Monday, 26 November 2018

Sierra Magina, Jaen

Saturday 24 November

Wait out the rain and you will be rewarded!  An absolute cracker of a day for the Andalucia Bird Society's visit to the Sierra Magina up in Jaen province and then on, in the late afternoon, to the Laguna Grande not so far away from Baeza.  early morning mist as we 35 members set off from Ubeda under the guidance of local guide and ABS member Jose Luis Sanches but it soon cleared and for most of the morning whilst we traversed the mountains the temperature ranged between 3 and 5C.  But, despite the lack of birds in great numbers, absolutely beautiful scenery and a pleasure to be out in the fresh (read "cold") air in good company.

Working our way up the mountain our first stop produced a very close sighting of both immature male Crossbill and a pair of Black Redstarts.  The sound of gunfire diverted our attention upwards in time to see a distant Ibex being chased by dog.  (Later we were to see a magnificent buck with two very proud horns silhouetted on the skyline during our picnic lunch break.)

Immature male Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra
Moving on up and over the top many sightings of Chaffinch flocks one of which also contained a quartet of Brambling.  Yesterday's large flocks of Ring Ouzels were conspicuous by their absence but I think most participants managed to get at least a fleeting glance at one of a handful of individuals recorded.  Not so much the Rock Buntings or Choughs but the two Golden Eagles that seemed to capture the attention of most and then a quartet of Griffon Vultures along with Jays and Cirl Buntings on the way down added to the observations.

One of many Chaffinch Pinzon Vulgar Fringilla coelebs seen on the sierra
For me, perhaps the thirty minute drive over to the Laguna Grande provided the most comprehensive birding of the day as we saw numerous Mistle Thrush and then both Corn Bunting and Crested Lark on the wires as we passed through an intensive olive grove.  Buzzards up in the sky and on the telephone post followed by both a very late Booted Eagle circling above us before the Black-shouldered Kite low down over threes.  No sooner had we recovered from this excitement than we had a resting Iberian Grey Shrike on the wires as a Kestrel drifted by.
And so to the Laguna Grande where, upon arrival, the dropping sun was immediately opposite us and offering no assistance at all.  The now heavily-grassed water seemed to be alive with, mainly, Coot but also the odd Gadwall and Mallard, Little Grebe and even a couple of Teal dropped in for the evening.  A late arrival was the Heron but then, on the far side as the light began to fade, Jose Luis was first to pick up the two Goshawk drifting low over the trees.  Nearer to us the low vegetation seemed to be alive with Chiffchaff and White Wagtails but still we managed to see many Stonechat along with both Reed Bunting and Reed Warbler.

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Heron, Griffon Vulture, Black-shouldered Kite, Golden Eagle, Booted Eagle, Goshawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot,  Snipe, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jay, Magpie, Chough, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Crossbill, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.


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