Thursday 13 December 2012

Ventas de Zafarraya & District

Common Kestrel  Falco Vulgar
What a beautiful morning; calm and sunny with a beautiful blue sky so what better thing to do than drive up the local mountain for some pleasurable birding.  Just a shame that the birds decided to stay in bed because finding them was very hard work in deed; virtually silent and hidden I was somewhat surprised that I actually managed to record 31 species by the time I got home in mid-afternoon.

Parking just before the tunnel entrance on the old railway track to avoid the hordes of ramblers who were in the process of organising themselves, there were a good number of Black Wheatears moving about but I had to reach almost the old station ruin before any real activity.  Then a number of feeding Crag Martins plus Black Redstart, Great Tit and Blackcap.  A sole male Blue Rock Thrush flew up to the the top of the nearby pylon and then, as always, the sound of Choughs calling.  Eventually, a trio passed overhead as I headed back to the car adding Stonechat to the list.  From here on there seemed to be numerous Chaffinches about at almost every subsequent stop.

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis

A brief stop at the "Muck Heap" produced a flock of Rock Doves, more Chaffinches and a small number of feeding Chiffchaffs and then it was on through the "Magpie Woods" (no Azure-winged Magpies seen today) and off to the left to explore the arable fields.  This produced Blackbird and the first Mistle Thrush then a rather lovely Southern Grey Shrike warming itself on the wires before adding White Wagtail, Spotless Starlings, Thekla Lark, Serin, Corn Bunting and a single (common) Magpie.

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto

The pantaneta above Alhama de Granada was just as quiet with the few birds present all congregated on the dam wall.  Half a dozen Cormorants, a trio of Little Grebes, less than ten Pochards and a handful of Coots made up the numbers.  A lone Collared Dove was awaiting me on the far bank.

Little Owl  Athene noctua

Nothing to it but to head off towards the Sierra de Tereja and look for the Crossbills and what else on the mountain trail down to Alcaucin.  But first Linnets, Goldfinches and a solitary Little Owl as I crossed back from Alhama towards Zafarraya, the last in exactly the same spot as when seen in the November visit.  What a disappointment the mountain track turned out to be.  Nothing until I got down to the lower picnic site (the higher level track is now in a very bad condition) and then just a single Crossbill waiting for me in the usual Eucalyptus tree opposite the car park.  And even she had departed by the time I returned from a short circuit around the area.  You just have to know when you are beaten so home I headed!


Crossbill Loxia curvirostra

Birds seen:
Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Kestrel. Coot, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Thekla Lark, White Wagtail, Crag Martin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Magpie, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Crossbill, Corn Bunting.

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