Saturday 28 February 2015

La Malaha and the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Day one with Liz Walsh from El Paso, Texas.

Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes).
We set off along the Motorway and then on to the road out towards La Malaha calling at a semi derelict Cortijo where we started the list off with a few newly arrived Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) which showed well on the roof amongst a mix of Feral (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia) and some quite convincing Rock Pigeons (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia). We left the car and had a short walk along a near by dry barranco where we had views of several Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), dozens of Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) coming in from the large roost in Granada, Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and as we walked back towards the car we had brief but good views of two cracking newly arrived Great Spotted Cuckoos (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius). Once we were at the car we had a small flock of White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) feeding in a seepage from the farm building. We continued on up the road to the very large rubbish dump where we had large numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) circling, a nice Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
Our next site was an agricultural area on the western side of La Malaha where we had very good views of several Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). We moved on towards Ventas de Huelma and into the Cacín Valley seeing Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and a couple of Common Starlings (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris) amongst a group of Spotless.
Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius).
Once down in the Valley we had a very productive walk along the Rio Cacín and almost straight away had exceptional views of a pair of Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) with the male of this noisy but secritive species displaying in a broom bush to his mate. We continued on adding Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Song (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and Mistle Thrushes (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major) and a single Hawfinch (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes) which showed very well in a nearby poplar tree. On the return walk we added a singing male Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) and a Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) before we reached the car.
We turned left and dropped down into the gorge where we parked and checked the cliffs seeing several Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), a couple of noisy Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala). 
After a while we made our way back up the valley passed Cacín to the Embalse where we quickly located a displaying pair of Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) showing well over the reedbeds. On the water there were good numbers of Common Pochards (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), several Northern Shovelers (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and fly passed Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus). We move on down to the nearby bridge over the river where we checked the muddy margins from the road and flushed up a Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago) and saw lots more Blackcaps and Common Chiffchaffs before going for a walk down towards the dam. On the way we heard Coal Tits (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) before getting good views of a feeding Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla).
We made a very brief stop a little way up the valley to see several spikes of Ophrys forestieri on the roadside before going through El Turro and out on to a large agricultural area looking for the Black-bellied Sandgrouse but we dipped on this species. On the way in we had a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) sat on a ruin and several Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) feeding low over the Almond trees. In the same area we had quite a few more Calandra, Crested, Sky and Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) along with several Meadow Pipits (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis). On our way off this site by the dirt tracks we were very pleased to get very good views of a stunningly blue backed Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius) in amongst the small Almond trees. 
Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).
We stopped off at Balsa de Rigedor but did not add any thing we had not already seen at the Embalse earlier so we moved on to the Fields at Huetor via Mesia adding a Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) on the way. 
Our first stop was along the ditches where we soon located one of thetwo wintering Jack Snipe (Agachadiza Chica / Lymnocriptes minimus) and eventually picked up one of the three male Bluethroats (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) but it did not show well and the blue throat remained unseen by Liz. We moved on along the Arroya Vilano seeing my earliest ever Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) on the site, another Green Sandpiper, a single flying Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and a Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius). On the central fields we came across the main targets in the shape of a 20 strong flock of almost all male Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which showed well. Our next to last stop of the day was on the far side of the area where we were looking for Stone Curlews but some one must have been out on their fields and flushed them earlier in the day so we continued on to the furthest fields to see if any had relocated there but did not find them but did find a 30+ flock of Golden Plovers (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria), a nice finish to a great days birding. We went up to the Cortijo de Tajar and Liz checked in and we sorted the start time for the next morning and then I headed home.

Friday 27 February 2015

El Faro and Rio Fuengirola, Malaga Province.

A productive walk on the beach.

Sanderlings (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba).
Whilst Jayne was having a walk around the Miramar shopping centre I had a walk on the beach at El Faro.
Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres).
I spent a peasant couple of hours with the camera and managed to see and photograph 30+ Sanderlings (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), 1x Purple Sandpiper (Correlimos Oscuro / Calidris maritima), Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula), Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and 15+ Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus). 
Audouin's Gull (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii).
On the landward side I also saw Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis).
Aso whilst I was on the beach I saw singles of Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra) and Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and on the far side of the coastal motorway there were 15+ Small Whites (Artogeia rapae).
Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba).
A little later I had a quick look at the revamped Rio Fuengirola but did not see a lot except for Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).
Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba).
I met up with Jayne and we headed off home adding a flock of 8 Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus) to the list as we crossed the Rio Guadalhorce on the new motorway.
Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus).

Sunday 22 February 2015

Padul Wetlands, Granada Province.

A quicker visit than planned due to the wind.

Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla).
Jayne and I drove over to Padul to have a walk around the reserve, when we left home the sun was out and all was warm and calm. By the time we reached the reserve it was blowing one hell of a gale and it was a very cold wind coming straight down off the snow covered Sierra Nevada. On the way over I picked up a few species including Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus).
Once we parked we had a walk from the centre to the woodland feeding station where we immediately found the wanted species a Dunnock (Acentor Común / Prunella modularis) an incommon winter visitor this far south and even rare breeding species with just a few pars staying here in the Sierra Nevada. Also seen were a few Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).
Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla).
We continued along the track out to the lake and around the short loop, we wanted to go further but the wind was just howling through the area and it made birding hard going and it was just unpleasant.
Along the track and by the lake we added Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and a Peregrine Falcon (Halcón Peregrino / Falco peregrinus) which made a couple of attempts to take one of the Martins but failed due to the wind. 
On our way back to the car we came through a nice little dell where the wind had no effect and as we got there the sun came out and it was quite warm which bought out a few butterflies including 5+ Small Whites (Artogeia rapae), a single Large White (Pieris brassicae) and 3 Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria). We got to the centre where I dropped off a bag of Mist nets that Bob Wright had kindly let me have for the reserve to use before heading home via Melchor bar for a drink to warm us up.