Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sierra Loja with John and Jenny Wainwright

Tuesday 18 March

Back in business now that I am once more in Casa Collado, our mountain home above Lake Vinuela.  I thought it would not be long before John and Jenny Wainwright were back up their favourite mountain and, sure enough, I have just received the latest report from John reflecting their visit to this wonderful birding site earlier today.

Sierra Loja: 18th March

A very warm day (22C)but still a chilly breeze at times.

Chores finished by eleven am, we decided to see if there were any new arrivals up in Sierra Loja.  The first part of the drive was very uneventful until we reached the old workings where we saw Wren, Serins, Blackbirds, Azure-winged Magpies, Mistle Thrush and Collared Dove.

Up and into the hidden quarry here we saw four Barn Swallows, Black Wheatears, a distant Blue Rock Thrush was singing from the clifftop, more Blackbirds and a Rock Bunting.

Blue Rock Thrush  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Moving up to the tree line - this too was eerily quiet in respect of birdsong - but we did manage to spot two Short-toed Treecreepers, a small family of Long-tailed Tits, a Coal Tit, a Great Tit, several Chaffinches, Crossbills (these were the only noises heard), a Wood Pigeon and an Azure-winged Magpie.

We could hear the Jackdaws before we got to the cliff area, these were feeding with a few Chough on the slope to our right, then a pair of Black Wheatears flew onto the wire fence, a party of Linnets flew overhead and a Stonechat was seen atop an almond tree.  Just as we were pulling away a Sparrowhawk came hurtling across the tops of the bushes.   Nine Ibex were also seen en route to the next port-of-call.

Just as we passed the entrance to the para-gliding area, we got our first Black-eared Wheatear of the year and as we drove into the sub-station valley another one was seen.  A few Thekla Larks were singing from the rock-piles and another two Rock Buntings were seen.  Then a Northern Wheatear was spotted sitting a lone rock out in the grasses and a Little Owl called from somewhere in the valley here but we could not locate it.

Black-eared Wheatear  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
So up to the ponds, seeing nothing different from our previous sightings, here again you could hear a pin drop.  But we did find in the bottom pond a Sharp-ribbed Newt, Western Spadefoots and Natterjack Toads and as we were having a cuppa, four Goldfinches and a Linnet turned up for a drink - at the pond of course.

Western Spadefoot  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Onward to the fossil cave area where a Honey Buzzard was seen hovering several times while progressing along the cliff top.  Then a male and female Black Redstart, followed by a Blue Rock Thrush which was sent packing by a pair of Black Wheatears.  While we were watching the latter a single Griffon Vulture sailed high over the cliff.

Lots of Spotless Starlings about plus a Rock Sparrow, a Song Thrush and a Common Kestrel.

Over the other side of the cliffs, in a small fir copse, we found Goldfinches, Mistle Thrushes, Chaffinches and a Robin.

On the home journey another Griffon Vulture was seen but nothing extra.

Griffon Vulture  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

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