Friday 23 January 2015

Prado Negro area in Sierra Huétor, Granada Province.

A cracking days birding in the snow.

Looking a tad cool.
I dropped Jayne in to the city before heading off in to the mountins armed with direction from good friend Juan Pérez Contreras looking for Citril Finch (Verderón Serrano / Serinus citrinella) and Bullfinch (Camachuelo Común / Pyrrhula pyrrhula) along with a few other woodland species.
Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia).
The drive out to the spot was interesting to say the least with several areas of deep snow and lots of ice still on the minor roads as I approached the site and the car park in the village was no better. I parked up and walked along a narrow path down to the first site where Juan had seen a flock of the Citril Finches a week or so earlier before the snow, as I arrived I saw 2 birds feeding on the snow at the base of a large bramble bush at the back of the field.
Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica).
They really are cracking little birds and looked very bright against the snow, in the area I also saw the first of many Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major).
Citril Finch (Verderón Serrano / Serinus citrinella).
With the first target under the belt I continued on down the track and made my way carefully down to the river below, on the way down I had the first of 4 Hawfinches (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), 3 or 4 Redwing (Zorzal Alirrojo / Turdus illacus), more Jays, a flock of 20 or so feeding Goldfinches (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and on a damp area just above the river a single Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), 3 Rock Buntings (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and a sun bathing Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica).
Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus).
On reaching the river I sat on a rock and spent half an hour just seeing what appearred in the trees along the valley but only added Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and a Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) which was calling from a distant Poplar tree.
Snow on the hills.
I walked across the river and checked the opposite bank and the nearby cliffs, on the cliffs there was a large hanging mass of Ivy which was full of feeding Blackbirds and Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and lower down in the stunted Hawthorns there was a nice male Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and lots more Blackcaps and Common Chiffchaffs
After spending a couple of hours searching with out success for the Bullfinches I decided to wander back up the hill towards the car, on the way I took some shots of some flowering Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) and added Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) to the list.
Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius).
As I turned around from photographing the plants I glimpsed a small group of birds in amongst the gorse scrub on the opposite side of the clearing but just as I got my bins on the one that was in view it dropped, I thought it looked to yellow for a Serin so I walked over to the spot and as I got close a flock of stunning yellow Citril Finches flew up and landed in a leafless Hawthorn tree about twenty meters away which gave me the chance to count them easily. Just after reachng 33 the flock dropped back down into the Gorse and started to feed again, I moved in again and this time managed to get close enoughfor some shot but when I got them on the PC they were not great due to the reflection off the surrounding snow but a stunning sight.
A snow cover old tree.
I continued back up to the car see two more Hawfinches and at least 5 Great Spotted Woodpeckers on the way. Once I was in the car I drove a short distance and parked by the river higher up in an area which still looked good for the Bullfinches, I did not see them but had another stunning Hawfinch which was feeding on the ground and dozens of Redwings which were flying around the area but not settling.
I dropped back down in to the city and we went looking at kitchen work tops in Bricko.

Monday 19 January 2015

West Chapel, Bushbury Crematorium, UK.

16th June 1923 - 24th December 2014.

Amongst the Sword-leaved Helleborines.

The main reason for our trip back to the UK was to pay our respects at the funeral of Brian Jones, a great friend who I had know for over 40 years who passed away aged 91 on Christmas Eve. I first met Brian and his lovely wife Betty when I was 9 years old and spent many days and holidays birding and orchid hunting with them both. Farewell to a wonderful gentleman who will be greatly missed by many.
Brian with some Pink Butterfly Orchids.

Sunday 18 January 2015

Aqualate Mere, Bliffield Res and Ryders Mere, Clayhanger, Staffordshire, UK.

A days birding back in the UK with some good friends.

Willow Tit (Carbonero sibilino / Poecile montanus).
I got up and had a look at the garden and started the list off with a female Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and Dunnock (Acentor Común / Prunella modularis).
Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus).
Later I was out birding with John, Sharon and Brian again much sooner than expected which was great. They picked me up in Albrighton from my Moms where we were staying for our brief visit and then we headed out to Aqualate Mere near to Newport. The site is just over the boarder of Shropshire in the county of Staffordshire set amongst mixed woodlands and very wet fields.
Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater).
On the way out to the hide we saw a small flock of about a dozen or so Lesser Redpoll (Pardillo Sizerín / Carduelis flammea), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Blackbird, Redwing (Zorzal Alirrojo / Turdus illacus), Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and a pair of Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) which flushed up from the stream near the carpark.
Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major).
Once we were in the hide we started to check the wildfowl on the large lake and soon had Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Tufted Duck (Porrón Monudo / Aythya fuligula), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), 2x Northern Pintail (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus).
Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula).
Then after just a few minutes we had breif but good views of a large dog Otter (Nutria / Lutra lutra) which surfaced about 50meters away for just 5 seconds or so and then dived and was not seen again but his journey could be tracked by the disturbance of the Eurasian Coot right around the right-hand side of the lake. Also out on the lake we saw Goldeneye (Porrón Osculado /Bucephala clangula), a 1st winter male Scaup (Porrón Bastardo / Aythya marila), Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor), Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser) and Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus).
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major).
All the time we were in the hide the feeding staition was very busy with good numbers of passerines coming to take advantage of the seed that is put out. The best species recorded was a cracking little Willow Tit (Carbonero sibilino / Poecile montanus) which flashed in and out several times along with it's lookalike Marsh Tit (Carbonero Palustre /Parus palustris) as well as Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Reed Bunting (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus) and Wren.
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major).
Before we moved on we saw or heard Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus), Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus).
Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus).
We walked back to the car park, on the way and near the car we had views of Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Treecreeper (Agateador Norteño / Certhia familiaris) and a fly over Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes).
We got in the car and headed across country towards Bliffield Res, on the way we saw several Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Pheasant (Faisán Vulgar / Phaisanus colchicus), Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris) and Rook (Graja /  Corvus frugilegus).
Mute Swan (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor).
On the way along the side of the res we saw a flock of Greylag Geese, several Goosander (Serreta Grande / Mergus merganser), Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Mallard and Great Crested Grebe. We parked and walked through the woods down towards Tadd Bay where we were looking for geese, on the way we had great numbers of Redwings, Bullfinch (Camachuelo Común / Pyrrhula pyrrhula), Long-tailed Tits and a couple of Nuthatch (Trepador Azul / Sitta europaea). Once we were down by the water we picked up Great Black-backed Gull (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and 3x White-fronted Geese (Ánsar Careto / Anser albifrons) which we managed to see through the fog.
Great Northern Diver (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer).
On the way back to the car we had good numbers of Fieldfares and Redwings and a very nice Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius). 
We past the car and went down into the opposite bay but only added a single Common Gull (Gaviota Cana /Larus canus) to the list.
Our last site of the day was a very very wet Ryders Mere at Clayhanger where we were looking for a long staying Great Northern Diver (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer), we found the bird but the weather was foul which was a shame as the bird showed very well. We decided to call it a day at this point and headed to John and Sharons for a Tea and then home.
Great Northern Diver (Colimbo Grande / Gavia immer).
Thanks to Sharon, John and Brian for another cracking day.