Bustards, Curlews but no Sandgrouse.
I met Mike and Patty from Iowa in the US at the Cortijo de Tajar hotel just off the A92 and we headed out on to the fields nearby and at the first spot we located around 40 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax)but they were hard to see in a Lucerne field which had got quite tall so we moved around another view point and walked down a track to get a bit closer. Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs).The sun was in the worst position possable from this point but we did manage to get better views and picked out a few males which were already starting to pop up and down in a rather half hearted attempt at displaying. In the area we also saw
We jumped back into the car again and called at a small semi-derelict Cortijo on the road back into Huétor were we had good views of a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which was sunning its self on the roof, its mate flew out of a small garage behind and landed on the same roof but out of sight.
Again we continued on towards Huétor and stopped on the road side to check the fields where the wintering flock of Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) spend their days, we scoped them and had nice views. We also had a flock of at least 25 Golden Plovers (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria) on the same field and a flock of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) which flew across the site in the distance. Whilst we were parked here we also saw Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus).
We turned around and headed back up the road towards the local bar and then cut across country by the Arroyo Vilano where we made a stop to check the fields on the far side. On the river side we had several Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), a Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), both male and female Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and a skulking, uncooperative Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti). Further along the rio we made another stop where I usually see the locally common Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) but they were not showing then selves today and we only added Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) to the day list.
We retraced our way back along the track and then went to another nearby poplar plantation and soon had a good number of the Iberian Magpie flying throught the trees in front of us giving nice views.
We turned around and made our way to a small pool on the side of the A92 via Mesia. We parked and scanned the pool and soon had Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) on the day list along with a new species for the site for my list an Egyptian Goose (Ganso del Nilo / Alopochen aegyptiaca). We also had a single Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) fly in and drop into the reeds at the far end of the pool before we made a move out to the far side of the motorway near to Moraleda. On the way we had another Little Owl sat near the entrance to its soon to be nesting site in a concrete block, a couple of Common Stonechats (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and the first of several Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis). We took a couple of tracks out on to the fields looking for the elusive Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which remained elusive and unseen but we did get views of Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) but not a lot else. We dropped down in to the Valley and parked by the side of the Rio Cacín and had a walk towards the dam of the nearby embalse, here we picked several new species including Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) which were just heard up in the Pines, Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and Redwings (Zorzal Alirrojo / Turdus illacus) but again I only heard these as the flashed through the trees with out showing.
We moved up to the side of the Embalse just up the road and scanned the water seeing the same species of ducks and other water birds seen earlier along with a pair of Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca). In the air we had soaring Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), a pair of Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and on a nearby pylon a Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus). We drove a little further down the valley to Cacín where we were hoping to have lunch, on the way we saw three Mistle Thrushes (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) sat up in some Almonde trees near the road. When we got to Cacín we found that both bars were shut so we decided to drive towards Ventas de Huelma, on the way we parked on the road side and scanned the ridges. We soon picked up Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia) and a single Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) low over the Olives and then another two Eagles were seen soaring more distantly. From here we drove on towards Ventas and then made our way back to the Hotel where we started the day, once we there Patty and Mike went in for a late menu del dia and I said goodbye and headed home.