Sunday 14 April 2019

La Malaha and the Cacín Valley, Granada Province, Spain.

A brilliant days birding with Phil from the UK.

Male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).
I met Phil at his accommodation in Durcal  and we headed straight out in to the country about 20 minutes away and parked at an old semi-ruined Cortijo where we had good views off around 15 Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) as well as good numbers of Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), a singing Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and down in the rush filled dry Barranco a female Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), male Pied Flycatcher (Papamoscas Cerrojillo / Ficedula hypoleuca), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), male Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and at least 3x Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) which were checking out some tunnels for nest sites.
Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra).
We made a brief roadside stop near La Malaha and had another male Pied Flycatcher, singing Nightingales, Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica).
Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis).
Just up the road we had the first of quite a few Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and a few hundred meters further on a cracking male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which was calling from a weedy fallow field, this was followed by at least 3 more birds in the same area.
Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis).
As we watched the Bustards we heard a calling Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) off in a distant Almond plantation, I set up the scope and we had views of a male standing right next to a Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) and soon we were watching a pair flying from the Almonds and away.
Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae).
We saw another male on one of the side tracks so we drove down to the spot to get a better view but instead we had a pair of stunning Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) which flew around us a couple of times and the headed off east.
Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops).
In the same area we heard a calling Common Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix) and as we drove through the olives towards our next birding area we had European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), 2x Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and in amongst an Almond Grove with lots of wildflowers we had a female Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia), Large White (Pieris brassicae), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), a small day flying Moth which still needs a name, Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), the Purple Poppy like plant Roemeria hybrida and on the fields a few Rabbit (Conejo / Oryctolagus cuniculus).
Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra).
We made a stop on the road out to the Cacín Valley where we had a short walk picking up more Nightingales, a male Sardinian Warbler, the first Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and then a stunning Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) came over the top of us callin and later we had a pair chasing each other around some dead trees.
Roemeria hybrida.
As we walked we had a single African Grass Blue (Nina esmaltada / Zizeeia knysna) which was a most wanted species for Phil along with European Bee-eater, another male Pied Flycatcher, Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and pale morph Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) back down the valley.
Moth species.
A little further on we checked the dead trees and had two Rollers fly off around the next corner and out of sight but whilst we checked the next bend in the road in the direction they had flown a large raptor came up over a nearby ridge and then flew away from us quickly but not before it did a couple of turns and letting us see that it was an immature Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti).
We drove around to another view point a few Kms further on to see if we could pick up the Eagle again but it did not show up, on the way round we had a female Common Redstart (Colirroja Real / Phoenicurus phoenicurus).
From the view point we had both Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) passing over us in good numbers and as we dropped down into the village of Cacín a Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) came up of a pylon and we had a Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea) on the Rio Cacín on the far side of the village before we headed North along the valley to the Contra-embalse de Bermejalis.
Up at the lake we scanned the water and soon boosted the day list with Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), a single male Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and a pair of Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) on a small area of remaining mud.
Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas).
In the same area we also picked out a male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Reed (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Cetti's Warblers (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), a White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), a calling Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus) and for the whole time we were there we were sang to by loads of
Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti).
Our next stop was just up the road at the bridge over the Cacín, after parking we had a walk on to the bridge and then down to the dam adding Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), yet another male Pied Flycatcher, Hoopoe, a Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago) which flushed up from reeds near the bridge and a very unexpected Nettle-tree Butterfly (Libythea celtis).
Nettle-tree Butterfly (Libythea celtis).
On the walk down to the dam Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Long-tailed (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), male, female and 3 immature Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) which came down to drink in the main irrigation channel, Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Small White (Pieris rapae).
Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus).
We turned around and dropped back daown the valley to the south and made a stop at the Roman bridge on the way seeing a nice male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), several Rock Sparrows and just a little further on a fine male Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus) which was being mobbed by several Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula). Also flying in the gorge were lots of House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and a few Crags (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris).
Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor Perdicera / Hieraaetus faciatus).
Again we dropped dow south to the main Embalse where we parked and checked out one of the main water inlets, on the channel we found 2x migrating Common Redshanks (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) and just down the road lots of Orchid species including Fan-lipped (Orchis colina), Giant (Himantoglossum robertiana), Naked / Italian Man (Orquídea italiana / Orchis italica), Mirror ( Ophrys speculum), Sawfly (Ophrys tenthredinifera subsp tenthredinifera), Yellow Bee (Ophrys lutea), Somber Bee (Ophrys fusca / foresteri) and the rare Hybrid Ophrys x chobautii.
Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus).
Our final stop of the day was at a roadside spot where we scanned some nearby cliffs and had a view of half of an Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) in one of the holes, we also had a couple of Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and another eagle but it was so far away it could not be identified for certain but I suspect it was a Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos).
Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus).
From here we headed back to Durcal and I left Phil at his accommodation after a really good day out on the far end of my local patch.
Common Redshanks (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus).
Hybrid Ophrys x chobautii.
Mirror Orchid ( Ophrys speculum).
Sawfly Orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera subsp tenthredinifera).
Fan-lipped Orchid (Orchis colina).
Naked / Italian Man Orchid (Orquídea italiana / Orchis italica).

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