Friday, 9 May 2014

La Malaha, Embalse de Bermijalis and the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

A great days birding with Melanie and Stuart from Australia.

On my way over to meet up with I met Melanie and Stuart I called at what was going to be our first stop on the days tour and checked out what was about, as I drove on to the site a single Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) flew out of the small Olive grove along side the road and several Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) could be seen perched on the roof of the Cortijo or flying around calling. I then moved on and met up with Melanie and Stuart just South of Granada and we headed off back to the old Cortijo. As soon as we arrived we could see and hear some of the summering Lesser Kestrels that breed in the unused parts of the older buildings along with Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and House Sparrows (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus). In the near by barranco there were a couple of singing Nightingales (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and a Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta) but both species remained unseen deep in side Tamarisk trees. Also seen here were Turtle  (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica),  some distant European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) on some wires and a couple of Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) butterflies.
We moved on to the far side of La Malaha where we took the cross country road and then some tracks out on to the fields, in the area we started to pick up some more lark species including Short-toed  (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and more Crested along withtwo pairs of breeding Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus) on some discusting looking oil pits out in the fields, Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa).
We then drove down to the Embalse de Bermejalis stopping on the way on a roadside pull in we had good views of a couple of Woodchat Shrikes (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) which were calling from the olives nearby, Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and some much better European Bee-eaters.
A little further along the road we stopped again to see an Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) before dropping down to the Embalse which was as usual quiet but we did add Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) to the day list there.
We then started to make our way back north, our first stop was in the Cacín Gorge where had good views of flying Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Rock Sparrow and Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus). Here we also had a few other odds and ends including Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Yellow Bee Orchid (Orquídea Abejera / Ophrys lutea), Blue Alkanet (Anchusa azurea), Grey-leaved Cistus (Cistus albidus),
Mallow-leaved Bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides), Southern Daisy (Bellis cordifolia) and Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major). We moved on up the Gorge and stopped at the Roman Bridge adding Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). 
Again we continued on towards Cacin Village where we were going to have lunch but stopped along the river just before we got there and walked a short way back up stream seeing Blackcap, Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) as well as hearing both Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) and Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla).
We had lunch in a bar in the village before visiting the Embalse de Cacín a little way further North in the Valley, the first birds seen were a pair of Egyptian Geese (Ganso del Nilo / Alopochen aegyptiaca) which were a year tick and a new species for me at the site. We also recorded Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Cetti's (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), 3x Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and heard a Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus). Also seen here were Iberian Water Frog (Rana Común / Rana Perezi), Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Milk (Silybum marianum) and Spanish Thistle (Scolymus hispanicus), Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) and Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris).
our next stop was just up the road where we had a walk along the river back towards the dam wall and added Garden (Curruca Mosquitera / Sylvia borin) and Melodious warblers (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Golden Oriole, Wryneck and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) to the seen list and had better views of an Eagle Owl and European Bee-eaters again.
Our final stop of the day was on the agricultural areas above the Valley, once we were out on the fields we quickly located a calling Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) on a very weedy fallow field before driving around the area, on the far side of the site we had good views of a Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) before dropping down through the Almond plantaions getting good views of both Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) and Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) on the way back to the Motorway. We then headed back to the meeting place and onwards.

Thanks to Melanie and Stuart for a great day out in the country side and to Catherine Stuarts sister for organising it. Good luck to you both with the move and Melanie with the new job.

Photographs from the top: Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus), Melanie and Stuart watching the Eagle, Egyptian Geese (Ganso del Nilo / Alopochen aegyptiaca), Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) and Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).

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