Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Sierra Loja and Huetor Tajar Fields

 Tuesday 22 December

On top of the Sierra Loja

Not just because the days start to get longer from today but for the first time in over two months, more than a year in the case of Andy, I actually got to meet up with my treasured birding friends.  What a fabulous day up on the top of the Sierra Loja with Mick Richardson and Andy Paterson whilst Derek and Barbara Etherton had Jerry and Barbara Laycock in their car.  It may have been only around 6C when we set off and still in very low, single figures at the top but the panoramic view, as always, in the bright sunshine was certainly a sight for sore eyes.

Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua

Starting off on the track up we soon recorded Blackbird, Chaffinch and Black Redstart quickly followed by a Crossbill from Derek's car and the many Stonechat.  Indeed. Stonechats and Black Redstarts seemed to be everywhere at all altitudes.  Clearing the tree line a party of eight Red-legged Partridge and Spotless Starlings before our first of many Corn Buntings.  Not just Corn Bunting but also regular sightings of Rock Bunting.  No sooner had we encountered the buntings than we came across a small flock of feeding Jackdaw followed by a "genuine" Rock Dove

Female Ibex Capra pyrenaica

Once at the higher levels a good number of Goldfinch and Linnet.  Lovely to see the group of a dozen female and young Ibex that were quite content to continue grazing just beyond the fence next to the track.  Once the first had been recorded there were also many Thekla Larks.  Magnificent, clear views over a very large area from the top in the clear sunshine with a distant Buzzard and a small passing flock of Chough.

Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis

Working our way back to the ponds at the Charca de Negra passing a couple of Iberian Grey Shrike we recorded our first Meadow Pipit and Crag Martin of the day and very many Goldfinch and Linnet as we savoured our picnic lunch.  A couple of Little Owl as we continued on down past the electricity station to finally reach the main quarry.  Not just a pair of Greenfinch as we approached but a trio of Dartford Warblers observed over a number of minutes on the gorse covered slopes - but no Stonechat.  Before reaching the end of the track we also added a single White Wagtail.

Distant record shot of Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata

Then it was back to our respective cars to transfer over the fields behind Huetor Tajar.  Both Robin and Kestrel noted as we approached the site and, upon arrival, many House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings before encountering the expected Back Redstarts and a few Meadow Pipits near the Model Aeroplane Flying Club's grass airfield.  Close by a number of White wagtail and a few Lapwing on the opposite field.

This area revealed a number of Crested Larks and there were many Goldfinch, Serin and Linnet moving about as we reached the small river.  A Green Sandpiper dashed away upstream and in the opposite direction a number of Iberian Magpie (I had already encountered at least a couple of dozen as I approached Loja on my outward journey).  On the field in front of us a single Cattle Egret seemed happy enough to be feeding on its own.  The close by trees next to the river produced many Chiffchaff and a couple of Blackbirds along with the first (Common) Magpie.

Moving a little further along the narrow road we were able to properly scan the main fields opposite the river and, as expected, found the feeding Little Bustards.  Not so many as Sunday and they appeared to be more spread out rather than a close-feeding group.  Also nearby a single Heron.

Just a few Little Bustards Sison Comun Tetrax tetrax today

Reaching the end of the road near the ford we found a few more Little Bustards and near the water a few Blackcap and Chaffinch along with a calling Cetti's Warbler.  Still plenty of Corn Bunting to be seen as a small flock of Rock Doves flew over.  Just the one Reed Bunting found by Derek before a high Buzzard and a small number of Sky Lark.  But also good to record a quartet of Tree Sparrows.

Finally, on to a nearby favoured site to check the deep ditches which duly produced both Grey Wagtail and Water Pipit.  A few Wood Pigeons were seen in nearby trees and a number of Collared Doves seemed to be watching over the ditch.  And not to be outdone, a couple of Iberian Grey Shrikes as we drove away from the area.

Sierras from Huetor Tajar fields

Birds seen:

Red-legged Partridge, Cattle Egret, Heron, Buzzard, Kestrel, Little Bustard, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Blackcap. Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey Shrike, Iberian Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting, Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting.


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