Friday, 29 May 2020

Unexpected Trio in the Sierra Tejeda

Friday 29 May

Off early to be up at the picnic area above Alcaucin before the day-trippers arrive- or, at least, that was the idea when I set off from home just before 9 o'clock.  Approaching La Vinuela I had already recorded House Sparrow, Collared Dove and Spotless Starling when a handsome Short-toed Eagle drifted down the valley side to my left and crossed above the car with about five metres giving a wonderful view of its "orange-striped" underside with almost folded wings as it disappeared away to my right.  What an unexpected surprise and given I have spent more than two months in lock down at the coast my first for the year.  But this was not to be the start of an exciting exploration of Alcaucin and the search for Firecrests, Nuthatches, Crossbill, etc.  Having climbed above the town and reached the start of the track I was confronted by the barrier and the realisation that the track was closed to all traffic.  Bother!

Back down to Alcaucin and then the narrow, twisting roads as i drive down to the valley bottom and up the other side to pick up the main road to Ventas de Zafarraya.  A couple of Blackbirds on the way and approaching the old railway bridge at the top of the mountain a kettle of over 50 Choughs wheeling in the sky above the cliffs.  Where to go?  On up to Robledal and no sooner had I taken the track of the main road than a Green Woodpecker passed in front of the car; the second unexpected surprise of the day.

Approaching the picnic area a couple of White Wagtails at the junction and a Woodchat Shrike posing on a fence post.  Once parked up all was deserted and with not a human in site, the smell of the pines and the continuous bird song.  Lots of Chaffinches and then both Great and Coat Tit.  I was convinced I heard a Golden Oriole but wrong habitat surely.  But still the bird persisted sounding more convincing and as a special treat, and my third unexpected surprise, a lovely male Golden Oriole crossed the opening and into the trees on my right.  What a wonderful sight.

Golden Oriole Oropendola Oriolus oriolus
Working my way back to Ventas de Zafrarraya lots of Barn Swallows along with SerinCrested Lark and Corn BuntingHouse Martins in the village and a brief stop at the railway track produced a smaller number of Choughs along with both Black Redstart and Black Wheatear in addition to a handful of Crag MartinsRock Sparrows in the cave but no sight of the Alpine Swifts, albeit I did find a Hoopoe as I made my way home.

Birds seen:
Short-toed Eagle, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Golden Oriole, Woodchat Shrike,  Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Corn Bunting.


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