Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Back on the "Old Zafarraya Road"

Wednesday 12 March

It sounds very much like some old music hall song but, once again, John and Jenny wainwright have been out and about including a return visit to the old road to Zafarraya.  It says "Closed" at the top but, even with a saloon car, you can still get through if you drive carefully.  From the lower end you have direct access top the arable fields that regularly produce the Calandra Lark flocks, indeed you can often find at least five lark species here.  Then you are within easy reach of the old railway at Ventas de Zafarrya having driven through the "Magpie Woods" or the opposite direction will take you to the pantaneta above Alhama de Granada.  Both directions also lead one towards the woods of Robledal.

Meanwhile, I am back in Stamford and trying to sort out all sorts of things that need completing before the return flight t o Spain this Saturday but I am determined to get one visit in to my (here) local patch of Rutland Water.  "Watch this space," as they say. John's report follows:

Old Zafaraya road & Alhama de Granada area:  Tuesday 11th March 2014.

A warm day but blustery winds at times.

It was much warmer outside than in the house so we drove out of the village up to km16 and onto the old Zafaraya road, prior to this we saw Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings, Blackbird, House Sparrows and a Common Buzzard was hunting over the olive groves.

Common Buzzard  Buteo buteo  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

On the first part of the track we found Mistle Thrushes, Chaffinches and a Black Redstart, the wind was very blustery here, but we did manage to pick up another Common Buzzard sitting in a field, which moved up into the trees, as we stopped.

After this we headed for the ford. Although the latter was almost dry we did see Robin, Azure-winged Magpies, Jays, Corn Buntings and House Sparrows. A Green Woodpecker was yaffling somewhere along the crest where there are a fair amount of lichen covered trees, but we only snatched glances through the trees, until Jenny spotted it (or another one) feeding not a hundred metres away from us among the grasses and bracken. 

Green Woodpecker  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

We then retraced our steps and headed once again for Zafaraya, the fields were devoid of the smaller birds probably due to the strength of the wind, although the Magpies were in good numbers and a Hoopoe was seen. As the birding was scarce we headed for the gorge at Alhama de Granada.

Hoopoe  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Here, we were out of the wind and the birds were showing themselves. Our first sighting was of a Grey Wagtail, then Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Serins, a Greenfinch, Blackcap, Mistle Thrush and a Blackbird. At the ford/pedestrian bridge we found Wren and Blackcaps searching the brambles for food. Chiffchaffs were flying out from the bushes and over the stream catching midges and a couple of White Wagtails were seen also.

From here we moved onto the Las Paloma laguna, where the predominant bird was the Common Coot, we spotted two Cormorants perched on the overflow and then about a dozen Pochard came out from the cover of the overhanging trees, a few Mallard were about as were good numbers of Barn Swallows and two Crag Martins and a Moorhen.

We then crossed the road and drove up the other side of the gorge, in the fields we found Crested Larks, more Barn Swallows and a few female Black Redstarts. Looking over and into the gorge we saw a small flock of some thirty Jackdaws some flying and some perched on the cliffs across the gorge, Crag Martins were also here. A surprise viewing was of some twenty Humming-bird Hawk Moths, flying backwards and forwards along the edge of the cliff, but never seeming to land at all. 

As we progressed along the top of the gorge we saw Linnets, Black Redstarts ( all females), Goldfinches, Collared Doves, Rock Doves, Meadow Pipits and Crossbills.

Crossbill  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Through Alhama de Granada and back to Salar seeing en route a few Crested Larks, Corn Buntings and our only Southern Grey Shrike of the day - surprisingly not one Kestrel was seen today and this road is usually a real hot spot for them.

Lots of good birds seen by John and jenny so really looking forward to getting back amongst the action next week.

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