Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Sierra Loja

Tuesday 11 June

Although still windy, a beautiful clear, blue sky and lovely sunshine as jenny and I made our way over to the Sierra Loja via Zafarraya.  Great to see both Pallid and Common Swifts low over the apartment blocks as we left home and soon added a range of common bird such as Goldfinch and Blackbird.  Working our way towards Loja we also managed to add Black Wheatear, Corn Bunting, Wood Pigeon and, approaching our destination, a lovely female Montagu's Harrier at its regular breeding ground.

After a short coffee break we made our way up the well-known track towards the summit of the Sierra Loja starting with House Martins and soon adding Chaffinches before reaching the main quarry.  No sign of the Eagle Owls but we did find Crag Martins and then on through the wooded slopes adding Black Wheatear, Azure-winged Magpie and Serin.  No sooner had we driven above the tree line that we saw our first Chough and Jackdaw and also the first Blue Rock Thrush of the morning.  Continuing on upwards we soon added both Crested and Thekla Larks and then our first Northern Wheatear.  Unlike my last visit, there seemed to be more Northern than Black-eared Wheatears.

Black-eared Wheatear Collalba Rubia Oenanthe hispanica

A stop to check-out birds moving in the nearby small bushes on the rocky ground found, in addition to Thekla Larks, a female Black Redstart and another Northrn Wheatear before our first Black-eared Wheatear.  Then another surprise as we found our first Subalpine Warbler closely followed by a second.  Stonechats were recorded and then the sight of our first Red-legged Partridge of the morning with many more to follow.  By now we were recording numerous Linnets and then, approaching the electricity sub-station, at last my first Little Owl for the year; what a long time in coming.

Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua

Then it was on the small pools above the Charca de Negra farm and time for our picnic.  As we approached a Raven flew over and one out of the car more Linnets and Goldfinches to be seen drinking at the pool's edge.  A look up was in time to see a magnificent soaring Golden Eagle, what a sight.  On round towards the "Fossil cave" and, as informed by friend John Wainwright, we duly found a lovely male Rock Thrush.  Continuing on we added a couple of Rock Bunting and on our return journey picked up a female Rock Thrush with a beak full of small worms for her growing brood.

Record shot of female Rock Thrush Roquero Rojo Monticola saxatilis through the windscreen

Returning to the Charca de Negra pools we had a lovely surprise in finding John and Pauline Horton.  having exchanged news and comments, noted the Rock Sparrows in with the still present Linnets and Goldfinches, we moved on down and withing twenty metres saw the Buzzard that was resting on the fence just before the sheep pen.  A turn to the right and drive up to the windmills found no further Rock Thrushes but on our way back a lovely view of a Bonelli's Eagle and then a stop near an enclosed spinney to look at the Blackbirds, Stonechats and a preening Hoopoe, our fourth of the day.

Distant Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops

S on down the mountain and our journey home, this time via Salar and the "repaired" road down to Venta de Zafarraya passing a pair of Magpies on the way.  All in all, a very enjoyable morning and lovely to see Jenny out birding again.

Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Golden Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Bonelli's Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Subalpine Warbler, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.


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