Wednesday 10 September 2014

Rio Velez, Malaga Province.

A couple of hours birding and conflict.

Red-knobbed Coot (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata).
Jayne and I headed across country towards the coast for a days shopping and birding, on the way down we saw Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax).
Red-knobbed Coot (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata) and a group of Eurasian Coots (Focha Común / Fulica atra).
I dropped Jayne off in the center of Torre del Mar for a few hours shopping, I went down to the river and parked near the beach. I walked out on to the sand and started to check out the pool and quickly found a neck collared Red-knobbed Coot (Focha Moruna / Fulca cristata) amongst a group of Eurasian Coots (Focha Común / Fulica atra) with the collar number of 27F. Out to sea I picked up Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), Balearic (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus) and Cory's Shearwaters (Pardela Cenicienta / Calonectris diomedea). A small group of Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii) had landed on the beach so I decided to try and get some shot which is when the conflict between myself and a German tosser started, I was lying down photographing the gulls when he started to throw stones at the birds.
Banded Groundling (Brachythemis impartita).
I asked him to stop and explained that I would plant a rock square between his eye if he did not, a few seconds later a rock missed me by inches which I was not happy about so I stood up and grabbed a rock and started to make my way over to the chap but as I started he lept up grabbed his towel and bag and ran like a scared dog off up the beach.
Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
After this slight problem I got back to the birding adding Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) on the pool and on the beach I found 3x Curlew Sandpipers (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea), 2x Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), 2x Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), a Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina) and several Banded Groundling (Brachythemis impartita).
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus).
I then headed back inland following the edge of the main river and soon found the first of quite a few adult and immature Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and a single Wood Sandpiper (Andarrios Bastardo / Tringa glareola) which disappeared off up stream.
Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta).
At the bridge I turned around and came back down the track to the car, on the way I added a few more new species for the day including Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Reed (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Willow Warblers (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochillus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea). Also along the river I caught up with Blue / Common (Anax imperator) and  Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope), Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea), Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), African Grass Blue (Zizeeia knysna), Small White (Artogeia rapae) and Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria). Once I was back at the car I picked Jayne up and we headed off to Malaga.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Travelling back from Madrid.

A long drive back from Madrid airport.

Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda).
Stephanie, Ken and I were up and out early and making the 50 or so Km drive to the Airport where they were off to Morocco for the last leg of their holiday. We made good time even though the traffic was heavy and we were at the airport in plenty of time. 
Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda).
From here I retraced my tracks back to the Cordoba road south, the road we had just travelled to the airport on were now at a stand still. I eventually worked my way out of the city and into the country side, a 100KM or so south of the city I pulled off the motorway for a coffee and whilst I was drinking it and having a nice lump of toast I looked out of the window and saw several Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) on a newly harvested field. 
Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda).
Once I finished I drove out along several farm tracks amongst the fields and had great views of the Bustards along with several Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and a single Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) amongst a feeding flock of Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis). After a while I continued on south and made my way home. 

Photographs: 3x Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda).

Monday 8 September 2014

Monfrague area, Extremadura.

A day of Raptor´s right to the end !!!

