Wednesday, 8 June 2016

John & Jenny on the Sierra Loja

8 June 2016

Six hours top kill on the Roscoff - Plymouth ferry so time to read and publish John's report about his trip up nearby Sierra Loja on Sunday last with lovely wife Jenny.  Me?  I have been travelling the length of Spain from Mezquitilla to San Sebastion via Burgos and then up the west side of France with about 70 litres of diesel in the boot in readiness to meet the "no fuel available" situation in France.  As it turned out, most garages seemed to be open for business and the rain and floods were to the east so lovely sunshine all the way.

Sierra Loja: Sunday 5 June
Very hot today, even with a breeze.
We thought we would take a ride up to the Sierra Loja as we had not been there for a couple of weeks or so. We dropped in at the Eagle Owls site but no sign of it.  Up through the tree line we had Short-toed Treecreeper, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Serin, Azure-winged Magpie and Blackbird, and the cliff areas held Jackdaws, Stonechat also a Spectacled Warbler was noted on the down slope.

Moving up the track a group of six Hoopoes came across our front, while two separate families of Thekla Larks were noted.   Lots of noise from the Red-legged Partridges perched on their calling rocks.  A few Spotless Starlings here in the rocks along with a small amount of Linnets, while above us a pair of Common Kestrels soared amid a good number of House and Crag Martins, Common Swifts and a lone Barn Swallow. As we rounded a bend the silhouette of a Little Owl was seen but better views were had as we progressed up the track. Quite a lot of Black-eared Wheatears about as normal but only one Northern Wheatear was seen throughout the day.

Up at the pond the Rock Sparrows were in full song and the feeding of their young was being carried out.  Several Iberian ribbed newts(Pleurodeles waltl) were spotted in the bottom pond and a Corn Bunting landed on the posts surrounding the pond.

Rock Sparrows (Photo: John Wainwright)
Along at the "fossil cave" more Crag Martins, Rock Sparrows, Linnets were seen as was our first Black Wheatear of the day.  At the climbing area a Rock Thrush was seen displaying and a Great Tit was heard, also a Chaffinch and a Corn Bunting were singing from the now fully blossomed Hawthorn bushes.

Distant Rock Thrush (Photo: John Wainwright)
No sign of the Scops Owl today, but dropping down the track we saw Rock Buntings, Blackbirds, Blue Rock Thrush and a Black Redstart.   A huge shadow on the cliff gave us good views of a lone Griffon Vulture which duly landed on the cliff-top and a few photos were taken.  Another Rock Thrush was seen down in the valley - by the orange tiled cottage - together with a Rock Sparrow, also another Blue Rock Thrush was seen here as well as two Spanish Ibex and a Little Owl.  A pair of climbers had just arrived which was to put an end to any more birding in this vicinity for a while.

Griffon Vulture (Photo: John Wainwright)

Across at the Sierra Gordo area we found Thekla Larks more Black-eared and Black Wheatears, another Rock Thrush displaying and a Mistle Thrush  was heard then seen.  As we descended Chough and Jackdaws were noted feeding side by side and in the same area a Woodchat Shrike was spotted. Another single Griffon Vulture was seen - probably the one seen previously - and yet more Black-eared Wheatears.  Another Little Owl, Blue Rock and Rock Thrush (four in total) were seen as was a male Montagu´s Harrier (possibly one of the two pairs from the Venta del Rayo area).

Little Owl (Photo: John Wainwright)

Another very pleasant few hours in our local spot.

A mix of Jackdaws and Choughs (Photo: John Wainwright)

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

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