Saturday 30 April 2016

Zapata and Fuente de Piedra, Malaga Province and Osuna and Donana, Seville Province.

Pick ups and travelling to Villamanrique in the Donana.
Donana and Extremadura tour Day one.

Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
Jayne and I travelled down to the Car hire company near Malaga Airport where Jayne dropped me off to start a week long tour and continued on to do some shopping.
White-winged (Black) Tern (Fumarel Aliblanco / Chlidonias leucopterus).
I collected a minibus and then met Mike Langley at a nearby hotel before having a look at a reed filled channel right on the Northern end of the Runway just out side the Airport fence.
White-winged (Black) Tern (Fumarel Aliblanco / Chlidonias leucopterus).
We parked and walked along the Southern bank and started the trip list off with Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Cetti's (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Reed  (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Sardinian Warblers (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Purple Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus), Little (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia), Collared (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and Turtle Doves (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus).
White-winged (Black) Tern (Fumarel Aliblanco / Chlidonias leucopterus).
Just before the bridge over the channel we turned around and headed back to the van adding Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild) and a few drifting Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
White-winged (Black) Tern (Fumarel Aliblanco / Chlidonias leucopterus).
We got to the van and headed up the motorway calling in at the area that used to be Laguna de Herrera but now drained by the farmers, we did how ever find Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax) and Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).
Whiskered Tern (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus).
After checking the fields we drove a track which followed one of the larger drainage channels and added Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) as well as Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea) and Large White (Pieris brassicae).
Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax) male.
Our next location was past Antequera and out to a nearby site where we checked an area of grape vines and eventually caught up with a very smart Rufous Tailed Bush Robin (Alzacola / Cercotrichas galactotes) which was singing from a post in a chainlink fence. In the same area we also saw Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa).
Curlew Sandpiper (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea).
Again we continued on along the A92 but only as far as Fuente de Piedra, we stopped at the side of the entrance road pool and immediately picked up a stunning adult summer plumage White-winged (Black) Tern (Fumarel Aliblanco / Chlidonias leucopterus) which was feeding along with a winter plumaged Whiskered Tern (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus). On the same pool we had Curlew Sandpipers (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea) x14, Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) x3, Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Avocet (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta) x4, Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta) x5, Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) x2, Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax) x5, Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa) x1, Bar-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colipinta / Limosa lapponica) x3, Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus) x2, Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera).
Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus).
We parked and walked out on to the board walk and added a nice male Ruff starting to come in to Summer plumage, Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina) and Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus).
We walked around to the view point and scanned the Greater Flamingo's out on the main lake and eventually picked out 2 Lesser Flamingo's (Flamenco Enano / Phoenicopterus minor), along with Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) and Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna).
Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta).
We then checked the two hides at the back of the reserve and boosted the list with Common (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina) and Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Black Tern (Fumarel Común / Chlidonias niger), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus). Whilst we were there we also recorded Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii), Small (Artogeia rapae) and Bath Whites (Pontia daplidice), Carpentor Bee (Xylocopa violacea), Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa) and Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus).
Futher on along the A92 we came off the motorway at Osuna and checked the bridges along the route seeing Spectacled (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) and Melodious Warblers (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda), Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia) and Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus).
White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).
We left the Osuan area and hurried over to Sevilla Airport where we met the rest of the group, John and Pam Fielder, Judy Clift, Linda Vincent and Mike Harvey before heading around Sevilla and out to our hotel near to Villamanrique. After checking in we went for a walk in to the nearby woodlands seeing Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blue  (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla). 
Later we had our meal and went to bed after a good start to the tour. During the night Tawny Owl (Cárabo Común / Strix aluco) was heard calling from the woods.

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Sierra de Loja, Granada Province.

April's ABS Meeting.

With this post I have cheated and used Derek Etherton's trip report that he kindly sent to me and just added a few photo's.

