Wednesday 31 January 2018

Embalse de Negratin, Baza with the Arboleas Birding Group

Wednesday 31 January

Looks like Dave has found a new site to visit with his Arboleas Birding Group and, as he reports, it promises well for the future.  Is it me or do I sense that there are more Siskins about this winter than in recent years?

Embalse de Negratin, Baza  -  Wednesday 31st January

Checking the weather forecast for Baza last week for today's trip, it didn't look good at all, but as the week past, the forecast improved. Today there was a chance of a shower, but as it turned out, we had no precipitation, no wind and even some sunshine.  I was also sceptical about how much we'd see. Well, you decide!
I picked up Richard and we were followed from Arboleas by Paul and Neville.  As we came off the A92N autovia west of Baza we headed towards Zujar in fog....not looking good!  It soon cleared.  On the outskirts of the small town we turned left at the second roundabout and immediately in front and above us was unbelievably a stunning male Hen Harrier!  What a start! Had we peaked too soon?  We carried on to the Los Chaparros cafe next to the Cepsa garage about a couple of kilometres shy of the Embalse de Negratin dam.  Here we met up with David, Myrtle, Trevor, Ann, Phil, Jen and Adrian, so quite a turnout.  After a refreshing cuppa we made our way to the car park this side of the dam.  Didn't see much from there.  Paul spotted some overflying Goldfinch.  Moving to the top of the dam, a scan found one Great Crested Grebe and some Cormorants.  Phil also found a pair of Yellow-legged Gulls.  Looking over into the valley produced a Blackbird. We then went in convoy down to the carpark at the base of the dam, seeing some Rock Dove on the way.  As I parked I saw 3 Hoopoe flying off.  We walked back towards the cliff face.  A male Blue Rock Thrush showed well. Also seen were Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap.  Paul spotted a Grey Wagtail in the brook.  
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo with Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Returning to the cars we drove, parked and birdwatched at various stop-offs e acar Olivar.  At the first I saw some Siskin.  The others all had Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Greenfinch.  Richard spotted a Long-tailed Tit.  Also added were Linnet and Great Tit.  At one stop Richard had disappeared only to re-appear having seen a Dipper in the wide brook.  Paul thought he'd seen a Short-toed Treecreeper.  Luckily it showed itself nearby.  Ann saw a Common Buzzard disappear over the ridge and Phil found a distant Black Wheatear.  The journey back to the cafe produced Collared Dove, Southern Grey Shrike and House Sparrow.

Male Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius (PHOTO: David Elliott-Binns)

Okay, the birding will be better in a few months time, but I think we did well!  Ended with 29 species. Still can't believe the vision of the Hen Harrier!  Pity I was driving and with vehicles behind me!  Always the way!

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