Wednesday, October 25, 2023

πŸ“– πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ ~ Spain Autumn 2023 Update 3

  πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ  Wednesday 25th October 2023 🌀️ 😢‍🌫️🌧️  18C ~ Wind SW@ 5MPH ~ A day out with friends Derek & Barbara Etherton and Andy Paterson my local Andalusia gurus.

Today's plan was to leave early for HuΓ©tor-TΓ‘jar in Granada County to search for Little Bustard and Stone Curlew. After that, we were planning to head to the high tops of Sierra Loja, which is around 5,000ft.  Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas. Despite forecasts of sun and clouds, it was apparent that our plans were ruined as soon as we reached our breakfast destination at Hotel Tajar. We were greeted with low clouds and rain. We decided to drive the dirt tracks around the HuΓ©tor-TΓ‘jar general area first, given the unfavourable weather conditions and then see if the weather improved.

You can probably make out two of the Stone Curlews in the gloom!

I think we actually did quite well in challenging conditions coming across a group of (15) Stone Curlew in fields shortly after setting off. Even more amazing was coming across (4) Little Bustard shortly after, although they were well sheltered by the crop field they were in. 

A Linnet looking a little forlorn in the rain.

In the gloom there were several flocks of mixed Serin and Linnet feeding on the crop seed and as we drove on at one point a Sparrowhawk perched high on one of the electricity pylons. 

Stonechat

As we took a short stop a Stonechat obligingly perched up beside the car, again another species looking slightly puzzled. What? Rain in Spain! 

Azure-winged Magpie ~ Difficult to get a good definition of these attractive birds in the conditions.

Moving on I was really surprised when we came across at least thirty Azure-winged Magpies. I normally struggle to find one when we're at Loja so this was a real treat. 

There's something quite charming about a Spanish Sparrow.

Lots of House Sparrows around the local farms mingled with the odd Spanish Sparrow. Around (12) Crested Larks were noted on the fields along with Meadow Pipits, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and (2) Corn Buntings.

A soggy-looking Thekla Lark.

A couple of Thekla Larks, (20) White Wagtails, (3) Sardinian Warbler, (3) Chiffchaff, (3) Blackcap, plus a surprise flock of some 40 Commons Waxbills before we headed for coffee.

Mirador at Fuente de Piedra

Over coffee and with no improvement in the weather we abandoned the idea of the high tops and instead decided to head over to lower ground and Fuente de Piedra, around 40 minutes and 60 kilometres. As it turns out it was a good decision with sunshine and cloud and even better, despite the drought, there was water in the Laguna after the recent rains! 

Marsh Harrier over Fuente.

As we turned into the reserve a large raptor was being mobbed by lots of Jackdaws which turned out to be an oddly coloured Marsh Harrier, which being honest caused some confusion initially. On the field below we counted (12) Stone Curlew before heading to the car park for lunch. While at lunch we watched a White Stork pass overhead. This actually turned out to be a local bird which nests on a nearby chimney stack and was still in residence.

Great to see Greater Flamingos back on the Laguna

From the Mirador a good selection of species included (140) Greater Flamingos, (14) Black-winged Stilt, (2) Avocet, (9) Ringed Plover, (5) Dunlin, and single Green SandpiperGreenshank, Lapwing and approx 1100 Lesser Black-backed Gulls

White-headed Duck

Our last stop of the day was the hide looking over the Laguneta, where there's always water! A good selection of wildfowl here with (7) White-headed Duck, (2) Pochard, (2) Marbled Teal, (2) Eurasian Teal, (4) Northern Pintail, unusual apparently for here, (4) Shoveler, (30) Little Grebe and (2) Black-necked Grebe

Black-necked Grebe on the Laguneta

White-headed Duck

Despite a challenging and disrupted day a very enjoyable one in great company with many laughs. Thanks to Derek for driving, Barbara for keeping the numbers and Andy for simply being Andy!