Wednesday 25 September 2013

Back to the Sierra Loja with John and Jenny

John and Jenny Wainwright once more returned to, what must be, their favourite birding site and  had a truly wondrous range of birds.  Following all these exploits up and down the Sierra Loja, I have come to the conclusion that John and Jenny have it all wrong.  Now that they, and their car, are so well known to the local and visiting avifauna, I think it may be not so much that they go to watch the birds as the birds all flock out to come and watch them!  Enjoy John's report.

Sierra Loja - 23rd September

A very chilly breeze to start (14C), warming up later.

As I packed the fridge in the back of the motor three House Martins flew over and down the road out of the village we saw Azure-winged Magpies, Collared Doves, Blackbird and Spotless Starlings.

Red Squirrel (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Our first stop was the hidden quarry. On the way up we found Dartford and Sardinian Warblers, a Blackbird and a large covey of Red-legged Partridges.  Also in this area we saw Black Wheatear, Chaffinch, Short-toed Treecreeper, a female Orphean Warbler and three Rock Buntings.  On the top ridge to the right of the cross we found three Ibex. In the firs at the junction to the main track we located several Crossbills, a Coal Tit, Great Tit and another Short-toed Treecreeper.  A Kestrel was heard calling but I couldn´t locate it anywhere.

Continuing up through the tree-line Jenny spotted a Red Squirrel, then nothing more until the cliff area where we saw Little Owl, a few Jackdaws - one with a illusions of being a jockey - more Spotless Starlings, another Black Wheatear, Goldfinches, some Thekla Larks and a Southern Grey Shrike.

This Jackdaw Corvus monedula certainly has a future in the 3.30 Sheep Stakes! (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Between the cliffs and the substation valley we saw Northern Wheatears, Rock Sparrows, a few Stonechats and a Common Swallowtail butterfly.

By the substation another Little Owl was located and one - of the two only - Black-eared Wheatears were seen.  Also good views of a Tawny Pipit, Chough and more Northern Wheatears - one having a shindig with a Spectacled Warbler about "perching rights" on a bush.

Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Onward and upward to the Charco del Negra here two Griffon Vultures were spotted as well as Black Redstart, Thekla Larks, Rock Sparrows and Chough.

At the fossil cave we found another two Black Wheatears, and a Lesser Kestrel flew no more than fifty metres from us but I couldn´t stop the car quick enough to get a shot of it.  More Chough about, as well as Black Redstarts and Thekla Larks.

Southern Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)


Round to the Sierra Gordo car park we found Rock Bunting, another Griffon Vulture was spotted in the distance, lots of Goldfinches on the thistles, our second Black-eared Wheatear, Stonechat, another Southern Grey Shrike and yet more Northern Wheatears.

Record shot of Short-toed Eagle Culebrera Europea Circaetus gallicus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
On the down trip the only extras to what had already been seen were a Short-toed Eagle perched on the head of a pylon, a female Sparrowhawk, two Crag Martins and, at the entrance to the hidden quarry, a male Pied Flycatcher, plus six more Ibex.

Group of resident Ibex Bucardo Capra pyrenaica on the Sierra Loja (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

A very well spent four and a half hours.

What a fabulous morning's birding, John and Jenny.  Once again, you make us all so envious that you have this iconic site virtually on your doorstep.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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