Thursday, 25 June 2015

Sierra Loja with John and Jenny

Thursday 25 June 2015

It would appear that whilst we were driving back to the UK yesterday as part of the Channel fracas, albeit we were booked from Dunkirk to Dover so only had a long lorry queue to contend with which saw us miss our boat whilst actually watching it depart from about a couple of kms away, John and jenny Wainwright's birding scene was done to mechanical problems with the usually reliable car.  As can be seen from John's report all now seems to well and under control.  By the way, our farewell to Belgium was the delight of Jenny seeing a Hobby drift by the first-floor kitchen window, less than an hundred metres away.  The bird is often seen by Marieke in the field further back but this would appear to be the closest to the house recorded by her so well done (my) Jenny.

Back to John's report for yesterday where readers will note the large numbers of Hoopoes recorded along with an extremely large flock of Choughs, not to mention a range of warblers, all three wheatears and both Rock and Blue Rock Thrush.  Sounds like a great day for John and Jenny.

Sierra Loja:  Wednesday 24 June

A hottish day with a very nice ( and welcome) breeze

Hi there, after a very exacerbating fortnight whereupon the radiator and water pump went , we have finally managed to get up to our favourite area, the Sierra Loja.  After coffee we drove up the track to the left of the Guardia Civil barracks and as soon as we entered the tree line, a Spotted Flycatcher flew off a low branch and disappeared into the firs.  Lots of Serins about here as well as a few Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows.  Also here an Orphean Warbler was singing.

Juvenile Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
As we progressed under the autovia bridge the trees were full of Spotted Flycatchers but from here to the hidden quarry nothing bar a few Wood Pigeon were seen.  In and around the hidden quarry we saw Black Redstart, Bee-eaters, Jackdaws, Goldfinches but no sign of the Eagle Owl at its "local roost". Lots of House Martins about today as well as a few Crag Martins and Barn Swallows, while in the firs Serins were very vocal.

Little Owl Athene noctua (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
We moved on to the tree-line where in several stops we noticed Crossbills, Wood Pigeons, Great Tits, more Spotted Flycatchers, Azure-winged Magpies, a Greenfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper, two Rock Buntings and a Sparrowhawk.  Moving on to the cliff areas, three Black Wheatears were noted along with  a Northern Wheatear, Hoopoe, several Linnets and Goldfinches  Also a Rock Sparrow and as we pulled away from here a Wood Pigeon and a Sardinian Warbler were noted. 

Black Wheatears Oenanthe leucura (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
As we moved onto the flat area above the cliffs more Black Wheatears, a family of Thekla Larks and Stonechats were seen as well as Spotless Starlings, a Southern Grey Shrike and - our first of the day - Little Owl.  Down into the sub-station valley where another two Little Owls were noted along with lots more Black-eared-Wheatears, a couple of Blackbirds, Red-legged Partridges, Stonechats and a single Red-rumped Swallow.  In the bare tree a total of six Hoopoes were in constant flow in and out of the tree, along with a Woodchat Shrike and two more Blackbirds, and to the left of the tree a few dozen Chough were feeding in a cultivated area.  As we left the valley another Little Owl was spotted on the opposite side of the road.  Not much seen on the way to the Charca de Negra but as we pulled in at the lower pond, a Rock Thrush flew off the ground and onto a large bush opposite, and another one was spotted on the fence posts by the pond.  Lots of Linnets and Goldfinches, House Sparrows and Stonechats were seen as well as a single Greenfinch, a Black Redstart, two Crag Martins and one Barn Swallow.

Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
After a bite to eat we moved over to the fossil cave area where the predominant bird was the Rock Sparrow.  Also about were several more Black Wheatears, a few Chough and a Griffon Vulture graced the sky for at least two minutes, before it dropped out of sight.  Further along this track we found a female Spanish Ibex and her young  In a small hawthorn bush a Spectacled Warbler was spotted.  Above us more Crag Martins and a large number of House Martins.  A Mistle Thrush and a Blue Rock Thrush were spotted on the rock face with another three Hoopoes passing across the same face.

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Looking up at the Sierra Gordo viewpoint a huge flock of Choughs took off, I guess somewhere in the region of two to three hundred.  It was certainly one of the largest flocks I have seen here in the time I have been birding this area.

Onto the fir copse where another five Hoopoes were seen along with Mistle Thrushes, Woodchat Shrike, Goldfinches, Rock Sparrows and more Blackbirds.  And as we made our way down we managed to find two more Blue Rock Thrushes.

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
What a fabulous day's birding.  Now, in all the rushing about here will I get chance to visit Rutland Water and/or even Titchfield Haven when we arrive in the Southampton area?   "Watch this space" as they say.

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