Saturday, 10 January 2015

Sierra Tejeda

Saturday 10 January

A lovely calm and sunny morning so I decided to take a chance and drive up to the Alcaucin picnic area in the hope that there would only be the odd person about.  How wrong can you be!  It was one thing arriving and finding half a dozen parked cars, a couple of large frame tents and even two caravans; that I could cope with.  But, immediately in front of,  three cars that disgorged a Spanish walking group plus very "yappy" dog.  If I tell you that, by comparisons to the humans, the dog was relatively quiet you'' get some idea of the noise level.  Not only could I hear every word that was spoken from the far side of the picnic area, I should imagine that their parents in Madrid could also follow the conversation.  So, having given this little group sufficient time to lose themselves on the ascending track, I undertook my usual walk up and along the water channel and back.

Two of many Crossbills Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra
I started my sightings on arrival with House Sparrow, Serin and plenty of White Wagtails with the main birds in the wooded area being numerous Crossbills and a number of Chaffinches. At least three drumming Great Woodpeckers and then a fleeting sight of a Blackbird  was all I noted so made my way back to the car park where I could her strange murmurings.  Not content with Spanish walkers, now the Brits had arrived and it looks as my visit has corresponded with the month walk of the local ramblers with a group of at least thirty ready for the off.  In fairness, the group was well-organised and almost quiet ; those speaking keeping their voices down so as to only communicate with their neighbours rather than the whole province.

What to do and where to go?  Upwards and onwards with nothing seen other than a couple of Goldfinches during the ride and the the top picnic area completely deserted of all forms of life, avian or otherwise.  Approaching the first farm I had both a Mistle Thrush and a Great Tit to accompany a dozen Rock Doves.

Female Black Wheatear Collalba negra Oenanthe leucura

Approaching the "Muck Heap" at the back of Ventas de Zafarraya I recorded Spotless Starlings and many more House Sparrows but little else.  On to the old railway track and a walk up to and through the tunnel which finally delivered some birds.  First a Stonechat followed by a quartet of Choughs and then the first of two Black Redstarts.  Both Black Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush were duly noted along with a couple of Crag Martins and the calling of the Choughs led me to look up where a flock of at least 150 individuals was passing overhead.

First two then over 150 Red-billed Choughs Chova Piquirroja Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax overhead
All in all a very quiet morning, birdwise, but at least I was out in the sunshine.

Birds seen:
Rock Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush,  Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Great Tit, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Crossbill.

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

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