A mornings birding with Fellow Guide Pau Lucio from up North.
Pau from Birdwatching Spain who is based up in Valencia Province contacted me a few days earlier as he was attending a family wedding in Huétor Tajar to see if I was free for some birding or a beer, well I was very pleased that we were able to fit in both.
We met just down the road at the bar Quatro Caminos and had a coffee before heading out onto the fields to look for any early Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) as I had seen a small flock of six birds a couple of days earlier. We checked the normal field but did not find any but we did get a nice flock of around 50 or so Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), several Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
From these fields we headed to some more fiels near to Moraleda, we took one of the tracks out along side and then through a large Almond grove to a smallish resently scarrified field where we had flight views of four Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which flew out and landed in a nearby stubble field. We als saw Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) before retracing our way back along the track to the road. On the way we had two Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) fly out of the Almonds and an immature Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) on the top of a broom bush.
We took another track out on to the fields and after a hundred meters or so flushed a Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix) up from the track side, it landed again just a few meters away so we took a wide circle out on to the stubble field and got in to a position where we could see the crouching bird, eventually it started to stand up giving us very nice views before flying off in to the nearby trees. We continued out on to the fields but only adde a group of five Hoopoes (Abubilla / Upupa epops) to the list. We went back to the track and continued on around the site stopping near the ruined Cortijo where we saw a good sized flock of Short-toed Larks, Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). Again we continued on around the site passing the Solar panels and then taking another track down towards the motorway through some large Almond and Olive groves. We parked on the side of the tack and walked out along a track where I regularly see Sandgrouse and again we saw a couple in flight and later a singleton which came in close enough for some record shots. Whilst we were in this area good numbers of raptors started to come up from there roost spots and search for thermals, they were a bit later than the last few days as there was quite a coving of cloud which was just starting to break up. In all we counted around 70 Honey Buzzards (Aberjero Europeo / Pernis apivorus) and 30 or so Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), we also heard large numbers of European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster).
Or next site was Laguna del Regidor, a small naturalized man made pool along side the A92. On the water there were good numbers of Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), a single female Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and lots of Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis). Whilst around the side perched in the dead trees and reed we saw both Little (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), a very nice Squacco Heron (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides) and Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) as well as Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa). In the vegetation around the side and over the water we recorded several species of dragonfly including Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), Blue / Common (Anax imperator) and Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope), Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii) and Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathinerum) and singles of Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Large White (Pieris brassicae).
We headed back towards the house checking the ditches out on the fields on the way but we only recorded Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Sardinian (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Reed Warblers, Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), more Cattle Egrets, Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula).
Our final stop of the day was on the terrace at home where we had a nice cold beer and a chat before Pau returned to Huétor Tajar.
Thanks Pau for driving us on a good mornings birding and for the helfpul information since.
Photographs from the top: Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix), Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis), 3 x Honey Buzzards (Aberjero Europeo / Pernis apivorus) and Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) and Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).