With my dear friend from Belgium, Marieke only with us for one complete day following her stay near Tarifa to observe the arrival of her beloved Honey Buzzards, where could I possibly take her birding? Where could I find her a new species and, hopefully, a completely different habitat? Of course, a trip up the Sierra Loja above the tree-line and a very good chance of seeing a Rock Thrush; a large raptor, Black-eared Wheatear and an Eagle Owl would also not go amiss. So, on a beautiful clear morning without a breath of wind and some warm sunshine we eventually set off from Lake Vinuela via Zaffaraya to the start of the mountain track next to the service station on the Granada side of the A92 motorway above Loja.
It seemed a good idea at the time as we recorded Blackbirds, Collared Doves, etc along the way plus a feeding Hoopoe beside the the road but then stopped at the Montagu's Harrier site where we enjoyed the watching a couple of males and a female quartering the cereal fields. The first Azure-winged Magpie of the day appeared out of the adjoining woods, a Wood Pigeon flew over and a Turtle Dove was happily singing away on the far side of the field. And every so often a Corn Bunting on the roadside wires and fences. Eventually we reached the service station and stopped for a coffee so it was approaching 11.30 by the time we started our climb up the mountain track.
|Record shot of Eagle Owl Buho Real Bubo bubo|
No sooner had we started our drive than a skip lorry cam charging down the hill churning an enormous dust cloud but, on the positive side, this was to be the last vehicle of any sort that we saw all day until we were almost down the mountain on the return journey, More Azure-winged Magpies, Blackbirds and Red-legged Partridges plus a Mistle Thrush until we were clear of the trees and then the numerous sightings of Choughs. Also here the House Martins seemed to have found an abundant source of insects on the mountain slopes. Only one Jackdaw was seen but, conversely, on the way down we saw nothing in this area apart from Jackdaws!
Then a stop to identify and admire another targeted bird as a single Golden Eagle drifted across at a high altitude. Our first Stonechat was recorded along with a number of Crested Larks and then a very timid Rock Bunting. Before reaching the Charco del Negro ponds we had yet another sought after bird when we found a couple of Black-eared Wheatears.
|First you look at the water, then you bathe and finally dry off in the sun!|
|Rock Bunting Escribano Montesino Emberiza cia|
|Male Rock Thrush Roquero Rojo Monticola saxatilis|
|Black-eared Wheatear Collalba Rubia Oenanthe hispanica|
|Male (white) and female Montagu's Harriers Aguilucho Cenizo Circus pygargus|
And so back to Casa Collado with a White wagtail on the road as we started up to Los Romanes from the lake. A long but very enjoyable day.
Red-legged Partridge, Golden Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Kestrel, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Eagle owl, Common Swift, Hoopoe, Crested lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Black redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle thrush, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Azure-winged Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.