Friday 22 November 2013

Alcaucin and the Sierra Tejeda

Friday 22 November

With the promise of rain all day, Steve and Elena Powell plus myself cancelled our proposed visit to the Sierra Loja in search of Ring Ouzels.  After all, who wants to be exposed on the top of the mountain in freezing rain and even the possibility of snow?  So, come this morning when I pulled back the curtains I discovered a an almost clear sky and the sun thinking very much about putting his cap back on.  But, of course, it was going to rain, wasn't it?  All my priority jobs done, not long after 11 o'clock and still the sun was shining in an almost clear be sky.  Somewhat chilly when exposed to the cold, strong breeze but, nevertheless, dry.

Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra
Enough is enough so putting o an extra layer I took myself off to Alcaucin to drive up the mountain track into the Sierra Tejeda, followed by a quick look in the "Magpie Woods" and the old railway track at Ventas de Zafarraya before returning home less than three hours later.

White Wagtails, Thekla Larks and House Sparrows approaching Los Romanes followed by a few Spotless Starlings and Rock Doves as I started up the mountain track.  Then, at the lower picnic site, there were my all-to-familiar Crossbill families waiting in their usual tree to welcome me back.  A quick walk along the back via the water course provided Great Tit, Rock Bunting and Chaffinches and then it was time to climb higher.  But not before I sought out the slow repeated knocking of the Great Spotted Woodpecker and got a clear, distant sighting and photographs.  Before reaching the end of the track I had also recorded more Rock Buntings and a very shy Robin.  However, at the farm, on the track in front, was a small group of feeding Chaffinches picking up grit and in their midst a couple of male Bramblings.  Time for a photograph and then nothing, the camera control wheel had been rubbed into the "Bulb" position.  Just a fraction of a second to turn it back to "M" and, there rapidly approaching, was the first vehicle I had seen all morning!  So much for getting a photograph despite hanging around for another ten minutes or so; only the Chaffinches returned to the track along with a passing male Blackbird.  That "Murphy" and his law have an awful lot for which to answer!

Great Spotted Woodpecker
A Kestrel was hovering overhead as I drove straight to the Magpie Woods and had soon found both Mistle Thrushes and Black Redstarts.  The lone Dartford Warbler was a rather lovely addition and I also managed to observe both a dozen Azure-winged Magpies and a departing Jay from the side of the road.

Finally, a quick stop at the tunnel on the old railway track duly presented both Black Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush (it was, after all, too much to expect the Alpine Accentors to still be in the same immediate vicinity of the tunnel entrance) and so back home with the accompanying Collared Doves and Stonechats.  And still the sun shines albeit there is a little more cloud now that the day is rapidly drawing to a close.

Birds seen:
Kestrel, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Thekla Lark, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Dartford Warbler, Great Tit, Azure-winged Magpie, Jay, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, Goldfinch, Crossbill, Rock Bunting.

Juvenile Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra

Great Spotted Woodpecker Pico Picapinos Dendrocopus major

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

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