Wednesday, November 08, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #69 ~ πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ Sierra de Loja

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ ☀️ 19C Wednesday 8th November 2017 ~ We arrived at Dave's villa in Mijas around 5pm Tuesday after an enjoyable drive down from Torrevieja. A lazy morning today, just pottering around the terrace enjoying the sunshine before heading off after lunch for Loja, about an hours drive.

View from Sierra de Loja ~ Early snows over the distant peaks!
Sierra de Loja is a limestone massif and its highest point is Sierra Gords at 1,671 metres. It is also an open and beautiful but remote and sparse place. In winter it is covered in snow and ice. The landscape consists of a few trees, low lying scrub and bushes but is mainly short, dry grass, and rocky terrain, the scenery is simply stunning and the birding can be very rewarding. You access the dirt road that leads up to the top at the Los Abades service area exit off the A92 road to Granada.

Corn Bunting ~ Several small groups could be found.
As we began the ascent almost immediately there is an open rocky area and plenty of woodlands to explore. A couple of Short-toed Treecreepers were first on the day list and these closely followed by three Azure-winged Magpies, which in the sunlight are stunningly attractive looking birds but unfortunately, they quickly dispersed. Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, the now abundant Black Redstarts and a few Blackbirds before on one rocky outcrop the first of six Black Wheatear for the day.

Gorgeous Black Wheatear ~ One of a half-dozen located today.
We now drove up the first section which climbs about 550 meters in less than two kilometres, more Black RedstartsRed-legged Partridge heard and now plenty of Stonechat too! As we reached the main quarry several Crested Larks and in the distance at height two Griffon Vultures enjoying the thermals. There is a watering hole at the quarry, well worth a look and although it was devoid of any birds on this occasion an Iberian Grey Shrike took the eye as it flew down from its perch. Close by the only Ring Ouzel of the day, a female.

Thekla Lark ~ Very similar to Crested, note the shorter bill and distinct streaking on the breast, of course, the call is a clincher!
Arriving at the Charca el Negro, House SparrowsSpotless Starlings and more larks to be found but this time several Thekla Larks. Further along the track, we stopped for a half hour at the 'Fossil Cave' and here three Crag Martin and the first of four Rock Buntings. Overhead we were alerted to five noisy Choughs passing through and below in the rocky grassland a few Rock Sparrows offered good scoped views.

Chough over the 'Fossil Cave'
More Black Redstart, Black Wheatear and Stonechat, before a Sparrowhawk swooped in, trying but failing to snap up one of a number of Corn Bunting. The descent was much the same with plenty of birds to scan through, an excellent afternoon with some quality species!

More images of the day......

Driving down from the 'Fossil Cave'

Male Black Redstart

Distant view of Griffon Vulture

Stonechats Abundant
Birds Recorded...

Red-legged Partridge, Kestrel, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Iberian Grey Shrike, Griffon Vulture, Sparrowhawk, Chiffchaff, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting, Rock Bunting...