Friday, 28 February 2014

Local Patch and the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

A day with Helen and Douglas in my favourite valley.

I left the house a little early as I wanted to check a couple of spots on the local patch to see what was still about, on the fields to the west of the town I found around 25 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) the one male was looking quite splendid in his newly aquirred summer plumage. In the same area there were several Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Chaffinches (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), a nice male Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and a calling Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops).
My next stop was along the track out towards the Mesia road where there are a couple of reed filled ditches and a couple of newly dug pools, as soon as I stopped a small bird popped up out of the ditch and sat right out in the open on the edge of a Lucerne patch right out in the open. Straight away I realised that I was looking at only my second Jack Snipe (Agachadiza Chica / Lymnocriptes minimus) for the local patch and third I had seen in Spain. After the second or so excitement things got somewhat blue in the car when I found that the camera was still in the boot, the BBC bleeeeeeeeep machine would have been red hot for several seconds. So after finding my mistake I just enjoyed watching this cracking little bird until it flew off into another nearby ditch and out of sight. In the same area I found Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata). From here I headed to Moraleda where I was meeting Helen and Douglas on the way I added a Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) to the list which was sat on a road side pylon.
I was a little early still but Helen and Douglas soon arrived and we headed out on to the nearby fields looking for the resident but hard to find Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) at this site but they lived up to there elusive charicters and we did not see them we did however get very nice views of a perched Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua),along with both Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra). Once we were out on the fields we had much better views of several Calandra's which were showing well on the deck near the track and in the Almond plantations there were good numbers of Goldfinches (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Serins and Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). Up near the abamdoned Cortijo we spent some time scanning the area, from here we had good views of a confiding Thekla Lark, Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) and we heard a wailing Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus). Next we headed to the fields and plantaions around the solar farms and soon added a fine Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), several Song Thrushes (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) to the growing list.
Once we had check the site over well we headed down into the Valley and drove south towards Cacín, our first stop was in amongst the Pine trees but it was quiet hear and all we saw were a few CommonChaffinches and heard both Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla). Next we parked at the bridge across the Cacín and checked the mixed river side trees. As we walks North along the road the sun put in its only decent appearance of the day and this immediatly bought up a few raptors including the first of 6 Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) seen during the day and a soaring Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis) one of 3 seen. In the same area we also saw Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Cetti's Warbler, Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). Up near the dam on the second part of this walk we watched a Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) struggling to eat a huge great Carp, eventually we guess that it gave up and flew up on to a nearby barbed wire fence to dry out a bit on a rather precarious perch.
We moved on up the road slightly to have a look over the Embalse de Cacín, on the water there were good numbers of Northern Shovelers (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and several more Great Cormorants. Around the margins we saw a couple of Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and in the air an immature Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) and a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) were joined by hords of Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Crag and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). Our next stop was right down at the far end of the Valley above the Groge where we had exallent flight views of and adult Bonelli's Eagle, Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) and heard but could not locate Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) before retracing or way back to Cacin where we stopped for some foo. From Cacín we headed along the ridge road looking for Raptors and we soon had another Short-toed Eagle which was followed by a 1st winter Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) and a Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus). once we reached the far end of the ridge road we went and checked out an Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) site but due to the amount of work going on in the fields near it the bird was not on show so we returned to the end of the ridge road and took another track which lead us across country back to our first site of the day. On the way along this road we picked up a dark phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), several Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) and Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis). Once back at the first site we had another quick drive around looking for new species but we did not pick anything up so we headed back to our meeting point and then I headed off home.
Thanks Helen and Douglas for your company on this days birding.

Photographs from the top: Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Helen and Douglas watching the Lesser Kestrels, Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo),  Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos).

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