Saturday, 10 December 2016

Sierra Loja

Thursday 8 December

Cold but clear and sunny when I met up with Derek and Barbara Etherton, Micky Smith and Barbara and Jerry Laycock at Loja Service Station to check out the Sierra Loja.  Having fought our way past about a dozen off-roaders blocking the track entrance (I wondered what they would be up to later on?) we set of in two cars to the picnic quarry where we recorded a number of Chaffinches and then on up to the main quarry finding Mistle Thrush and the first sighting of a number of Red-legged PartridgesBack Redstart now seemed to be the most common species on view so back to the main track where we watched the off-roaders go storming up the track and, hopefully, well out of way and not to be seen again.  Whilst waiting we were able to pick up both Great Tit and Robin.

Male Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus
Working our way up to the Charco del Negro turn it was not so much the Black Redstarts and Stoenchats that were the dominant species but rather the regular sightings of small groups of Thekla Lark and often accompanied by a few Meadow Pipits.  No sign of any Alpine Accentors as left the tree line but we did have a very distant Raven in the valley below whilst, above, a couple of Choughs gave their familiar call as they flew over.  Approaching the turn we had a single Dartford Warbler on the left and a White Wagtail flew across the sheep pen opposite along with more small charms of Goldfinches.  In the bare tree t the back of the little white finca a small flock of Rock Sparrows were taking a short rest.

Resting Rock Sparrows Gorrion Chillon Petronia petronia
A stop at the ponds revealed water but no birds.  Having also been passed by a number of cars on the way up, comes of birding an on a public holiday, we also encountered the first of the family groups but did manage to pick up a Black Wheatear on top of the nearby cliff.  Approaching the power station we had a Little Owl posing on a rock at the side of the track which, upon our arrival, took flight to a pile of rocks a little further back.  The short circuit to the back just beyond the fossil cave also added Blue Rock Thrush to the list and here we came to a stop.  I joined Barbara and Jerry whilst Derek took Micky back down the mountain for a check-up at the local hospital.

Very little to add as we discovered where most of the cars were heading; rock climbers who had selected our favoured area to try and find wintering thrushes amidst the hawthorn bushes.  A quick lunch at the second group of hawthorns where more Black Redstats and Blackbirds were noted and only a possible Redwing sighting.  Then the phone call from Derek to ask for translation hospital so we, too, left the mountain and ended our birding venture.  On the way down a Little Owl was sitting on the same rock as previously seen and then flew to the same pile of rocks a little further back.  Same individual?  Almost certainly.

Distant Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua

As for Micky, great news.  After undertaking all the necessary tests Derek and Barbara were able to bring him back to Benalmadena where, if necessary, any further tests could be undertaken and is now resting.  Get well soon Micky as by the time we next meet I should be able to see you with both eyes.

Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Little Owl, Thekla Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstat, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Dartford Warbler, Great Tit, Chough, Raven, Rock Sparrow, Goldfinch

Note:  As can be seen by the above photos using the "wrong" eye is not really working so very much looking forward to the arrival of my new, all-seeing wonderful lens, hopefully later this month.

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

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