Friday 8 November 2013

Above Grazalema and On the way Home, Cadiz, Malaga and Granada Provinces.

A shorter than expected last day with Sue and Sam.

Male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius).
We started the day by taking Sam down to the bus and saying goodbye to him as we were going to be heading home before he got back from school and then paid a quick and very cold visit up to the top of the ridge above Grazalema, on the way up we stopped and took a few shots of a distant male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and saw Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) at the same spot just below the town.
From the ridge carpark we had some more but distant views of the Ring Ouzels ( Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus) we had seen a couple of days earlier along with several Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major).
After freezing our bits off up on the ridge for a while we decided that we would call it a day very early on and went back down into the town and had a coffee before saying bye and thanks to Sue and heading straight back home. There were a few birds seen on the journey including a Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) just east of Dulce and a large flock of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) near home.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Indiana, Cueva del Gato and Rio Guadiaro at Estacion de Benaojan, Malaga Province.

A day searching for late Dragonflies with Sue.

Mist during the walk to the bus.
Again we started off by getting Sam sorted and off to School on the bus before going back to the house and getting our kit together, Jayne decided on a days shopping around Ronda and Sue and I were going to spend a few hour along the Guadiaro Valley looking for Dragonflies. Our first stop was in the town to drop Jayne at the top of the main shopping street and then on to the River at Indiana where we parked just past the small bridge which which crosses the Arroya de la Arrayo, from the bridge we could see several Stripe-necked Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) and a couple of very large Iberian Barbel (Luciobarbus comizo) feeding on the carcus of a dead Chicken. A Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) flushed up from the far bank of the main river Guadiaro and a couple of Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) flew towards us from the concrete wire just down stream.
Desert Darter (Sympetrum sinaiticum).
A little further along the Northern bank we flushed up a Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), heard a very vocal Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) several times, watched a pair of Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) flycatching from a nearby wire before reaching a small Poplar plantation where we saw several Crimson speckled footman (Utetheisa pulchella) which flushed up out of the grass whilst we were searching for mantis with out any luck. We walked back along the river towards the car but only moved a short distance down to the main road bridge over the river, from the end of a short track we walked a short distance up stream and added White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) to the bird list and started the Dragon list with Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator) and Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii).
Our second stop was at the carpark along side the river near Cueva de Gato where we made our way out to the still collapsed but crossable bridge where we picked up more Cetti's Warblers, Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and another Grey Wagtail.
Western Willow Spreadwing (Lestres viridis).
Around on the pool below the entrance to the cave we saw several male Desert Darters (Sympetrum sinaiticum) and a single very dark Western Willow Spreadwing (Lestres viridis) along with Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Feral Pigeon (Columba livia), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius). Whilst we were hear we also added Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and Andalucian Wall Lizard (Podarcis vaucheri) to the list.
Our last stop was down on the river Guadiaro just below Estacion de Benaojan where we checked out the area by the weir and then searched the reed beds on our way back to the car.
On our way to and near the wire we recorded Rock (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and Cirl Buntings (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor). We spent some time sat by the wire scanning the reeds for dargonflies and soon added both Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) and Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) and on the way back towards the car boosted the list with Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii) and a single White Featherleg (Platycnemis latipes) plus a spider in a tall broom bush but I will have to get Sue to give me the name of that one at some point. Birds on the leg of the walk included a single Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Grey Heron and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). 
Autumn colours at the weir on the Guadiaro.
Once we were back at the car (rather later than planned) we motored quicker than planned to Ronda to pick up Jayne before heading back to Grazalema and collecting Sam from his dad at the centre in Grazalema, whilst there several Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) passed over along with a single Black / Cinereous (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus).
Once back at the house I had a wander around the garden and picked up Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Around Grazalema, Cadiz Province.

A day of being too late or early!!!

