Friday, November 10, 2017

📖 Diary Update #70 ~ 🇪🇸 Huétor Tájar

🇪🇸 ☀️ 18C Friday 10th November 2017 ~ After staying local yesterday (Thursday) and having enjoyed the Sierra de Loja on Wednesday we decided to head back up to the same area, this time heading a little further north on to Huétor Tájar for some winter birding.

Common Buzzard ~ Over the fields at Huétor Tájar
Just north-west of the town is the railway station Barriada La Estación and the landscape in the immediate vicinity contains farmland, mainly of asparagus but also corn and tomatoes. Of course, at this time of year, a number of fields have been ploughed and some remain stubble offering excellent habitat to explore. From the north of the town, there is a track that runs up to the railway line and time should be spent here scanning.

First birds of note were several Crested Larks and a half dozen Meadow Pipits, these along with a few flocks of very flighty Lapwing, up every few minutes. This was probably due to the above photographed Common Buzzard! There were Skylarks passing overhead occasionally, which also winter in larger numbers here and two Cattle Egrets could be seen at the edge of one field. A huge House Sparrow flock next, feeding along the perimeter of one of the grass tracks and then Dee came up with the first Stone Curlew, one of our target birds for the day!

These are a small portion of the Stone Curlews scattered over the fields but due to distance and heat haze, photography was almost impossible!
It wasn't long after before we began to locate the many wintering birds we'd come to see. Over 150+ scattered around the fields today but this apparently increases to well over a thousand in January! Plenty of Wood Pigeons on the move, Common Kestrel and along the water ditch which contained a few trees and bushes Serin, Goldfinch and a single Chiffchaff. Also of note several White Wagtail and a single Grey Wagtail.

More issues with distance and haze but there are in fact seven Little Bustard in this image ~ Can you spot them?
Hen Harrier ~ An added bonus!
Across the bridge from the station and on to our next target bird, Little Bustard. In fact, we discovered eleven birds almost immediately, thanks to Mick Richardson from Granada Wildlife, who we'd bumped into in the town. The birds were again at distance but offered great scoped views. While enjoying this a Hen Harrier would have passed unnoticed if I hadn't looked behind, wish I had a pound for the number of times that's happened!

While talking to Mike, who I'd last met a few years back while birding at Guadalhorce, he mentioned a fall of Ring Ouzels back up at Sierra de Loja, over fifty he estimated, so off we went... Continued in Update #71...