Monday, 3 December 2012

El Purche, Sierra Nevada, Granada Province.

A double dip in the snow and ice !

I dropped Jayne off near the city centre and then made my way up to El Purche on the lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada. The conditions were good and clear but very cold. I started the search for the two target species above the main area below a rocky crag that Juan Perez Contreras had shown me on our last visit. Here I was hoping to see Ring Ouzel ( Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus), I searched the area for nearly two and a half hours but did not locate any of the birds Juan had seen here recently. However I did pick up Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus) and Dartford Wabler (Curruca Rabilargo / Sylvia undata). I then walked back towards the car but my attention was drawn to several birds calling away to my left on a crag below the track, the calls were distant but I was sure that they were coming from a small flock of Alpine Accentors (Accentor Alpino / Prunella modularis). Eventually I located the Accentors but they remained well out of range of the camera, the flock consisted of five birds, one of which flew closer and landed for a few seconds giving me just enough time to get started with the setting up of the scope before rejoining it companions on the crags. Whilst I was in the small valley I also added Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia)
to the list but no Ouzels were seen (dip one). I then started to make my way back down to the road where I was meeting Juan, I parked right on the junction and as I was a little early I had a stroll down the hill checking the Hawthorn bushes for my second target of the day. Yellowhammers (Escribano Cerillo / Emberiza citronella) are regular at the spot but are in very small numbers, usually only two or three birds each winter so they take some finding and today was not going to be my day. Before Juan arrived I saw several more Rock and Cirl Buntings, Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and several Common Crossbills (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra). Juan arrived and we had a good look around the area of Sweet Chestnut trees on the slope above the road but we did find any Yellowhammers, just loats of Common Chaffinches, more Long-tailed Tits and a small flock of Rock Buntings. We then drove a couple of Km down the road and parked amongst the Hawthorn bushes and started searching again, new species included Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula),
Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Woodlark (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and a crackin little Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus). During the loop around the Hawthorn scrub we also had very good views of Dartford Warbler, Cirl Bunting and Green Woodpecker before heading back to the cars and going home.

Photographs from the Top: Frost on Rose hips, The snow through the early cloud and some Fungi found on the many cow pats.

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