Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Moraleda and Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

A second days birding with Clements Radenborg from the Netherlands.

I met Clements near Moraleda under rather heavy looking skies, we had had a few rain showers over night but i hoped that they would have pushed off by this point but it worked for us in the end.
We started by going out on to the fields nearby and soon started to find some interesting species including the first of many Hoopoes (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and the a distant but tickable pair of Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) out on a stubble field. Our next stop was at the Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) rock pile where we found the usual couple of youngsters at home, the one perched very nicely for us but the shots were difficult as the light was bad. To make the light even worse it started to rain but just as it did the owl that was nearest to us leap up on to the highest point in the pile and started to wing surf to catch the rain for a shower, just great to watch. We moved on and saw several more Hoopoes, a single Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and several Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and as we made our way out to the far side of this site another Little Owl sat on the wall of a derelict Cortijo, the same place I had seen the same bird a few weeks earlier. 
Over amongst the Almonds we found another couple of Sandgrouse but they were off before we could get the cameras anywhere near them, we also had Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus),Turtle (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and just as we were leaving the area a Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis).
We then dropped down in to the Cacín Valley and stopped in an area of Pine trees where we heard several Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Coal  (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and then down by the river we had a couple of Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) sat in the open in a dead tree. As we dropped down the bank we heard Iberian / Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) off to our left so we went to find them as they would be a new bird for Clement and after a short walk we found a good sized flock of them feeding in a weedy olive grove. In this area and along the river bank we also found Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) as well as several Copper Demoiselles (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Bath (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Small Whites (Pieris rapae) and Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera).
Once we were back at the car we drove down to the bridge over the river and from the bridge we saw a nice female Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), lots more Copper Demoiselles, Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and further along the track towards the dam White (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Bonelli's (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Cetti's (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), a singing but elusive Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Mediterranean skipper (Gegenes nostrodamus) and a Long-tailed Blue (Lampides boeticus) which sat nicely for Clements.
We stopped quickly at the embalse but only found the expected Northern Shovelers (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea).
Further down the valley in the gorge we had a nice flock of European Bee-eaters in some roadside Almonds, an immature Woodchat Shrike, several Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and along the ridge between Cacín and Ventas another Short-toed Eagle and Little Owl.
On the way back towards our start point we called in on the fields again hoping for better views of the Black-bellied Sandgrouse and we were not disappointed when we came across a group of 4 birds sat under an Almond tree, two few straight away but the others stayed and the strolled off but did not fly which gave our camera's a good work out. As we started to drive off this site I was watching for potholes in the track when Cement picked up a Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) further down the track but it dropped low to the right and we could not relocate it so we continued on to our final stop of the day at Balsa de Rigedor on the side of the A92 where we did some photography of the dragonflies and saw Blue / Common (Anax imperator) and Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope), Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata), Orange-winged Dropwing, Red-veined Darter, Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), Small Red-eyed (Erythromma viridulum), Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii) as well as African Grass Blue (Nina esmaltada / Zizeeia knysna), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis).
We then returned to Clements to his car and I headed home after a second good days birding together.

Photographs from the top: 4x Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Mediterranean skipper (Gegenes nostrodamus), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), male Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis), female Black-bellied Sandgrouse, female Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata) and female Orange-winged Dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi).

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