Another autumn trip to Andalusia is complete with just a few loose ends to tie up including an afternoon visit to Fuente de Piedra and a drive up to Sierra Loja over the final week.
|Wintering Common Cranes on Laguna Fuente de Piedra.|
Fuente is always a treat but more often than not these days water is scarce on this vast saline lake, the largest lagoon in Andalusia. Normally awash with Greater Flamingo today the wintering Cranes outnumbered them, producing the usual amazing sights and sounds.
|Ferruginous Duck on the Laguneto|
We arrived around midday and as we made our way from the car park to the Visitor Centre (closed as per usual) to enjoy our packed lunch a Red Kite drifted west. By the time we moved on to the Observatorio El Laguneto, the only other main body of water, we'd recorded four Black Redstart and at least twenty Blackcap feeding around the centre.
|Marbled Duck ~ Part of a re-introduction program here|
From the hide, Black Redstart, Spanish Sparrow and Stonechat with the Laguneto holding double-figure Northern Shoveler, Grey Heron and Black-necked Grebe. However, the highlights while here consisted of three Marbled Duck and a single Ferruginous Duck.
|Black-winged Kite saved the day!|
A drive around the roadside perimeter of the main lagoon as we headed home had to be the quietest we'd ever encountered and were it not for the sighting of a stunning Black-Winged Kite we'd have come home a little disappointed.
|The view across Seirra De Loja|
Our final outing was a drive over to Sierra De Loja a limestone massif its highest point being Sierra Gords at 5400ft. It is also an open and beautiful but remote and sparse place. In winter it is covered in snow and ice, although no signs yet. 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.
|One of four Iberian Grey Shrikes seen today.|
No sign of any Azure-winged Magpies a regular in the woodlands here as we made our way up the dirt track (which with care is easily drivable) but a couple of Black Wheatear, three Thekla Larks, Hoopoe, and the first of four Iberian Grey Shrikes seen today before we reached our first stop around 1500ft at the old quarry.
|Blue Rock Thrush from the quarry|
A walk around the quarry had a dozen Red-legged Partridges scurrying past but a Blue Rock Thrush took the eye, along with more Stonechats, Thekla Larks and a single Corn Bunting.
|Rock Bunting is a regular feature at Sierra De Loja|
As we continued our ascent we paused when a group of 30+ Chough suddenly descended just below our position. While out photographing a couple Rock Bunting also appeared along with Iberian Grey Shrike.
|Ring Ouzel at Sierra De Loja was taken in 2017 a little earlier in November.|
At our turnaround point, some 5000ft up there's a small oasis of Hawthorn and although mostly depleted of berries by now we managed to locate a small group of wintering thrushes, which we regularly encounter up here. These included Redwing, Mistle Thrush and at least six Ring Ouzel. While here a small party of Southeastern Spanish Ibex (now reclassified) and during our descent, a flock of some thirty Rock Sparrows, along with a single Alpine Accentor, spotted by Dazza ended another brilliant visit to Spain and I hope you've enjoyed our posts.
|Cranes over Fuente De Piedra|