Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Huétor Fields, Moraleda Fields and Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

A days guiding with Jane Wise from the UK.

We set out from the house and started with a couple of houses birding down on the local patch, our first stop was on the Western side of the town where we picked up 50 or so Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), 4+ Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and on a nearby roof we picked up several Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) adults and immature and two early visiting Common Starlings (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus). We moved to the far side of the area and checked out a roadside ditch , almost straight away we flushed a Jack Snipe (Agachadiza Chica / Lymnocriptes minimus) which flew just a short distance but into a dense patch of vegetation in a crop field. In and around the same ditch and fields we recorded Cetti's (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Reed Warblers (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and a newly arrived winter visitor a Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis).
Our next stop was on the way out to Laguna de Rigedor amongst a group of Almond Trees, here we had good views of another Whinchat and a nice Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae). A little further on we stopped by the laguna and picked up Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica).
From here we moved out on to the fields near to Moraleda, as we arrived we had an immature Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) fly over the Almond groves. We moved out on to the fields and along the first track we had more Northern Wheatears and a small flock of around 8 Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), a couple of Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia) and on a bare field at the end of the track we heard and had distant views of two Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) flying off. We moved out on to the main area of fields where we picked up Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and another flock of 10 Black-bellied Sandgrouse which were much closer and gave us much better views. As we were leaving the site we had nice views of two Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) on one of the many rock piles on the site and as we were watching another Southern Grey Shrike we had a very smart Swallowtail (Papilio machaon). A little further down the road we had good views of a couple of migrating Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) which soared over the Almond groves.
We dropped down in to the Cacín Valley and made a short stop in the Pine woods above the river, here we saw Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Long-tailed  (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and heard Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala). 
We moved along the valley and stopped near the dam of the embalse, here we checked the river hearing Cetti's and Reed Warblers and then picked up a distant pair of Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus). At this point we jumped back into the car and drove down the side of the lake and parked again and had slightly better views of the Eagles before they drifted away over the rigde. From the roadside we had a good view over the lake where we heard and saw Mallard, Northern Shoveler, 270+ Common Pochards, Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and a distant Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis). 
Next we drove down to Cacín and took the ridge road looking for Raptors, we parked on the roadside and had our lunch whilst we watched the ridges. We picked up several Common Kestrels, a male Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and in the broom bushes below us we had a Common Whitethroat (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis), heard Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), 2 Common Redstarts (Colirroja Real / Phoenicurus phoenicurus) and several Red-legged Partridges (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa). We continued on along the road and took a track to the North, along here we added just Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo). We retraced our way back to the road and then towards Cacín again, as we round a corner we picked up a large raptor and soon we were having great views of an immature Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos). We dropped back down in to the Valley and then back up to the Embalse, we scanned the lake from the same place as we were earlier but this time the birds were a bit more out in the water and giving better views. Amongst the large numbers of Common Pochards we picked out a female Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope) and a very nice male Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca) which was a new species for ne in the Cacín Valley. We also added a couple of Great Cormorants (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) which were roosting in the dead trees on the margins. We went back to the bridge where we were earlier, on the way we checked out an area of flowering roadside weeds and had a nice selection of butterflies which were nectering there including Bath (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Small (Artogeia rapae) and Large Whites (Pieris brassicae), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus). Along the river we added Pied  (Papamoscas Cerrojillo / Ficedula hypoleuca) and Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). Along the irrigation channel we saw a single and tandem pair of Western Willow Spreadwings (Lestres viridis) and a male Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii). On the walk back to the car we heard Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater). From here we made our way back to the fields near the house hoping to get views of the Little Bustards again in better light but they had been flushed off again by a tractor working nearby. 

Photographs from the top: Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos), Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), group of ducks including Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope), male Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca), Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus) and Small White (Artogeia rapae).

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