Saturday 15 February 2014

Hacho, Loja, Granada Province.

A couple more Orchids for the year.

Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana).
I went for a short walk into the Pine woodlands on the slopes of a small hill to the north of Loja called Hacho. In the woods there were a great number of leaf rossettes of the large and showy Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana), quite a lot were just coming in to flower but a few had there lower blooms aready on show. I don't think the dispaly will be quite a good as last year as there are far more blind rossettes this spring. I also saw several spikes of Ophrys fusca var foresteri but most of the lips had been eaten. Birds included Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus). In the same area there were hundreds of flowers of the common Broad leaved Iris (lirio de invierno / Iris planifolia) with lots of the white form of the plant flowering again this year.

Friday 14 February 2014

Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

A couple of hours around the local patch.

Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta).
After catching up with a few jobs during the morning of the first dry day for a while I went down on to the fields to see what was about and what damage the rains had done. The Arroyo Vilano was flowing well above its usual level and the crossing point had been washed out but apart from that and a few partly flooded fields all was well. I first took one of the many tracks out in to the fields North of the town and checked one of the areas of Lucerne where I had seen the Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) a few days earlier but there was no sign, however I did pick up Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), several Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) including a couple of cracking males, Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita).
Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea).
From here I went back up to the track which runs along the Arroyo and checked the fields on both sides and the very muddy margins, on the fields there were a few Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) around 60 or so, 12 Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria) and unexpected Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus) which was stood amongst the flock in a ploughed field??? On one of the ridges in the area of freshly germinated cerial crop there was a female Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius) which was being hasseled by 5 unhappy Mistle Thrushes (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and when they were close together it showed how small this falcon was, even though this was a female. On the margins there were a couple of Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and a Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) feeding in the mud.
Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice).
After a while I moved to the second half of the river and found another couple of Green Sandpipers, 2 Hoopoes (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) before moving out to the areas along the Mesia track. Along here I checked the ditches, pools and flooded fields and located several Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), a male Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and another flock of Northern Lapwings but this time there were around 300 birds.
On the far side of the road I parked up and walked along the ridge which follows the Arroya and did a curcit back to the road and then to the car again, along here I saw a male Reed Bunting (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus), several Common Chaffinches (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus).
Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus).
As I got back to the car I saw several butterflies in one of the Lucerne fields and decided to have a look and found  3 or 4 Bath Whites (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Small White (Artogeia rapae), a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and a single Western Dappled White (Euchloe crameri).
I then started to make my way over to the Loja side of the area, on the way I checked the Ditches and pools again and added a Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) to the bird list and hear Iberian Water Frogs (Rana Común / Rana Perezi) calling from the dense vegitation. 
I went through Huétor and out on to the far fields, as soon as I arrived I saw a fine female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) hunting amongst the young Olive trees, a species that has been in short suppy in this area this winter. I also soon located the smaller than usual Little Bustard flock in the deeper section of the Lucerne field, I did a quick count and found that there were just 77 birds, well down on this time last year.
I went back in to Huetor, washed the mud off the car and called at the fields nearby to check on the Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) and found around 170 birds still roosting there before heading back home.

Thursday 13 February 2014

Near Pinos Genil, Granada Province.

Birding along the swollen Rio Genil.

hort-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla).
I popped up to a spot where Juan Pérez Contreras had shown me wintering Dippers (Mirlo Acuático / Cinclus cinclus) last year and had a walk along the river searching for them. The river was very coloured at its lower section due to the amount of soil coming down the Rio Aguas Blancas but above this junction it was much clearer.
I walked for a while and then sat on a small foot bridge which crossed the Genil and waited to see what approached, birds included Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), a pair of Hawfinches (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes) and Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei).
After a while I picked up a movement in the main stream of the river which turned out to be a Dipper which was feeding between several rocks. It eventually came a lot closer and landed on a rock quite close but at the same moment as I was about to press the button on the camera a couple of lads on mountain bikes came thundering along the track and flushed the bird but I did get nice but short views.
I did not see the bird again so I decided to walk back down the opposite side of the river back to the car, on the way I added Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Cetti's (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus).

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Rio Fuengirola, Malaga Province.

A hours birding amongst the sewage, rubbish and washed up shopping trolleys!!!

No it does not sound great and it wasn't but I had an hour or so to have a quick look around the concrete sided channel out side the Miramar shopping centre. The commonest species seen there by far were the hundred or so Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) which were feeding on the clouds of insects attracted in by the raw sewage that is allowed to flow into the concrete sided pool. It then goes through the outlets and on out to sea down the river, which explains the amount of filth in the water and why no one would swim in the sea when we were down there in the summer. They were joined by half a dozen Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and a couple of House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica).
In the reeds in the centre of the pool there were several Common Moorhens (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), a Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Meadow Pipits (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), both White (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and a small party of about 10 Common Waxbills (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild). 
On the river above the pool there were several roosting Great Cormorants (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Green (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and a flock of noisy Monk Parakeets (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus).
I walked back down towards the centre scanning the river and sky as I went and picked up Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Lesser Black-backed  (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) before meeting Jayne.