Monday 15 June 2020

Alcaucin and Ventas de Zafarraya

Monday 15 June

Another hot, clear, sunny day so away relatively early to take the mountain track up to the picnic area above Alcaucin.  But would I find my target bird for the day?  Leaving Algarrobo Costa I had a few Monk Parakeets at eye level and scores of Pallid Swifts above the apartments blacks. Approaching Alcaucin I then recorded a single White Wagtail before House martin, Collared Dove and Spotless Starling as I made my way up to the start of the unpaved track up to the picnic area.  A couple of Barn Swallows and a small number of House Sparrows before parking up the car in the main parking area.

No Crossbills to be seen in their usual bare tree top and the main difference now that the trees in full leaf so plenty of birds to be heard but very few to be seen.  Checking the dark picnic area above the car park between the tall pine trees I caught the slight movement and then watched the Short-toed Treecreper making its way slowly up the tree, mainly on the edge or the back.  Whilst watching for Nuthatches I was privileged to see a pair of Red Squirrels work their way from the canopy to base of a tall pine and as they moved away a Nuthatch put ion a very brief appearance to my left.

Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris

A walk up the track to the far end produced a Firecrest and Blackbird plus distant Wood Pigeon then back to the main picnic area again.  This time a closer Nuthatch above me and the first Chaffinch.  A circular walk below the picnic area brought forward many more Chaffinches and another Blackbird plus a pair of Red-rumped Swallows.  Time to move on and this time I continued up to the far end of the track, passing both a female Black Redstart and a couple of Jay, before taking the main road to Ventas de Zafarraya.

Red-billed Choughs Chova Piquirroja Pyrrhocorax purrhocorux

Arriving a few minutes after 11.30 I drove straight up to the tunnel in the hope that I might find the Alpine Swifts seen last Thursday my friend John Wainwright.  A Black Redstart and a male Blue Rock Thrush along with a number of Chough but the cave was very quiet.  So, a walk through the tunnel and stop  about five minutes beyond the exit to look back at the tunnel wall and cliffs to my (now) left.  A handful of Choughs as a Black Wheatear flew below and then, immediately above the Choughs, a trio of Alpine Swifts.  Whilst still smiling and overjoyed at seeing the birds at last a further flock of over thirty individuals swooped along the lower cliff face towards the cave at the far end of the tunnel.  A minimum of 35 Alpine Swifts recorded; wonderful!  Job done and time to set off home for an early lunch, but not before coming across a handful of adult and juvenile Stonechat and a few of the resident Crag Martins.

Recently-fledged Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus
Birds seen:
Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Firecrest, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Jay, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch.

Record shot of male Blue Rock Thrush Roquero Solitario Monticola solitarius

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