|Golden Eagle Aguila Real Aquila chrysaetos|
|Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus (PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
Once again we missed out on seeing the female eagle owl who, presumably, was at the back of her nest hole incubating at least one egg. We did have, however, plenty of Black Wheatears, Rock Bunting, Black Redstart and Crag Martins in the quarry , not to mention a pair of Mistle Thrushes on the way up from the service station. Above the quarry the first Jackdaws and Choughs of the day plus a good number of both Barn Swallows and House Martins. Again, within minutes, we were also seeing feeding Common Swifts. A Dartford Warbler put in a very brief appearance but could not be relocated.
|Rock Bunting Escribano Montesino Emberiza cia (PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
Moving on up the mountain with regular stops we soon added a number of Azure-winged Magpies and many Red-legged Partridges. In addition, Coal Tit, Great Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper were heard close-by. I believe Mick also heard at least one Long-tailed Tit. Wood Pigeons were moving about and soon the start of seeing many lovely coloured Linnets all over the place. On the other hand, perhaps the most common species seen during the day were the many Stonechats and Thekla Larks. No sooner had we tried to (successfully) find the singing Sardinian Warbler and we were on tot a female Common Whitethroat feeding in the top of a nearby bush. What a great site and an unusual find for this site at this time of the year. Then an innocent question from Lesley along the lines of "What's that big raptor with a white tail?" Could you believe it, yes you could, we had a sub-adult Golden Eagle which then proceeded to entertain us for almost five minutes as it soared around us being mobbed by a couple of Choughs. Wonderful views and an opportunity to get a very good luck at the bird's plumage. Also seen during the course of the day were no less than at least seven Griffon Vultures.
|Chough Chova Piquirroja Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax|
Many birds in the air now and especially a good mixture of both Chough and Jackdaw. The hirundines were joined by all three swifts. First a trio of large Alpine Swifts flashing their white bellies as they turned in the sun and then a number of Common Swifts before they,too, were joined by their smaller cousins, the Pallid Swift. It seemed almost irrelevant that we were able to pick out a couple of Common Kestrels! Below us we heard the distinctive call of a Little Owl. Indeed, a couple of the members even heard a distant Hoopoe calling from below. To the left a lonely Woodchat Shrike sitting atop a small bush watching the world go by as he waited for his next meal. Other birds seen included both Blackbird and Spotless Starling.
I should say at this point that there were many stops to wander off-track to see the many weird and wonderful flowers, butterflies and dragonflies. Thank goodness we had Mick with us to help identify all and the use of his expertise was much appreciated by all.
|Spanish Festoon (PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
And so, via the Charca del Nego farm, where we had a Corn Bunting on the fence, up to the top , passed the windmills and the start of our search for the illusive Rock Thrush. Lots of Rock Sparrows and then a couple of Blue Rock Thrushes but where was the Rufus-tailed Rock Thrush? Another surprise as a Black Kite drifted over the top and then over us before departing northwards but still no Rock Thrush. Over 1500 metres up (nearly 5000 feet) and we were seeing first Goldfinches and then even a Chaffinch happily (?) feeding in the area. But all is worth waiting for a display flight above followed by settling on a high ledge revealed a female Rock Thrush. Indeed, at one point both male and female were seen in the air together. On the other hand, unfortunately, the birds, as last month, remained too far away to get any close shots with the camera. Again, we were lucky enough to see a second Golden Eagle, this time an immature bird in a quite heavy moult and looking very "tatty". Unfortunately, the bird was moving away so not the best of photographs.
|Golden Eagle Aguila Real Aquila chrysaetos|
So it was as we made our way back down the mountain that we continued to have regular sightings of the handsome Black-eared Wheatear but, strange to say, did not record a single Northern Wheatear on this visit; very unusual. Stopping near our favoured site for Spectacled Warblers we found a Subalpine Warbler and then back to the quarry where we had started our birding. Still no Eagle Owl to be seen so no chance to come up with recording an "Golden Eagle Owl" for the day! On the other and, John did manage to find the lonely Southern Grey Shrike on top of a reasonably distant tree which could be admired by us all.
|A rare visit from a Black Kite Milano Negro Milvus migrans|
More Serins and Azure-winged Magpies as we made our way back to the service station and then, just before we left the last of the trees, a pair of Wood Larks on the grass verge. What a way to end the day and with a very respectful tally of 46 species. But for me, no sooner had I joined the country road back towards Zafarrya than I had first a White Wagtail quickly followed by a pair or Turtle Doves on the telephone wires. All in all a very pleasant day's birding in lovely company.
|Woodchat Shrike Alcaudon Comun Lanius senator|
|More views of the Golden Eagle Aguila Real Aquila chrysaetos|
|Being mobbed by one of a pair of Chough Chova Piquirroja Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax|
|Black-eared Wheatear Collalba Rubia Oenanthe hispanica (PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
|Linnet Pardillo Comun Carduelis cannabina (PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
|Knapweed Fritillary Melitaea phoebe- above and below (PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
|Spanish Marbled White Melangia ines (PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
|Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas (PHOTO: Steve Powell)|
[Unless otherwise stated all photographs by Bob Wright]
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.