Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Birding Spain - The Pyrenees

Dave, who's now joined us from his home in Mijas near Malaga, Dee and I managed to meet up with Steve West from Birding Spain on Tuesday for a day out exploring the Pyrenees.

Heading up!
Setting out from Solsona, around 100Km or so south from the Andorran border we made our way up into the Parc Natural del Cadí-Moixeró. The Cadí and Moixeró which are connected by the Tancalaporta pass, form an imposing mountainous barrier in the Pre-Pyrenees. They extend 30 km from west to east and offer stunning scenery, not to mention equally as stunning birding. The geography offers a variety of landscapes, such as those of foothill, alpine and sub-alpine areas, as well as rocky environments with their characteristic rich vegetation and fauna. Just outside Solsona on the road up we stopped for while to investigate, encountering Corn Bunting, Wood Lark, Northern Wheatear, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Rock Bunting, Red-legged Partridge and Stonechat, a Roe Deer shot across the road before disappearing into the undergrowth.

Record shot of Lammergeier - In fact I hadn't even set the camera!
As we continued our ascent another stop to check out a few soaring raptors produced a displaying Goshawk and while here the calls of a Wryneck which, after a few short attempts we never quite managed to connect with. One of the target species for the day had to be Lammergeier and it wasn't long before we'd nailed it! In fact it took us so much by surprise I hadn't even set the camera. The lower alpine slopes produced Crested Tit, Firecrest, Common Crossbill and Short-toed Treecreeper, before more raptors included Black Kite and Griffon Vulture.

Citril Finch - This one in the road
Prior to lunch at Gosol we passed through the ski resort of El Port de Cante and shortly after came across a small group of Citril Finch, normally quite accommodating but today a little shy! Although I did manage a photo when one dropped onto the roadside. Dave came up trumps a short while later when he spotted a pair of Rock Thrush on the overhead wires, I think Steve was pretty impressed with that from a non birder, but he has been well trained! We stayed for a while to enjoy the thrush's and while here Common Redstart, Black Redstart and Subalpine Warbler. A real surprise came when checking out more soaring raptors, as an Eleanora's Falcon passed through, obviously on passage in these parts and a species I last observed in Majorca a few years back.

Orphean Warbler - One of three encountered today!
After lunch we made our final ascent to Mirador de Coll de Port, at 1,650 meters our highest point. Red-Billed Chough were a feature as we progressed and at the Mirador the slightest chance of Wallcreeper, but sadly not today! Notwithstanding, Alpine Chough were a treat and while enjoying the breath-taking views at least two Cuckoo could be heard in the woodland below. From here it was downhill, pausing to observe Booted Eagle and Short-toad Eagle, plus some great views of Orphean Warbler. The final species for the day were several Alpine Swift as we continued our descent back to Solsona!! A really terrific days birding and great to catch up with Steve.

More record images of the day:

Short-toed Eagle
(Rufous-Tailed) ♂Rock Thrush

(Rufous-Tailed) ♀Rock Thrush

Dee's photo of Orphean Warbler
Although primarily for the birding a number of butterflies were encountered and the ones I managed to ID included: Scarce Swallowtail, Cleopatra and Brimstone. Mammals: Roe Deer and Fox

A full birding day list follows:

Red-legged Partridge, Lammergeier, Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Black Kite, Eurasian Kestrel, Eleanora's Falcon, Wood Pigeon, Cuckoo, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Wryneck (h), Skylark, Crested Lark, Wood Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Nightingale, Common Redstart, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Western Orphean Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Jay, Magpie, Red-billed Chough, Alpine Chough, Carrion Crow, Raven, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Citril Finch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Common Crossbill, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting.