Friday 16 June 2023

Pyrenees Adventure: Day 5

Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana

 Wednesday 31 May

One of the best days as in brilliant sunshine we set out to the higher points of the Pyrenees and ended up at Portoles, right on the French border.  Absolutely beautiful scenery as we walked a track along the hillside recording a range of lovely birds including many Alpine Chough, Red Kite, Kestrel and Griffon Vultures.

But the "special" bird we sought was to keep us in suspense for a little longer as first a few Water Pipits, many Sky Lark and then a lovely Whinchat before, finally, finding a very close Ortolan Bunting singing away atop a small bush.

Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

But that was not all. We also found a pair of Northern Wheatear, many Linnets, Black Redstart and a lovely Red-backed Shrike before adding Red-billed Chough, Chiffchaff and a distant Cuckoo. A fabulous time and with the border closed due to a rock fall on the French side so no tourist; the area to ourselves.  So, naturally, we took advantage of a coffee in the local bar/store and spent a pretty penny or two stocking up on wine, spirit and, especially, a rather delicious Port!

Alpine (Yellow-billed) Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus

But not just birds on show.  We entertained the whole time we were on the mountainside by the local Marmots who were forever informing their friends that we, strangers, were walking amongst them!

Marmot Marmota marmota

Time to head off back to Anso but a drive through the Hecho Valley then produced more Griffon Vultures plus Grey Wagtail, Carrion Crows and even a couple of Egyptian Vultures.

Whinchat Saxicola rubetra (left) with Sky Lark Alauda arvensis

Birds seen:

Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Kestrel, Cuckoo, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Red-backed Shrike, Alpine Chough, Red-billed Chough, Carrion Crow, Raven, House Sparrow, Linnet, Yellowhammer, Ortolan Bunting.

Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana

Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta

Distant Whinchat Saxicola rubetra

Marmot Marmota marmota

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