Monday 21 May 2018

Sierra Loja with John and Jenny Wainwright

Good to read that Jenny is well on the way to a full recovery and, no doubt, she will soon be shooting her own photographs as she acompanies John and their birding adventures.

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius

Sierra Loja 18th May 2018

A warmish day with thunder then rain later.
On the way up we stopped in at the hidden quarry but only a Sardinian Warbler, Coal Tit Jackdaws and House Martins were noted. While moving up through the tree line more Coal Tits were heard, also in the area were Chaffinches, Crossbills, Short-toed Treecreeper and Woodpigeons. A bit further up Cirl Buntings were logged as were Azure-winged Magpies, Greenfinches and Serins, and the only dark-phased Red Squirrel of the day.  At the cliff face Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Buntings, Spotless Starlings and Jackdaws were about as were small numbers of Chough in the valley to our right. Red-legged Partridges are in good numbers, but only two Hoopoes were seen all day.

Looking down into the scrubby mountainside a Spectacled Warbler was singing and displaying from a may-bush, and further to the right a Sardinian Warbler was singing from his tree top. A Common Kestrel came into view as we drove further up the mountain.

Close to the Charca we saw our first Black Wheatear of the day as well as Rock Sparrows and more Rock Buntings, while at the Charca we noted Linnets, Black Redstart, Common Swifts and Black-eared Wheatears.

Moving round to the fossil cave a couple of Griffon Vultures soared over us, and Crag Martins were flying across the cave mouth. Lots more Spotless Starlings here today, they seem to have taken this area over.

As we approached the rock climbing area a male Rock Thrush was seen feeding but only a couple of quick photos were had before it flew back up and over the clifftop.

We then made our way back to the watchpoint at El Gordo, where we watched Linnets, Thekla Larks and a distant Peregrine Falcon. Just as we were about to leave a male Rock Thrush appeared, giving us great views of this very splendid bird.

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Making our way back, and in the substation valley, a group of six Chough were mobbing a female Montagu´s Harrier - probably one of the birds that is seen round the Venta del Rayo area every year.
A bit further on a Northern Wheatear and two more Blue Rock Thrushes were seen.
A lot of butterflies about today, including Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea pheobe) and Provence orange tip (Anthocharis belia)

Knapweed Fritillary Melitaea pheobe
It was really getting black overhead and thundering so we headed back to home in Salar.
(All photos by John Wainwright)
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