Thursday, 6 November 2014

The Ring Ouzels are back - in abundance

Wednesday 5 November

had a text message about midday from john and jenny wainwright to let me know that tey had just sen between 20 and 30 Ring Ouzels up on the Sierra Loja.  John's report arrived this morning confirming same plus another flock of about the same size in the next valley.  With the birds lining up to be photographed and neither John nor jenny needing to even get out of the car, I am beginning to think that this two-some is an "avian green-finger!"  last week a Dipper posing nicely on the wall of a static pond near Alcaucin and now all these on-hand Ring Ouzels.  If green-fingered gardeners can grow anything anywhere, then I am beginning to think that John and Jenny only have to step outside theirr house and something rather delightful, of an avian nature, will drop at their feet!  For me?  Well I travelled over the same two sites today (Thursday) and saw about the same number of Ring Ouzels but mine were very scatty and always semed to be dashing to the centres of thick, well-leaved and berry-clad hawthorns.  My blog will follow next with the disappointing photos.

Sierra Loja: Wednesday 5 November
A very bright but fairly cold day (4C @ 1600m) with a stiff breeze.
As the forecast looked pretty miserable for the weekend we decided to go "rousel" seeking up in the Sierra Loja; quite a good choice in hindsight.  Anyhow after having coffee at our "local", we took the autovia tunnel entrance to the site.  Our first sightings were of  two female Black Redstarts and a Chaffinch and Crossbills.  All was very quiet - possibly due to the forestry work being carried out in the area - until we reached the "Eagle Owl" quarry.
Here we heard ( no sightings at all today) three separate Dartford Warblers calling, also about were Stonechats, a Sardinian Warbler, Jackdaws, Serins and five Spanish Ibex including a very handsome buck.  In the tree-line we found Great Tits, Short-toed Treecreepers, a family of Long-tailed Tits and more Chaffinches.

Moving on up to the cliffs we had a very brief view of the Little Owl on the cliff top, whilst on the grassy slopes Meadow Pipits were noted, on the other side of the track on the downslopes we found more Stonechats, Jackdaws and Meadow Pipits plus male and female Black Redstarts, Red-legged Partridges, Thekla Larks, Chaffinch and a Southern Grey Shrike.  Another Dartford Warbler was heard.  Between here and the substation valley, we saw Linnets, large "charms" of Goldfinches, a Northern Wheatear, Rock Buntings and yet more Stonechats, while in the valley we found another Northern Wheatear, a Little Owl again.  It was a wonder we saw any birdlife as there were people milling all over the mountain today looking for Ceta mushrooms - and by their despondent looks not very successfully either.

Male Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Nothing extra was seen on the way through the turbines and we decided that due to the number of people about we would skip the "ponds" area and head directly for our favourite catchment area where we hoped to find the "rousels".  We were not disappointed either as the Ring Ouzels were everywhere; in the hawthorn bushes, among the rocks and on the grassy areas - this was regardless of the "mushroomers".  We did get some strange looks as we poked our cameras out of the car windows and were clicking away for a good hour and a half.  We counted over thirty birds - these comprised of mostly females and juveniles, with a few males.  We also saw a Crag Martin, lots of Black Redstarts (mostly female) and a Blackbird here.

Female (above) and more Ring Ouzels Turdus torquatus (PHOTOS: Jenny Wainwright)

From here we made our way across to the "Fossil cave" area and beyond, here, we found another large influx of Ring Ouzels - possibly twenty or more.  We had better views this time as they came off the bushes to drink at a puddle on the track itself.  Also we found a single Greenfinch, Chaffinches, Black Redstarts, Linnets, another Blackbird, two Mistle Thrushes, four Chough, three Black Wheatears and another Crag Martin.  A covey of Red-legged Partridges broke cover as a first winter Golden Eagle came over the cliff top across the face and landed about half a kilometre away on the cliff itself.  It only stayed for a couple of minutes but long enough to get a few "record shots" of it.

Record shot of first-winter Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
As we approached the "ponds area" a group of eleven Griffon Vultures soared by and on the cliff face by the bottom pond we saw Rock Sparrows, more Linnets, Black Redstarts, another Northern Wheatear and Goldfinches, also two more Spanish Ibex were noted among the rocks .

On our way back to Salar using the back roads a Sparrowhawk came across the hedgerows, saw the car, jinked and dropped its prey - I didn´t know which one to feel more sorry for!

Still a very successful trip and the target bird(s) located, no Alpine Accentors seen yet.

Great sightings John and Jenny; shame mine were not so forthcoming.

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

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