Monday 2 September 2013

Yet more from the Sierra Loja

Monday 2 September

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
All these recent visits by John and Jenny Wainwright producing wondrous birds finally get me over to Loja this morning so that I could, hopefully, share in the birding delights.  The forecast was good and I left Casa Collado at 8.30 in bright sunshine and clear skies.  Almost 200 House Martins on the wires as I went through Los Romanes plus Barn Swallows and House Sparrows and so up to the pass at Ventas de Zafarraya to take the Loja road via Zafarrya itself.  This was where the fun started and the only birds seen were  almost 40 Rock Doves on the wires about half-way to Loja having finally come out of the low cloud and been able to turn off the car lights!

The entry track to the mountain was very quiet with only a couple of Great Tits to welcome me.  Nothing at the lower quarry and only a single Blue Rock Thrush at the main quarry so up and up I went.  Almost immediately I was hearing and then seeing regular sightings of Red-legged Partridge and, just above the tree line, the first of a few Black WheatearsThekla Larks turned up at regular intervals and then, approaching the water trough, my first Southern Grey Shrike.

So on to the wind turbines where, at last, I encountered the "other" wheatears, mainly Black-eared but also a few Northern Wheatears.  The first of a few small flocks of Goldfinches as I neared what little was left of the water at Charca del Negra but then a couple of Rock Sparrows and a Rock Bunting just off the track.  However, pride of place went to the magnificent immature Golden Eagle that drifted over the rise and passed immediately overhead.

From here, on these upper slopes, i managed to find a number of Stonechats and a few Black Redstarts, including a very handsome male specimen, before hearing the familiar call of the Choughs.  I new they were somewhere near but I certainly did not expect to find a flock in excess of seventy.  A Mistle Thrush took off to the left and a single Hoopoe flew off to the right.  I was to find another Hoopoe and more Black Redstarts along with a Mistle Thrush on the way back to the Charca del Negra.

One of many Red-legged Partridges Alectoris rufa
The return journey down the mountain found more Black-eared Wheatears in small numbers along with another Rock Sparrow and a few Linnets.  There were certainly plenty of Red-legged Partridges to be also be seen but try as I might, I just could not locate a Rock Thrush.  However, I was able to get a goof view of a Spectacled Warbler that landed in a small tree to my right - but the camera failed to lock on to the bird before it took its departure.

Travelling home via Salar and the back of the "Magpie Woods" I was able to add Spotted Flycatcher, Magpie and Azure-winged Magpie and then, almost home as I approached Puente don Manuel, a Booted Eagle appeared over the road in front of me.  Not a large species count but, nevertheless, some rather lovely birds recorded on what had been a warm and sunny day with clear blue skies but quite windy.

Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Golden Eagle, Booted Eagle,Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Spectacled Warbler, Great Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting.

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