Monday, May 09, 2016

Montgrí Massif - A day of conundrums!

We awoke this morning to low cloud and heavy rain and wondered for an instant if in fact we were still in Spain. That said we were well aware that the weather in the foothills of the Pyrenees would be nothing like the south of the country. After breakfast we checked the weather reports in more detail and discovered that the rain was here for the day. However, a stiff easterly was blowing in off the sea down on the coast near L'Escala and this might offer an opportunity for a decent sea-watch!

Black Redstart taking shelter under the balconies of L'Escala
We arrived in L'escala mid morning and after a coffee and a look around the town headed down to the marina. Walking along the sea wall a Common Sandpiper took flight from the rocks, White Wagtail, Grey Heron and a number of Yellow-legged Gulls were also noted. A selection of apartments overlook the marina and here a Black Redstart was sheltering from the rain under one of the balconies. So too about 20 or so House Martin.

View from Punta Ventosa - A challenging encounter!
From here we drove up towards Punta Montgó an area of pine and maquis (scrubland vegetation). Here a few stops produced Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Crested Tit and Serin. After a further drive along dirt tracks we came to an abandoned house and paused for a while to check out a large area of meadowland, which it seems once belonged to the now derelict house. While scoping a Peregrine Falcon flew through, along with several Common Swift and then Thekla Lark calling, two of which we located after a short while. Also heard while here Hoopoe, which we didn't connect with. At the end of the track we reached Punta Ventosa a high cliff area which overlooks the sea and a great place for a sea-watch and packed lunch, thankfully the rain had become intermittent but the wind was challenging!

The coasts of Catalonia are one of the few areas in the world where both Yelkouan and Balearic Shearwaters can be compared side by side. In the Girona N coast, however, Yelkouan (or at least Yelkouan-like) outnumber the concentrations of Balearic, particularly in spring. Now the question arises did I see Yelkouan today? Well quite probably! However, what I can tell you is that there were dozens of Shearwaters from our observation area and I can undoubtedly say yes to Cory's Shearwater and Balearic Shearwater but as to Yelkouan, lack of experience of the species, height of our observation area making it difficult to compare size and somewhat challenging conditions, who knows! However, while here European Shag and some excellent views of Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift and Common Swift! Another conundrum was a Falcon species which darted through, my first thoughts were Red-footed Falcon, which do pass here on migration or was it a Hobby? To quick and too fast!!

Woodchat Shrike - On a day of few photo opportunities!
On the drive back to ground level several more stops produced a nice pair of Rock Sparrow, Woodchat Shrike, Wood Lark, Golden Oriole and some locals surely must have Peacocks!!
An enjoyable but entirely frustrating day!