Thursday 22 November 2018

Ventas de Zafarraya and its hinterland

Thursday 22 November

Just me and me alone for this month's Axarquia Bird Group visit to the old railway track up at Ventas de Zafarraya having warned members about the present weather and horrible forecast for the day.  Not surprisingly, all the regulars made contact with their apologies.  I only went up on the off-chance that somebody might just turn up but expected to be home just after 10.

So, leaving the house in the rain I made my way over towards Lake Vinuela and the drive up the mountain.  By the time I started the climb the rain had stopped and on arriving at the mirador at exactly 9am I was greeted with calm, dry and not-too-cold conditions under an overcast sky.  Having recorded both Collared Dove and Spotless Starling as I approached the summit the first birds seen on the track was a trio of Rock Buntings with another four before returning to the car after walking up to the tunnel entrance and back.  Needless to say, I added Black Wheatear,  a handful of House Sparrows, female Sardinian Warbler, Blackbird and a Blue Tit.  The light rain arrived at 9.25 whilst sitting in the car and ten minutes later I set off in the car along the track, through the tunnel and up to the old ruin.  A quartet of Chough flew over and a very wet female Black Redstart was trying to look less distressed that she might actually have been. More Rock Buntings and a small group of Rock Sparrows on the wires further on a male Stonechat perched five metres away from the car.  Even a small number of Linnets as I drove back to the village.

Beautiful Goldfinch Jilguero Carduelis carduelis
Turning towards Zafarraya itself I then headed to the small pond next to the Ventas de Zafarraya football ground.  Eighteen domestic geese and a over a score of Mallards on or near the water.  But the adjacent hedgerows and fields held very large mixed flocks of Goldfinch and Chaffinch along with more House Sparrows. But sitting all lone above me was a Mistle Thrush and joined almost immediately on the other side of the telephone poll by another.

Mistle Thrush Zorzal Charlo Turdus viscivorus
 So on to the small road alongside the "muck heap" site but very little to be seen here.  A drive to the small pond produced a few more Mallard and a single Coot along with a White Wagtail.  Then it was on through the "Magpie Woods" (none to be seen) and off to the growing fields of the hinterland.  Now approaching 11 o'clock and the rain stopped but no help to see the number of cars reflected those out in search of the wild mushrooms.  This road was very productive picking u numerous Corn Bunting and maybe a dozen Crested Larks.  Do I count the local Rock Doves/Ferral Pigeons?  Also on the wires a number of Greenfinches and a single male Kestrel along with a small flock of Serin.   Even a Zitting Cisticola gave me a concentrated stare as I drove by. Amazing how many (Common) Magpies were in the vicinity and then the first of the Red-legged Partidges.  Five to start with and at least another dozen before I completed a circuit at the bottom of the hill up the old road to Salar.  The short stretch on the main road produced another couple of Mistle Thrush plus a very wet looking Iberian Grey Shrike.  I also made a very brief stop to confirm that there was a single Common Starling resting with its Spotless Starling cousins.

A Red-legged Partridge Perdiz Roja Alectoris rufa that has so far avoided the hunters!
Back down the now-repaired road towards Ventas de Zafarraya and I made a short detour to my right where I managed to find my Azure-winged Magpies; a total of at least fifteen.  Also here both a Great Tit and a Jay.

One of the quartet of Jays Arrendajo Garrulus glandarius
With the sun having come out between the broken clouds at midday and no rush to get home having brought an emergency picnic with me, I decided to call in a the picnic are at El Robledal where I added more Chaffinches, a pair of Nuthatch and four more Jays before finishing with a single Robin that came to site beside the car.  Then it was home after filling the car with fuel in time to receive the next lot of rain!

Lovely to see the feeding Chaffinches Pinzon Vulgar Fringilla coelebs

Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Kestrel, Coot, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.

Record shot of the departing Kestrel Cernicalo Vulgar Falco tinnunculus
Distant shot of one of the many Magpies Urraca Pica pica

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