Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Huetor and Moraleda Fields and the Cacin Valley, Granada Province.

A days birding with Lorraine and Mel on the local Patch and in the Cacín Valley.

I met Lorraine and Mel at the Cortijo de Tajar Hotel just off the A92 near Huétor Tajar, once we had sorted the kit out we headed off out on to the fields where we checked the fields to the West of the town for the flock of Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which winter there. We arrived and started the list off with a couple of hundred Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), a dozen Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria), a single Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), lots of White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), a few Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and then we picked up the Bustard flock in the deeper Lucerne field. We scanned the field and counted about 50 birds in total but we did not get great views as they were deep in the vegetation. In the area we also added Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).
We eventually moved on and had a look along the Arroyo Vilano, on the margins we had views of a couple of Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and several Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) in the far Pomegranate trees.
We moved a little further down the site to a track side ditch where we soon had views of Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), 20+ Common Waxbills (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild) and some flight views of one of the two Jack Snipe (Agachadiza Chica / Lymnocriptes minimus) that have been wintering in the area.
Our next stop was on the other side of the A92 on the fields near Moraleda but this site did not live up to expectations as it was quieter than I have ever known it, after a drive around the site we had only seen Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
We moved on and dropped down into the Cacín Valleyto the bridge where we started by checking out the bridge and then down the track, we had views of Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla). We then had a look at the Embalse just up the road where the day list got a boost with Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis). 
Our last stop of the day was along the road between Cacín and Ventas de Huelma, on the way we had some very good views of 3 different Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos), a single Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and a Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia). From here we headed back to the hotel and Lorraine and Mel headed back down to the coast.

Photographs from the top: Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis), Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild) and Lorraine and Mel watching two Golden Eagles.

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