Friday 18 April 2014

Huétor Fields and Moraleda area, Granada Province.

An hour on the fields and two with Bob Wright at Moraleda.

Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
I was meeting up with Bob Wright of the Axarquia Bird Group at 09:30 at the Cortijo de Tajar hotel so I spent the hour or so I had before I was due there on the fields near the house and along the Arroya Vilano.
As I walked out to the car I could hear a Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea) singing over head, several Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) rattling from the Fig tree and a Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) which was scratching out a song from the far side of the barranco.
On my way down to the bar at the end of the road I started the list off with several Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), a couple of newly arrived Turtle Doves (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius).
I drove along the side of the Rio Vilano and picked up the first of quite a few Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs). I then crossed the road and looked at the far stretch of the river and heard several Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) singing in the Poplar plantation which were the first of the year on the fields.
Also seen along this stretch were more Iberian Magpies (30+), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). I retraced my steps back to the road picking up Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos).
Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra).
My last stop before I went up to the hotel was along the track to the Mesia road where I checked the small pools and a couple of irrigation ditches and added a late Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and to finish off I had a fine male Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra) sitting on a ridge in a newly ploughed field.
After watching the Whinchat flycatching for a while I headed off to meet Bob and from the hotel we headed out to the agricultural areas on the other side of the A92. As soon as we arrived we picked up a pair of Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) on a fallow strip of field and got out of the car to scope them but unfortunally they flew but gave us nice flight views, over the next few minutes we had another couple fly passed and thena flock of six birds which were more distant. In the air we could see and hear several Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus).
Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis).
We moved up to a derelict Cortijo where we saw a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and out on a nearby cereal field we had a displaying male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), the first of at least three birds. We dropped down through the fields and into an area of Almond groves, on the way we saw a couple of Greater Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Bath White (Pontia daplidice), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) and a single Swallowtail (Papilio machaon). We did not see much in the almonds but on the far side we had flight views of a pair of Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) as they disappeared into the distance and discovered a nice patch of Pink Butterfly Orchids (Orchis papilionacea) which I had not seen before along with quite a few Mirror's (Ophrys speculum) and a good number of well over with Fan-lipped (Orchis conica).
Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
In the same area we also saw large numbers of Common Asphodel (Asphodelus albus) spikes, Corn Gromwell (Buglossoides arvense), Blue Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum creticum), Common Grape Hyacinth (Muscari neglectum), Shepherds Needles (Scandix pecten-veneris) and White Mignonette (Reseda Alba).
We continued on checking another Almond grove for Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) but failed and had to make do with stunning views of the pair of Rollers feeding down on the ground and perched in the trees.I had only got a couple of hours so we started to make our way back to wards the hotel but took the cross country route through more Almond groves and before long we heard and eventually saw a cracking adult Great-spotted Cuckoo which sat out nicely but a bit distant for the camera. Once this bird had flown off we continued on down the track and within a couple of hundred meters Bob called stop and there was another Cuckoo sat in a tree right at the side of the car which sat nicely for the camera.
European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster).
We again continued on adding Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) to the list before we reached the motorway.
On Balsa de Rigedor we could see Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata) and Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) as we drove passed. I dropped Bob back at his car and he started his journy over to Ronda via Laguna Dulce and other places on the way and I headed off home picking up a Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei) on the way.

Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus).
Thanks for the company Bob, a great list of quality birds. I was out of the house for less than three hour and birding with Bob for just under two.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Zafarraya Road, Granada Province.

A morning along the Western valley.

Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) with a Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) snack.
I started the day by heading passed the meeting point for today's tour and spending an hour or so at a spot nearby watching the local Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) as I had a few days earlier and again they performed well and I saw at least three males and two females. In the same area I saw several Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and a very brave or stupid Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Astragalus stella.
I returned to Venta del Raya where I met up with Lisca, Graham, Sheila and Roger before returning to the same spot. At the bar where we met we saw a nice male Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), several Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) before leaving. Back at the Montagu's fields we soon had cracking views of several males and a female displaying.
We watched these birds for quite a while before moving on down the valley to the first of our Orchid stops, straight away we found large numbers of the common but beautiful Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea) and nearby a couple of spikes of Sawfly (Ophrys tenthredinifera) which were still in nice condition.
Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia).
Other flowers on the first short stretch included Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis), Dove's Foot Cranesbill (Geranium molle), Eruca (Eruca sativa), Cymbalaria-leaved Speedwell (Veronica cymbalaria), Gorse (Ulex europaeus), Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Wild Peony (Paeonia broteroi), Silvery Paronychia (Paronychia argentea), Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris) and Astragalus stella.
Birds were also seen and heard here including Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) heard only, Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and a fine male Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus).
We spent a short while sheltering under a large Round-leaved Oak (Quercus rotundifolia) as a brief but heavy squall passed over.
Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera).
The shower passed and we continued on and were soon looking at the first of quite a few Conical Orchid (Orchis conica) which was growing on the edge of a small clearing, under the nearby trees we found another twenty or so spikes still in good condition in the shade, this was followed by a just passed its best Giant Orchid (Himantoglossum robertiana). We moved out on to the edge of a small cereal field where we had our first Butterflies of the morning which were Small White (Artogeia rapae) and Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus).
On the field margins we found several new plant including Blue Hounds-tongue (Cynoglossum creticum), Shepherds Needles (Scandix pecten-veneris), Southern Knapweed (Centaurea pullata ssp pullata), Warty Spurge (Euphorbia squamigera), Pitch Trefoil (Psoralea bituminosa), Purple Bugloss (Echium plantagineum), Spring Rockcress (Arabis verna), Southern Daisy (Bellis cordifolia) and Field Madder (Sherardia arvensis).
We continued on to a larger clearing and then into another area of Oaks where we quickly found quite a few spikes of the just about flowering Sword-leaved Helleborine (Cephalanatera longifolia) and a couple of nice pink Southern Early Purple Orchids (Orchis olbiensis).
Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus).
We could also hear Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) but we could not see it, however we did see Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and just before reaching the car a fly over Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus). 
Our next stop was at the disused railway line above Venta de Zafarraya where we were looking mainly for birds, on the way we had both Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) sat on a wire fence. Once at the railway we got off to a good start with a male Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) sat on a rock near the car park, several Red-billed Choughs (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) over the main crag, Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) all recorded before we reached the tunnel.
Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea).
Near the tunnel we saw several new plant species including Bitting Stonecrop (Sedum acre), Crambe filiformis, Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Rusty-back Fern (Ceterach officinarum), Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) and a couple of butterflies Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) and Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas). We did not see anything new on the far side of the tunnel but had better views of a Rock Sparrow
Our final stop was on the way back just North of Zafarraya where again we were mainly targeting Orchids, on the way we made a short stop in the village while we watched a very nice Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) drift by. Once at the next spot we started off with a field full of Yellow Bee and a few Mirror Orchids (Ophrys speculum), here we also had more Common Blue Butterflies and a very nice Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina).
Graham, Lisca, Sheila and Roger.
We walked a short distance and looked for some spikes of Small Woodcock Orchid (Ophrys picta) but all we found were blind rosettes. Just over the next rise we came across a fantastic show of the beautiful Pink Butterfly Orchid (Orchis papilionacea) with around 30 spikes growing close together in a small clearing. From here we walked slowly back to the car adding Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Provence Orange-tip (Anthocharis euphenodes), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Bath White (Pontia daplidice) and Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra) to the butterfly list. Once back at the car we took a slow drive back to the meeting point picking up Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) on the way.

Thanks to Lisca, Graham, Sheila and Roger for supporting Granada Wildlife and the great comments at the end of the tour.

Home near Huétor Tajar, Granada Province, Spain.

In the Fig Tree.

A Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), one of two seen early this morning.

Monday 14 April 2014

Huetor Fields, Granada Province.

A walk on the local patch.

Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata).
After a trip in to Loja I dropped the car off at the garage for a full service and to have a few niggles taken care of whilst its still under guarantee which meant it was shanks pony back home. During the walk I picked up a few interesting species including the first Turtle Doves (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) of the year, a cracking male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), plenty of Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus).
Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae).
Later in the day I did the return trip and added Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) to the list.