Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Alhambra Gardens and then out to the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Bagging the main target and the some more relaxed birding.

I met Garry and Paul near Granada and they followed me up to the Alhambra Car Park where we parked and then made our way down to the woodland nearby and started to search for the Hawfinches (Picogordo / Coccotraustes coccotrauetes) which were the main target for Garry as he wanted for his Spanish list. As we walked down through the trees we had Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and then we had good views of at least 8 Hawfinches, some of which perched nicely while we got the scope on to them.
Once the target was under the belt we headed out to a Cortijo near La Malaha where we had good views of several Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) a species Garry and Paul don't see regularly. In the same area we had a nice looking Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) on a small seepage pool, Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) which was sat on the back wall, Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina).
We moved on to La Malaha and went out onto the fields nearby and soon boosted the day list with Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and my first Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) of the year. Further on there were a couple of Iberian / Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) sat on a chainlink fence and a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) perched on a pile of rocks.
Along the road between Ventas de Huelma and Cacín we had a couple more Common Buzzards, two Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos), both of which were immature birds, Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica).
Our next stop was in a bar in Cacín where we had lunch before going down the valley towards Bermejalis, Paul was waiting out side for Garry and I and had a third Golden Eagle in flight just before we came out.
We drove down the Valley and we were soon watching a pair of superb Bonelli's Eagles (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) flying along the gorge,  as well as Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and a single spike of Ophrys forestieri. Back up the valley a short way at the bridge we had a fleeting glimpes of a Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) as it flew away and another Green Sandpiper down on the river.
We again moved along the valley and came to the Contra Embalse de Bermejalis where we again boosted the list with some water birds which included Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita).
We then decided to make our way out to the fields near Moraleda but on the way we picked up a Raptor on a pylon so we stopped but as soon as the door was open it dropped and we soon realised that we had a Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis) but it disappeared quickly over the ridge. We also saw a female Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) which was sat on the wire above us.
The fields were very quite and the only new species seen were Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Large White (Pieris brassicae) and an Iberian Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus / capensis) which quickly disappeared across the field.
I dropped Garry and Paul back in to the city hearing Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) on the way before heading home, on the way I took the cross country route back to the house seeing Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and a Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) which had been around for a few weeks.

Photographs from the top: Garry and Paul near Granada, Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) and 2x Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos).

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