Friday, 18 April 2014

Huétor Fields and Moraleda area, Granada Province.

An hour on the fields and two with Bob Wright at Moraleda.

I was meeting up with Bob Wright of the Axarquia Bird Group at 09:30 at the Cortijo de Tajar hotel so I spent the hour or so I had before I was due there on the fields near the house and along the Arroya Vilano. As I walked out to the car I could hear a Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea) singing over head, several Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) rattling from the Fig tree and a Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) which was scratching out a song from the far side of the barranco. On my way down to the bar at the end of the road I started the list off with several Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), a couple of newly arrived Turtle Doves (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor). I drove along the side of the Rio Vilano and picked up the first of quite a few Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs). I then crossed the road and looked at the far stretch of the river and heard several Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) singing in the Poplar plantation which were the first of the year on the fields. Also seen along this stretch were more Azure-winged Magpies (30+), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). I retraced my steps back to the road picking up Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos). My last stop before I went up to the hotel was along the track to the Mesia road where I checked the small pools and a couple of irrigation ditches and added a late Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and to finish off I had a fine male Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra) sitting on a ridge in a newly ploughed field.
After watching the Whinchat flycatching for a while I headed off to meet Bob and from the hotel we headed out to the agricultural areas on the other side of the A92. As soon as we arrived we picked up a pair of Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) on a fallow strip of field and got out of the car to scope them but unfortunally they flew but gave us nice flight views, over the next few minutes we had another couple fly passed and thena flock of six birds which were more distant. In the air we could see and hear several Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus). We moved up to a derelict cortijo where we saw a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and out on a nearby cereal field we had a displaying male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), the first of at least three birds. We dropped down through the fields and into an area of Almond groves, on the way we saw a couple of Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) and a single Swallowtail (Papilio machaon). We did not see much in the almonds but on the far side we had flight views of a pair of Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) as they disappeared into the distance and discovered a nice patch of Pink Butterfly Orchids (Orchis papilionacea) which I had not seen before along with quite a few Mirror's (Espejo de Venus / Ophrys speculum subsp speculum) and a good number of well over with Fan-lipped (Orchis conica). In the same area we also saw large numbers of Common Asphodel (Asphodelus albus) spikes, Corn Gromwell (Buglossoides arvense), Blue Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum creticum), Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum), Shepherds Needles (Scandix pecten-veneris) and White Mignonette (Reseda Alba). We continued on checking another Almond grove for Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) but failed and had to make do with stunning views of the pair of Rollers feeding down on the ground and perched in the trees.I had only got a couple of hours so we started to make our way back to wards the hotel but took the cross country route through more Almond groves and before long we heard and eventually saw a cracking adult Great-spotted Cuckoo which sat out nicely but a bit distant for the camera. Once this bird had flown off we continued on down the track and within a couple of hundred meters Bob called stop and there was another Cuckoo sat in a tree right at the side of the car which sat nicely for the camera. We again continued on adding Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) to the list before we reached the motorway.
On Balsa de Rigedor we could see Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata) and Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) as we drove passed. I dropped Bob back at his car and he started his journy over to Ronda via Laguna Dulce and other places on the way and I headed off home picking up a Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) on the way.

Thanks for the company Bob, a great list of quality birds. I was out of the house for less than three hour and birding with Bob for just under two.

Photographs from the top: Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius), Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra), Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) and European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster).

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