Tuesday, May 15, 2018

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ NE SPAIN 2018 ~ Pyrenees Day 3

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ☁️☀️4C/20C Tuesday 15th May 2018 ~ While Dazza continued her beauty sleep I was out and about locally just after sunrise, this time taking a five-minute drive down to the local Rio Lanata. Things here were particularly quiet, a flyby Dipper, a few Serin, the usual Bonelli's Warbler, which appears very common here and Black Redstart, which are even more abundant. Things got a little more lively just as I was leaving when a huge flock of (circa 50) Bee-eaters flew through, a  wonderfully colourful sight.

A small portion of a large flock of Bee-eaters (circa 50)
From the river, I drove back to the track which leads up to the cottage and decided to try a small area which consisted of rocky terrain, meadow, some small ravines and a tiny copse. A Nightingale was in full flow deep in cover and then another song caught the ear low in the scrub, a harsh twitter of squeaks and whistles, a Subalpine Warbler. I managed a few brief views before the bird moved on.

Orphean Warbler
While I was listening to a distant Cuckoo a Quail suddenly began calling from the meadow grass and then movement below alerted me to a couple of Orphean Warblers. Since arriving I've heard several Golden Oriole but up to this point I hadn't actually seen one, thankfully that was put right when a stunning male passed right in front of me. Finally, before heading back for breakfast three Woodchat Shrike, ending an excellent 90-minute outing!

One of three Woodchat Shrike
If you remember my first post on Sunday from our current trip to Spain you may remember that we were unable to get right up to the ski centre above Cerler due to the 2018 Vuelta Aragon cycle event. I did say at the time we'd return and today we did just that.

Thawing Ski Slope above Cerler
After Sunday's glorious blue skies the weather was quite changeable today and by the time we reached the 6000ft summit the cloud had descended and a light rain was falling, although not constantly. We paused once again on many occasions to check out the meadows and rock fields, finding several Wheatear, Crossbills and Black Redstarts. The usual Griffon Vultures were busy soaring above, a little lower today due to the low cloud. A single Blue Rock Thrush was also noted, surprisingly hard to find thus far during this visit!

Male Crossbill
Ski slopes at this time of the year are a birders paradise, you can pick up some well sort-after species by just edging your way around a thawing piste. After parking up we began to scan slowly around the slopes, immediately coming across a small group of Yellowhammer, a larger group of Cirl Buntings and seventeen of the sort after Citril Finch.

One of at least five Water Pipit
We counted five Water Pipit but I'm sure there were more, a half dozen Wheatear and a trio of Whinchat. Seeing the latter two species in a snowy background is a thing of beauty with the colours standing out vividly. Despite seeing Alpine Accentor during our disrupted visit on Sunday we sadly dipped today. Another species we had our sights set on Snow Finch is notoriously difficult in the spring and it would appear that they may well have moved on to their breeding areas!


One of three Whinchat