Well what a day, as I arrived at the meeting place at Abades service area the skies either side of the sierra looked very black but the space over the hills were clear. As the time got nearer and the members of the Andalucian Bird Society started to arrive the sky took a turn for the worst and by the time we set off the drizzle had started, we had seen several Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) before we left. By the time we reached the disuse quarry just above the town of Loja the heavens had opened but a few of us did get to see one of the adult Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo) sitting on the entrance to the nest platform. Some of the group used umbrellas to protect their scopes and to stay dry, I will deny it if anybody tells Peter or Pieter that I used one and I will hunt down any person who mentions that it had Pink and Purple hearts on it (it was Jayne honest).
Any way some of the brave members wandered into the quarry and quickly picked up a Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorx pyrrhocorax) and Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia). On the bank a single Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) were heard, while both Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) fed low over the bank and Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) flew over much higher. On the track back down from the quarry we saw Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis), Pink Mediterranean Catchfly (Silene colorata), Mediterranean Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Cerastium boissieri, Dianthus Pungens, Hare's-tail Grass (Lagurus ovatus) and Omphalodes commutata. Once on the main track we started to head up the sierra but the cloud soon proved that we would be a complete waste of time, so we decided to make our way out to Moreleda to have a look at some near by agricultural land.
On the way we picked up European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris). Out on the fields Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) were heard along with Crested and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra). Once through the almond plantation the first bird was a cracking male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which did a splendid fly passed in front of us all. By the time we reached the ruin on the site the rain was again lashing down on the temperature had dropped considerably. Other species seen and heard here included Quail (Codorniz Común / Coturnix coturnix), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) but there was no sign of the Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis). We then decided that the weather had done for us so a retreat for lunch in Huetor Tajar was the next stop. The rain continued but after lunch we decided to have a second attempt on the mountains, we dropped bob off at his car as he has a serious affliction, being a
Photographs from the top: Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis), Omphalodes commutata, Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Southern Wild Tulip (Tulipa sylvestris ssp australis), Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) and Spanish Ibex (Capra pyreaica hispanica.