Stephanie and Ken at Pena Falcon.
Stephanie, Ken and I headed North from Trujillo towards the Monfrague Natural Park where our first stop was at Pena Falcon, the well known rock face below the Castle of Monfrague. Stright away we were seeing go numbers of Griffon (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), a few Black / Cinereous Vultures (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) along with a single Egyptian (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus) which was sat on the rocks above the road.
Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius).
In the same area we had good views of Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), heard Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) and watched a fine stag Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) bellowing from the crag just to the right of Pena Falcon.
White-rumped Swift (Vencejo Cafre / Apus caffer).
Once the sun had got up a bit we made our way up to the parking spot just below the castle and walked the steep steps up to the top and spent some time the watching the distant Vultures, White-rumped Swifts (Vencejo Cafre / Apus caffer) and in tre surrounding trees Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus),Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula).
Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and Red Deer (Cervus elaphus).
 We decided to move on and have a look at the furthest watch point along the valley for the main target of the day Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) and let things here warm up and return later.
On our way round to the site we stopped on the roadside where we watched a pair of Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) chasing each other around some small pine trees and near the dam which the road crosses and watched a pair of Egyptian Vultures, Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and a Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) before continuing on and parking near the watch point.
The Castle.
As expected there were lots of Griffon and Black Vultures in the air as well as a good number of Crag Martins and a singleton White-rumped Swift. Up on the roadside amongst the scrub we had several Sardinian (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Subalpine Warblers (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Black Redstart, Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and a flyover Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) but no Eagles. We headed back along the road to the castle and walked back up to the top again but did not see anything new but got some close views of the Griffon Vultures
We then headed to the small visitor centre area on the way back to the watch point where we had some lunch before spending another couple of hours not seeing the Eagles at the watch point. The only new thing added was a couple of flyby Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) and several perched Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii). 
View from the Castle.
We moved on via an icecream stop to embalse de Arrocampo-Almaraz but by this time it was quite warmand we only made a brief stop but heard a couple of Western Swamp-hens (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) and saw Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Long Skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria) and Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea). 
We decided to head towards the hotel on the outskirts of Madrid, so we jumped onto the motorway and started the drive. After a while I caught something in the corn of my eye which made me swing off the motorway at the junction we were almost past and on to the service road heading back in the direction we had come from.
Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
Just a few hundred meters back and a large raptor came up from behind some low trees on the opposite side of the motorway but it turned out to be just a Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) but I was sure this was not what I had seen so we continued to watch the area and a few seconds later two cracking Spanish Imperial Eagles came into view and showed well for us, a full adult bird and a bird which was probably another adult but with only a very small amout of white in the wings and head.
Both birds climbed and drifted off as did the Booted but I was still slightly confused and guessed that there must have been a third imperial eagle at the spot as the bird I first saw and caused the abrupt exit of the motorway at 110KMPH was clearly an immature bird which we did not see but we were very happy with the two adult birds.
We continued our journey and added three Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) to the list on the road side pylons which gave us a raptor count of 20 for the trip.
Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
We arrived at the hotel which was right on the side of the motorway and had a very nice evening Menu del dia before a surprising quiet nights sleep.

Sunday 7 September 2014

Plains of Caceres, Extremadura.

The rain in Spain was definitely falling mainly on the plain today as we were washed out by storms for several hours.

The approaching storm.
We set out from the hotel heading west straight into the dark clouds of the arriving storm, on the way we picked up Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans).
Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) in flight.
We moved out onto the fields north of the motorway between Trujillo and Caceres and started to check the area for birds but just as the storm hit us for the first but not the last time. The lightening flashed around us and the rain was hammering down, the ditches at the sides of the road filled up very quickly and the fields started to flood. Once the rain eased off a bit so we could tell the difference between the road and the ditches we drove out to the furthest point getting some very bad views of what turned out to be Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Ganga Ibérica / Pterocles alchata) we had slightly better views on the way back. 
Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) in flight.
During the drive out we did see hundreds more Corn Buntings and Calandra Larks as well as Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops). Right at the furthest point we picked up a rather soggy and well hacked off looking Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) which was sat out of the gale on a rock.
Ken getting the Great Bustards in the rain.
We turned around as the storm relented for a short while and started to drive back along the track and almost straight away found our first group of Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) but they were quite a way off but none the less they were on the list and later we had much better views both on the ground and in flight. Before we reached the main road again we also picked up Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).
Great Bustards on the deck.
From here we had a drive along the motorway towards Caceres but came off at the next junction and then headed south, then back east to Torremocha where we took a road off North, along here we spent a lot more time amongst oak woodlands than expected but we did pick up a very nice Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), lots of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) and a couple of Black Storks (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra). Eventually we reached the motorway again and as the weather had improved some what we redrove the original track getting another 23 Great Bustards, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, two Grey Herons, a couple of hunting Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), an immature or female Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris) and on a small pool Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and both Green (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos).
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).
It was now getting on towards lunch time so we headed through the Oaks towards Santa Marta de Magasca where we found a bar and had some food before going across country to Monroy and then onwards to Trujillo via more minor roads. During this drive we picked up Booted (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), Griffon and Black / Cinereous Vultures (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) and lots more Iberian Magpies. During the day we saw a few Mammal species including Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), Iberian Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus / capensis), Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and Eurasian Badger (El Tejón / Meles meles).
We got back to Trujillo and tried to have a look around the town but due to the fiesta that was on parking was not possible so we went back to the hotel and arranged to venture back out onto the Belen plain again a little later in the evening after a couple of hours rest.
Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) doing what most of the birds did when Ken raised the camera.
We were soon back in the car and out on to the fields to the east of the town again and this visit we located a single Great Bustard and 5 of the much smaller Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which showed distantly along with another Montagu´s and several Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), 80+ Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris). We reached a point when the light had dropped to low for birding so we headed back in to Trujillo and had a meal before going back to the hotel.