Friday, 18 April 2014

Sierra Loja with John & Jenny


Friday 18 April


Certainly a "Good Friday" for John and Jenny Wainwright who travelled, once again, to the summit of the Sierra Loja and managed to confirm that the Rock Thrushes have returned to their traditional breeding territory.  Also Whinchat and both Northern and Black-eared Wheatear and then more and more Rock Thrushes.   But  had a couple of Great Spotted Cuckoos just down the road!  John's very descriptive report follows:

Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Sierra Loja: Friday 18th April

Another very warm day but again very breezy up top.


Due to being a holiday and only bars/restaurants open we decided to go to our local patch to keep out of the way of the processions etc.

At the entrance to the Sierra´s we found Azure-winged Magpies, Stonechats, Chaffinches, Short-toed Treecreeper, Great Tits and a Blue Tit, we also found a Blackbird emulating a Woodpecker, by climbing up the tree vertically following a line of ants, which it was picking off with ease.

Gaining the main track we saw Coal Tit, Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings and a Mistle Thrush.  Up to the hidden quarry - very quiet here as we saw only Red-legged Partridges and a Stonechat, it was nice to see the Wild Tulip (Tulipa australis) in bloom again as well as the Barbary Nut flower.

Rock Bunting Emberiza cia (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
 Through the tree-line we saw Crossbills, Great and Coal Tits, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Mistle Thrush, Wren, Azure-winged Magpies, Greenfinches, Jackdaws, Rock Bunting and Stonechats.

The cliffs held a couple of Black Wheatears, Blackbirds, more Jackdaws, Sardinian Warblers, Linnets, more Rock Buntings and a few Bee-eaters.  The Green Woodpecker is still calling and one of these days I will take the bottom road and find him.

At the old quarry area we saw our first Northern Wheatear of the day plus a male Black Redstart and Southern Grey Shrike.

Ocellated lizard Timon lepidus (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

As we approached the substation valley we found Black-eared and Northern Wheatears, Thekla Larks and a few Linnets. Down in the valley a Little Owl was spotted sitting on the shepherds hut and on a rock we saw our first of the year Whinchat.  A Common Kestrel and good numbers of Chough and Jackdaws about here too. Heading up towards the turbines we stopped to let one of the shepherds pass and we startled an Ocellated Lizard atop a rock.  Then a Spectacled Warbler flew onto a hedgehog broom and started singing and a Meadow Pipit stopped for a quick pose.
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
At the ponds again fairly quiet although we did add Crag Martin to our tally , also here we saw more Linnets, Rock Buntings, Chough, Northern and Black-eared Wheatears and Rock Sparrows were plentiful on and around the cliff face.  The Sharp-ribbed Newts were about but never stayed up long enough to photograph them.
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Along now to the cave area where our first sighting was a Blue Rock Thrush, then a beautiful male Rock Thrush started displaying, he came down off of the cliff top and gave us great views as it foraged in the meadow for food.  In the end we had to drag ourselves away from this captivating scene, as there were more discoveries to be had.   A Black Wheatear started calling from another cliff top and then a small flock of Rock Sparrows alighted on the cliff face. A few more Crag Martins flew about the cave entrance and a huge swathe of House Martins passed through. Again another Rock Thrush was spotted displaying, this bird giving chase to one of the many Spotless Starlings that have made this area their home.

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solittarius  (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Moving on we spotted another two male Rock Thrushes having their own private ding-dong while being watched by a Blue Rock Thrush and a couple of Chough that were perched on a cliff ledge. 

Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)



Then on to the Rio Gordo area where we found another Spectacled Warbler, Stonechats, TheklaLarks, more Northern and Black-eared Wheatears and as we approached a fir copse, two male Cuckoos flew across our front and disappeared, but one did come back and started calling in the copse.  Also here we heard then found a Bonelli´s Warbler, two Woodchat Shrike, Goldfinches, House Sparrows, Rock Buntings, Mistle Thrush and across the track a Blue Rock Thrush started singing.

Nothing different seen on the way down.



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

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