View along the walk at Villaluenga.
We started the day by getting young Sam ready and off to school on the bus which picks him up from the Venta near the house and then I had a quick look around the garden and and along the track near the house where I started the day list off with several Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) which were feeding in the gardens oaks.
Taking Sam down to the bus.
In the same area I also had Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and a more distant calling Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei). A little later we headed out on one of the local tracks to a place called Campobuches and then on a little further to a grassland spot just below some cliffs where we were hoping for a late flowering Narcissus cavanillesii but all we found were several seed heads (just too Late). I the area we did however get some very nice views of several Woodlarks (Totovia / Lullula arborea) which seem to be common this autumn, Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and a single Spanish Psammondromus (Psammondromus hispanicus).  We walked around this site for a while and flushed up several insects from the grass including Blue-winged Grasshopper (Oedipoda caerulescens), Wingless Iberian Mantis (apteramantis aptera) and several Clouded Yellows (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). 
Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea).
We made our way back up to the Grazalema road, on the way we saw a couple of new species for the day list including Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto). 
We then headed along the road towards Ubrique and turned along a track to a site just on the edge of a small village called Villaluenga, a short way along this thrack there was a gate across it so we parked and went for a walk. Straight away I had stunning views of a Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus) which messed around in a small shrub at the side of the track but never came on to a clear enough branch for me to get a shot. Also along this track we saw and heard several Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) and added both Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) and Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) to the butterfly list. 
Sue and Jayne on the Villaluenga walk.
On our way back towards Grazalema we called at a small Picnic site where Sue showed us a very active Hornets (Vespa crabro) nest in an old Oak tree, also growing in the Oak was a nice plant of Southern Polypody (Polypodium cambricum) and in the general area several well ladden Hawthorns (Crataegus monogyna) along the stream bed.
Our next stop was on a roadside between Sue's house and Grazalema where we spent some time searching a large grassy field for the uncommon Autumn Lady's Tresses (Spiranthes spiralis) in an area where Sue had seen lots of spikes in 2012 but this year they had failed to flower completely, but they are a species which commonly does this if there is not enough rain early in the autumn.We again continued on towards Grazalema and on the way had nice roadside views of a couple of male Blue-rock Thrushes (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and a male Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) along with a dozen or so Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) circling over head.
Southern Polypody (Polypodium cambricum).
We passed through the town just stopping for some lunch on the way up to the pass at Puerto de las Palomas where we parked up and had a short walk down the hill checking the Pinsapo's on the way, we had intended to stake out the water trough near the car park but there were a couple of rather noisy birders there keeping all the birds away. On the way down we had several Ring Ouzels ( Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus) which were holding back but clearly wanted to get to the water, also seen were Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), a good sized flock of Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), a single Andalucian Wall Lizard (Podarcis vaucheri), lots of Migrant Hawkers (Aeshna mixta), a couple of Brimstones (Gonepteryx rhamni), Large (Pieris brassicae) and Small Whites (Artogeia rapae) and a couple of Painted Lady's
Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) from Sue's Terrace (not cropped).
We then dropped down into the town of Grazalema again and went into see Clive Muir at the Visitors Centre on the main Carpark. We spent some time there before collecting Sam and heading back to the house, I had a walk in the garden and then Sam and I repaired Sue's garden table before sitting out on the terrace where we watched a group of Griffon Vultures pass by very close to the house. Later we settled down to a nice meal and a couple of drinks.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Travelling to and near Grazalema, Cadiz Province.

A trip over to see friends Sue and Sam (Day One).

Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
Jayne and I made a slightly later than planned start on out trip over to Grazalema to spend some time with good friends Sue and Sam and to check out a few bits of the local wildlife whilst there. On the way wepicked up a few species, the best of which were a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus), both male and female Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula).
Blue-rock Thrushe (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius).
Just before Campillos we made a quickly stop at Laguna Dulce but the wind was savage at the site as it had been all the way over and all the birds were tucked in to the reed beds and along the margins. I did however manage to see a good number of White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), lots of  Northern Shovelers (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis),  Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
From here we continued our journey over to Sue's but stopped for a very very good menu del dia at a place next to the garden centre just before the main Marbella, Campillos, Sevilla and Ronda roundabout, €8:50 and the food was fantastic. 
We continued on and made our way along the road out to Sue's through the beautiful Cork Oak woodlands and were delayed slightly by a large group of Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) which circled low over the road, I stopped and we both had good views and I cracked off a few shots. Here we also had Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus). We arrived a Sue's a few minutes late and had a drink and a catch up chat, later I had a quick walk around the garden and found several new species for the day list including Crested Tit (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and a flight of three Hawfinches (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes).
Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Later in the afternoon we drove down to Grazalema and collected Sam from the Visitor centre in the middle of the town where he had spent the time since school with his dad Clive.
On the way we saw a couple of male Blue-rock Thrushes (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), a male Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis) and lots more Griffon Vultures. We later headed back to Sue's and had something to eat and spent the evening talking and entertaning Sam.