Tuesday 9 May 2017

Sierra de Loja and the upper Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

Birding with Erin and Brandt from America.

Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).
I met Erin and Brandt in Trabuco and we headed out on  road heading towards Sierra de Loja making a couple of stops before reaching the main entrance to the site. The first was just in some roadside woodland / Scrub where we started the day list with Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and at a nearby area of cereal fields we had great views of several Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica).
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) leaving.
Once we were up on the Sierra we started to add more new species, the first of these were in the lowest of the quarries and included Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula).
A little further along the track we made a stop when I heard several Long-tailed Tits (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) calling from the pine trees, in the same area we also had Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), a fly through Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) and Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla).
Higher up we checked the next quarry area and the entrance track where Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) as well as Pyramidal Orchids (Anacamptis pyramidalia).
European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster).
We continued on up the crags and out to the far side of the site but the wind grew as we went and made birding hard going as most species kept their heads down and if they did show it was briefly. However we managed display flight views of the uncommon Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), a fly over Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Iberian / Southern Grey (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli).
We also had Cleopatra (Gonepteryx cleopatra), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea), Cardinal Fritillary (Argynnis pandora) and Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia) for the butterflies and a male Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator) which flew around on Charca Negra. As we drove up the hill we also saw single Montpellier (Malpolon monspessulanus) and Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris).
Once we were off the site we went for a spot of lunch and then out on to the fields near to Moraleda where we boosted the list with Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis), Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) as well as Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) and Bath White (Pontia daplidice).

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