Saturday 9 January 2016

Santa Uxia de Ribeira, Castro de Barona and a medieval Bridge, SW of Santiago de Composela, Galicia.

A day of mixed weather again but with a visit to a very special Place along the way.

 A cheese stall in the market.
Jayne and I again headed off out in the rain which eased as we went down the peninsular towards Santa Uxia de Riberira where we were going to make our first stop of the day in the town. By the time we arrived the rain had stopped but it remained windy and the locals were setting up a market on the car park of the fishing port so we parked and had a walk around buying some local fruit bread and Oranges.
Salt Fish.
During the stroll I checked the jetties for gulls and found several Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) of various ages and an adult Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and on the rocks just back along the coast a nice adult Great Black-backed (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus).
The Bakers.
As we walked back to the car I also had Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), Eurasian Oystercatcher (Ostrero Euroasiatico / Haematopus ostralegus), Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Shag (Cormorán Mondudo / Phalacrocorax aristotelis), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Northern Gannet (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone) and a fly over Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo).
Anyone for pigs head!!!!!
We continued on around the coast for a short way before finding a couple of lakes almongst some Dunes but they were all inaccessible due to the amount of lying water but from a distance I did pick out Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and several Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) but little else.
Eurasian  Oystercatcher (Ostrero Euroasiatico / Haematopus ostralegus) and Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres).
We moved on up the coast to Castro de Barona an excavated site of an old Celtic fortress / settlement on a rocky out crop in the sea which when we arrived was getting a right battering due to the very strong winds and high sea. This place is magical and worth coming all the way to Galicia alone.
Some stone Goose barnacles (Pollicipes polymerus) well I hope they are.
We did not get to spend as long as would have liked there due to the weather which was truly horrendous when we arrived and after about an hour went down hill rapidly so we were forced to leave as it was becoming slippery and dangerous.
Castro de Barona.
However during the time there I scanned the sea a few times and had dozens of passing Northern Gannets, a Shearwater species which was probably a Manx but I was being blow in to next week at the point and could not be sure, singles of both Great Skua (Págalo Grande / Stercorarius skua) and Guillemot (Arao Común / Uria aalge) which came in very close and several small grey waders but again they could not be sorted in the conditions.
Castro de Barona.
On the rocks I had a Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Black Redstart and several Meadow Pipits. The wind got worse and the rain came down so we headed back to the car picking up a Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei) and a pair of Common Stonechats (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) on the way. 
Jayne get a tad wind swept at Castro de Barona.
We got back to the car and in to the dry just as it got really heavy, on the way up to the spot we had also seen a sign for a medieval bridge so we went back a few Km for a look. 
We sat in the car for a while and the rain eased a bit so we went for it and by the time we had walked down the short track it had stopped and we enjoyed seeing the bridge before starting our journey back to the hotel in Santiago. 
Castro de Barona.
On the way we made a quick stop in the port at Porto do Son where I tried to get some shots of the Gulls and Turnstones.
 Jayne heading for cover at Castro de Barona.
During the evening we went back to the Tapas bar we had been in on the first night and Jayne tried the local Octopus and I had more of the superb Tapas.
Castro de Barona.
Castro de Barona.
The medieval Bridge.
Jayne on the medieval Bridge.

The medieval Bridge from the other side.
Waves at Porto do Son.
Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus).
Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus).
Mediterranean Gull (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus).
Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres).
Jayne's Galician Octopus

Friday 8 January 2016

A Coruña, Galicia.

A morning around the shops whilst it rained and some birding later.

Shag (Cormorán Mondudo / Phalacrocorax aristotelis).
As the weather report did not look good we decided to head a few Km North to the town of A Coruña and visit the shopping Marineda City for a few hours and then have a look at the weather during the afternoon. 
Shag (Cormorán Mondudo / Phalacrocorax aristotelis).
We shopped until 1ish and the took a drive down towards the port and stopped at a spot over looking the Porto Deportivo where I spent a nice hour scanning the sea, rocks and pontoons amongst the boats and saw several Shags (Cormorán Mondudo / Phalacrocorax aristotelis), Great Cormorants (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and 2x Razorbills (Alca Común / Alca torda) on the water as well as Great Black-backed (Gavión Atlántico / Larus marinus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), 3x Kittiwakes (Gaviota Tridáctila / Rissa tridactyla), Sandwich Terns (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), 22x Ruddy Turnstones (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres) and a single Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina) on the floating jetties.
Razorbill (Alca Común / Alca torda).
There were also lots of Northern Gannets (Alcatraz Atlántico / Morus bassanus) further out in the sea. In the same area I had Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and a single male Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos). 
Razorbill (Alca Común / Alca torda).
We later continued on around the coast a shorth way to the area near the Torre de Hercules where we had some luch before taking a walk up to the Tower. In the area I just added Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and a possible adult Herring Gull (Gaviota Argéntea Europea / Larus argentatus) but it was flushed by a dog before I got a good enough view. 
Old Port Buildings.
The afternoon soon went by so we made our way back to Santiago and dropped a few bits off at the hotel before going for a walk around the old part of town and having something to eat.
Torre de Hercules.
Jayne infront of the Torre de Hercules.
Torre de Hercules.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Palencia to Santiago de Compostela

A bit of culture, a Spanish Lifer and lots of rain (just like the UK).

