|Nest of Crag Martins Ptyonoprogne rupestris;first Spanish bird|
Thursday 9 July
Away reasonably early on Thursday for the climb to the top and, avoiding the long tunnel, took the high road over the Somport Pass and into Spain where we stopped for a coffee and admire the view - along with a pair of nesting Crag Martins and a single female Black Redstart. Then the "wander" down and a stop at Canfranc having by then also recorded House Martins and Barn Swallows. This was a most fortunate stop as no sooner had we opened the doors we could hear Carrion Crows calling. Sure enough, there was at least one family feeding in the neighbouring trees and, looking up the flowing stream at the back, not only did we see another couple of Crows drinking but there, happily posing in the shade was my first Dipper of the year. Unsurprisingly, we also encountered our first House Sparrows here. What a welcome back home.
|Calling Carrion Crow Corvus corone|
|The lonely Dipper Cinclus cinclus|
Friday 10 July
Off as soon as possible so we were able to count the many Buzzards resting on top of the telephone poles along with a number of Blackbirds and Barn Swallows. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew across the road in front of us yet only the single Kestrel, especially surprisingly as all the corn had been recently harvested.
|Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus|
|Wild Boar Sus scrofa;More than a light snack for the local vultures|
Having also found another Black Redstart nearby we continued up the valley and across to Hecho to explore the northern end of that valley. More Griffon Vultures and then, just before reaching the turn to the Gabardito Refuge a Lammergeier drifted over the car showing its distinctively long diamond-shaped tail. Whilst I stopped the car as soon as safely possible we were unable to relocate the bird, just more Griffons.
|One of many Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus|
Up the long and winding narrow road to the refuge in the hope that we might find a Wallcreeper but we were to be disappointed. We did have both Chaffinches and a pair of Pied Flycatchers as we set of from the car park (we now know that we should have parked at the lower car park by the refuge itself) and on reaching the small open space found a single Melodious Warbler plus all the soaring Griffon Vultures opposite. But not just Griffons, also a trio followed by a few more individual Alpine Choughs showing their longer tails and shorter "fingers."
|Juvenile Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris|
|At last, my first Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio|
Time to leave the far north and make our way back to Malaga province allowing at least one more stop on the journey. But being so close there was no way we were going to miss out on a visit to that marvellous edifice, the Castillo de Loarre, the Loarre Castle in Huesco province. Not only a fantastic site to visit but the pace was swarming with Common Swifts and even Black Redstarts to add to the many Black Kites, Grioffon Vulures and Buzzards that we had already seen in the previous hour. Add on Ravens, Crag Martins, House Martins and Barn Swallows and you will also see that the journey was not free of birds.
|Common Buzzard Buteo buteo; always plenty to be seen early morning.|
Leaving the castle, and a passing Hoopoe, we then called in at the nearby Vulture Observation platform, a good twelve kms up a stony track. What a sight. Griffon Vultures abounded and, at one point, at least two dozen above us. We were welcomed by a lovely male Stonechat posing on the sign post and then had a small flock of Linnets working the shrubs. Regular passing of Alpine Swifts added to the experience however, the biggest surprise came when a pair of Quail took off in front of us. What were these birds doing here, were they resting on migration as it was certainly not their usual habitat?
|Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus|
Sunday 12 July
|Alpine Swift Apus melba|
A long last leg that brought us home bu late afternoon and a quick visit to the swimming pool to cool down. Always something to add on a long journey and, avoiding the motorway for the first three hours we managed to add Jackdaw, Red-legged Partridge and Northern Wheatear.
Now if only I can shale off this stomach upset I shall be able to enjoy mt Ronda visit at the week-end!
Red-legged Partridge, Quail, Grey Heron, White Stork, Lammergeier, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite, Buzzard, Goshawk, Kestrel, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Hoopoe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Dipper, Alpine Accentor, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Melodious Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Red-backed Shrike, Jay, Magpie, Chough, Alpine Chough, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.