Tuesday, 25 October 2016

La Malaha, Cacín Valley, Moraleda and Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

A day in the field with Barb and Eric from Canada.

I met Barb and Eric at their hotel in Granada City and then we headed out along the motorway towards Motril and the off West heading for La Malaha which was a change of plan forced by the motorway being blocked heading North. Before we go to La Malaha we turned off on to a dirt farm track where we checked a flock of Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and found that there were approx equal numbers of Spotted and Common Starlings (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris), on the fields on either side of the track we found lots of White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Meadow Pipits (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), along with a few Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and in the air a group of Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula). 
Up over the ridge we stopped again and added Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and three fly over Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax).
Slightly further down the track we checked the area around a ruined Finca and soon found a flock of 30+ Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), a female Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and on the way off the site a Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) and a couple of Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia).
After a quick coffee and loo stop in La Malaha we went out on to the fields but just out of the village we made a stop when we saw a female Common Redstart (Colirroja Real / Phoenicurus phoenicurus) flick up in to a small pine tree, in the same spot we had a short walk and found the similar Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
We continued on along the same road and then out on to the fields again and by the time we exited on the Ventas de Huelma road we had seen Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), a very smart Iberian / Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and a slightly unfortunate European Nightjar (Chotacabras Europeo / Caprimulgus europaeus) which was hanging dead from a chain link fence.
On the road between Hulema and Cacín we heard and saw Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs).
We called in at the bar in Cacín where we had another coffee and collected our sandwiches for lunch which we took with us, on the way out to the gorge we stopped at the bridge just out of the town where we checked the rocks and willows and found Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and a Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) which called loadly but remained out of sight.
Down the valley above the gorge we found Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia) and a Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) which flew along the far cliff top upsetting all the Crag Martins on his way south. 
After finishing out lunch we moved back up the valley to the Contra-embalse de Bermejalis, the water level was very low which meant that there were a few waders on the mud including a good number of Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Green (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and a single Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba). On the water we had Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus). On the margins and mud bars we also had 5+ Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus), Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta) x3, a single immature Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava) and know that the sun had come out a touch we started to see a few butterfly species including Bath (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Small White (Pieris rapae), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) and 2x Desert Orange-tips (Colotis evagore).
Our next stop was in the bar at El Turro for a coffee and Loo stop before going up the road on to the fields where we had good views of 16 Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) before we headed off to our final spot of the day on the fields near Huétor Tajar for our last target species. On a filed just out side the town we had 100+ Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), 30+ Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), several Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and a Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) which dropped in to distant fileds.
we took a drive along the Rio Vilano and finished the days list with Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and loads of the stunning Iberian / Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) x50+, which were in all the trees around us and on the flieds and mobbing a Common Buzzard
We finished off and headed back up into the City where I dropped Barb and Eric off at their hotel before heading home. Thanks to Barb and Eric for their company on this days birding.

Photographs from the top: Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), 2x the dead European Nightjar (Chotacabras Europeo / Caprimulgus europaeus), 2x Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) and a Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata).

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