Saturday, 6 May 2017

Sierra Loja - Again!!!

Saturday 6 May

Early set off as gust of Steve and Elena Powell to visit the Sierra Loja and see if we, too, might get a photo (or even sighting) of the summering Rock Thrushes.  The third time up the mountain this week for me and if I keep this up then I will soon be claiming "Squatters Rights" to some prime acres in a suitable habitat!  But would it be third time lucky for me?

Distant Black-eared Wheatear Collalba Rubia Oenanthe hispanica

As Thursday, there seemed to be Spotless Starlings from bottom to top of the mountain along with the welcoming committee of Rock Doves and the occasional Woodpigeon.  In addition, Steve managed to record an Azure-winged Magpie as we started our assent.  Our journey was to tale us straight to the top with only a rare stop in the hope that we might find an active Rock Thrush.   Both Chough and Jackdaw were seen in good numbers along with both Crested and Thekla Lark.  Again, no shortage of Stonechats but very delighted to get a close sighting of a Whitethroat.  With plenty of Red-legged Partidges posing and running around along with a few Hoopoes we finally made the turn to the Charco del Negro with the addition of all three Wheatears; Northern, Black-eared and Black, but mainly Black and Black-eared Wheatears.

Greenfinch Verderon Comun Carduelis chloris through the car window

Next up a number of Rock Sparrows, Blackbird and our first of a handful of Blue Rock Thrushes.  Beyond the ponds we started to see larger collections of both Crested Lark and Linnet along with our first Rock Bunting.  But still no sign of a Rock Thrush when we eventually turned round to make our way back to the Charco del Nego turning and head further up the mountain.. This short return trip also added Greenfinch and Mistle Thrush and then a Woodchat Shrike hiding in a low bush.

Male Rock Thrush Roquero Rojo Monticola saxatilis
Working our way upwards towards the mirador we added a rather lovely male Black Redstart but still no Rock Thrush.   A quartet of GriffonVultures drifted over as we made our way back and on reaching the pylon where friend Derek had found a Rock Thrush I notice a shape high on the aerial.  "Stop the car; I have a Rock Thrush!"  We did and I took record photos as Steve suggested we were looking at yet another Stonechat.  Too big, this is a Rock Thrush and so it was.  Much as we hung around the area we were not to get another close view.  A male Rock Thrush flew up and down in their characteristic flight a little further away and more and more Black-eared Wheatears were seen.  We even had a quintet of Common Swifts above the aerial and yet another Black-eared Wheatear came to rest on same but that was our one and only good view of our target bird.

Returning down the mountain we saw a Raven pass over and decided to make a short stop at the lower quarry and were rewarded by the sight of the Eagle Owl's two owlets in the nest entrance and an adult above hiding behind the small bush.  Steve took e long walk up the zig-zag path for a closer look and shot with his camera but, I suspect, the adult saw him coming and withdrew further into his cave and he was also unable to get a better view of the youngsters.  Whilst Steve was away walking up the mountain I watched the feeding House Martins and Choughs over the top and a Crossbill paid a very short visit to the trees opposite the car in which we were sheltering from the now very hot sun.  And so home having recorded 34 species.

Record shot of sleeping Eagle Owl Buho Real Bubo bubo above the nest cavity

Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Griffon Vulture, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Eagle Owl, Common Swift, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Black Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Whitethroat, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Greenfinch, Linnet, Crossbill, Rock Bunting.

Lots of Red-legged Partridges Perdiz Roja Alectoris rufa to be seen this morning

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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