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.

Thursday 7 December 2017

Sierra de Loja and El Jau, Granada Province.

Looking for Thrushes in the Sierra and Barn Owls amongst the Tobacco Barns.

Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata).
I start the list off at the house with Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus) and on the way out to the Sierra Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
Ring Ouzel (Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus).
Once I was up on the Sierra I drove to the far side and on the way I saw Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).
Ring Ouzel (Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus).
Once at the furhtest point I parked on the side of the track amongst the Hawthorn trees and waited to see what appeared, birds that turned up included several Ring Ouzel (Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus) x20+, Fieldfare (Zorzal Real / Turdus pilaris) x3, Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mistle Thrush, Redwing (Zorzal Alirrojo / Turdus illacus), Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) and Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus). I had a walk up on to the scree slopes above the track looking for some Alpine Accentors (Acentor Alpino / Prunella collaris) that I could hear from the car, once I found the flock I turned up 11 birds but they remained distant and when a Sparrowhawk came in flew up and over the crags.
Fieldfare (Zorzal Real / Turdus pilaris).
After a while I dropped down to a nearby pool where I was surprised to find a Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) along with the first of a few Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and Linnets (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) along with a nice male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius).
Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
On my way down the hill I added Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) which sat for the Camera, Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) and down by the exit a male Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) which was singing from the top of a small pine tree.
A day time moon from the Sierra.
Later in the day Jayne and I headed Up towards Granada to visit a Chanel exhibition in the city, on the way we stopped off at an area of agricultural lands surrounded by old Tobacco barns looking for Barn Owl (Lechuza Común / Tyto alba) but again I dipped.
Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus).
However I did see quite a few species including Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Corn Bunting, Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Blackbird, Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Black Redstart, Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), White Wagtail, Spotless Starling, Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Common Chiffchaff, Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), House Sparrow and last of all a Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) which drifted in to a nearby reed bed for the night.
Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia).
We went up in to the city and had a good time at the exhibition and then had a mooooch around before heading back to Huétor for some food.

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Huétor Tajar, Granada Province.

Siskins and a few more Siskins.

Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) male.
During a couple of hours in the hide I was pleased to count 18 Siskins (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) coming down to feed on the seed I had put out. Other species visiting the garden were Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes). 

Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) male.
Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) female.
Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) male.
Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) female.
House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus).
Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus).