Saturday, 31 May 2014

Alcaucin and the Sierra Tejeda

Saturday 31 May

Blue Tit  Herrerillo Comun Parus caeruleus
Up and out of the house by 8 o´clock to be at the Alcaucin picnic area before the thriving masses arrive with their various picnic baskets, noisy games, radios and general disturbance in the hope that I might find a few LBJ´s to add to the monthly list.  Jut the occasional Thekla Lark to see me off the mountain and then a Collared Dove to watch me start up tghe mountain track onthe other side of the valley.  All very quiet apart from a couple of walkers coming down the trail followed by a car.  Did this mean that the track was still blocked off by the bottom area near the venta?  No, just a very quiet start to the day; a mere coincidence.  A couple of House Sparrows, Chaffinches, Blackbirds and a male sardinian warbler before  I arrived at the main picnic area with, already, two small cars in my usual parking area overlooking the "Crosbill tree".

I coud hear sounds from above and began to think that the picnicers had already arrived to save their favourite table but, no, a trio of campers sitting in bags having roughed the night.  Straight passed them and up to the top to walk along the narrow water channel.  All very quiet with hardly a bird to be heard nevermind seen apart from the occasional Goldfinch.  Yet, on the retrn walk back down to the main picnic area a Great Spotted Wodpecker flew overhead.

Well-concealed Nuthatch Trepador Azul Sitta europaea
I was beginning to winder why I had bothered but walked down the steps at the far side to the lowere slope where i had a good view of a feeding Blue Tit.  Then, near the main steps down, an adult  Robin was feeding in the shade under the nearby tree. Suddenly, muuch more activity as the Blackbirds flew here, theer and everywhere and, near the overhang, my first Nuthatch of the day.  No sooner had I seen one than another two were seen; always the way.  A Firecrest was busy feeding above me and then both Serin and Goldfinches appeared in the area.  Now we were getting really busy as a large family of Crossbills decided to make their enrtrance and commced feeding immediately in front of me.
Juvenile Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra
Time, eventually, to move on nd the drive up to the upper picnic area produced more Blackbirds and Chaffinches along with a pair of Red-legged Partridges.  very little to be seen on arrival other than a single female Crossbill.  Continuing to the top of the mountain and exit towards Ventas de Zafarraya, I first had a Mistle Thrush in the nearby company of a male Blackcap and then another Wood Pigeon.  There were Corn Buntings on the wires near the former "Muck heap" so I mad my way up to the old railway track above the village.

Many House Martins as I passed through the village and, on arrival, I was greeted by the calling Choughs who duly presented themselves to be seen.  A handful of Rock Buntings on the track up to the tunnel and a good number of Rock Sparrows also present.  But I had specifically come to see if teh Alpine Swifts were back in their breeding cave.  Unfortunately, just the one short glimpse of a departing specimen  so,presumably, the birds have returned and area either sitting tight on egss or are way up above feeding; they certainly did not reappear whilst I was parked up at the tunnel entrance.

Chough  Chova Piquirroja Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Apart from the Choughs, therewas a trio of Linnets to be seen and, of course, a number of Black Wheatears on te nearby rocks.  A pair of Blue Rock Thrushes flew past during my short walk on the far side of the tunnel but I was back in time to see the resident Peregrine Falcon being seen of by a resolute Chough.   I thought that Crag Martin numbers were down for this time of the year and there was only the very occasional Barn Swallow to be seen.  Only 30 species in total but I was pleased with the sightings of birds not previously seen this month and back just after noon to enjoy the afternoon and email out the bi-monthly e-magazine  Malaga Birds.

Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Pererine Falcon, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Alpine Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Robin, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Firecrest, Blue Tit, Nuthatch, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chafinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Crossbill, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information. 

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