Day tour with Rob Jones from the UK.
I met Rob at the service staion on the A92 and then we made our way along to Moraleda and on to the fields nearby. On the drive Rob had his first lifer of the day when we saw a pair of Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) on the outskirts of the town, in the same area we recorded Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor). We moved out on to the fields and quickly picked up a small flock of Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), a 2nd summer male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) and a singing Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra). Once we were through the Amond plantation we had views of a nice male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), several Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and from the Cortijo we saw a small flock of 5 or so Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) on a distant field so we got back in the car and went to try and find a track out to the spot so that we could have better views. We reached the spot but could not find the Sandgrouse but we did catch up with a fine male Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). We returned to the main track and had flight views of a male Little Bustard and two more Black-bellied Sandgrouse which disappeared into the distance. We moved on around the site and had views of a pair of Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus), a female Montagu's Harrier, Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Robs fourth lifer a Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).
We made our way to the next spot which was out on Huetor Fields where we werelooking for the flock of
Common Waxbills (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild) which had been in the area for a while but we dipped on this species but added Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula).
Our final site of the day was on Sierra de Loja, where we started off in the old Quarry and picked up another lifer in the form of a male Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), along with Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia). We pushed on up along the crags and made one stop to check the hawthorn bushes, here we both saw Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) and I picked up a singing Subalpine Warbler (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans) but it dropped out of site before Rob got on it. We continued on towards Charca del Negra adding Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) which was another new species for Rob, Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), the first of several Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius). Once at Charca we had good views of a displaying male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis) and more Rock Sparrows before we moved on around to the Goat caves and then back passed the Pools. Once we were back on the main track we turned right of a while and checked out the crags in this area but did not added anything until we were on our way back when we saw a fine adult Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) come under attack from a Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus). We dropped back down the hill geting some nice photographs of the species we had alread seen before checking the small quarry again and this time we were rewarded with nice views of the resident Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo). From here we dropped back down to Robs car and then made our way home.
I think Rob finished the day off with 8 or 9 lifers and we both got some nice photo's. Thanks for your company Rob on a cracking days birding.
Photographs from the top: Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (Roquero Roja / Monticola saxatilis), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia), Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) and Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) and Eagle Owl (Buho Real / Bubo bubo).