Monday, 21 November 2016

Sierra Magina, Jaen with the ABS

Saturday 19 November

One of the 6, very distant, Golden Eagles Aguila Real Aquila chrysaetos seen in the Magina (Same rock as last time!)
It may have been colder than on the coast last night but, nevertheless, Saturday started clear and sunny and gradually warmed up (layer after layer being removed before mid-day) when 24 members of the Andalucia Bird Society under the leadership of ABS member and professional guide of Sierra-Trek, Jose Luis Sanchez, set off the for the mighty Sierra Magina in Jaen Province.  With the whole group safely packed into just six cars we still managed to lose the last car as we took our final turning .  Whilst we awaited the missing car to catch us up it enable some impromptu birding which proved very rewarding starting with a Little Owl and quickly followed by a juvenile male Blue Rock Thrush.  Further scanning produced both Rock and Collared Doves along with Black Redstart, a trio of Linnets, Stonechat and a very late Spotted Flycatcher.

Then of to the start of the 35km track up and over the sierra with a first stop at the picnic site where we found Firecrest, Chiffchaff, Great and Long-tailed Tits along with  a couple of frisky Red Squirrels. Above the hills the first Crag Martins of the day; there were many more to be seen as we crossed the mountains.  There then followed the long drive with many stops along the way and by the time we reached the far side most had seen at least one Griffon Vulture and all manged to catch distant views of six individaul Golden Eagles.  One stop produced a flurry of Crossbills and the odd Chaffinch and beyond half-way we found our first brief sightings of a few Ring Ouzels.

Male Crossbill Piquituerto Comun Loxia curvirostra

A little later we stopped not only for more Ring Ouzels but Meadow Pipit, Rock and Cirl Bunting along with Magpie, Goldfinch and Chaffinch.  A little later as we were driving down a gentle slope we came across not only more Ring Ouzels but an accompanying Fieldfare and a single Mistle Thrush that seemed to be "at roost" as it refused to leave its temporary home.  Amazingly, our lunch stop at the shepherd's shelter produced a trio of Magpies and Mistle Thrush with, seen by a few, a Hawfinch in the branch below.  But, unfortunately, it had gone by the time I returned to back of the shelter.

Resting Mistle Thrush Zorzal Charlo Turdus viscivorus
Then it was on down the Sierra Magina and off the the Parque Natural Laguna Grande arriving in the very late afternoon with barely an hour of daylight left.  On the way, driving through the olive groves near Las Escuelas, the wires were alive with Wood Pigeons, the occasional Collared Dove, Corn Buntings and Thekla Larks.  Also ecorded on this short drive were Stonechats, Kestrel and a Buzzard.  Passing near the solar panels we found a wire full of Mistle Thrushes and at least two Iberian Grey Shrikes took their leave of us as they slipped off the wire and fence.

Distant Ring Ouzel Mirlo Capiblanco Turdus torquatos

Not so much "Laguna Grande" as "Laguna Pequeno" when we finally arrived..  The main pool was very low on water and not a bird to be seen so we followed the track down the side and stopped at the almost empty laguna with more of a shallow puddle but lots of glorious and juicy mud.  Here we did find birds, the first being a Water Pipit plus scores of White Wagtails along with Grey Wagtail, a handful of Green Sandpipers and even more Ringed Plovers.  Both Sardinian Warbler and Robin were added to the species list but I have left the best till last.  Three snipe on the far side but a closer study revealed that only one was a Common Snipe the others being the smaller Jack Snipe.  Even better, one of the Jack Snipe had "itchy feet" and kept wandering past its larger cousin so giving all an opportunity to compare shape and size , especially the difference in beak length.

A wonderful way to end a lovely day and, for me, two new species for the year.  And I am sure that other embers saw birds that I have missed off the above.

Birds seen:
Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Ringed Plover, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush,  Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Crossbill, Hawfinch, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

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

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