Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Upper Cacín Valley, Zafarraya Road and Sierra de Loja, Granada Province.

Out and about with Lynn and Steve Jones from the UK.

Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) on the way to the fields.
We headed off to the fields near Moraleda where we spent a while looking for the resident Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which we eventually had out on one of the newly harvested fields on the far side of the site. Before we reached the cereal fields we saw Turtle (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and on a roadside telegraph pole the first Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).
Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) with beetle.
Amongst the Almonds we also saw Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Crested Larks (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Iberian / Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops and on the central fields we spent quite a while watching a pair of Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) bringing in a stream of large black beetles for their young. 
Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) after feeding the youngsters.
In the same area we also saw Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and out on the far stubble fields where we saw the BB Sandgrouse we also found another pair of Rollers, Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Iberian / Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and in the air lots of Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) feeding on an insect hatch. 
Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla).
In the area around the stubble fields we also saw Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Scarce Swallowtail (Chupaleches / Iphiclides podalirius feisthameli), Small White (Pieris rapae), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) and Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui).
Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) the adult bird.
We left the site but went just down the road to a spot where I have found a couple of pairs of Little Owls and we soon found an adult bird sat in an Almond but it did not want to play and disappeared almost instantly but a little further down the road another bird sat well and we managed some shot of it. As we were watching this bird I was aware of some wings flapping in a strange way on the other side of the main trunk so we rolled along until we could see what was going on. When we stopped we found a young owl with one of its legs trapped in a crack in the bark and it was hanging upside down looking very unhappy. 
Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) the youngster on a safe branch.
I got out of the car and climbed just to the lower branches and unhooked the bird and placed it on a branch nearby before going a little higher getting hold of the bird again and putting it near the nest hole where it sat staring at us. We took a few shots of the little chap and then left the Owls be.
Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) safely back at the nest hole.
We then moved back along the Motorway past Loja and down the road to Zafarraya where we parked on a farm track and watched several Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) flying above the cereal fields and seeing a couple of food passes. In the same spot we also saw Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica).
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), a male with prey.
On our way back east we went up the Sierra de Loja and made our way right over to the far side where we were looking for the locally uncommon butterfly the Geranium Argus (Eumedonia eumedon) which we found but they played hard to get the camera on. 
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), a male.
In the same area we had Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera), Iberian Marbled White (Medioluto Ibérica / Melanargia lachesis), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus), Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris), Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera), a rather along way from trees Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae), Southern Marbled Skipper (Carcharodus baeticus) and Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina).
Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), a male.
In this area and on the way up and down we recorded several species of bird including Black (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) and Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) along with Cardinal Fritillary (Pandora / Argynnis pandora) which flew over the track. We dropped back down to Loja and then back to the house.

Spanish Brown Argus (Aricia cramera).
Geranium Argus (Eumedonia eumedon).
Geranium Argus (Eumedonia eumedon).
Geranium Argus (Eumedonia eumedon).
Geranium Argus (Eumedonia eumedon).

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