Andalusian Storksbill (Erodium recorderi).
For the second April 2016 meeting 30 members of the society met at Abades services on the A92 at Loja for a Wednesday mid-week birding and wildlife trip lead by Mick Richardson. As the group was too large for one convoy it was decided to split into two and also ensure four to a car to minimise vehicles; so two parties of four vehicles, one lead by Mick and the other by Bob Wright set off. By staggering the starting points for each group it meant less crowding and better access to plant and wildlife information by the respective leaders as we drove up the mountain track. 
We were with Mick Richardson and our first stop was at the lower quarry where we immediately found Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). 
Moving on after some 15 mins we stopped in the turning area before the second [large] quarry. As we walked the track Mick was able to show and name all the orchids and other wonderful flowers that seemed to be everywhere. 
Bird wise we encountered Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), a brief glimpse of a Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) [better was to come] and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). 
Reaching the large quarry in the hope that the Eurasian Eagle Owl (Búho Real / Bubo bubo) may be in residence was met with a little disappointment as no sign of the bird could be found. However Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), a heard but not seen Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) were added to the list. 
Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
Returning to the cars and starting the ascent up the mountain we stopped at an area known for warblers in the hope of adding to our list. No warblers except Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), but Iberian  Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) flew around as did Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and a Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) patrolled the higher rocks. Moving on again, making space between ourselves and the other group, we stopped at an area that in previous years Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) could be found. Would we be lucky? Immediately the answer was yes as a beautiful male bird sat on top of a straggly broom bush and sang his heart out, everyone getting super views through bins and ‘scopes; some even managed photos.
Moving on again to the electricity management area for my pet hate, wind turbines, [or BSD’s as I prefer to call them] we looked for the Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) that are normally in residence around the sheep pens. We just located one sitting on the high point of the wall but it decided to be shy and flew off out of sight. Never mind, better sightings of them were to come later, but meanwhile we could add several Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) to our list. Driving further up a super male Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) decided to sit on a rock close to the track side and sing for us all whilst many took photos.
Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia).
It had been decided that we would regroup as a whole at Charca Negra [Black tarn] for our picnic lunch. Arriving first we were rewarded with a second male Spectacled Warbler in full song mode close to the shepherd’s casa, so we all had more excellent sightings. As sandwiches appeared so too did Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) [surely a coincidence?], Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) by the dozen, a further Little Owl on top of the rocks, both Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) zoomed over rather low but much higher up in the sky Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) were seen. Feeding time over we pushed on to try for another of the days target birds - Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis) to give it its full title and we didn’t have far to travel before a handsome male bird presented itself to us sitting on a low rock at the side of the track. Easy for the lead car but not so good for the three behind, but thankfully the bird seemed to understand the situation and so flew a short distance across the track and perched in the afternoon sun in full view of everyone on a slightly higher rock. 
Iris Subbiflora.
Even better was to come when its partner joined him to pose for us all. What wonderful views we had and the birds seemed unfazed by all the attention they received. Moving on after a considerable time we hoped to spot the Scops Owl (Autillo Europeo / Otus scops) found near here by Barbara a couple of weeks ago, alas no luck but fortune smiled on us as a close by tree contained a pair of Western Orphean Warblers (Curruca Mirlona / Sylvia hortensis) and a solo [male] Pied Flycatcher (Papamoscas Cerrojillo / Ficedula hypoleuca).
Driving back down again we encountered a large herd of Spanish Ibex (Cabra montés / Cabra pyreaica) (26) and then several stops were made for close views of Common Stonechats [with young], Black Eared Wheatears [posers aren’t they!] and more Thekla Larks. Half way down everybody quickly decamped from the cars as a low passing Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) [adult] gave us super views and lo and behold 2 mins later a pair of Bonelli's Eagles (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) repeated the performance.
A quick visit back to the main quarry produced Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla) [long title for such a tiny bird!] a solo Black Kite, Collared Dove and extended close views of a pair of Dartford Warblers. As the group rejoined we could give our thanks to Mick Richardson, ably assisted by Bob Wright, for a smashing day full of birds, flowers and information, say our farewells and head back down the motorway.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Caleta del Velez and Rio Velez, Torre del Mar, Malaga Province,

A day on the coast birding and plant buying.

Audouin's Gull (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii).
Jayne and I headed down to the coast via the Market at Trapiche, on the way we saw European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). 
Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis).
I dropped Jayne at the shopping centre and headed for the fenced beach at Caleta where I checked through the gulls and took some shots of the ringed birds there. 
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus).
They included Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis). 
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus).
I also saw Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Monk Parakeet (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) before heading along the coast to the Rio Velez. 
Gull with deformed bill.
As soon as I arrived and checked the far banks of the river I could see that there was a serious problem at the site with reed cutting and when I parked it soon became obvious why when I spotted one of the migrant workers with a hand scythe chopping down another area of the giant reeds for us on the tomato fields nearby. I have since been told that it is illegal to cut the reeds after some point in March which would explain why he was less than happy when he later saw me taking his photograph!!!
Squacco Herons (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides).
I walked down to the beach to find a large area of the reeds had been burnt off, on my way I had Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Yellow-leggedGull, Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Crested Lark, Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) as well as Perez's Frog (Rana Común / Pelophylax perezi), Large (Pieris brassicae) and Small Whites (Artogeia rapae), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea). 
The distuctive Cane Cutter.
Once I was out on the beach I sat by the large pool at the rivers end and scanned the reeds and water see and hearing Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), 5x Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Grey x9 (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and 3x Purple Herons (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea), 1x Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), 7x Squacco Herons (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides) which came in off the sea and dropped straight into the reeds, Western Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), male Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) and both male and female Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator).
Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus).
I then made my way back to the car took the photo's of the cane cutter and then checked the other side of the bridge where the cutting was even worse. 
Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos).
I did however see my first Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata) of the year as well as Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and several Mammoth Wasps (Megascolia maculata) before meeting up with Jayne again for lunch and an afternoon around the garden centres.
Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata).