Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Ventas de Zafarraya and the Sierra Tejeda

Wednesday 11 February

At last a clear, sunny day with hardly a breath of wind so, with Jenny out at some sort of exercise class, I was up, up and away, passing Goldfinches, Black Redstarts, White Wagtails and House Sparrows as I drove down the mountain, Collared Doves as I climbed up to the pass and then parked up ready to tackle a leisurely stroll along the old railway track at Ventas de Zafarraya.

Plenty of Rock Buntings Escribano Montesino Emberiza cia this morning

First up was a rather dashing male Serin dressed in his best yellow finery before the first of many Black Wheatears put in an appearance.  A male Great Tit, male Blackcap and female Black Redstart as I walked along but no sign of any Choughs.  No shortage of Rock Buntings all morning but I had to wait until the other side of the tunnel before adding Blue Rock Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Robin and the single Crag Martin.  Again, plenty of Stonechats to be seen and evidence that the breeding season is just about to get under way.

Female Black Wheatear Collalba Negra Oenanthe leucura
A male Blackbird put in an appearance as I made my way back to the car and then it was on through the fertile growing fields, picking up House Sparrows, Spotless Starlings and White Wagtails, before reaching the "Magpie Woods."

All very quiet so on towards the arable fields to see if there were any Calandra Larks about.  There were not but I did find a very obliging Little Owl, a half-dozen Magpies and a couple of Mistle Thrushes.  A Wood Pigeon took to the skies and then a handful of Azure-winged Magpies.  It was in this area that I also found a small flock of Chaffinches feeding in an almond orchard and a pair of Red-legged Partridges casually wandered across the road immediately in front of the car without a care in the world.  Returning towards the magpie Woods I had a resting Kestrel on top of a pylon followed by a small flock of Corn Buntings.  Stopping to take a closer look at the Corn Buntings on the wires on the opposite side of the road, I could not but notice the four distant Griffon Vultures circling for height above, presumably the pass at Ventas de Zafarraya.

A lovely Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua taken by surprise - by both of us!

Off you go, you've seen enough of me.

You still there?  Clear off, I'm trying get a little rest here!

Finally, it was on over to the Sierra Tejeda to take the mountain track down through the woods to Alcaucin and home.  All seemed very quiet until I spotted an adult Golden Eagle in the clear blue sky just above the trees.  Only about three or four sightings as it appeared and disappeared from view but no sensible place to stop the car for a photograph.  I had hope that it might be visible at the nearby top picnic area  but, no, the bird had either moved on or dropped below on the other side of the mountain.

A very hungry and obliging Nuthatch Trepador Azul Sitta europaea

I though very little at the lower picnic site other than a Great Tit until a very obliging Nuthatch dropped into the tree in front of me for some serious feeding activity so giving me the opportunity to try and get a reasonable shot.  I had heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming away in the trees and as I returned to the car I was fortunate to be looking up as the bird flew into view to work some nearby trees.  Not the clearest of views but sufficient to at least capture some record shots.

Record shot; brief appearance of the Great Spotted Woodpecker Pica Picapinos Dendrocopos major

All in all, a very pleasant morning which finally resulted in 32 species recorded.

Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Kestrel, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

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