Saturday, 3 January 2015

New Year's Day Birding with John and Jenny Wainwright

Tree Sparrows Gorrion Molinero Passer montanus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
2 January

John obviously knows that if you have set your mind on a birding trip for the first day of the year then you do not stay up until the early hours the night before!  John and Jenny seem to have covered many of the popular mountain areas including the Sierra Loja and El Robledal as well as a quick tour around Huetor Tajar and even a trip to a pool.  With over fifty species recorded on this round tour they certainly got value for money - or birds per kilometer!


Salar & surrounding areas 1st January 2015
Very cold (-7C) to start but warmed up throughout the day.
As of every New Year's Day we set out for the first of the year's birding.  Today we headed for Huetor Tajar, but our first birds were Red-legged Partridge, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Collared Doves and House Sparrows as we left the village limits.  Approaching Huetor Tajar a Common Buzzard flew past us in the direction of our village and on the power lines in huge swathes were Spotless Starlings and Collared Doves.  Parking up at the new petrol station by the ajo factory we managed to find five Stone Curlews, and moving on to the small stream we picked up four Green Sandpipers, a Common Snipe, a huge flock of Azure-winged Magpies and Common Magpie

Green Sandpipers Andarrios Grabde Tringa ochropus with Common Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

White Wagtails were numerous here as were House Sparrows with a few Tree Sparrows thrown in.  In the small poplar copse loads of Chaffinches - but couldn´t locate any Bramblings.   Stonechats were chasing bugs about in the fields as were the Chiffchaffs.  Twenty or thirty Lapwings took of as another Common Buzzard flew to its perch and in the irrigation canal we found forty (or thereabouts) Common Waxbills, Goldfinches, three Snipe - I couldn´t see if one was the Jack Snipe or not, so we settled for all Common, then a covey of Red-legged Partridges came across our front.

Common Waxbill Pico de Coral Estrida astrild (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Across now to the Sierra Lojas where, as we entered the range, we found Crested Larks, Blackbirds, Spotless Starlings, Collared Doves, Mistle Thrushes and Sardinian Warblers.   Moving up to the hidden quarry we gained our first Dartford Warblers, Sardinian Warbler and Rock BuntingThe tree line was silent again so we carried on up to the cliff areas and here we saw Little Owl, Jackdaws, Thekla Larks and more Red-legged Partridges.  The area between the cliffs and the substation valley was lifeless but in the valley Chough, Corn Buntings and another Little Owl were seen.

The ponds were frozen over and all we found was a Blackbird here, so along to the cave area and beyond where we noted at least twenty Ring Ouzels, Mistle Thrush, Corn Buntings and Chough. Crossing over to the Sierra Gorda we found another nine Ring Ouzels drinking in the old well by the catchment area as well as three more Mistle Thrushes, a Blackbird and one Song Thrush.   Carrying on towards the back end of Salar we located a very large flock of Meadow Pipits as well as Thekla Larks, Southern Grey Shrike, a lone Hoopoe, Great Tit, Black Wheatears, Chaffinches, Chiffchaffs, Goldfinches, Serins and two Woodpigeon.   

Once again, Jenny has managed to get up close to the Ring Ouzels Mirlo Capiblanco Turdus torquatus; how does she do it? (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Here we took a short cut through to the old Zafaraya road which I must add has now been restored almost completely.  A Common Kestrel and a Southern Grey Shrike shared the same pylon and three Jays and several Common Magpies flew across our path.  We saw more Corn Buntings, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Blackbirds.  At a small catchment we saw two Linnets  and just after that a Green Woodpecker feeding in an olive grove.  Also about here were Azure-winged Magpies, Stonechats and a Great Tit.  Then cutting across to the lake opposite the Palomas restaurant - the sun was directly on the water here - but, we still managed to pick up Common Coot, Pochard, Mallard, Shovelers, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Cormorants and a small family of Long-tailed Tits in the surrounding treetops.

To finish off I drove round to El Robedal where we got our Nuthatch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Jays, Woodpigeons, two Firecrests, Crossbills, more Long-tailed Tits and two Crag Martins.

On the way home another Common Kestrel, Mistles Thrushes, Stonechats, Goldfinches and a large flock of Calandra Larks.

The only butterfly of the day was a female Clouded Yellow Colias crocea (sorry about the quality of the photo).

Clouded Yellow Colias crocea butterfly
 Another smashing day's birding and a great start to our new season.

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

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