Birding the Granada bad lands and the greener mountains.
Deb and Renate, Day three.
We headed out along the A92 passed Granada, through the Sierra Huétor, passed Guadix and in to the dry countryside side around the village of Gorafe. As we drove along the motorway we saw the first of a few Carrion Crows (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and Woodpigeons (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and from the motorway towards the village we found a couple of Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) that were still down in the fields. Next we dropped down in to the gorge near the village and parked at a view point half way down where we soon had a singing Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) in the scope and this was followed by a Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) that dropped in on the far side of the valley where it had oviously caught some thing and started to eat it. Renate then came up with a Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) which was sat on the sky line and a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) which flew down the valley.
We continued on to the village and then out into the countryside taking the wrong track the first time but this produced some good birds and some quite amazing views. Birds included Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), lots of Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and several more Griffon Vultures. At the far end of the track where we guessed we had taken the wrong turn we had superb views of the desert type landscape and in the distance out to the Embalse de Negratín. As we walked around here taking a good number of photographs we saw several Black-eyed Blue (Glaucopsyche melanops) butterflies as well as Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea).
We retraced our way back to the starting point picking up Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Crested Larks (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) on the way.
Once we were out on the proper track we soon reached the required spot and started to search the surrounding areas where we saw European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Sardinian (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and a pair of Spectacled Warblers (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata). We then found that there was a very very small amount of water in a pit hole where the goats and sheep drink from, there was barely an inch left in the bottom forming a puddle of less than 20cm.We parked about 30m away from the pool and waited and after about 20 minutes a flash of pink came flying into the pool for a drink and we had our first Trumpeter Finch (Camachuelo Trompetero / Bucanetes githagineus). When the bird had flown off we dropped to the opposite side of the puddle and parked a little closer and again in about 20 minutes the the same or another bird dropped back in again and again after it had flown off we dropped right down next to the puddle on the track and again waited. This time a pair dropped in and one bird showed nicely for us and the camera. Whilst here we also had good numbers of Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) come in to drink. Once the Finches were under the belt we drove back to the village where Deb had good views of a Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) as it disappeared into a poplar tree. We headed back to the motorway and had some lunch in a bar there, this took longer than expected and wasted a bit of time but eventually we were on our way to a nearby site where we found a cracking Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) sat in a roadside walnut tree. A little further along the road we had a pair of Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) in some poplar trees which had several dead or dying branches and we had superb views of these stunning birds. We again continued on down the same road to a small pool surrounded by low cliffs, here we found a single Stock Dove (Paloma Zurita / Columba oenas), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris).
We again moved on and drove back towards Granada pulling off in to the woodlands of Sierra Huétor to look for birds and orchids. Once out of the car we could hear and eventually saw a Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), a Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) but the Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea) satyed on the heard only list for today. We searched around in the under growth and soon found several orchid species including Dense-flowered (Neotinea maculata), Yellow Bee (Orquídea Abejera / Ophrys lutea), Barton's (Dactylorhiza insularis) and Orchis cazorlensis along with a couple of Large Red Damselflies (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) just as we reached the car. From here we headed back to the house and later we went down to Huétor Tajar fro a drink and some Tapas in a local bar and on the way back heard both Scop's Owl (Autillo Europeo / Otus scops) and Red-necked Nightjar (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis).
Photgraphs from the top: General view of the area near Gorafe, Renate in the same area, Black-eyed Blue (Glaucopsyche melanops), Deb and Renate photographing the superb views, Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) showing yellow spot, Trumpeter Finch (Camachuelo Trompetero / Bucanetes githagineus), Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus), Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius), Orchis cazorlensis and Barton's Orchid (Dactylorhiza insularis).