Mountian birds and a broken clutch.
I dropped Jayne and our neighbor Carole off in Granada City, went and had some new tyers put on the front of the car and then headed off up Sierra Nevada to have a look around the El Purche area. As soon as I arrived I got some stunning views of a small flock of Woodlarks (Totovia / Lullula arborea) which scuttled around in the short grass near the road side. In the top of one of the nearby Pine tree a nice male Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) gave its distinctive chip call and on the next branch down was one of the species I had come for, a winter plumage male Yellowhammer (Escribano Cerillo / Emberiza citronella).
It was good to get the prolonged views I had of this bird as the rest of the possible birds seen were all female / 1st winters and did not hang around long enough for me to get good views of. I walked around in this area for some time checking the finch / bunting flocks which were coming down to feed in the fallen leaves below the Sweet Chestnut trees. I picked up a couple of Rock Buntings (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), a cracking male and several female Cirl Buntings (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) in amongst the more numerous Common Chaffinches (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus).
I then moved up the road a short way to have a look under the Walnut trees plantations, here I quickly discovered my first Bramblings (Pizón Real / Fringilla montifringilla) of the winter, around 5 birds feeding amongst the more common Chaffinches and Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). Under the trees I also saw Common Magpies (Urraca / Pica pica), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor). I then turned around to scan the grassland area behind me and picked up several Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) a bird I had expected to see and then I found the most unexpected bird of the day a male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), it was quite a distance away near the rocks on the far side of the grass area but the clean white breast and flanks stood out so well sexing it was easy.
I moved further along the road and spent some time checking out the Hawthorn bushes on the hillsides back towards the main road up to the summit. Here I added Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricapilla), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and heard but cold not locate a Ring Ouzel (Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus).
At the high point just before the drop down to the main road I stopped and spent some time getting some shots of Black Redstarts that were perching on some concrete picnic tables, also seen here were a number of Jays (Arrendajo / Garrulus glandarius) along with a couple of species of butterflies, the most interesting was a very fresh looking Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychlorus) which flew around the spot a few times but did not settle. Time was getting on so I decided to start to make my way back down towards the city when it all went wrong, I pulled away from the parking by the picnic tables heard a bang a lot of noise and then the car stalled and I soon realized that the clutch had gone.
After some thinking I decided to try and limp down to the city to meet Jayne and Carole and ring the breakdown people from there, so I started the car in first gear and managed to roll all the way down to the outskirts and then managed to do some gear changes using only the accelerator and the engine speed to make my way to the arranged meeting place where I called for help.