Thursday, 27 May 2010

Sierra Loja, Granada Province.

The second visit in two days.

After having a good day up the sierra yesterday I was thinking can today go as well? I need not have worried. Once all the members of the Axarquia bird group had gathered we started the run up the hill. At the first stop by the small disused quarry we picked up Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and heard Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). The Shrike was added to the seen list a few minutes later on the side of the track, along with a black looking Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris). The next stop was on the turning area before the drive up to the larger of the quarries. Here we added Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater) and Great Tits (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus). Up at the quarry there was again no sign of the adult or juv Eagle Owls (Buho Real / Bubo bubo), but we did locate Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), a pair of Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) which gave us all good views, Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), several Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and a single Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia). In the area near where we had left the car we picked up at least 6 Spanish Ibex (Capra pyreaica hispanica) on the higher crags, along with Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and another Woodchat Shrike. Up on the crags Road we made an extra stop to watch two immature Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) run the wrath of the local Red-billed Choughs and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), along here we also picked up Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), good numbers of both Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), plus another male Black Wheatear, Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa). Once we were up on the tops we quickly added a cracking male Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata). Several species of wildflowers were also identified including ( Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major), Ballota hirsuta, Buckler Mustard (Biscutella frutescens), Carduus granatensis, Yellow Restharrow (Ononis natrix), Cerastium boissieri and Dianthus Pungens. Raptors were few and far between but some of the group saw a male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), the rest of us had to do with a couple of passing Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus). Right up on the highest point we added to the plant list with Common Stork's-bill (Erodium cicutarium), White Rockrose (Helianthemum apenninum), Viola dementria, Upland Peony (Paeonia coriacea) and Pink Med Catchfly (Silene colorata). On the rocks just passed the Charca's we picked up the star bird of the day a beautiful adult male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) which was carrying food for a brood of nearby nestlings. After getting great views of this bird we carried on around to the Goat Cave and picked up several Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), many more Rock Sparrows, several male Blue Rock Thrushes (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), flocks of Red-billed Choughs and some better views of Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia). Plants again feature with a nice patch of Erodium cheilanthifolium being found on a large rock, along with Wall Germander (Teucrium chamaedrys), Hop Trefoil (Trifolium campestre), Star Clover (Trifolium stellatum) Mucizonia hispida and Saxifraga camposii. On our way down more views were had of the Rock Thrush male and this time he was joined by his mate and a Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). We stopped at Charca de Negra and had a look at the pool for the Sharp-ribbed Salamanders (Pleurodeles waltl), on the crags above the water good numbers of Rock Sparrow were again seen and a nest with three near fledged Red-billed Choughs was found. Back near the bottom of the crags one of the two immature Golden Eagles did another fly passed giving the members of the group who missed it on the way up a chance to get some good views of a cracking bird.
At this point I had to leave the group, once I got them to a place to eat I returned home and Bob lead them on to other sites in the afternoon.
Photographs from the top: Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Mucizonia hispida, Erodium cheilanthifolium, Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Wall Germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) and Saxifraga camposii.

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