In and around the Vally with Monique and Paul.
We started the day just after we left the A92 at Moraleda where we made a roadside stop for a nice view of a Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) which performed well on a nearby gravel area. We also had views of a female Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and just as we were about to get back into the car a Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) which was calling from a fruit orchard amongst the houses. We moved on through the urbanisation and out on to the fields, on the way we had smashing views of a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which sat on a shed roof, Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). Once on the fields we soon had good views of up to 7 male Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) flying around together and in the fields nearby we could hear at least another two calling. Whilst watching the Bustards we were also given a nice display of hunting stoops and turns by a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus). Our next stop was at the ruined Cortijo, as soon as we got out of the car we located a small group of 7 Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) but before I could get the scope on them they saw us and were away over the ridge. As we stood scanning the fields we could hear and see Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Crested Larks (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), in the distance there was the screeching of a Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), another Great Spotted Cuckoo also did a flyby and a very well behaved Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) sat on a tall plant spike. We moved on around the fields adding Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia) and a nice hovering Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) on the way. It had been very productive at this site but it was very cold with a brisk breeze, due to this I was surprised to see a dozen or more Province Hairstreaks (Cardenillo / Tomares ballus) in the areas amongst the Almonds.
We then dropped down in to the Valley where it was a touch warmer and made a stop in the pine woods to look at the many spikes of Ophrys forestieri flowering on the roadside. We moved on down to the bridge over the Rio Cacín and had a walk along the track towards the dam and also scanned the trees from the bridge, along the track we picked up Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and heard Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti). As we reached the fence around the dam wall we had very nice views of a flying Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula). We retraced our steps back to the bridge, on the way we saw a pair of Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) on the river and in the air singles of both Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis) and Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus). Back at the bridge a male and Immature Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) sat in a small poplar tree and several House Martins and a single Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) did flybys with a good number of Crag Martins.
We moved just up the road to the Embalse and scanned the water from the roadside bank, the first thing we picked up was a nice Whiskered Tern (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus), followed by a male Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and a Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) which we could hear but not see on the far shore. We moved up the road slightly but only got glimpse of a small flock of Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) which moved through the Olives and scrub and eluded both Monique and Paul unfortunately.
By this time we were truly frozen so we headed for a bar in Cacín village where we had a coffee and a sandwich before heading further down the gorge, part way along the road we stopped to check a large rock in a field which had a nice male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) sat on it, in an Almond tree nearby we saw our only Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) of the day and then just as we were about get to get back in the car an Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) put in a surprise appearance and flew north up the valley. A little further on we saw a second Bonelli's Eagle, Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and I had brief views of a male Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) which dropped before I could get Monique and Paul on to it.
Next stop was at the roman bridge, before we got out of the car we took a few shot of a nice Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) which sat on the parapit and watched a Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) fly up the river.
We made our way back to Cacín and had a walk along the river side woods and here we had good views of a Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) and another surprise came when we had a singing Willow Warbler (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochillus) the first time I have heard this in Spain.
From here we headed out towards Ventas de Huelma, on the way we saw a Red Fox (Vulpus vulpus), a single Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), another Short-toed Eagle and a dark phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) which was followed a little further along the road by a displaying dark and pale phase pair.
Time was moving on so we started to make our way back towards Granada but before we finished the day we picked up a nice Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) and several more Lesser Kestrels on the way in.Once back in the city I dropped Monique and Paul off and headed home. On my way back I added Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and both Cattle (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta).
Thanks to Monique and Paul for their company on what turned out to be an outstanding days birding.
Photographs from the top: Dark Phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Province Hairstreak (Cardenillo / Tomares ballus), Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea), Monique and Paul at Embalse de Cacín, Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus), Monique and Paulin the Cacín and the pale phase Booted Eagle.