Lunch with some special birds.
Jayne was going to the Trabuco craft groups Christmas lunch so I dropped her off and continued on up my favourite place Sierra de Loja. I drove straight over the area to the furthest point that I intended to visit and started birding there and did not get very far before I started to find some interesting species. I walked up through the rocky Hawthorn covered slopes well beyond the Goat Cave area and soon picked up a single Ring Ouzel ( Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus), a good number of Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mistle (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and Song Thrushes (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) and whilst I sat eating my lunch a group of 23 or so Alpine Accentor's (Acentor Alpino / Prunella collaris) flew in to the small gorge just below me and work there way up towards me and gave great views. As I walked back to the car I saw several Spanish Ibex (Cabra pyreaica hispanica), 100s if not 1000s of Broad leaved Iris (lirio de invierno / Iris planifolia) and a couple of fresh looking Small Coppers (Lycaena phlaeas). I started the drive back down the hill but only made it a short way before I saw the first of at least 3 Fieldfares (Zorzal Real / Turdus pilaris) fly across the road and into a group of Hawthorns. Whilst watching this locally very rare bird I also had views of Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis) and Rock Buntings (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia). I moved on again and before long I was watching another 2 Fieldfares sat on a rock pile below the road and what was possibly the same Ring Ouzel seen earlier. Around the crags nearer the Goat Cave I picked up Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Black Wheatear (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis).
Past the pools at Charca Negro I added Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and further down there was a male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Little Gull (Gaviota Enana / Larus minutus) and a very confiding Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) which gave me great views and sat nicely for the camera.
Right at the bottom of the hill amongst the Oaks and Pines I found Coal (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater), Crested (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus), Great (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and Blue Tits (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), and Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) and Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus).
Photographs from the top: 3x Alpine Accentor (Acentor Alpino / Prunella collaris), 3x Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata), Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus) and Coal Tit (Carbonero Garrapinos / Parus ater).