Not often, very rare in fact, that the monthly field meeting of the Axarquia Bird Group falls on a wet day but today was one of those days. Very cloudy with continuous light drizzle and a bitingly cold wind up at the Ventas de Zafarrya as six hardy souls or brave idiots, not sure which is the more apt description, met up for the March field visit. needless to stay we did not stay that long and were soon back our cars so that we could make the relatively short trip up to El Robledal where at least it was mainly dry, but still damp, and out of the wind. Good to see David Jefferson and birding friend Paul Coulthard from Torrox along with Eric Lyon from Sayalonga plus John and Jenny Wainwright from Salar and fresh back from their birding adventure down in the Donana. For John and Jenny, what a difference a week makes in term of weather change!
|Nuthatch Trepador Azul Sitta europaea (PHOTO: David Jefferson)|
Approaching El Robledal John and Jenny had a pair of Buzzards and the first Jay of the morning was noted when a pair disappeared into the trees on the left. The dominant species of the woods seemed to be Blue Tit, of which there were many and seen by all, Mistle Thrush and Nuthatches. A Crested Lark was recorded during the main journey and, once off the main road, we also managed to fins a Thekla Lark resting at the top of a small tree along with a single Serin. Indeed, we saw a number of individual Serins but only one Goldfinch sighting when a cloud, I can hardly call it a charm, of about 200 individuals crossed immediately in front of the car at roof-top level as a large lorry approached.
|Jay Arrendajo Garrulus glandarius (PHOTO: David Jefferson)|
|Long-tailed Tit Mito Aegithalos caudatus (PHOTO: David Jefferson)|
|Distant Short-toed Eagle Culebrera Europea Circaetus gallicus (PHOTO: David Jefferson)|
This was a large bird with upturned primaries ruling out Buzzard and in what appeared to be a major moult. The tail looked straight across the end, almost triangular, and with curved edges we could also rule out eagles. My gut feeling was Griffon Vulture but there was "too much tail" so I suspect it was a returning Short-toed Eagle. No doubt when/if we get to see some record shots that were taken we will be able to either confirm or amend - I hope!
|Bonneli's Eagle Aguila-azor Perdicera Hieraaetus fasciatus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)|
Meanwhile, having already recorded Lesser Kestrel and Barn Swallows on the way to the meeting point, John and Jenny also managed to see a small flock of five Lesser Kestrels and both Southern Grey Shrike and a Bonelli's Eagle on the way home, both photographed by Jenny. And even the weather had turned sunny so helping with the photographs.
|Southern Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)|
Osprey, Short-toed Eagle, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Common Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Wood Lark, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Jay, Chough, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.