Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Sierra Loja with John and Jenny

What it is yo live close to the Sierra Loja so, not unnaturally, John and Jenny Wainwright obviously made good use of the improved weather (at least here with the strong winds abating) to take another ride up the Sierra Loja.  As to be expected, a great range of species recorded and especially lovely to see the first report of a flycatcher this year; not only one but both of our summer visitors Pied and Spotted Flycatcher.  I must keep a close eye open over these nest few days.

Sierra Loja: 28 April 

A hottish day, still breezy up above1000m.

At a loss for what to do for a few hours we ventured up to Sierra Loja after a stop for coffee.  The first part was very quiet and it was not until we got to the autovia tunnel that we started seeing things. As we passed through the tunnel several Crag Martins were seen - I wonder if they will nest here again this year? - and as we came up the hill Serins, Spotless Starlings, Collared Doves, Chaffinches and Mistle Thrush were spotted.  A nice spot by Jen here was of a female Pied Flycatcher and in the old workings we found a Spotted Flycatcher nest building.  Also at the site we saw Wren, Azure-winged Magpies, Goldfinches, Red-legged Partridges, Wood Pigeons and Great Tit.

Blue Rock Thrush Roquero Solitario Monticola solitarius  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Up at the hidden quarry we had a Blue Rock Thrush displaying, two Black Wheatears, a family of Stonechats, in the small fir copse we saw Sardinian Warblers, Greenfinches, Wren, Chaffinches and Great Tits.  On the cliffs we spotted four Spanish Ibex and above the cliffs large numbers of House Martins, a few more Crag Martins and several Barn Swallows.

We stopped several times through the tree line finding Short-toed Treecreepers, Great tits, Chaffinches, Coal Tits, Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes.  Another Wren was heard but not seen, a few Crossbills were feeding in the tree tops and, as we emerged, on the cliffs a Black Wheatear and two more Spanish Ibex were noted.

Nesting Jackdaws Grajilla Corvus monedula (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
At the cliffs two Lesser Kestrels, Jackdaws and Chough were wheeling overhead due to three climbers being in the area - although climbing has been prohibited until July.  Also here two Spectacled Warblers were sighted, gathering nesting material, another two Black Wheatears and more Stonechats were logged.
Record shot of a Spectacled Warbler Curruca Tomillera Sylvia conspicillata (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

En route to the substation valley another pair of Spectacled Warblers were seen as well as Thekla Larks, a Little Owl and more Black Wheatears.

Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
In the valley we had good views of three Little Owls despite there being a lot of work being carried out by the shepherds here.  Also here Black-eared Wheatears, Spotless Starlings and Rock Buntings.

The ponds and cave areas gave us Northern (two females) and Black-eared Wheatears, Linnets, good numbers of Rock Sparrows, Rock Buntings, House Sparrows, Chaffinches, Crag and House Martins, Barn Swallows, Chough, a Common Kestrel, Black Redstarts, another pair of Spectacled Warblers and another displaying Blue Rock Thrush.

Rock Thrush Roquero Rojo Monticola saxatilis (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
On the return journey we located our only Rock Thrush of the trip and a Woodchat Shrike was also spotted.

Great report John with lots of special birds. 

Now it is off to the Donana National Park and its first Bird Fair to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the Spanish Bird Society - SEO (Sociedad Espanola de Ornitologia) and the saving of the Donana so that we can now all enjoy this wonderful birding site.  The Bird Fair is on from Thursday to Sunday, 1-4 May at the Visitors Centre at the Dehesa De Abajo.  Whilst there no doubt I shall make use of the opportunity to visit the park itself and, hopefully, spend a little time down at the Odiel marshes where, on a good day, you can probably see most of the waders recorded during the year.  Also, with luck, the Little terns and Collared Pratincoles may have started nesting so the opportunity of some close-up views.

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

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