A day in the Valley with Kalpana and Will from the USA.
We left the house at 08:30 and it was raining and not looking to good but by the time we reached the Rio Vilano it had eased and we started the day with Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), the first Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) of the year on the patch, Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs).
We then made our way out on to the Mesia road and headed towards the Village, on the way we had brief views of a male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) which dropped out of view straight away and whilst we searched for it we had a Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) Dissappear into a nearby fig tree not to be seen again.
We continued on to the small pool called Balsa de Rigedor just off the side of the A92 near Moraleda. Here we soon identified Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Goldcrest (Reyezuelo Sencillo / Regulus regulus) and quite a few Stripe-necked Terrapin's (Mauremys leprosa). Again we moved on crossing the A92 and going out on to the fields near the town of Moraleda, on the way we saw our first Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus). Once out on the fields we checked the fields on the nearsdide of an Almond plantation and soon had a female and a couple of male Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) in sight along with Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and more Corn Buntings, Common Kestrels and Meadow Pipits.
We had a short walk to a nearby patch of more natural ground with scattered rocks and lots of the tall and beautiful Common Asphodel (Asphodelus albus), lower down amongst the grass we also found several of the commoner Orchid species Fan-lipped (Orchis conica), Mirror (Ophrys speculum subsp speculum), Sawfly (Flor de avispa / Ophrys tenthredinifera) and Yellow Bee (Orquídea Abejera / Ophrys lutea). Along the fields edge we also saw Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis), Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum), Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Eruca (Eruca sativa), Field marigold (Calendula arvensis), Henbit Deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule), the leaves of Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum), Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) and Field Gromwell (Lithospermum arvense). We returned to the car and moved on throgh the Almonds to check the more open areas beyond and soon located the first two Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) of the day, shortly after this sighting we had another flock fly in and land on a field a little lower down the ridge so we moved along the track to try and get better views, we had the birds on the ground for a short while but then they flew giving us chance to do a count, in total we had 23 birds which was by far the best flock I had seen this year. We continued on around the site and added Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and eventually we had cracking views of an adult Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
Time was moving on quite rapidly so we dropped down in to El Turro and had a sandwich before heading south along the valley to the furthest point just stopping briefly on the way to have a look at several spikes of
Somber Bee Orchid (Abejera oscura / Ophrys fusca subsp fusca), Violet cabbage (Moricandia moricandioides) and lots of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).
In the Gorge we were treated to brilliant flight views of a pair of Bonelli's Eagles (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris). We then started to make our way back north calling at the Roman bridge for a short break picking upa male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and hearing both Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes).
We passed Cacín and headed up to the Embalse where we saw more Common Pochards, Little Grebe, Mallard, Green Sandpipers, Little-ringed Plovers and added Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) to the list from the lake and then a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), 3x Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and a Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) in the air.
We then took a slight detour and headed back south and through Cacín up on to the ridge above the village, on the drive over the ridge we saw very little but at the far end we had good views of a pair of Booted Eagles (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and a little further on a group of Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni). From here we headed back in to the house and finished the first day.