Saturday, May 26, 2018

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ NE SPAIN 2018 ~ Days 11/12/13

The last three days of the holiday have been more a mixture of wildlife watching and sightseeing. Today (Saturday 26th) we move out of our current accommodation for a weekend of rest and pampering at a quiet hotel near Girona. I'll certainly miss sitting out late at night listening to the Nightingales, Nightjars and Scops Owls and watching the bats whizzing around the garden. I have to say though, that we're looking forward to a few days rest from birding, it's been almost non-stop, extremely tiring but at the same time wonderfully exhilarating!

Crested Lark 
πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ☀️🌩24C Wednesday 23rd May 2018 ~ We headed up to Cap de Creus lighthouse. This area constitutes the last buttress of the Pyrenees and the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. The coast is abrupt and jagged, with towering cliffs and remote coves. On our last visit here in 2016 the place was mobbed (never visit on a Sunday) but today it was reasonably quiet. Although not specifically a birding day, on the way up we stopped on several occasions to investigate areas, coming across our first Spotted Flycatcher of the whole visit, plus a Crested Lark, which was obviously nesting close by.

Alpine Swift

Pallid Swift
At the lighthouse, we walked the cliffs and had great views of Alpine Swifts, along with one or two Pallids. It was flat calm so not much on the sea below, save for the many Yellow-legged Gulls, a passing Shag and a couple of Balearic Shearwaters. A Peregrine was best on route back to the lighthouse.

Dartford Warbler
Heading back to the villa we stopped near a large military installation to look for Spectacled Warbler, which we found here in 2016 but sadly not today. However, just before the daily thunderstorm hit we managed Dartford Warbler, Corn Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Melodious Warbler, Linnet and Stonechat.

False llex Hairstreak
πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ☀️25C Thursday 24th May 2018 ~ We drove up the dirt tracks towards Punta MontgΓ³, an area of pine and maquis (scrubland vegetation) and paused at various areas to admire the clifftop views. One area in particular was good for butterflies, so with the birding a little slow we concentrated on this. Spanish Gatekeeper, Iberian Swallowtail, Cleopatra, Green-veined White and lots of what I believe are False llex Hairstreak. A surprise was hearing a churring Nightjar, it lasted for only about 10 seconds then stopped, I've never heard one in the day before! Next, we came to an abandoned house and paused for a while to check out a large area of meadowland, now of course in late May, overgrown. Hoopoe, Thekla Lark, Woodchat Shrike, Cuckoo and Hobby here. At the end of the track we reached Punta Ventosa a high cliff area which overlooks the sea but again it was flat calm with little of note below. However, over the cliffs lots of Common Swift, along with Pallid Swift and Crag Martin. Our final stop before heading for a late lunch was at the turning for Bellcaire. Here there is a rocky track with a circular route well worth a look. Rock Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Golden Oriole, Orphean Warbler and Woodlark.

Dazza's photo of Cirl Bunting shows how well camouflaged these can be!
πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ☁️ 23C Friday 25th May 2018 ~ We spent today at the Parc Natural de la Zona Volcanica de la Garrotxa, a volcanic park of some 12,000 hectares. The road from Banyole passes through a beautiful wooded landscape, climbing and dipping around craters and lava flows, offering some lovely valley views until you reach the town of Olot. The 30 volcanoes have been dormant for 11,500 years, and luxuriant vegetation masks their contours. It was a different day weatherwise, with bright but mostly overcast skies and quite humid. There was a good deal of butterflies on the wing today and we spent quite a bit of time searching them out.

Another one of Dazza's ~ Provencal Fritillary
These included Scarce Swallowtail, Spanish Gatekeeper, Grizzled Skipper, Provencal Fritillary, Small Heath, Red Admiral, Common Blue, Painted Lady and Speckled Wood. Birds noted: Griffon Vulture, Honey Buzzard, Raven, Melodious Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Firecrest, Black Redstart, Stonechat and Cirl Bunting.

Provencal Fritillary

Speckled Wood ~ Note the lighter colours in the Spanish version!

Painted Lady 
Spanish Gatekeeper