Statue of Christ (Cristo del Otero).
Jayne and I started the day with a walk around the very nice old part of the City of Palencia getting shots of several of the older buildings including the very impressive Cathedral in the plaza de San Antolin as well as the 20meter high status of Christ (Cristo del Otero). We also had a look at the Río Carrión and the Canal de Castilla were I was pleased to find a couple of Mute Swans (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor), several Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and good numbers of Siskins (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) in the surounding Alder trees.
Statues in Palencia.
As we cross back over the Río we saw several more Mute Swans and lots of Mallards. In the town and suroundings we also saw Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula).
Mute Swans (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor).
We returned to the hotel and collected the car just as it started to drizzle and headed out of the City towards a spot near a small village called Perales where a Hooded Crow had been reported a few days earlier but in the wet conditions all I recorded were 5 Carrion Crows (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), a Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei) and a large female Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis) which upset everything as it passed through. 
Church in Palencia.
From here we headed through the rain towards Fuentes de Nava where we were going to visit the lakes at Humedal de la Nava looking for wildfowl but just before we reached the town I spotted a roadside flock of geese and a pull off spot at the same time. Right in front of where I stopped I quickly found 5 Greater White-fronted Geese (Ánsar Careto / Anser albifrons) in amongst the 800 or so Greylags (Ansar Común / Anser anser) and on the oposite side of the road there were several White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Feral Pigeons (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia) and several Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Greater White-fronted (Ánsar Careto / Anser albifrons) and Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser).
We continued on around to the wetlands and I stopped at the first hide and scanned a wind sweep lake surrounded by reed beds but only found 2 more Mute Swans, 3 Marsh Harriers and a Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) so we carried on to another parking area where I left Jayne with her Kindle and went for a walk out to the tower hide nearby.
On the way I checked out an area of wet Willow scrub and found Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis).
Tapas in bar.
Once I was in the hide I scanned a few nearby pools where there were quite good numbers of ducks including Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope) and lots more Mallards. On the margins there was a single Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) and on field further away 9+ Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) and a flock of Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis).
We made a couple more stops on the roadsides but could not find any more geese hidden amongst the 1000s of Greylags so we started the drive up to Santiago de Compostela just stopping the once for some lunch.
Bar owner with Tapas.
The weather got much worse and the high winds and very heavy rain made or an interesting drive. In some calmer periods of rain we did see several Marsh and 3 Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) as well as Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris). We reached Santiargo just on dark in very heavy rain but the Satnav took us to the hotel and then to a nearby car park, after checking in we had a walk and found a very nice little tapas bar called Antollos and had some food before turning in.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Travelling from home to Palencia via Madrid.

A day of driving, calling in at a bizarre Cathedral on the way North.
Winter break day one.

Jayne and I left the house just after 06:00 and started to make out way towards Madrid, at frist if was quite cloudy but just after dawn things brightened and by the time we reached Mejorada del Campo and parked out side the self build Cathedral called Nuestra Señora del Pilar in the town. Justo Gallego Martínez started to build the Cathedral in 1961 and is still at it ago 90+, it is still very much a project needing lots of work but well worth the visit.
Whilst there we saw several White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia) which were returning to nest on the building, Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), House Sparrows (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and some large flocks of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) which were passing over.
From here we continued North through the Sierra Guadarrama where we picked up a few species flying over the N1 including 2 Black / Cinereous (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) and quite a few Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and a single Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
About 120KM north of Madrid we turned off the motorways and headed across country towards Palencia where we were stopping for our first night, on the way adding several birds to the list including White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa).
We also saw a small herd of deer which I think were probably Roe (Capreolus capreolus) and several Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus).
As we got closer to Palencia the weather took a nose dive and started to throw it down but undetured we had a nice walk around to the Cathedral and had some thing to eat before heading back to the hotel for the evening and an earlish night after a long day.

Sunday 3 January 2016

Sierra de Loja and Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

Birding in the rain, mist and Mud with Juan and Beatriz.

I left the house and started to make my way down to the Cortijo de Tajar where I was going to meet Juan, Beatriz and Chika for a trip up Sierra de Loja but I was a little early so I checked the fields to the south of the town. In a weedy fallow patch I found several Goldfinches (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Common Chaffinches (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and male and female Brambling (Pinzón Real / Fringilla montifringilla).
Down by the rive there were calling Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
I met Juan and Beatriz and we made our way towards a cloud covered hill, we started to make our way up and as we hit the top the weather started to deteriorate.
Once we passed over the ridge and found several Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and then a pair of Bonelli's Eagles (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) which Beatriz picked up in the drizzle which was getting worse.
We continued on passing Charca del Negro and out to the Hawthorn scrub adding just Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa).
Out at the furthest point the weather was very unpleasant so we did not hang around long before we retraced our way down the hill and back to the hotel as things got no better.
On my way back to the house from the hotel I added Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Common (Urraca / Pica pica) and Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata).
Once I was back at the house I was pleased to add another species to the garden list when a cracking male Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) joined the dozen or so Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) on the feeder.