Sunday 1 September 2013

The Sierra Loja take-over!

Once more John and Jenny Wainwright have ascended their local Sierra Loja mountain and got me drooling over the resulting report.  If this keeps up then I shall either have to rename the site or ask the Junta to put a gate across the lower end of the track to stop me getting those shades of green that follow one of John's reports!  On the other hand, I think I may well give in and if you can't beat them them join them and pay a visit to Loja within the next couple of days.

Not content with one, John and Jenny managed to find three eagles. And then even produced a trio of the Golden variety.  Both mountain thrushes, three wheatear species including the Black-eared specimen which always seem to be the predominate species to be found once clear of the tree line and then a Tawny Pipit to really whet the appetite.  Yes, definitely up the mountain come tomorrow or Tuesday.

Sierra Loja 31st August 2013

Quite warm as we left home and the car registered 33C but a very fresh 18C at over 1200m.

I am sorry if the reports that I submit are possibly repetitive, and we hadn´t intended to go up the sierras today.  But after shopping and chores and being the last day of the month, I thought it would be nice to finish on a high (no pun intended).

The lower half of the sierras were full of cars and climbers, cyclists and a couple of walkers so we headed directly for the pond area.  Here we made a cup of tea and pottered about taking a few photos of butterflies and the odd insect.   After the cuppa we started birding, seeing at the ponds a few Black-eared Wheatears and a family of Thekla Larks.  A brisk breeze had sprung up - as the darkish clouds obscured the sun, bringing the temperature to a very cool 18C.  As we started to move along to the fossil cave we spotted two birds foraging among the thistles - these turned out to be two juvenile Tawny Pipits

Tawny Pipit  Bisbita Campestre  Anthus campestris  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
We continued along to the fossil cave area and here we saw a largish flock of Linnets, a few Rock Sparrows and a Blue Rock Thrush.  A group of Red-legged Partridges was seen scurrying for cover as a huge shadow came across the cliff face; it was a juvenile/ sub-adult Golden Eagle.  As it disappeared around the end of the cliff another smaller raptor hugged the side of the valley, it was a male Merlin - we don´t see many of these up here.

Trio of Golden Eagles Aguila Real Aquila chrysaetos above with immature/sub-adult below (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Moving along about five hundred metres we spotted a Griffon Vulture high over the cliff top, at ground level we saw Black Redstarts, Rock Buntings, Linnets, Goldfinches and a Northern Wheatear.  Instead of turning round at this point we carried on past Fuente Alto as the road has been cleared for a distance.  Our first sighting here was of a juvenile Rock Thrush and on a distant rock pile a Booted Eagle was perched.  The road was getting quite cut-up and muddy further on, so we about turned and headed back in the direction of the fossil cave.  From the left a Common Kestrel took off from rocks and as we followed its progress another juvenile Golden Eagle - possibly the same one as before - flew into view.  Above it and to the right a Short-toed Eagle was circling - we didn´t know which to look at first, being so spoilt for choice.

Juvenile Rock Thrush  Roquero Rojo Monticola saxatillis  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
After the trio of raptors had disappeared we headed for Sierra Gordo.  Here we disturbed a Short-toed Eagle perched close by one of the wind-turbines.  Plenty of Black-eared Wheatears, Thelka Larks and Black Redstarts here also.

Thekla Lark  Cogujada Montesina  Galerida theklae   (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Retracing our steps back to the ponds we were just having another cuppa and a slice of cake - when looking in the direction of Archidonna - I spotted not one, not two, but three Golden Eagles. A Spanish couple were parked here and we pointed the birds out to them - as they were seen to have binoculars. 

We then headed back for home seeing on the way a Sparrowhawk, Hoopoe, two Black Wheatears, Bee-eaters, more Northern Wheatears, a couple of Rock Buntings, Spotted Flycatchers, Collared Doves, Chaffinches and House Sparrows.

The Booted Eagle was on its pylon as we drove back into Salar..

That to my way of thinking was a cracking finish to the month...

What a great day John.  And in addition to the trios I have already mentioned I have just realised that you also had a trio of smaller raptors with Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Kestrel  You lucky pair! 

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