Friday 8 December 2017

Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

A days birding with Elaine from Canada.

View from the Raptor watch point.
On my way up to Granada where I was meeting Elaine I started the day list off with Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) x2, House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) 1000s and Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia).
I met Elaine in the city and we drove back to Huétor Fields giving it time to warm up a bit before we started birding along the Mesia side of the area, we started off checking the irrigation ditches and along the bank of the Arroyo Vilano.
Elaine at the watch point.
In this first area we picked up a female Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), both male and female Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), several wintering White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), a group of 5 noisy Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), calling Meadow Pipits (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis) coming up out of the Lucerne fields, Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) which were perched up on the wires and then a surprise when a bird that flew into a patch of Giant Reeds on the far bank turned out to be a wintering Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla).
We crossed the road where again we checked the irrigation ditches, surrounding fields and an area of reeds. A group of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) flew in whilst we were checking the ditches, down in the reeds we found several feeding Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and on the far side of the track along the side of the reeds we added Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), a couple of Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and the another Wryneck which sat in the reeds but dropped out of sight just as I got back with my camera. As we approached the stand of reeds the Wryneck flew around us and away into a honeysuckle hedge on a nearby allotment and then just a few meters away another bird flew up from the reeds into a small tree and this also turned out to be another wintering Wryneck, amazing to have three of these summer visiting species still here.
Further along the track and by the Arroyo again we found our first Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) which were feeding on some distant pomegranate, Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), as well as flocks of both Brambling (Pinzón Real / Fringilla montifringilla) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) on the ploughed areas of the fields.
We next headed out on to the fields on the Loja side of the area, as we drove we found one of my regular Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) sitting in a roadside tree, several flocks of Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) came up from roadside weeds as we passed, 3 Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) feeding on seed heads and had our first Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) of the day as it flew through the Olives.
Once we reached the Lucerne fields we quickly located the flock of Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) mixed in with a couple of hundred Northern Lapwings and a single Western Cattle Egret.
We drove a short way around to the next spot where we had loads more Northern Lapwings, a single Little Bustard, a few Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria), lots of day time roosting Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), a single Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus) sat up on the wires and quite a few noisy Jackdaws.
We crossed over to the southern side of the A92 to reach our next site which was near Moraleda, once out on the fields we parked and scanned through finch and sparrow flocks which were feeding on the recently sown fields which were just showing green shoots of the winter cereal crops. We soon found good numbers of Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and even larger numbers of Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) mixed in with Meadow Pipits, Goldfinches and Skylarks.
On the drive around to the disused Cortijo we found Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris). Near the Cortijo we made another stop but it was very quiet and we only added a couple of Common Kestrels (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) so we dropped down in to the valley and had some lunch in El Turro. Later we continued on into the Pine woodlands and the to the bridge over the Rio Cacín picking up Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) which was only heard.
5x Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus).
Our next stop was at the Contra-Embalse which turned out to be the highlight of the day for Elaine, from the parking spot we could see that the water level was quite low which meant that there were a few waders around including 8+ Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) which were chasing each other around flashing their nice white rumps, several probing Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago) and a group of 5x Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus). Other birds out on the water included Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) x20+, Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope) x1male, Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata). In the air and around the margins we also saw a male Reed Bunting (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus) in winter plumage, Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), a Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) which Elaine picked up flying along the Pines on the far shore and a calling but hidden Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus).
We dropped further down the valley and then up over the ridge and back through to Granada, we saw lots of the species we had already recorded but found nothing new. The city was crazy and the police had shut all roads to the center so I had to say good bye to Elaine quite a way out from her hotel.
Thanks for your company during the day and for taking the time to do a Trip Advisor review for Granada Wildlife.

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