Sunday, 17 November 2013

Andalucia Bird Society visit to Ventas de Zafarraya and its hinterland

Saturday 16 November

The ever-watchful Ibex (PHOTO: Steve Powell)
The coldest night of the winter so far this year where we live and here I was taking a party of ten members up to the mirador at Ventas de Zafarraya to join the rest of the members of the Andalucia Bird Society on their November field meet.  Lovely to see so many interested birders, I think the final count was twenty-five, and this large number was, indeed to prove somewhat problematical once we started on he third part of our day's venture.  And, by jove, it was even colder as we prepared to start our walk along the old railway track and through the tunnel into the sun and onwards before returning to the (many) cars.  Definitely a case of putting on as many clothes as could be found in the car!  Butthe watching Ibex did not seem to mind as they peered down upon us.

Black Redstart Colirrojo Tizon Phoenicurus ochruros (PHOTO: Steve Powell)
We had already had White Wagtail, Thekla Lark, Collared and Rock Dove, not to mention numerous Black Redstarts and a single male Blackcap as we approached the meeting point to be greeted by more Black Redstarts and the first of very many Blue Rock Thrushes during our stay.  Mick Richardson had already seen and photographed a magnificent Peregrine Falcon as he approached the site so we all pleased when, eventually, we all managed to find another.  However, strange to relate, we only had a single Black Wheatear before the tunnel and only one more on the other side but a couple more as we returned to the cars where further individuals were seen.  Steve managed to get a shot of the Meadow Pipit that had decided to perch on the wires above and, of course, there were a small number feeding on the grass. There were, of course, other great birds seen including Wren, Sardinian and Dartford Warblers, Great Tit, a number of Stonechat, Crag Martins in, out and around the tunnel and a final total of eight Griffon Vultures drifted over.  However, the best sighting, and probably the "bird of the day"  was the Alpine Accentor, even better than the Ring Ouzel seen by one of the members..  Following a distant sighting on the cliff face before the tunnel, as we started our return walk most were surprised and privileged to then find an individual on the rocks immediately to the right and within ten metres.  Then add on a couple of Northern Wheatears, Rock Sparrow and Bunting and a fly-over Peregrine Falcon, even a Sparrowhawk was seen on the other side of the valley, and we really had been treated well.  Wow!

Alpine Accentor Acentor Alpino Prunella collaris (PHOTO: Steve Powell)
Leaving the mirador, we next drove through the "Magpie Woods" where most recorded Azure-winged Magpie after a short stop which also revealed Mistles Thrushes, Red-legged Partridge, Robin and Chaffinch.  Next it was to the arable fields, passing charms of Goldfinches plus Serins and a Corn Bunting, before our successful search for both Calandra and Short-toed Lark.  We even recorded a couple of Sky Larks, saw both Kestrel and another Peregrine Falcon along with House Sparrows.  Not long after mid-day and we had recorded five species of lark when you add on both Thekla and Crested Lark.  As we drove away a (common) Magpie flew over.

Thekla Lark Cogujada Montesina Galerida theklae  (PHOTO: Steve Powell)
Between here and the pantaneta above Alhama de Granada all seemed to fall apart as we managed to lose three cars towards the rear of our ten-car convoy.  I was later to hear that the "missing cars" had managed to find Brambling at the same site where the Mistle Thrushes had been previously see.  For those us who reach the small laguna, very useful for warming coffee and much appreciated facilities, we duly recorded Moorhen and Coot along with Little Grebe, Mallard, Shoveler and Pochard on the water.  A Cetti's Warbler dashed past below the hide.  A little later a short walk to the adjoining spinney produced Coal and Long-tailed Tit, Firecrest and Short-toed Treecreeper.  On the outskirts we also had three Grey Herons, Wood Pigeon and a couple of Song Thrushes along with the expected Blackbird.

Rapidly departing Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus (PHOTO: Steve Powell)
Our final stop of the day was at the woods of El Robledal.  No sooner had we arrived and we were both hearing and seeing Crested Tits, Coal Tits, Chaffinches and the first Nuthatch.  In addition, many if not most, had also seen Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker  as we approached the car park.  Indeed, some also had views of Green Woodpecker and Crossbill.  The hour-long circular walk, as well as more of the above, also confirmed Buzzard and Jackdaws were seen from the car park.  Finally, another Southern Grey Shrike and a Nuthatch were seen on the drive back down the track to the main road and home.

Crested Tit Herrerillo Capuchino Parus cristatus  (PHOTO: Steve Powell)

It may have started out very cold but the day had certainly warmed up, both in terms of heat and the number and quality of birds recorded.  Most enjoyable and a final total of 68 species - until I am corrected!

Now where did that Alpine Accentor go?
With my computer on the "blink" and unable to access my photographs, I am most grateful to my friend Steve Powell in providing the illustrations, all take on the day.

Griffon Vultures Buitre Leonado Gyps fulvus over Ventas de Zafarraya
Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea resting in the trees at the pantaneta
One of many Blue Rock Thrushes Roquero Solitario Monticola solitaries seen from the old railway track
Good news; Computer now fixed and, all being well, a couple of more photos to add as well as the additional photo from Steve of a Crested Tit.


Now how's this for a cheeky Long-tailed Tit Mito Aegithalos caudatus?

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Little Egret, Heron, Griffon Vulture, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Wren, Alpine Accentor, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Dartfrd Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Southern Grey Shrike, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Crossbill, Rock Bunting, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.

 
 
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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