Friday, 11 June 2010

Huetor and Sierra Loja, Granada Province.

A days guiding in the mountains.

On my way to the meeting point for today’s trip I had a look in at the fields near Huetor Tajar where I picked up several Little Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos). Out on the Lucerne fields I picked a small group of birds which reminded me of the wintering Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which spend a lot of time in this area but they do not return until September. I had to check so I dug the scope out and scanned in from the left and the first bird I came to was a male Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) which made more sense, but then I went further right and the remaining ten birds were indeed Little Bustards. There were three males and seven females / immatures, another nice but unexpected sighting.

Today’s birders were Jan and Linda, two ladies staying in the nearby La Paz holiday home, we made our way up to Sierra de Loja via a rather wayward route through Loja due to roadwork’s. Once we were on the track and in the pine woods we started picking up birds including Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus). Once we were out on the crags the weather turned nasty so were decided to drive straight out to Charca del Negro and give the cloud time to blow over. On the way up we managed to see several Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) and Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax). On the open flat area near the Charca we saw the first of two male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis) but this one was rather distant but still we all managed to pick it up before it dropped behind some rocks. Also seen here were Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua). Up around Charca several Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) called and several more Black-eared Wheatears were singing. Rock Sparrows were everywhere, dozens called from the crags around the pools and a couple of Sharp-ribbed Salamanders were seen in the water. It was surprisingly cold in the wind so we decided to take a steady drive back down the hill, on the way we picked up a second male Rufous-Tailed Rock Thrush, this time much better views were gained and I managed to take a few shots. On the rocks several plant species were seen including Viola dementria, Large-Venus’s Looking Glass (Legousia speculum-veneris), Pink Mediterranean Catchfly (Silene colorata), Upland Peony (Paeonia coriacea), Linaria anticaria, Dianthus Pungens and Carduus granatensis. On the way down we bumped into John and Jenny Wainwright and we had a quick chat and swapped sightings and then moved on, a few minutes later the mobile rang and it was John to say that they were watching a Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and it was heading our way. We stopped and got out of the car just as the bird came over the ridge, quickly followed by at least another six birds, they circled before splitting up and going in several directions. A pair of Spectacled Warblers (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) were seen and heard, the male had some nesting material in its mouth and flew to a small bush barely a foot high and added it to the construction. As we dropped down through the pines a dark phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) was hanging in the strong wind and a Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) was hovering along the crags. More plant species were added to the list whilst Jan went into a small cave to have a look what was inside (Geologist’s) after a short while Linda and I thought we had better go back up the hill and check that Jan had not wandered off into the tunnel too far, just as we got back she emerged safely. At this site and on the way down to the lower quarry we added a nice Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator). In the quarry we looked at some nice bending in the layered Limestone rocks and also checked out some flow stone on the face of the quarry wall. We then made our way back to their accommodation.
Photographs from the top: Imm Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Thread Lacewing (Nemoptera bipennis), adult male Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Rojo / Monticola saxatilis), Jan & Linda looking at the rocks and Flow Stone.

1 comment:

Lindamaryolivine said...

Hi - this made most enjoyable reading - great to know the details of what was a super morning's birding!
Can I get it clear which Rock Thrush had the white spot in between its shoulder blades? I thought you said that was a 'Rock Thrush' but was it in fact the 'Rufous Tailed RT'?
(I've sorted out that a Blue RT is blue.... can cope with that!)
Cheers
Linda