Saturday 21 December 2013

Laguna's Dulce, Capacete, Salada, Teba Gorge and across country to Fuente de Piedra and above Archidona, Malaga Province.

A second day with Jackie and Neil in Malaga Province.

Tufted Ducks (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula).
I picked Jackie and Neil up from the very nice hotel (Almohalla 51) in Archidona and we headed out to Laguna Dulce via Antiquera where we parked up and went to the hide. We started scanning the lake and soon had several species of wildfowl on the list including Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula) x 12, Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), just 2 White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) and at least 3 Ferruginous Ducks (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca) two on the far side of the pool and a single male much near just to the right of the hide.
Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).
Out on the water and in the reedbeds we also recorded loads of Black-necked (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Purple Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Little (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and in the air several Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).
Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus).
Other species seen whilst we were at this site included Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and a flock of around 50 or so Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus) which flew west at the back of the pool. 
We then returned to the car and headed to the nearby Laguna Capacete, the only new species seen here were Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris). We did however have very nice views of several more Greater Flamingo's, Black-necked Grebes and another female type Marsh Harrier
Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus).
We turned around and headed back towards Campillos but turned off on to a muddy track to have a quick look at Laguna Salada where we saw a couple more Tufted Ducks, hundreds of Northern Shovelers, 50+ White-headed Ducks and a handsome male Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) which was hunting around the Tamarisk trees.
We continued on south along the Malaga road and turned off towards Teba, just after the junction we pulled into the Raptor watch point and scanned the cliffs, here we saw around 15 or so Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and lots more Crag Martins.We moved just down the road to the gorge and walked along the river for quite a way and had nice views of Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and heard a singing Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes).
Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus).
Also in the gorge we saw lots of flowering Broad leaved Iris (lirio de invierno / Iris planifolia) and Friar's Cowl (Arisarum vulgare) along with singles of Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea). 
From the gorge we headed back to Dulce and took the rear track across country to Fuente de Piedra, on the way we had nice views of three Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope) on the back edge of the lake and on a small pool a little further on small numbers of both Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina) and Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta) were still present. Further along the track a nice male Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) did a flyby, more Common Cranes were seen and heard, along with Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and several Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula).
Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
Once out on the road at the far end of the track we picked up another male Hen Harrier and lots more Greater Flamingo's, Common Cranes and Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax) on the way around to the western view point. From the view point we did not have any new speices but we did get cracking views of Marsh Harrier and Cranes before we moved on to the road side hide nearer to the visitors centre. On the way we stopped to get some shots of the Cranes and a nice female Hen Harrier. We did not go to the hide as there was a large family there with several children that were making quite a lot of noise so we scanned the fences and bushes nearer to the car park and added a couple of new species to the day list including a brief view of a male Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica), a male Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), several Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) and out on the water a few Shelducks (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna) amongst the masses of Gulls and Flamingo's.
Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita).
Our last stop of the day was just above Jackie and Neils hotel in Archidona on the road up to the church on the hill. Here we had a look for woodland species and succeeded in seeing or hearing Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) before we dropped back to the hotel and said our goodbyes. I then headed home. 

Thanks Jackie and Neil for your company on a cracking days birding.

Friday 20 December 2013

Huétor Fields, Moraleda Fields and the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Quality rather than quantity on a very cold but sunny day.

Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra).

I was meeting Jackie and Neil, birders over from the UK at the hotel just off the motorway at 10:00 so I decided to check out the fields and find the wintering Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax). I had a drive along the Loja side of the site and scanned the fields where they usually hang out in the mornings but the area was being irrigated so the Bustards had moved but I did see good numbers of Golden Plovers (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops). I then had a look along the Rio Vilano and added Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) to the list before dropping back down in to the town along the main road. Along here I made two stops, the first was to watch just a small group of about 40 or so Little Bustards which were settled on a thin stripe of Lucerne and the second was to check on the wintering Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus).
I then headed up to the hotel three quarters an hour early so that I could get a coffee, I walked in ordered my drink and found that Jackie and Neil were already there having some breakfast so I joined them.
A short while later we made our way out on to the fields on the northern side of the town and started birding, at our first stop on the top of one of the railway bridges we picked up several Corn Buntings, White Wagtails, Spotless Starlings, plus Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Hoopoe, Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala). We moved on from here and went to check out the western stretch of the Rio Vilano, on the drive down the track we saw several Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica). We parked the car and had a short walk down towards the railway line, on the way we had nice views of Meadow (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis) and Water Pipits (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Cattle Egret and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea). We turned around and walked back to the car, Jackie and I had brief views of a Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) before it disappeared into the reedbed. Once back at the car we checked the river at the eastern end and added Green Sandpiper, Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita). We then passed the bar and headed back into Huétor making a couple of stops on the way, the first was to check the fields where I had seen the Bustards earlier but as usual they had moved on so we did the same and spent some time watching the really good numbers of Stone Curlews nearer the town. Our last on the local patch was back where I had started the morning and missed the Bustards on the Loja side of the town, we dropped lucky as the birds I had seen earlier appeared to have moved to the far end of this field. We did not get great views but at least they were seen by us all. 
We moved on to the area of fields near Moraleda where we were hoping to connect with some of the small number of Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) but we were not in luck, it was very cold up on the higher part of the site which was usually the best place to see them, we did however add Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus). 
We then dropped down out of the wind into the valley where we made a couple of stops in the woodland which runs along the river, again due to the cold birds were a bit thin on the ground but we picked up a nice male Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) which gave nice views in one of the Willow trees, Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and several Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla). 
We moved up the hill to the Embalse de Cacín where we stood and scanned the water whilst eating our lunch and soon had  Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) on the list. We again moved on further down the Valley to the Roman Bridge and the deeper part of the Gorge, along this stretch we picked up Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), a nice male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and an even nicer male Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura).
Time was moving on so we went back down into Cacín and took the road east towards Ventas del Huelma to look for Raptors which had so far given us the slip, on this road we did eventually catch up was a single Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) but nothing else so we made our way back to the hotel via the Sandgrouse fields but again we had no luck. During the day we did see three species of butterfly, Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Large White (Pieris brassicae).
Thanks Jackie and Neil for a cracking day and looking forward to tomorrows birding.