Saturday 28 September 2013

Embalse Bermejales, Granada Province

Friday 27 September

Coal Tit Carbonero Garrapinos Parus ater
With the suggestion that today might be the last dry day of the month, even if cloudy, I arranged to meet Steve and Elena down at Puente don Manuel so that we could pay a visit to the Embalse Bermejales, one of John Wainwright's favourite sites.  In the event the weather was rather pleasant with much clear sky and some warm sunshine as I drove down the mountain passing the flock of 250+ House Martins sitting on the wires in Los Romanes waiting for their embarkation tickets and visas to arrive prior to their winter holiday south of the Sahara in Africa.  Add on Thekla Lark, Kestrel, White Wagtail, Collared Dove and Spotless Starling, not to mention the local House Sparrows, and my daily list was up and running before I reached the lake.

Now what breed of fish might you be?  And would like a plate of chips as a friend?
Off we went for our morning and approaching the dam of the Bermejales reservoir we recorded both Blackbird and Common Kestrel along with a solitary Yellow-legged Gull keeping watch from the tower mid-way across said dam.  We parked in the picnic area recommended by John and commenced our walk through the woods towards the dam.  To our left a couple of Cormorants skimmed the surface as they headed for the far end and a large flock of hirundines fed over the water, mainly House Martins but also a few Barn Swallows.  Resting in a tree immediately n front of us was a single Wood Pigeon and a couple of Collared Doves, along with a small number of Spotless Starlings were also recorded.  And then, of course, there were the butterflies.

Carline Skipper  Pyrgus carlinae
Speckled Wood  Pararge aegeria
Just when we began to think there was nothing about we had our first LBJs and by the end of the session had recorded just about all bar a Firecrest and Crested Tit.  First up was a pair of Long-tailed Tits quickly joined a pair of Coal Tits. The same tree also held at least three Great Tits and, a little later, we were also able to add Blue Tit to the list.  Lots of House Sparrows about and then  a lovely charm of Goldfinches followed by Spotted Flycatcher, Serins, Chaffinches and Crossbills.
Spotted Flycatcher Papamocas Gris Muscicapa striata
A walk over the dam revealed a number of very large fish in the water (no idea what sort!) but they seemed to be crying out for a bag of chips to go with them whilst, on the downside of the dam, a large flock of Jackdaws and another of Rock Doves seemed to quite active.  A handful of Goldfinches found a small puddle in which to bathe and a lone Grey Wagtail flew down to join in the general melee.  The return journey to the car park found more Short-toed Treecreepers and a rather lovely Red (more like black out in Spain) Squirrel was sitting on the wall trying to demolish a rather large nut or other source of food. These small bushes provided more Long-tailed Tits along with Sardinian Warbler whilst, in the picnic area itself, we managed to find both Pied Flycatcher and White Wagtail along with more, to be expected, House Sparrows.

Time to move on so we headed towards Jatar so that we could call in at the pantaneta above Alhama de Granada.  No sooner had we got the car back on the road than a rather dishevelled Southern Grey Shrike hopped up onto the power lines and then a pair of Magpies.  Other than a quick stop at the far end of the embalse where we found our Cormorant duo there was little else to see until we arrived at our destination.  A very few Coots, a handful of Pochard, a couple of Little Grebes and about a dozen Mallards just about summed up the water bird population.  More Spotted Flycatchers were found and we even had a couple of Bee-eaters resting in the dead trees at the far end of the water. Also along with the Barn Swallows and House Martins feeding over the water was a small number of Crag Martins.

Onwards towards Ventas de Zafarraya where we found a quartet of Lesser Kestrels feeding over the stubble, a few Thekla Larks and then both a Blue-headed Wagtail (Iberiae sub-species of Yellow wagtail) and a lonely Northern Wheatear.
Male Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra
The final leg was to take the mountain track down through the Sierra Tejeda to Alcaucin and a stop at the upper picnic area did not disappoint.  The Crossbills were in their usual trees to welcome us and we had soon added Chaffinch.  Checking out the bushes above the track we found numerous Spotted Flycatchers and then two fleeting glimpses of Hawfinches as they moved from bush to bush.  Adding Rock Bunting to the list was not surprising but the a trio of Cirl Buntings, first on a higher branch and then on the ground really was icing on the proverbial cake.  And we even picked a single Jay as we made our way down the mountain track from the lower picnic area.  It now being almost 3.30 Steve asked what time was Jenny expecting us back for lunch.  I told him that I said about 2pm, Jenny will have taken that as meaning 3pm and would only be in touch if it got to 4pm.  One minute from home, literally round the corner from Casa Collado, and I got the phone call to ask where we were and what time were we expecting to be back!

Cirl Bunting Escribano Soteno Emberiza cirlus
All in all then, a good morning's birding with a final tally of over forty species.  And I even managed to take the Canon 7D camera so that I would have something to work on now that the "retard" computer had been replaced.  Hopefully, no more orange demons!

Birds seen:
Mallard, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Lesser Kestrel, Kestrel, Coot, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Bee-eater, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Southern Grey Shrike, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw,  Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Crossbill, Hawfinch, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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