Friday 1 October
Away from home before 9 with both White Wagtail and Collared Dove seen before reaching the end of road. Then it was straight up to Los Romanes to pick up visiting Dutch birder, Berry van Dam and head off to Ventas de Zafarraya, arriving just before 10 o'clock. As soon as we out of the car a couple of Goldfinch and Berry mentioning that he had yet to see a Chough when, on cue and calling loudly, a flock of over 50 passed immediately overhead and on to the nearby cliffs. A great way to start our day which finally ended with 37 species, ten of combined sightings which were "lifers" (29%) for Berry so, I trust, he was well pleased.
|Rock Bunting Emberiza cia|
Before reaching the tunnel we had had our first of a handful of Rock Bunting along with Blue Rock Thrush, a trio of Blue Tit, the first of many Black Wheatears and Crag Martins and the a lone Peregrine Falcon passing along the front of the cliff face. No sooner had we checked on the distant Ibex an a Kestrel dashed passed as was seen by Berry.
Once through the tunnel we finally picked up our first Stonechats and Sardinian Warblers along with a couple of Great Tit. Whilst checking yet another Stonechat we also picked up a Greenfinch. Back to the car with yet more Black Wheatears and Blue Rock Thrushes.
|Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius|
Down through the village to our next stop at the irrigation pond on the outskirts of Zafarraya noting a number of Rock Doves and Spotless Starlings on the way. Empty! Just a damp patch in the middle but still a trio of Mallard hoping for a miracle. On the other hand, the nearby field had been cleared of tomatoes with lots of discarded fruit around the field where we stopped and found a number of Short-toed and Crested Larks. Further searching then found Northern Wheatear and Iberian Yellow Wagtails and as we left a Thekla Lark on the fence.
|Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura|
As we drive through the "Magpie Woods" Berry saw a couple of Iberian Magpies (formerly known as Azure-winged Magpies) and we stopped to admire a posing Mistle Thrush. A pair of Jays flew passed and then crossed the road and then we then headed off towards the arable fields. More Crested Larks and even a Linnet then, climbing the hill on the old road to Salar we found a party of eight Red-legged Partridge, a small flock of Serin and a trio of Blackbirds. As we climbed a steady passage of Barn Swallows and at the top a female Chaffinch but more calling.
Back down the hill and a right turn to take the anti-clockwise circuit around the back of the area we duly found more Northern Wheatears, Crested Larks and a Little Owl, closely followed by an Iberian Grey Shrike. It was also in this area, towards the end when once more near the cork oak trees, that we finally found a large number of Iberian Magpies. Also found a second Common Magpie and within seconds of berry stating that it was a shame we had not seen a Corn Bunting which would have ben his tenth "lifer" of the day when one took off and we stopped the car to observe and photograph its partner! Finally, approaching the end of our drive through these arable lands, the long awaited sighting of the common House Sparrow to make a final tally of 35 species excluding my initial two sightings.
|Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra|
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jay, Iberia Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information