Wednesday 29 May 2013

Sierra Loja with John and Jenny Wainwright


It looks as if, once more, John and Jenny have been visiting their local birding hot spot and have discovered, yet again, that climbing the Sierra Loja in search of all three Wheatears and both Blue and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush comes at a cost in term of the cold weather as you climb over the thousand metre mark.  Read on for John's account of yesterday's (Tuesday) visit.

 "Peak-a-boo" male Rock Thrush Roquero Rojo Monticola saxatilis
(PHOTO: John Wainwright)

A warm day below but freezing up top only 7C with bitter wind.

A few hours to spare so up to our favourite area in the whole of Granada, on the way seeing Collared Doves, Common Swifts, Mistle Thrush and two Song Thrushes and Barn Swallows.

Under the autovia and picking up the road to the quarry, it looks like the Eagle Owl has lost its chick as we haven´t seen it for over three weeks now; the adult has been around the nest site - but not in it.

Anyhow, at the quarry we had good views of Dartford Warbler along with Sardinian Warbler, Black Wheatear, Serins, Jackdaws, House Martins, Chaffinches, Azure-winged Magpies,Wood Pigeons and Red-legged Partridges. Several Spanish Gatekeepers and a Small Tortoiseshell, Spanish Marbled White, Provence Orange-tip (formerly Moroccan) and a couple of Large Whites made up the Butterfly list.

In the tree area we picked up Short-toed Treecreepers, Goldfinch and Great Tits whilst two Woodlarks were heard singing but I couldn´t locate them.

Lots of walkers about at the cliffs and the bird count was minimal, just a Rock Sparrow, some Jackdaws and another Black Wheatear.  At the shrub area just above the cliffs a flock of some eighteen Linnets were seen along with a Corn Bunting.

Male Rock Thrush Roquero Rojo Monticola saxatilis showing its white back and rufus tail (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

The sky is blackening now and the wind has picked up, so we headed directly for the pond area.  Here we saw fourteen Griffon Vultures heading west, three Black-eared Wheatears, Thekla Larks, Rock Buntings, Rock Sparrows, Black Redstarts, Chough, Spotless Starlings, Linnets and Stonechats.

From here we went round to the fossil cave area where Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear (sixth today) and, above the caves, a largish flock of Spotless Starlings have taken up residence.  Just the one Common Kestrel today was seen hunting here today along with a few House Sparrows, Rock Bunting, Black Redstart, Black-eared Wheatear (no Northerns today) and another Griffon Vulture ventured over.

We then popped around to the track that leads to Sierra Gordo and here we found male and female Rock Thrush, Thekla Larks, Linnets, Black-eared Wheatears, Rock Sparrows and a nesting Spectacled Warbler.

Breeding-site Spectacled Warbler Curruca Tomillera Sylvia conspicilata (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

On the return journey, which was a tad faster than normal as I had a hospital appointment, two Little Owls were seen.

Good to see that there are still lots of special birds about and like the Axarquia Bird Group's visit a couple of weeks ago where we, too, saw no Northern Wheatear. 

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest       sightings, photographs and additional information.

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