Monday, 21 November 2016

Black-bellied Sandgrouse - at last!

21 November 2016

After yesterday's wonderful day on the Sierra Magina it was time to travel back to Mezquitilla on the Malaga coast.  Ten members stayed on for an extra day's birding with Jose Luis but for Jenny and I it was back to our seaside home.  A Red Kite as we left Ubeda and then regular sightings of Magpie, Wood Pigeons, Corn Buntings and Spotless Starlings.

With time in hand and following a coffee break as we left the Granada area, Jenny suggested that we make a slight detour to take in the upper Cacin Valley in the hope that we, too, might spot a Black-bellied sandgrouse.  Leaving the motorway for the usual site we had Collared Doves and Spotless Starling along with House Sparrows and a stop to check out the massive aviaries on the approach track.  Still the, I believe, fourteen juvenile Saker Falcons in the first aviary but the second, previously empty, structure now held at least fifty (50) individuals and these seemed more like juvenile Gyr Falcons.  Just where do all these birds come from?  It's something like a central holding site to pepare these young raptors for onward journeys to, presumably, wealthy falconers in the Middle east.

Leaving the road towards the ruin we were welcomed by the first Little Owl and as left the trees for the final stretch up to the old ruin a flock of seven Black-bellied Sandgrouse flew low over the car and settle on the field to our left, unfortunately just over a slight ridge.  Chance to take a look at the birds on the ground but driving slightly forward to take photographs did not produce the birds and then they were lost to sight.  Meanwhile, up ahead on top of the old ruin, a second Little Owl watched our progress up the  track.

Distant Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis

Scanning the fields produced an Iberian Grey Shrike and a Magpie followed by a flock of Calandra Larks along with individual Crested Larks and White Wagtails.  Then it was a drive through an almond orchard which produced, in addition to scores of Chaffinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a few Linnets and a Black Redstart.  Lastly, a second Iberian Grey Shrike, a very small charm of Goldfinches and a good-sized flock of Spotless Starlings before it was time to head off for a bar lunch before completing the journey home.  Two days birding and now  a total of three new species to take the annual total up to 259.

Birds seen:
Red Kite, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.


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