|You know what this is!
Tuesday 4 May
After Monday's torrential afternoon rain it was lovely to set out early for Huetor Tajar in beautiful sunshine with many circling Pallid Swifts, Barn Swallows, Blackbirds, Spotless Starlings and Collared Doves even before I reached the motorway not three minutes away. But then it all turned pear shape. Not so much the few minutes stop at Ventas de Zafarraya to pick up Crag Martin, Black Wheatear and Black Redstart before carrying on through the village with its House Sparrows and Martins but the low mist followed by dense fog that was to accompany me most of the way to Salar where I joined the A92 motorway. However, making my way through the arable fields beyond the "Magpie Woods" I soon recorded Serin, Crested Lark and Corn Bunting with the Little Owl resting, cloud bound, on its usual roosting rock. Approaching the top of the old road up the hill beyond a Red-legged Partridge took flight to me left and a few local Chaffinches note near the top. From then on for the next 15 km it was a cast of bright sunshine followed by almost no visibility every kilometre or so.
Once across the ford at the Huetor Tajar fields no sooner had I got out of the car than a Whitethroat in the bush not five metres away and both Reed and Cetti's Warbler calling from the riverside. Wandering Blackbirds followed by Sardinian Warblers and then a small flock of Bee-eaters passing over in what was now clear weather and getting warmer by the minutes as the skies cleared to reveal the massed blue covering. Moving to the end of the straight we then recoded Serin, Wood Pigeon, Nightingale and Iberian Yellow Wagtail before a walk along the track at the end also produced Melodious Warbler and then a pair of Garden Warblers. Finally a Tree Sparrow before driving back along the far bank to the large olive grove where we finally located our first Turtle Dove plus and a Little Owl on the roadside wires having previously also found Short-toed mixing with the local Crested Larks.
|Newly fledged Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata
Next up, for me, was a visit to the Cacin Valley but not before a slight diversion to take in a track up one of the local mountains. Goldfinches and a Hoopoe as we set off and once in the wooden area many Chaffinches and a White Wagtail near a sheep pen. A Great Tit dashed across the track into the tree cover. A stop on the way up produced a Short-toed Treecreeper, Dartford Warbler, Crossbill, Linnet, Coal Tit and Mistle Thrush and later we were to find a trio of Spectacled Warblers.
|Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata
Once on the higher ground beyond the tree line, Red-legged Partridge, Rock Bunting, Black Redstart and Thekla Lark along with a couple of Blue Rock Thrushes and a few Chough. Rock Sparrows seemed to be much in evidence before we saw a solitary Griffon Vulture wandering around in the distant sky. And, of course, a delight to see the Black-eared Wheatears along with Azure-winged (Iberian) Magpie and Magpie.
|Distant Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica
A lot of searching but I did eventually find a male Rock Thrush. But before, and a complete surprise to me, a pair of Cuckoo and I was to find a third later on in the day. Have got excited I continued with my searches and managed a Blue Tit before finding a pair of Orphean Warblers not so far away. Then it was, for me, back down the mountain encountering the resident Rock Doves at the bottom, and on to the Cacin valley.
|Male Rock Thrush Monticola saxatallis
A stop for refreshments on the way and arriving above the Cacin valley it was now somewhat on the very warm side and none of the target birds were seen. I did add a couple of Iberian Grey Shrike, a number of Common Swifts and a Kestrel along with a pair of Iberian Hare (Lepus granatensis) at close quarters.
|Iberian Hare Lepus granatensis
The final stop was at the Cacin reservoir having already passed a Grey Wagtail alongside the channeled canal on the way down. Upon arrival a Water Rail was exploring the reed fringes along with a Coot and nearby Moorhen whilst on the nearer edge both a single Little Ringed Plover and Black-winged Stilt. Out on the water itself very many Coot along with a handful or more of Mallard and good-sized flock of Common Pochard.
|Distant Water Rail Rallus aquaticus (right) with Coot
So with just about 70 species recorded during the day I made my way back to Mequitilla and as I was about to leave the Magpie Woods to slip down to the prolific growing fields of Zafarraya, a Green Woodpecker flew across the road in front of the car. A great but toting day so now regain my energies for a potential visit to the Guadalhorce come Thursday.
|Distant male Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Muscovy Duck, Mallard, Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Griffon Vulture, Kestrel, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Little Owl, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Nightingale, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Iberian Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Crossbill, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.
|Rock Bunting Emberiza cia