Wednesday 11 January 2017

Sierra de Loja and Huétor Fields, Granada Province.

Blast frozen in a very cold wind on the hill and thawing out in the sun on the fields.
11:00 to 15:45.

Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).
I drove up the Sierra and straight out to the furthest point on the western crags where I made several stops and did several short climbs in to the scree areas looking for upland species and soon located the first of 4+ male Blue-rock Thrushes (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), a pair of Black Wheatears (Collalba Negra / Oenanthe leucura), a group of 8+ Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), several Common Stonechats (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and loads of Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). Back by the car I had a chat with one of the Goat herders and a guy from the Loja town hall and heard but missed seeing quite a large sounding group of Alpine Accentors (Acentor Alpino / Prunella collaris) until they were just going over a distant ridge, Dam!!
Anyway after an informative chat with the two chap I continued out to an area further along the same track than I usually go but it paid off by giving me views of Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), a group of 25 or so Red-billed Choughs (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) and several Spanish Ibex (Cabra montés / Cabra pyreaica) which were drinking from one of the small pools for the goats. On these pools which were at nearly 1400m there were four pairs of Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) feeding, one of the males was already displaying to the females in the group.
Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos).
On the way back I stopped several times in amongst the Hawthorn trees finding several very smart Ring Ouzel ( Mirlo Capiblanco / Turdus torquatus) 10+, Blackbirds (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Mistle Thrushes (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), Common Chaffinches (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and in the rocky areas above the trees calling Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia).
On my way back down the hill I checked the far (eastern side) Hawthorn valley but added nothing new but did see several more Ring Ouzels which were clearing the last of the berries off the small trees.
On the main drive down a couple of Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) were sat out on the rock piles, one bird was being harassed by a pair of Black Wheatears but just ducked back into a hole for some peace. In an area of Broom scrub I heard the buzz of a couple of Dartford Warblers (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata) long before I found a bird sat out on a rock along side a male Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala).
Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).
As I continued on down I saw White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and all the way down the grassy areas were covered in the beautiful blue Broad-leaved Iris (lirio de invierno / Juno / Iris planifolia).
Once I was off the mountain I spent a while having a look along the Arroyo Vilano where there were masses of Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) feeding over the water from the reeds, a single male Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) x2, Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and on the far side on the fields Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and the first butterfly of the year a Bath White (Pontia daplidice).

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