Thursday 24 May 2018

Axarquia Bird Group visit to Zafarraya

Wednesday 23 May

Eight of us at the old railway track above Ventas de Zafarraya for the may visit of the Axarquia Bird Group including Ollie who had driven all the way west from Almeria and Lindsay who had come east from Marbella.  Also with us Barbara and Derek from Alhaurin de la Torre and Ollie and Corrinne form their new home in Malaga City.  Lovely to see Pat from Torrox once again which made me, on the coast just 45 minutes away in Mezquitilla, almost on the spot!  I always expect a cold start at this site but on this occasion it was relative warm.  Indeed, so warm jumpers were taken removed before we set off along the old track bed but soon to regret as the cloud increased and, when furthest away from the cars, even a couple of spots of rain; always the way!

A very pleasing start as we spent some time at the mirador and even managed to record almost a score of species before setting off.  Lots of Black Wheatears about and once we had observed the small family party of Ibex high above us we son added a pair of ravens followed by the local Choughs.  Naturally there were Blackbirds, Spotless Starlings and even a Collared Dove before the first Black Redstart and a small number of House Martins flying around the cliff face.  High on the rocks we found our first Blue Rock Thrush of the morning and then, high over the top, a mixed group of Alpine and Common Swifts.  A Common Kestrel drifted over the valley to the other side of the road and then both Stonechat and Rock Sparrow at the same time.

Black Wheatear Collalba Negra Oenanthe leucura
Time to make a start along the track towards the tunnel and a stop to record a distant Bonelli's Eagle was followed by the appearance of the resident Peregrine Falcon.  A little brown job dashed across the track in front of us and was soon found; a female Subalpine Warbler which was was joined by the most handsome male.  meanwhile, further up the slope, a small flock of Linnets was busy feeding along with the occasional Serin, Goldfinch and even a Blue Tit put in n appearance.

Once at the tunnel entrance we had not only a Blue Rock Thrush on top of the nearby mat but also a singing Wren on the top wire.  Crag Martins were now very evident along with a pair of jackdaw to make a slight variation on all the Choughs.  The return journey to old ruin and back produced Sardinian Warbler and more Blackbirds along with a couple of Greenfinch and a possible breeding pair of Corn Bunting.  High on the cliff top a resting Kestrel then the appearance of a Short-toed Eagle which delighted us at it both circled above and put in a rather impressive display of perfect hovering with a single feather appearing to move.  Back at the car park we had a Great Tit in the nearest tree and then it was time for a warming coffee at the local venta before driving up to the "Magpie Woods" in search of the named bird.

Azure-winged Magpie Rabilargo Cyanopica cyanus
Climbing from the fertile fields we recorded Crested Lark and as soon as we reached the top had also added Thekla Lark.  The stop at the farm cross-roads produced a number of Azure-winged magpies along with Chaffinches and a Woodchat ShrikeWood Pigeons flew over along with a couple of Collared Doves but then a single Turtle Dove put in an appearance.  A few Long-tailed Tits were feeding at the top of a nearby tree and we had heard at last two Cuckoos calling and finally caught a brief glimpse as one moved over the tree tops above us.  The expected Mistle Thrushes were eventually found and Lindsay even managed to find a Hawfinch which was then seen by all present.

Our final stop was at the far end of the woods where we turned left to visit the "Growing Fields" and the rocky edges to the road.  Here we found more Crested Larks but also a handful of Short-toed Larks.  On the opposite side of the road a Little Owl rested on the crossties of an electricity pylon.  On round the corner where we eventually did find a number of Calandra Larks along with a pair of Hoopoe and a Griffon Vulture circling above the distant hills.  A most enjoyable long morning which was completed in lovely sunshine and a final total of over 50 species.

Resting Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua

Birds seen:
Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle,Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Woodpigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Little owl, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, barn swallow, House Martin, Wren, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Hawfinch, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

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