Saturday, 27 December 2014

Alcaucin and the hills above with John and Jenny Wainwright

27 December

A very ephemeral setting for the morning's departure from Salar  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Goodness me, it's become just like the number 9 bus; no sooner are John and Jenny Wainwright back on their birding feet and they are out again with just a few hours sleep!  Yesterday if was almost on my own doorstep with a visit to the picnic sites on the mountain track from Alcaucin to the top and then on to both El Robledal and Ventas de Zafarraya.  Having just read about my friend Andy Paterson's Christmas Day visit to La Janda and his arrival in thick mist, I see that John and Jenny had a dose of the "blanket" when they set out from their Salar home but, with the clearing mist and the arrival of the warm sunshine they also managed to pick up some butterflies - and we are only a handful of days away from the end of the year.

And what of my festive birding?  All being well I shall pay a visit to the Guadalhorce, Malaga in the morning and even try to get up to El Robledal via Alcaucin on either Monday or Tuesday.  Will I succeed?  Watch this blog for the answer.

Alcacuin, Zafaraya &V El Robedal:  26th December

Another fairly misty day to start and very cold in the shade, but  warmed up later

It was hard work spotting anything due to the misty conditions but where the mist had lifted we did manage to see Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings, Azure-winged and Common Magpies.  As we were coming from Salar - the roads were very icy - we took the reverse route making for the Mirador Pedro Agueria (I think the spelling may be incorrect) en route seeing Jays, Crossbills, Chaffinch and a couple of Great Tits.  At the mirador I had a walk round the small wooded area and picked up Nuthatches, Crested Tits, Sardinian Warblers, Coal Tit, Blackbird, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Crossbills and, as we pulled away from the mirador, a group of Serins.

Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Next port of call was the Alcacuin picnic site and again the Crossbills were in the majority.  Also about were two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Nuthatches, two dark-phased Red Squirrels, superb views of Firecrests, Sardinian Warblers and a Robin.  At the El Rio site not a peep was heard, so we headed for the Zafarraya railway track.

A hard-working Firecrest  Reyezuelo Listado Regulus ignicapilla seeking out his breakfast (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Quite a few people about here today - walking off their festive lunches no doubt.  Our first encounter was with a pair of Black Wheatears and several Crag Martins.  Emerging out of the tunnel, Jenny spotted a Blue Rock Thrush, then a Black Redstart.  Our first lark of the day in the shape of a Thekla which was noted along with a huge flock of some two hundred Chough which arose from the mountain top.  The reason became apparent when a Sparrowhawk was seen being chased across the face of the cliff by several of the Chough until he had enough and disappeared.

Lots of Stonechats ( male and female) about as well as Sardinian Warblers (males) and a pair of Great Tits. A small flock of Corn Buntings flew overhead and landed in the small bushes on the down slope, then another Black Wheatear and a Southern Grey Shrike.

Moving on to El Robledal camp site area (the track has been repaired here at last), more Jays were seen as well as Crested Tits, a family of Long-tailed Tits, a single Greenfinch, a Green Woodpecker and two more Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, Wood Pigeons, Great Tits, Nuthatches, Chaffinches, a Chiffchaff, a couple more Red Squirrels (one dark-phase and one very light one) and our last birds of the day were Crested Lark and another Southern Grey Shrike.

A not-so-dark-as-usual Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
A few butterflies about including Small White, Pale Clouded Yellow and several Long-tailed Blues.

Long-tailed Blue butterfly Lampides boeticus  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

It certainly sounds as if you had a good day, especially when coupled with the previous twenty-four hours.  What next I wonder?

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

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