|Damp Black-eared Wheatear Collalba Rubia (Oenanthe hispanica)|
Leaving the motorway service station, we were soon hearing Chaffinches and Great Tits plus the sight of a Goldfinch, Wood Pigeon and the first two Azure-winged Magpies. There was no shortage of Blackbirds or Spotless Starlings but, when reaching the main quarry, we were rewarded by a Cuckoo, Black Wheaters and the first of many Choughs, not to mention a calling Quail and Coal Tit. Rock Sparrows made themselves visible and then the first Blue Rock Thrush. However, probably due to the damp weather, the breeding Eagle Owls refused to come out and show themselves. Moving up the mountain we than had Jackdaws, Stonechat and Barn Swallows, as well as at least a handful of Red-legged Partridge, before our first Black-eared Wheatear. Nearer the top we also added Mistle Thrush, Linnet and Rock Bunting before retracing our start down the mountain. However, we did not find our target bird, the Rock Thrush. On the other hand, whilst we were stopped at the top and all busy searching, Jenny happened to remark, "What's the name of the bird with a chestnut breast, about the size of a Starling or Blackbird?" Don't you just love it when the least active member of the group is the only one to see the targetted bird!
The drive down the mountain produced, in addition to the many flowers, our second "non bird". We had already seen a Weasel (Mustela nivalis) run across the track to play in the rocks beside the road and then, in a small pool, we actually managed to find a couple of Sharp-ribbed Salamanders (Pleurodeles waltl). Next up was a quick stop to get a couple of views of a Spectacled Warbler before heding off for lunch on the outskirts of Huetor Tajor.
Suitably refreshed and with nothing to lose, we took a chance that there might be something worth seeing on the open fields to the east where Black-bellied Sandgrouse are known to breed. But first, the approach produced a male Lesser Kestrel and then a male Montagu's Harrier plus Corn Buntings before our transport was re-arranged to attemp the "Richardson Slalom" along the very muddy track with the surface dictating the direction no matter where you pointed the wheels! Stopping to watch a Marsh Harrier quartering the cereal field, we were somewhat surprised/delighted to see a Peregrine Falcon stoop down on the larger raptor. Was the harrier bothered? No, just carry on quartering the fields.
|Distant Little Bustard Sison Comun (Tetrax tetrax)|
Then followed preparartions for the return drive out of the fields along the now even worse-contioned track and onward journeys home. Great fun trying to drive, turn and return to collect passengers and certainly not something for the feint-hearted or those of a nervous disposition! Eventually, all successfully completed and Jenny and I set off for home. The return journey produced more Woodchat Shrikes, a Magpie and a circling Booted Eagle just before Alhama de Granada. Considering how awful the weather could have been, in the event it was a most enjoyable and rewarding day. Many thanks to Mick Richardson for organising same and please, Mick, try and sort out the weather for next year. Rain twice might be considered a coincidence but three times in a row would leave some of us wondering about your powers of persuaution!
Birds seen:Red-legged Partridge, Quail, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Cuckoo, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Thekla Lark, Tawny Pipit, Black Redstart, Stonechat, lack-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Rock Bunting and Corn Bunting.
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