Monday, 27 July 2015

Sierra Loja with John and Jenny

26 July 2015

All has been very quiet on the western front, well Salar anyway, not having heard from John and Jenny wainwright for a month or more.  And now i know the answer; a mixture of me being back in the UK and John having lost a battle with a wheelie bin!  Sounds intriguing, if somewhat painful, so look forward to catching up with John  and Jenny in the coming days and finding out more about this load of rubbish - every pun intended.  Whatever, great to hear that John is not only on the mend but able to get out and about once again and guess where?  yes, up to his favourite birding spot, the Sierra Loja.  And good to see that most of the summer regulars are still to be seen.  All photographs by John Wainwright.

Female Red-veined Darter Sympetrum columbei

Sierra Loja: Sunday 26th July
Hottish below (36C), but much cooler (28C) up top, with a nice breeze to boot. 
Nothing much to speak of until we got to the tree line area, where we saw Chaffinches, Great Tits, heard Coal Tits and Short-toed Treecreepers.

A lot of hirundines about at the cliff areas although mostly House Martins with a few Crag Martins, only one Red-rumped Swallow, a few Barn Swallows and several Common Swifts.  In the bushes in the lower slopes we found a single Spectacled Warbler, a family of Stonechats, two Woodchat Shrikes, Black Wheatear, Little Owl, Thekla Larks and a couple of Hoopoes.  At the water trough a small flock of Chough flew off at our approach.

Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua

On the way up to the substation valley we saw plenty of Black-eared Wheatears (mostly juveniles), in fact only one adult was seen all day.  While in the valley itself a Northern Wheatear was found, a few Chough, more Hoopoes and Black-eared Wheatears.  In the old bare tree here we saw three Southern Grey Shrikes and another Stonechat and as we came out of the valley a Blue Rock Thrush was noted.
On to the pond area, where the water level was slimy green and no more than two inches deep by about six foot wide, the tadpole and froglets that were about were all at the surface and the edges had corpses of the unlucky ones upon them.  While we were here we saw Rock Buntings, Linnets, Rock Sparrows, Blackbirds, Black-eared Wheatears and another Blue Rock Thrush, also lots of Striped Grayling (Hypparchia fidia) butterflies about in the area.

Striped Grayling Hypparchia fidia
Moving along to the "fossil cave" area, good numbers of Crag Martins here as well as a large flock of Chough feeding on the down slopes.  Our first of three Black Redstarts (one male, two females), a Lesser Kestrel, Red-legged Partridges, Black Wheatear, Rock Buntings, Linnets and our third Blue Rock Thrush. 

Blue Rock Thrush Roquero Solitario Monticola solitarius

We made our way back and around to the fir copse, where we had a sandwich.  As I stepped out of the car to get a photo of a dragonfly, a large flock of Common Swifts flew past - at just over head height.  Lots of Goldfinches here as well as a Hoopoe, Chaffinches and another Blue Rock Thrush. We were just getting back in the car when a ring-tail Montagu's Harrier soared across our front.

Departing female Montagu's Harrier Aguilucho Cenizo Circus pygargus

On the way down we spotted four Spanish Ibex going for a drink at the trough and as we came to the autovia tunnel Serin, Wood Pigeon and Azure-winged Magpies were seen.

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