Thursday, 4 September 2014

Moraleda Fields and the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

A day above and in the Cacín Valley.

Stephanie, Ken and I set off heading for the fields near to the town of Moraleda, we arived and found a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which was sitting near its nesting site in an old construction on the road side. Between the Owl and the first track on the left we picked up Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) with a mixed flock of Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). We took the first track and made our way out in the nearby Almond grove, at the far side of the trees we checked out a newly ploughed field where we quickly located 4 Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which flew as soon as we appeared but we located 2 more birds on the far side which gave us desent views through the scope. From here we moved out on to the fields proper on the main track and straight away we were seeing lots more Short-toed and Calandra Larks along with some good sized flocks of Corn Buntings. We made our way around the site picking up Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Southern Grey (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).
Our next stop was down in the Cacín valley where we checked out and area of Pine woodlands along the roadside, stright away we heard and then saw a Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) which was feeding on some high pine cones. In the same area we also saw Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
A little further down the river we parked on another track where we had a walk along the track to the dam, on the way we picked up a flock of migrating raptors, most were Honey Buzzards (Aberjero Europeo / Pernis apivorus) along with several Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans). As we walked we added Common Crossbill, House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Pied Flycatcher (Papamoscas Cerrojillo / Ficedula hypoleuca), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Common Redstart (Colirroja Real / Phoenicurus phoenicurus), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), a brief fly by from a Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula).
Our next stop was just up the road at the reservoiur where the water level was nice and low so there were a few waders including at least 4 Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), 3x Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), 3x Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and a couple of Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius). On and over the water there were good numbers of Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) and European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster). 
Again we moved south down in to the gorge, new species here included Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) along with more Rock Sparrows and a female Common Redstart
We drove back up the valley to Cacín and then we took the road across to Ventas de Huelma and a track off to the North, in this area we saw Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), 3x Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and more Black Kites, European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and a nice Woodchat Shrike. On the track we had good views of a Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Northern Wheatear, Crested Lark and Short-toed Lark.
On our way back up the valley we had a second Goshawk near El Turro and back up on the fields where we started the day we had an extraordinary encounter with a fine male Black-bellied Sandgrouse which did not want to fly and gave us some fantastic photographic oppotunities before we made our way back towards the house as things were getting rather warm.

Photographs from the top: Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris) and Black-bellied Sandgrouse.

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