19/06 : Embalse de Negratín

As Dave is still without telephoto lens, there has been a move to photographing the close and immovable, as you will see. Still, only 250 euros as against a total replacement is some sort of relief. Isn't it nice to meet a coach load of kids when one is looking forward to a nice, quiet day watching wildlife? Makes one wonder why yiou didn't put the .50 calibre machine gun in the trunk of the car before you set off or if someone up there has it in for you. By the way, to me it looks as though the Oriole nest is made from plastic strips.

embalse de Negratín
Carolyn Perkins suggested some time ago that it would be nice to visit the Embalse de Negratin whilst the cherry trees were being harvested. Unfortunately she is in the UK when we visited today. Gilly and I weren't to confident of a good day especially as we were rained on as we approached Baza from the south. We met up with Trevor, Ann, their holidaying friend, Jackie, Brian and Mary at the cafe just prior to the dam.
     After a quick coffee we made our way to the car park before the dam. A coach load of school kids had just arrived. They made their way onto the dam itself whilst we hung around the vehicles. Gilly and I had already seen Black Wheatear and Bee-eater. We added White Wagtail, Goldfinch, Turtle Dove and an overflying Grey Heron and Common Swifts. As the kids returned we ventured out on to the dam roadway. As usual there was very little on the water. It was as flat as a mill pond. After much searching I spotted two Yellow-legged Gulls! A scope search of the cliff face and peaks I spotted another Black Wheatear and a pair of Blue Rock Thrushes. Brian and I were in the process of reminding Mary of her mistaking a water sprinkler head for a sitting Peregrine Falcon a few years ago when what should appear above the cliff face but a pair of the blighters, mobbing a Raven!
     We drove down to the valley below and parked up at the junction. The road towards the brook, bridge and dam pool was closed for vehicles. We attempted to see the birds singing in the fully leaved trees. Eventually we spotted Chaffinch, Sardinian Warbler, young Great Tit and Serin. Keeping an eye above us on the numerous House Martins, I suddenly spotted an Alpine Swift. A bit later we saw a group of 3-4 which may suggest they were nesting close by. We could hear Golden Oriole and Nightingale. A Spotted Flycatcher was also seen. Mary spotted a "big bird" but it disappeared over the hill before it could be seen  by others and identified. It was probably the Griffon Vulture we saw later. As we reached the bridge there was more security tape across the road and we could see more the far side of the overhanging cliff. A large boulder, the size of a Fiat 500, had fallen close to the road from the cliff. We decided we'd be safe on the bridge but not under the overhang! We added Rock Dove, amazed some were surviving with a pair of Peregrines possibly nesting above them. Also seen was a Black Redstart and a probable Short-toed Eagle. Looking down into the reeds I saw a Cetti's Warbler chasing a Reed Warbler. Brian and Mary also saw a pair Reed Buntings.
Golden Oriole nest
We returned to the cars and headed for the Cherry Orchards, seeing a Kestrel and Booted Eagle on the way. Cherries were purchased straight after picking....delicious, Carolyn! At lunch we had our count up. 32 species for the day and the weather god was kind to us.
     Attached is a photo I took of a Golden Oriole's nest, close to Brian and Mary's house near Chirivel. It was 5 metres from a track, only 2.5 metres off the ground. It contained two visible chicks. Taken from truck in the same amount of time it would take an F1 pit crew to change 4 tyres....5 sec, shoot and go. And yes, it appears to be made from plastic? Or is it strips of translucent silver birch bark?
     The news on my lens is that they are replacing the "Optical Control System Diaphragm". €250 is better than a new lens!

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