Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Kill or cure treatment - even at zero dgrees

30 December 2014

Having spent yesterday and the latter half of Sunday either in bed or wrapped up in more layers than I thought possible, I think I have managed to break the cold before it got its icy claws into me.  So, nothing ventured nothing gained, I set off down to Benamargosa to collect the accumulated post and by just after nine I was  my way over to Alcaucin to take the mountain track up through the Sierra Tejeda and then on to El Robledal with a very short stop at Venta de Zafarraya on the way home.  Did I cure the cold?  You'll find out if I manage to take part in a New Year's Day bird with Steve and Elena Powell.

A good start on the way down with Thekla Lark, good numbers of both Goldfinch and Serins plus the usual Rock and Collared Doves and then into some really lovely birds with many sightings of Black Redstart, especially the handsome male, and White Wagtails.  No sooner in the woods proper and numerous Chaffinches.

The lower picnic site proved quite interesting with Chaffinches and then a single Song Thrush followed by a single Crested Tit that landed right in front of me in the dead leaves - but ling enough for me to lift the camera.   A walk along the water gully produced Rock Bunting and Robin and at least three drumming Greater Spotted Woodpeckers.  Once the Blackbird had disappeared I had time to watch a very hungry Nuthatch attacking the cones as if his very life depended on finding some seeds. it probably did.  A Greenfinch next but then the unexpected sight of watching two Coal Tits in pre-breeding display as thy chased each other round and round the nearby trees.  It hardly seemed worth mentioning the lovely blue Blue Tit, an adult male.

This Nuthatch Trepador Azul Sitta europaea knows there's a seed somewhere in there!
Just as I left so a couple of Crossbills appeared in the usual Eucalyptus tree and more Rock Buntings were encountered on the drive up to the upper picnic area, including one very large example who had obviously found a discarded Christmas pudding to feast on, which his now devoid of all the old, rotten trees that the Crossbills used to favour.  But one lovely male did present itself and, apologies, I messed up the camera settings.  What a great opportunity missed.  Mind you, the temperature was now down to zero and the hands were also a little on the shivering side!  That's my excuse.  Before leaving the area I also added both Mistle Thrush and just the single Spotless Starling.

Female (above) and male Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra

No sooner back on the main road than I recorded a Crested Lark and arriving at the picnic area car park at El Robledal I was welcomed by another Song Thrush and a pair of Great Tits.  Also added here were Chiffchaff and a pair of Meadow Pipits.  But disappointed was finally averted when a Jay flew over the track in front of me as I was leaving revealing another already settled in its intended bush.

This Rock Bunting Escribano Montesino Emberiza cia that crossed the track in front of me to feed in the grass was so large I thought it must be an Alpine Accentor.  I even stopped the car to take these photos.  Look at the length of the tail!

The old railway track at Ventas de Zafarraya was very disappointing with almost no birds at all.  Eventually, during my walk up to and through the tunnel and back, I did find a number of Black Redstarts and a pair of White Wagtails.  A single male Blue Rock Thrush was on guard atop the far end of the tunnel but for the first time I can remember, not a single Black Wheatear was seen.

Spring must be on the way when you see the flowering Broad-leaved Irises.  (Correct name?)
By way of variety, driving down to Torre del Mar to fill up with fuel I did come across a couple of Cattle Egrets!

Again, many apologies for the rubbish photographs and I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year as I suspect that this was my last bird outing of 2014.

Birds seen:
Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Crossbill, Rock Bunting.

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

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