Wednesday 14 January 2015

Sierra de Loja, Granada Province.

In search of Thrushes in the mountains.

Ring Ouzels ( Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus).
Juan Pérez Contreras picked me up from the Hotel Cortijo de Tajar near the A92 and we made our way along the motorway to Loja and then up in to the mountains. We were heading to a site around 14KM out in to the wilds, on the way we saw Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and along the crags we were driving to a hunting pair of Bonelli's Eagles (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus).
Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus).
Once we were in the area we wanted to be we started to see good numbers of Ring Ouzels ( Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus), Blackbirds (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and then a distant flyby of a Fieldfare (Zorzal Real / Turdus pilaris) but Juan did not get on to it until it had broken the sky line and he only got a siloette. We continued on down the track on foot scanning all the Hawthorn bushes hoping that the Fieldfare would show up again, we saw more Ouzels and a mixed flock of Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia). We reached an area of denser bushes and were watching a very nice male Ring Ouzel when a cracking Fieldfare hoped up into the same tree givining us a very good if not brief view which Juan was much happier with as this bird was a lifer for him.
Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus).
The bird disappeared so we started to search another area of trees and soon located the same or another bird which flew off to the south followed by a second bird. There were also more Ouzels in the third area, we did not relocate the thrushes again so we returned to the car and dropped down the hill towards Loja. We stopped briefly near the small disused quarry but only added a calling Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata).

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Rio Velez, Torre del Mar, Malaga Province.

A visit to the Dentist and an hour of the Rio Velez.

After a visit to the dentist on the way down to the coast we had a walk around Torre and did a bit of shopping before having a very very nice Menu del Dia . I then dropped Jayne at the Shopping Centre nearby and went and had a quick look at the river and beach. I parked and walked stright out to the beach dodging the wierdo's lerking in the bushes and checking what was on the sea and pool. On the walk out I saw at least 3 Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria) and several Small Whites (Artogeia rapae). On the sea I soon had Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Mediterranean Gulls (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and on the beach amongst several hundred roosting birds I also found both Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) and Balearic Shearwater (Pardela Balear / Puffinus mauretanicus).
On the beach pools I saw 3x Sanderlings (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), 2x Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Little (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata) and Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti).
I then walked back up the river for a few hundred meters and soon found the first of a couple of dozen Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) along with Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), 5x Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), a male Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). Later I returned to the car and picked Jayne up and we headed home, on the way we saw Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).

Monday 12 January 2015

Huétor Fields and a quite Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

A days birding with Naomi and Jim from Maine in the US.

Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus).
We started the day by having a short walk along the Drainage and Irrigation ditches to the North of Huétor Tajar and started the days list off with Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis). We checked the two small pools and the ditch which runs out across the field and added Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), a Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) which show uncharacteristically well and even flew towards us and posed, Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and a very uncooperative Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) which showed well but only giving back on views as it moved along the irrigation channel heading straight for a rather large moggy which was sat in the grass.
From here we moved a short distance to the banks of the Rio Vilano and soon found a single Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), White (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and a good flock of Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) which showed well in the fields on the far side of the Rio.
Again we moved on and made our way over to the far side of the area picking up Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) on the way.
On the far side of the site we were looking for the smaller than usual wintering flock of Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) but we could not locate them so we moved straight away and went around to the fields nearer to the town and had cracking views of a good number of Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus).
Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa).
We then tried another spot where the Bustards can be found if they have been flushed off their favourate fields and this time we found 40+ birds in an Lucerne field near the railway. On another fields we found 20+ Golden Plovers (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria), several Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). On the way off the fields we stopped and checked a semi ruined house and saw two Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) on the roof before they went in to hiding.
Our next spot was a few KM back towards Granada on the fields near Moraleda, we started on the first track but things were very very quiet and this theme continued right around this area which is usually very active with Lark species if nothing else but not today. All we recorded here were a few Crested Larks, Common Magpies, Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), House Sparrows (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and a third Little Owl.
We dropped down into the Cacín Valley and checked an area of woodland along side the river where we added Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Reed Bunting (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus), 3x Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) heard only, fly over Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and our only butterflies of the day a couple of Small Whites (Artogeia rapae).
We continued on a bit and parked by the Cacín again and had another walk along the river, this time we found Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) the latter two species were heard only.
Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus).
Next we called in at the Embalse de Cacín where we ate out lunch whilst watching Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis).
We continued on down the valley into the gorge but we saw very little so we continued on down to the Embalse de Bermejalis where there was nothing on the water so we checked the pines and had good views of several Redwings (Zorzal Alirrojo / Turdus illacus), better views of Long-tailed Tits, and some very good views of male and female Common Crossbills collecting moss off a small waterfall for their nest. Down by the lake we did not see anything at all but Naomi and Jin had a look at a dolmen there before we moved on a short distance up the road and had nice views of an Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) sat in a hole in a cliff. We then made our way back towards Granada past La Malaha only seeing a flock of Skylarks on the way.