Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Sierra Loja with John and Jenny

Tuesday 7 October

Good to see John and Jenny Wainwright on the road again, especially as it was to their local hot spot at the Sierra Loja, and good bird birds recorded.  And they will shortly be visiting Osuna so, hopefully, plenty of Great Bustards to be seen.

Sierra Loja  6th October

A very pleasant day, with light breezes.  A spur of the moment decision was to take us to our favourite area up in the Sierra Loja´s, and what a great decision that turned out to be.  Just the odd Collared Dove, Spotless Starlings and a Blackbird were seen en route as well as one Barn Swallow, so after coffee at our usual stop , we progressed under the autovia tunnel and into the pines.  Our first sightings was of two Mistle Thrushes - how they stood out with their fresh plumage, then Jenny noted a female Redstart and I another to the right of the thrushes, a Serin and further on up the track a male Great Tit was seen as well as two dark-phase Red Squirrels. 

Northern Wheatear Collalba Gris Oenanthe oenanthe (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
We took the track up to the hidden quarry ( no sign of the Eagle Owl today ), halfway up a Dartford Warbler afforded us splendid views but wouldn´t stay still long enough for a good photo, then a flock of Crossbills were seen entering the trees here.  A Coal Tit was heard but not seen and then another Dartford Warbler was noted by the quarry itself.  A couple of Blackbirds were seen flying across the rock face and above them a few Crag Martins, and on the crest we found three Spanish Ibex and to their right an adult and a juvenile Southern Grey Shrike.  Above them a Common Kestrel was being chased by two Jackdaws and whilst watching these birds a small flock of Linnets passed by.  Only one pair of Stonechats here today and a few Sardinian Warblers and yet another Dartford Warbler was heard down by the old workings.  To finish off here three Chough and a good number of Woodpigeons were also logged.

In the tree areas we found more Crossbills, Mistle Thrushes and Great Tits as well as a Short-toed Treecreeper, a Coal tit and several Chaffinches.  Onward to the first cliff area where we saw a mixed flock of Jackdaws and Chough, as well as two Common Kestrels, a small flock ( or should I say "charm") of Goldfinches and our first Black Redstart of the day.  At the next cliff area were photographing a Southern Grey Shrike, when the Jackdaws that had landed in the cliff face erupted in a huge cloud as a Black Stork came into view, luckily we had the cameras primed and were able to get some record shots of it.

Black Stork Ciguena Negra Ciconia nigra (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Just after the Black Stork had passed out of sight, Jenny noted a Subalpine Warbler down in the bushes  and as we were watching him a Bonelli´s Eagle flew along the valley bottom and landed on the cliff face, displacing the Jackdaws and Chough that were perched there.  Behind us a family of Red-legged Partridges were feeding and then a pair of Sardinian Warblers started scolding another Southern Grey Shrike that had landed atop "their" bush.  A few Meadow Pipits, Rock Bunting, a family of Thekla Larks were to complete the list here.

Record shot of Spectacled Warbler Curruca Tomillera Sylvia conspicillata (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Moving on to the marble quarry area we found our first Black Wheatear and our first Northern Wheatear (one of over twenty seen throughout the visit), also more Thekla Larks,  Stonechats, Dartford Warblers, Linnets and Goldfinches, while at the water trough two Rock Sparrows, were seen quenching their thirst.  In the sub-station no Little Owls were located, although more Chough, Common Kestrels, Northern Wheatears, Black Redstarts and Southern Grey Shrike were.

Southern Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
The journey to - and at - the ponds was uneventful only Chough and Goldfinches, there is very little water here although the top pond had a small amount - probably due to the storm last Thursday.  Along to the fossil cave area (not a peep here) but beyond it we did note more Northern Wheatears, two Black Wheatears, male and female Black Redstarts, a Lesser Kestrel,  Rock Sparrows and Rock Buntings.  In the area near Sierra Gorda we found a Spectacled Warbler (this is their normal breeding area here), a Whinchat and yet more Northern Wheatears and Southern Grey Shrikes.  A short note to say that the Autumn Crocus or Meadow Saffron are out in profusion here.

Autumn Crocus or Meadow Saffron Colchicum autumnale  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Our only other bird of note on the return journey was a juvenile Marsh Harrier over the wind turbines.  Lots of Tree Graylings, Large Whites, Cardinals, Speckled Woods and a few small white butterflies that I failed to identify, and one Blue Emperor dragonfly.

Lets hope our visit to Osuna on Thursday is as productive.

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information. 

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