Tuesday 24 April 2018

Cacín Valley and La Malaha, Granada Province.

Birding in the Cacín Valley with Chris, Audrey and Mick all from the UK.

Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra) just after a bath.
I picked Mick up from Realenga and we went and met up with Chris and Audrey at the Cortijo de Tajar Hotel by the A92 before driving out on to the fields near to Morleda. We made out first stop shortly after taking to the tracks and began the day list with Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), several rattling Serins (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), several calling but distant European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), a well hidden calling Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), both Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica).
Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra) just after a bath.
We moved on around the next bend which bought us closer to the Red-rumped Swallows so Chris managed some shot at quite close range and we also had another couple of Hoopoes which were seen in flight this time and a male Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).
Further along the track we stopped again and listened to but did not find a Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and some nice Orchid species including Bumblebee (Ophrys bombyliflora), Dark Spider (Ophrys incubacea), Fan-lipped (Anacamptis collina), Mirror (Ophrys speculum) and Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea).
Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator).
Just a little further on we stopped again to look at some nicely perched European Bee-eaters sitting on some unpicked Wild Asparagus spikes. Whilst we were watching them an unexpected Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) flew up on to the woody lower part of the plant and in the area nearby we had better views of a Sardinian Warbler and added Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and a rather shy Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which dived for cover just as we located it.
Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
We moved up on to the upper almong grove areas and then out on to the cereal crop fields nearby, on the way through the almongs we had a walk along one of the side tracks seeing a pair of Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), several Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), the first of quite a few (more than expected for spring passage) Whinchats (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), a Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), heard a Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei) and checked through a passing group of Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) for other species. 
As we approached the ruined Cortijo we watched several Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) on the track in front of us and could see a pair of Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) sat on the back wall but they were off as soon as we arrived. 
We made one final stop just as we were leaving the area when I picked up a Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris) feeding in an area that had been cleared of almond trees, in the same area we saw two stunning Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) which sat up in the remaining tree tops, heard a Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix) calling and best of all had two male Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) fly past.
Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla).
We cut across coutry and headed for the fields in the La Malaha area picking up a smart Little Owl on the way.
Once on the fields at La Malaha we started to hear the rhaspberry calls from the Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) but as hard as we tried we could not find a bird out in the open, however we did get good vews of Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), a very smart Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), the first of a few Booted Eagles (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and a soaring Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) and my first Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) of the year.
Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) looking annoyed.
As we drove across the area we saw several very nice Spanish (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) but on one of the fields we found a bird that looked a bit different so we took some shots even though it was a bit distant and after checking on our return it turns out it was the Grey-headed (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava thunbergi) passing through on its way up to scandinavia and just as we were going to head off 3 flying Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) cruised aroud the sky never coming in close but gving us good identificaton vews.
Our next stop was in a local bar for a coffee and to collect a sandwich for later before gong out towards Cacín making a stop near to a recently chopped Poplar plantation where we had another pair of Booted Eagles, Spotted (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata) and Pied Flycatcher (Papamoscas Cerrojillo / Ficedula hypoleuca), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and a Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo). We continued on and made a couple more short stops and seeing a couple more flighty Rollers, Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and Yellow Bee Orchid (Ophrys lutea) before dropping down in to the Cacín Valley.
Grey-headed (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava thunbergi).
We left Cacín and headed north along the valley to the Embalse de Cacín where we parked and walked down to the margins to see what was around and soon found that there were good numbers of waders on the muddy areas as the water levels were quite low, these included 20+ Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), 10+ Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), a single Wood Sandpiper (Andarrios Bastardo / Tringa glareola), 2x Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus) and several Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) along with 2 Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and a Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea).
Grey-headed (Yellow) Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava thunbergi).
Out on the water there were qute a few Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and as we walked back to the car a bathing Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus). Around the edges we picked up White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Reed (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Cetti's Warblers (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) as well as Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa) and Perez's Frog (Rana Común / Pelophylax perezi).
Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and a couple of the many Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos).
We drove the short distance up to the bridge over the Cacín and walked along the track towards the dam checking the large White Poplars at the end where we found Willow (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochillus), Garden (Curruca Mosquitera / Sylvia borin) and Bonelli's Warblers (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) as well as Jay (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) which we only heard, Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) and drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major).
We moved further up the valley seeing Iberian  Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) on the way and made our last stops along the road below the crags at Moraleda where we scanned the cliffs and added Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) before heading back to the hotel and then home.

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