An afternoons birding with Andy from the UK.
Friend Andy Mountford arrived at ours around lunch time from Sevilla, after spending some time in northern Spain. We had some lunch before heading up Sierra de Loja to have a look for some of the upland species that this site is well known for, as it was well on into the afternoon we decided to head straight over to the area around Charca del Negra where we have on the last few visits seen the secretive Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis). On our way over we had some very nice views of both Black (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura) and Black-eared Wheatears (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Rock Sparrow (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) and mixed flocks of Red-billed Choughs (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula). Once we were at We got views of several more Rock Sparrows and Buntings, a nice male Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), singing male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and in the air several Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus). On the rock face we found the remains of a few plants but every thing was pretty much over with and on the pool there were a couple of Blue / Common Emperors (Anax imperator) and a single male Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii). In the water there were lots of Tadepoles of the Sharp-ribbed Salamanders (Pleurodeles waltl) along with a few adults. In this area we also had a few butterfly species which included Spanish Marbled (Melanargia ines) and Iberian Marbled Whites (Melanargia lachesis), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Knapweed Fritillary (Melitaea phoebe), Sage Skipper (Muschampia proto) and Swallowtail (Papilio machaon). We could not locate the Other Rock Thrush here so we moved on around towards the Goat Cave and further on along the track passing several more craggy spots where we had good views of two Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) one of which was very pale and the other very dark but we did not get a sniff of the Thrush so we turned around and had to admit defeat for the first time this year. On the way back down we added both Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Crested Larks(Cogujada / Galerida cristata) to the day list by the small cereal field near the pools and on the wire fence surrounding the new barn a little lower down an adult Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and a couple of singing Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). Further down a family party of Spectacled Warblers (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) crossed the track in front of the car and both Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) sat on posts at the track side during the journey down to Loja. As we made our way back to the house we added Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) and Azure-winged Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) to the afternoons list.