Thursday 3 January 2013

Ventas de Zafarraya & Sierra Tejada

Spanish Ibex Capra pyrenaica

 late morning start saw me up at the old railway track above Ventas de Zafarraya and then down to Alcaucin via the Sierra Tejeda mountain track.  Lovely warm weather and an added bonus that I was able to start before lunch having turned up a week too early for me camera club's monthly meet!

Arriving at the old railway track I had already recorded Thekla Lark, Serin, Goldfinch, Black Redstart and White Wagtail driving down the mountain from Casa Collado, so the appearance of at least eight Griffon Vultures above making a leisurely drift to the south-west was rather appealing.  Whilst checking out the cliff face in the hope that I, too, might discover the illusive Wallcreeper that has been seen here, I chanced upon a lone Ibex sheltering behind a rock.  Lovely to see but, if I am honest, I would have preferred the Wallcreeper.

Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus over Ventas de Zafarraya

Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura
The walk along the track, through the tunnel and on to the old ruined rail-side cottage and back produced very many Black Wheatears, a single Blue Rock Thrush and then a dozen or so Choughs.  A Blackbird was skulking in the spinney below and the a few Stonechats were followed by a Blackcap and both a male Sardinian Warbler and a Dartford Warbler.  A small charm of Goldfinches and a brace of House Sparrows completed the picture as I returned to the car.  As with the Sierra Loja on New Year's Eve, the hillside was alive with the beautiful little Broad leaf IrisesThen followed a quick drive through the growing field to the north of the village ending up at the (once) "Muck Heap".  A number of Rock Doves about but the real treat was the Mistle Thrush quickly followed by Thekla Lark, Robin and Linnet.  All the while a lone male Kestrel watched the progress from his perch on the wire above.

Broad-leaf Iris Iris latifolia

Seeing the small collection of Mallards on the pond in the village (accompanied by a pair of "Aylesbury Ducks and six, presumably domestic, Greylag Geese) I continued on to take the mountain track down to Alcaucin.  No sooner underway than a Red-legged Partridge wandered across in front of me and then I was onto the bad section with much care needed to avoid the ever-growing deep ruts.  Two pairs of Rock Buntings were noted before passing the working undertaking vegetation removal and arriving at the top picnic site where four horses were looking after themselves on the track; no ropes, no tethers, no nothing.  Three male Crossbills noted in the usual trees and then ion down to the main picnic site where i was greeted by more Crossbills.  No sooner had a I entered the picnic area itself then first a Blue Tit followed by a Great Tit in the trees immediately in front.  Within seconds a Nuthatch had come down to check if I was carrying any bread for distribution, even a Nuthatch and his friends need some sort of Christmas treat.  The walk alongside the narrow path adjacent to the water ditch produced a pair of Crested Tits and, finally, a small number of Chaffinches before continuing on down to Alcaucin.  As a bonus, a Hoopoe flew over the road in front of me as I turned on to the main road for the final drive up to the lake and home.  Only 30 species in the couple of hours but, at least, they were good sightings to get the year off to a good start.

Male Common Crossbill Loxia curvorostra

Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Griffon Vulture, Kestrel, Rock Dove, Hoopoe, Thekla Lark, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Crested Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Chough, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Crossbill, Rock Bunting.

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