copper_demoiselle_calopteryx_haemorrhoidalisA great days birding and a look at some of the Dragonflies in Andalucia. Our guide Mick Richardson reports on one of his day tours in Granada Province. For many people Granada Province evokes thoughts of the snow capped mountains of Sierra Nevada and of course the famous historical wonder that is the Alhambra, but the province is vast and ranges from wide agricultural plains to the hills of the Alpujarras and to the Alpine screes and rocks of Spain’s highest mountains Sierra Nevada. Nature provides a feast for those who are willing to explore this beautiful area and where better to begin than with Mick Richardson…

A day in the Cacín Valley, Granada Province.

wryneckWith a group I set out for a days birding along the Cacín valley. We started the day where the Rio Cacín joins the Rio Genil at Villanueva Mesia and the first birds seen as we climbed out of our vehicle were a family party of Hawfinch Coccotraustes coccotraustes. The adult male was feeding a fledgling on the branch of a Poplar Tree. Several Golden Orioles Oriolus oriolus and a Wryneck Jynx torquilla were calling from the plantation trees, both species were seen briefly in flight. Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos, Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti, Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus and Pallid Swift Apus pallidus were also seen.

We then moved on to an agricultural area to the south and soon picked up Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator, European Bee-eater Merops apiaster, Hoopoe Upupa epops and Short-toed Larks Calandrella brachydactyla. Taking a dirt track between the fields and Almond groves we soon came across two female Little Bustards Tetrax tetrax, and a pair of Common Magpies Pica pica with five young Great Spotted Cuckoos Clamator gladarius pestering them to be feed. A pair and then another single Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis flew across the site just before we left to go and have a look at the Embalse de Cacín.

little-bustardAt the lake we picked up several more juv Great Spotted Cuckoos, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Pochard Aythya ferina, Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus, Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis and Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis.
We moved further on down the valley and stopped above the gorge and watched a Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus faciatus as it soared up out of the valley very close to us and away North. Juv Woodchat Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica, Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius, Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura, Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia, Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris and Alpine Swift Apus melba all went on to the days list.

We then started the return journey back along the Rio Cacín and stopped at a bridge near El Turro. Here Water Rail Rallus aquaticus and Cetti's Warbler were heard and Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta, Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur and Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus were all seen.

red-veined_darter_sympetrum_fonscolombiiOn the cliffs just to the North of El Turro we were lucky enough to find two adult and at least one juv Eagle Owl Bubo bubo, all out in the open sunning them selves, quite a sight.
Our last stop of the day was at Balsa de Regidor near Moraleda de Zafayona which has recently been very quiet but today we managed to pick up Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus, Pochard, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos and Golden Oriole.
Dragonflies were also quite a feature of the day and along the Rio Cacín Several Red-veined Darters Sympetrum fonscolombii and a single Copper Demoiselle Calopteryx haemorrhoidalia were seen in the reed beds.

long_skimmer_orthetrum_trinacriaLater in the day we stopped at Balsa de Regidor near Moraleda de Zafayona, a naturalised water deposito for the local farmlands. Here Dragonflies filled the air with many more Red-veined Darters Trithemis arteriosa, Violet Dropwings Trithemis annulata, Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum, Broad Scarlet Crocothemis erythraea, Small Red-eyed Erythromma viridulum and Common Blue Damselflies Enallagma cyathigerum and a single male Long Skimmer Orthetrum trinacria. The Long Skimmer is a rare dragonfly which is common in Africa but has a patchy and little know distribution here in Southern Spain. All in all a successful and most enjoyable day for all the group and as always for me a great pleasure and privilege.



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