beach, after a while I again caught up with himand he told me that there was a dead Gull on the beach with some rings on so I went and removed them and have since sent them off to the coordinators. Out on the beach I picked up Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) and a couple of distant Balearic Shearwaters (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) before scanning the river and finding a group of migrating Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) along with a single House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and quite a few of the resident Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris).
Yellow Crowned Bishop (Eucleptes afer).
The other birder then headed off and I continued on to the fields to the east of the river to check out the irrigation channels, during the walk around this area I picked up Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica).
I then moved back out on to the main river and almost straight away had great views of the first of two Western Ospreys (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) at the site, this first bird made several attempts to catch fish before resting on a nearby pylon where I got a few shots of it. After a while it started to fish again and just out of my sight behind the large stands of giant reeds it was successful and it flew of some distance inland with its catch, whist watching this bird fly off I heard a loud splash just behind me and a second bird had slipped in unseen and made a catch and followed the first one up river.
I then spent some time sat on a log trying to get some shots of the Bluethroat seen earlier but it did not cooperate and remain distant but it was joined by a much brighter male for a shot while but both birds stayed in cover.
Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
Whilst sitting here an immature male Yellow Crowned Bishop (Eucleptes afer) sat in a Juncus patch for a while and let me get a few shots as did a friendly Zitting Cisticola. One of the Ospreys then returned so I walked out the edge of the river to get some more flight shot and unexpectedly flushed a migrating Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix) from the Juncus and had brief views of a group of three male and a female Penduline Tits (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) which landed in the nearby Giant Reeds 
but before I got the camera around and on to them they flew off east. Other species seen around here included Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Willow Warbler (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochillus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata). I was coming close to the end of the time I had before I picked the girls up so I took a short walk up river and picked off a few more species for a good day list including Pied Flycatcher (Papamoscas Cerrojillo / Ficedula hypoleuca), Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and a fly by Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis).
Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis).
After meeting the girls we went and had some lunch at one of the beach side bars, on the way Jayne pointed out a group of Monk Parakeets building a nesyt in one of the 1st line palm trees.
On the way home I added a couple more species to the list including Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).

I finished the day with 68 species 62 of which were seen on the river which is probably the best total I have had at the site.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Cacín Valley and Huétor Fields, Granada Province, Spain.

A days guiding with Andy and Naomi from Nottingham UK.

Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).
I met Naomi and Andy just down the road and we made our way straight out towards the fields near Moraleda, on the we saw the usual common species including Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata).
The birds were quiet but we guessed that could be put down to the change in the weather from fine to wet and cool. Just as we reached the first site we picked up a regular Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which was sat out even in the dull conditions getting some air and a little further along the road a flock of around 10 or so Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) gave us a nice start. Once we were out on the fields we picked up Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and up near the disued Cortijo a single distant flying Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which was a new species for Naomi and Andy but we did not get great views so I was pleased later when we had much better views of three birds.
White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba).
We moved around the site and through the Almond and Olive groves and on the way we added several more species including Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus).
From here we dropped down in to the valley and stopped at a couple of spots in the woodlands along side the Rio Cacin. Birds included Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Mistle (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Song Thrushes (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala). From the bridge we also saw a single Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum), several Small (Artogeia rapae), Large (Pieris brassicae) and Bath Whites (Pontia daplidice) which I was pleased with as the conditions for any flying insects were not good.
Andy getting a shot of a Bath White.
We continued on up to the lake and scanned the water where we picked up Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) but they were only heard.Other species here included an unexpected party of 5 Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) which were feeding up before moving through a little later than exected, several Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) on the wires along with Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and a Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) which flew up from the road side. Also on the wire we added Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) to the slowly growing day list.
Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo).
We then continued on down the valley to Cacín and then up on to the platuex above the village looking for raptors but a part from a Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) we failed (mainly due to the weather conditions) but did get good views of a couple of singing Woodlarks (Totovia / Lullula arborea),lots of Red-legged Partridges (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius). In the weed filled fields around this part of the tour we saw loads of the common day flying Crimson Speckled (Utetheisa pulchella).
We returned to Cacín and started to make our way back up the valley but not before having to make a stop to check out a raptor on a pylon, it turned out to be just a Buzzard but a bird with lots of white in its plumage making it look very odd. Our next stop was at the crags below Moraleda where we scanned the cliffs and soon added Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) to the list with at least 4 males being seen around the arera along with a single female Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica). 
Naomi at Balsa de Rigedor.
On the way back to the house we stopped at the small lake on the side of the A92 at Moraleda called Balsa de Rigedor to look for Dragonflies which we were hoping might be up and about as the weather had improved a tad. As soon as we arrived Andy got a new species for his list in the shape of a nice male Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), next came Blue-eye / Goblet-marked Damselfly (Erythromma lindenii) but only Naomi and I saw that as it disappeared whilst Andy was getting some shots of the Dropwing and to finish the dragons off we added Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii). Birds here included Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis). We also saw loads of Stripe-necked Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) sunning them selves out on the logs around the margins. Our last bit of birding was around the fields at Huétor looking for the Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) but they remained elusive but we did get a few nice species to finish the day list off including Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and best of all and a tick for Naomi and Andy a female Northern Goshawk  (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis).
Andy watching a male Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii).
At our last stop Andy got some shots of the butterflies which were feeding out on the Lucerne fields where we missed the Bustards and they included Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Lang's Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous), Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus) and Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea).

Thanks Naomi and Andy for supporting GRANADA WILDLIFE by spending a day out in this wonderful countryside.

Sunday 20 October 2013

Rio Vilano, Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

A muddy wade along the local River.

Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis).
I went out on the local patch for a couple of hours to get a bit more practice with the camera but most of the birds were staying well out of range, whoever I did see a nice group of 32 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax),20 or so Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), lots of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and both Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) all along the river behind the bar. From here I crossed the fields and rejoined the rio down near the railway and checked a well vegetated stretch which was being feed from the irrigation channels.
Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Along here I saw Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus) and Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis) as well as several species of Dragonfly including Epaulet (Orthetrum chrysostigma) and Southern Skimmers (Orthetrum brunneum), female Broad Scarlet (Crocothemis erythraea), Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes). Several Butterflies were also seen and they included Bath  (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Large (Pieris brassicae) and Small Whites (Artogeia rapae), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus), Lang's Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).
Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum).
Once I was back to the car I headed back towards home but went via the fields near the town where I eventually located around 70 Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) which were hiding well in a newly planted Garlic field.