Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Another day down the Cacín Valley.

European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster).
I was up in the City of Granada and picking up Mehdi and his girlfriend Tatiana from Switzerland by 08:30 and we then battled the rush hour traffic out of the city and on to the fields near Moraleda, on the way we started the day list with Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Iberian Brown Hare (Liebre ibérica / Lepus granatensis) and a cracking Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which we found on a chainling fense post where he is often to be seen. Once we were on the tracks we found a group of European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) sat on wires, a singing male Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and a little further along the track a fly over Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), purrrrrrrrrrring Turtle Doves (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), the first of several Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), a calling but hidden Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), we heard several during the day but they all remained unseen and a Red Fox (Zorro / Vulpus vulpus). In the same area we also saw several spikes of Yellow Bee Orchids (Orquídea Abejera / Ophrys lutea), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Small White (Pieris rapae) and lots of Rabbits (Conejo / Oryctolagus cuniculus).
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
We again moved on out into the Almond groves and soon picked up Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Crested Larks (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Iberian / Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) but we only managed to get flight views of a couple of Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) but they are still  very special species to get on the day list. 
As we walked back to the car we had Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and as we drove out on to the upper fields Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) were added.
Out on the larger fields we found a pair of stunning Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) and further around the site the first of quite a few Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), two more Black-bellied Sandgrouse, a very well behaved Great Spotted Cuckoo which showed very well in a tree and then down on the ground and another Little Owl (one of my original rock pile family birds). 
We dropped down towards El Turro and on the way saw a nice male Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and found a smart looking Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris) which allowed us to take some photographs of it and did not want to move, but before we left it we moved it off the road in to the verge vegetation as it was hopefully safer there.
In the Village we made a stop at the bar and got lunch to take with us and had a drink whilst the food was being prepared.
Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris).
Our next stop was just down the road in the pine woodlands along the road and the broadleaved woods along side the rio Cacín, as we got out of the car we could hear a Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) calling off in the distance and a Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) closer to us down by the river. As we walked long the track though the olives between the pines and the river we briefly saw a single Iberian / Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), both Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), several elegant Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), a couple of heavier Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), singing Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and a soaring Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) a bird Ahmad had particularly wanted to see, very pleased.
We walked back to the car adding Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) before we moved down the valley to the bridge where we sat and had lunch listening to the fluting calls of a well hidden Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus).
Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra).
Once we had eaten we had a look at the river from the bridge where we heard Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) and saw more Blackcaps and as we walked along the river towards the dam we added Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), heard Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), had nice views of both male and female Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) and in the sky soaring Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus). 
Up at the Embalse we scanned the water and the margins and soon found Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Reed (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) before going down to Cacín and the over to Ventas de Huelma. 
On the drive across country we had two pale phase Booted Eagles (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia) and a couple of singing Melodious Warblers (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta) one of which I would have liked to have seen again as it showed very distinct pale wing panels!!!  In the same area we had another couple of Great Spotted Cuckoo's and a Roller
The end of a good days birding with several new birds for Ahmad and Tatiana.
Further on we took to the fields again and soon found another one of the days target species, the Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) which we found in good numbers along with Iberian / Southern Grey Shrike,  a distant male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), we got better views of a second bird later, Black-veined White (Banca del Majuelo / Aporia crataegi), Ocellated (Lacerta lepida) and Andalucian Wall Lizards (Podarcis vaucheri).
Our last stop of the day was on the way back into the city at a semi ruined Cortijo were we soon had very nice views of several Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni). 
Thanks to Mehdi and Tatiana for a really good day, good company and some great birds, with 66 species being seen in all.

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