Saturday 11 January 2014

Sierra Morena, Cordoba Province.

One of those days !!!!

Iberian Lynx (lince iberico/ Lynx pardina).
I got up early to go up to Granada to meet up with Juan Perez and his brother Jose for a trip up to Sierra Morena hoping to get a look at the critically endangered Iberian Lynx (lince iberico/ Lynx pardina). I made my way across the fields towards Huétor and the first species of the day was a Red Fox (Zorro / Vulpus vulpus) which as we were looking for mammals I took as a good omen as I had not seen them on the local patch before.I continued on up to Granada and we all set off on the Motorways north then west to Andujar and then out into the hills of Sierra Morena.
European Black Vulture (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus).
On the way we saw Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Feral Pigeon (Columba livia), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus). We entered that area for the Lynx and made our first stop about 10KM from the area where we normally spend the day and scanned a broad firebreak, I raised my bins for the first time to check a shape on the right hand side of the open area and was amazed to see a stunning adult Lynx just coming out of the scrub. I made sure that Juan and Jose were both on it before having some stunning views of this magnifisant animal.
Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti).
It bimbled around in the open for a couple of minutes before going into the central band of bushes, at this point Juan had his scope up and when he came out the other side we had great views for a while longer until he disappeard in to the scrub on the far side of the break. We calmed down a bit after the excitment and checked what else was about whilst keeping a keen eye on the area just in case he returned, he did not in the hour or so we stayed but we did see several Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), another Fox, Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Crested Tits (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Dartford (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common (Urraca / Pica pica) and Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) before we moved on.
Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti).
As we had already had views of the Lynx we continued on passed the usual spots and dropped down to the dam to see what was about, on the way we picked up Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and in one of the dead looking Eucalyptus trees a small flock of three Hawfinches (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes). We parked near the main dam wall and walked across to the far side scanning the dull cloudy skies for raptors with out success, however we did see several Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) before heading back up to the areas where we usually spend the day looking for the Lynx.
Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
We parked on the track side and started to scan the rocks but only managed to add Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) to the mammal list but we did get nice views of more Red Deer. After a couple of hours a patch of blue sky appeared in the distance and slowly the clouds broke up and the sun started to warm things up a bit and with in half an hour the skies were litterally full of raptors. The commonest were Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) with a couple of dozen drifting around, with these came quite a few European Black Vulture (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) and then a couple of stunning adult Spanish Imperial Eagles (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) came up and started to call (a strange sound, a cross between a strangled duck and a Raven). The one bird drifted off but the second came in close and then passed right overhead and reappeared several times during the afternoon, as did the Vultures and a Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus).
European Black Vulture (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus).
We also saw a couple of butterflies, Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea) and Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). After a while we moved up the track a short way and joined a group of watches on an organised tour with a guide. After a while I took a walk along the track a short way to get a photo of a plant that I had seen Iberian Milk-vetch (Astragalus lusitanicus) and as I turned around to walk back I could see that there was a bit of a flap on back amongst the group so I quickened the pace a bit and got back just in time to have a view of a second Lynx walking across some rocks, it was very brief and thanks to the young Spanish lad who let me use his scope for a few seconds. Juan also had more distant views a little later. By now the light was dropping quite quickly and very pleased with what we had seen we decided to start the journey home, we stopped briefly for a coffee and then hit the motorways again.
Iberian Lynx (lince iberico/ Lynx pardina).
Thanks to Juan for driving and to him and Jose of some great company on a cracking day.

Thursday 9 January 2014

Rio Velez and travelling, Granada and Malaga Province.

An unexpected second day on the coast.

Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica).
Suddenly found that we had to make a second visit to the coast but nearer to home this time, so Jayne and I headed for Torre del Mar where I dropped Jayne and went down to Rio Velez for a couple of hours.
White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).
As soon as I arrived I bumped in to John and Jenny Wainwright and did so a couple more times during the morning. We spent some time having a chat by the bridge where we saw a very nice White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia) which had been hanging around for a while as Steve Powell had seen it a week or so ago, along with White (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Western Cattle (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata) and the first of a great many Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita).
Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo).
I then moved on down the river where I bumped in to another member of the Axarquia bird group who's name I can not remember at the moment but he put us on to a couple of Little Stints (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta) mixed in with a flock of feeding Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) and in the same area there were small numbers of Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus) and Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula).
Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis).
I then went down towards the beach looking for a Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) which he had just seen but could not find any sign, however I did see a couple of Zitting Cisticola's (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), a male Red Avadavat (Bengali Rojo / Amandava amandava), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis).
Mediterranean Gull (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus).
Once I was out on the beach a scan of the sea soon produced a small group of 7 Common Scoters (Negrón Común / Melanitta nigra), several Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and a single Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis). I then scanned the pools and located a single male Bluethroat that was scuttling around on the margins being harrassed by a White Wagtail. I moved over to where John and Jenny were standing and they informed me that there were two males there but the second one had shot off to the right.
Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica).
John and Jenny then went back to there car for a bit to eat so I sat quietly on a patch of sand and waited to see if the Bluethroat would return to where we had just been watching it, with in a couple of minutes it did but flew straight in and landed about half a meter away from where I was sat, nice veiws but too close for the camera. It flicked around for a while and then shot off again only to return a few seconds later and this time nicely in range of the lens. I moved on from here and went back to the car before heading back up the river and parking just beyond the bridge. I walked out to the river and again sat on a patch of gravel and took lots of ahots of the 30 or more Common Chiffchaff that were feeding in a small tree and amongst the water side plants.
Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita).
Here I also had a Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor). After a while I packed up and went and met Jayne, we had some lunch and went for a walk on the beach.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Coin, El Faro and Guadalhorce, Granada Province.

An Orchid hunt in the woods and a couple of sites on the coast.

Ophrys Malacitana.
Jayne spent a few hours around the sales whilst I headed off for a look around the pine woods up near Coin for Ophrys Malacitana at the site where Michael Lowe and Ian Phillips first described it. I spent quite a while searching the area but only found three plants in flower but whilst I was there I also saw Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) and Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla).
Ruddy Turnstones (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres).
From here I headed back down to the coast and visited the sea watch hide at El Faro, just as I arrived Micky Smith turned up as well so we spent some time scanning the sea but things were quiet and we only managed to pick up Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus).
Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita).
After a while we had a walk along the road side scanning the rocks for waders and saw several Ruddy Turnstones (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) along with Little (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). We reached the large monument rock and turn around but did not add anything on the way back to the hide where we spent a while longer watching the sea before Micky headed off home and I went back to meet Jayne and have some luch before heading for Malaga City.
Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus).
I again dropped Jayne off at the shopping Centre and headed to Guadalhorce and went straight on to the main reserve and around to the hide over looking the main pool. The commonest species by far were Great Cormorant and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), these were seen along with Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Black-necked (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) and Little Grebes (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Snipe  (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) and out in the distance I counted 5 Booted Eagles (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) soaring on a distant thermal.
Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis).
From here I moved on and had a quick look at the beach but things were quiet, I just saw several more Northern Gannets and all the expected Gulls. I next visited the small hide over looking the long pool, whilst I was here I had a chat with another couple of birders while we checked what was on the water. There were small numbers of White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Little Grebes, Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and best of all was a small flock of 5 Penduline Tits (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus).
Male Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata).
I then made my way back around to the car adding Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) and Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos). Once I got back to the car I made my way back into the city and Jayne and I headed home.

Monday 6 January 2014

Huétor Fields, Granada Wildlife.

A double visit to the local patch.

Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus).
The first visit was partly to do some birding but also to meet up with a Spanish birder and photographer called Manuel Cayuela Lopez who was visitng the are area from Zaragoza in Northern Spain. Manuel was photographing the Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) first thing so I did some birding first, I started along the Arroya Vilano and soon had Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), White  Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) on the list.
Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
I then crossed over to the far side of the Rio and followed the track down to the railway bridge, along here I added Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita).
Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica).
I then moved around passed the Curlew field where I could see Manuel doing his photography and a considerable number of  Stone Curlews.
A little late we met at the bar at the bottom of our road and had a couple of coffees ove a good chat and scan through Manuels photo's. There were some fantastic pictures some of which he had taken that morning but many others he had from past trips. After some time we left the bar and had a quick look at the Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) before I had to head back home and Manuel headed of on another venture.
Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica).
Later in the day Juan Perez came over to our housewe went birding for a while. We started down on the river again where we scanned the fields looking for the Stock Doves (Paloma Zurita / Columba oenas) that I had seen a few day's earlier but with out any success, we did however see Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), both Spotless (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua),  Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and many of the species I saw this morning.
Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros).
We moved on around to the town and walked along a short footpath which runs out to the railway from the town after Manuel had said he had seen a couple of Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) here a few days ago. Almost as soon as we started we located a nice male and during the walk we had two more birds at least. From the track we saw lots of Stone Curlews  which were roosting in the same area that Manuel had been taking his photographs. From here we went and had a look at the Little Bustards and then returned to the Stock Dove area to give it another try but dipped again, we did see a nice flock of 40 or so Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria) before heading back to the house.