Sunday, 9 November 2014

Huetor Tajar with the ABS

Saturday 8 November

We found the Little Bustards Sison Comun Tetrax tetrax
Along with twenty-two other members I joined Mick Richardson in Huetor Tajar for the November field outing of the Andalucia Bird Society.  The forecast had promised rain and it was certainly very misty with low and necessary for windscreen wipers as I drove over the mountain from Zafarraya to Loja but, in the event, it proved a quite calm day and almost ideal for birding.  So, one and all, we had a very enjoyable day.

Lovely to see some Tree Sparrows Gorrion Molinero Passer Motanus in the mixed sparrow flocks

The morning was spent in the agricultural fields around the town centred on the winding Arroyo del Vilano to the north.  Even before we set off from our meeting point a few of us managed to see the Peregrine Falcon fly over our heads and, as soon as we arrived at the arroyo, we had a succession of House sparrows, White Wagtails and Spotless Starlings.  However, a little closer observation soon picked up a couple of Grey Wagtails and a sparkling Kingfisher dashed down the stream.  No shortage of Stonechats and the occasional Blackbird but it was the quartet or more of Common Snipe that caught our attention albeit the wintering Jack Snipe was not to be found.  The neighbouring fields held good locks of lapwing but I think we were all pleased to record our first Bluethroat of the day along with Black Redstarts and numerous Chiffchaffs.

The handsome Grey Wagtail Lavandera Cascadena Motacilla cinerea

Feeding Cetti's Warblers in the ditch were a pleasant change whilst overhead there seemed to be continuous movement of Wood Pigeon flocks.  The bushes around the arroyo held good mixed flocks of Tree Sparrows, Serins and Chaffinches and, of course, there were many charms of Goldfinches to be seen.  A lone Hoopoe sat on top of a dead tree stump but at least four others were active in the opposite field along with a number of Meadow Pipits.  Larks were represented by Thekla and (mainly) Crested but also a small number of Sky Larks.  We even recorded both Mistle and Song Thrush plus a number of Blackcaps and a Sardinian Warbler.

Hoopoe Carraca Europea Upupa epops looking out over his domain

A little further away we watched a Kestrel carry a prey item mobbed by smaller birds followed by another Kestrel.  Both birds seemed to fighting over the same object but ere long they flew away "empty handed" or even empty talloned!  Interesting to see a trio of Grey Herons and a handful of Cattle Egret in the area and then the discovery of a good number of Azure-winged Magpies moving through the olive trees at the back of the field.

Which Kestrel Cernicalor Vulgar Falco tinnunculus won the fight?

Just the one Great Tit before we found the Linnet flock along with a number of Greenfinches, Chaffinches and more Serins and, finally, we managed to track down a Water Pipit feeding at the edge of the stream.

Moving to the fields at the opposite end of the village we finally found one of our target birds, the Little Bustards.  A small number of both Calandra and Sky Larks to distract the group but the score or more, far less than usual, could avoid our attention no longer.  Next it was on to the usual site where we also found our Stone Curlews; but how many?  far, far less than we might have expected but these chicken-like birds with their beady yellow eyes are so difficult to find when thy hunker down for the day.

can you find the Stone Curlews Alcaravan Comun Burhinus oedicnemus and how many?
Look again; I can find at least ten!
Whilst many stopped for lunch some of us pressed on eastwards along the agricultural road to the relatively nearby Laguna del Regidor.  here we found a small number of ducks including Mallard, Pochard and Teal but mainly Shovelers.  There were also a number of Coots and Moorhens along with Little Grebes plus a departing Grey Heron and a couple of Green Sandpipers.  Whilst here we all recognised the distinctive calling and looked up to find a flock in excess of 150 Choughs passing over.

Resting Green Sandpipers Andarrios Grande Tringa ochropus
Driving over towards the Caucin valley a tree full of Corn Buntings and then, on arriving, a single Southern Grey Shrike but no Black-bellied Sandgrouse today.  But there was a considerable flock of Calandra Larks.  As I left the site to make my way back home via Alhama de Granada I was seen on y way by a sentinel Magpie and, having seen one, I seemed to see many more for the remainder of the journey to Alhama.  In the end a very pleasant day in most enjoyable company and over fifty birds recorded.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Southern grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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