Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sierra de Andujar

Besides the Iberian Lynxes, this part of Spain has plenty to offer. Even in January there are great birds to enjoy, and in spring it must be spectacular. The weather when we were there was great, sunshine almost all the time and reaching about 20 degrees C in the afternoon, but dropping to 4 or 5 at night.

This is another of the special local mammals - Mouflon. Impressive horns on these bad boys! We only had the one sighting, of this flock on a steep hillside track.

Red Deer are very common in the park, and often quite confiding. They have a much sleeker look than the shaggy British specimens I've seen in Scotland.

Other mammals we saw were Roe Deer, Rabbits and a couple of HUGE bats, which I've yet to identify.

Griffon Vultures are common around the park, although they are late risers. These photos were taken when we took a long rough road to the town of La Carolina - they were passing quite low overhead on their way to a nearby thermal.

Black Vulture. Scarcer than the Griffon but still quite easy to find.

There are three species of eagles in the park in winter and we saw two of them, though the pics of Spanish Imperial Eagle are horribly distant. Views through binoculars were IDable though, with the white shoulders really catching the light as the bird turned. Almost as distant was this subadult Bonelli's Eagle. We also saw Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk.

A trio of larks. From the top... I think this is Thekla rather than Crested Lark, going by bill shape, but would welcome anyone's thoughts. Below is a definite Crested, and at the bottom a lovely Woodlark. All three were seen on the aforementioned La Carolina road.

We saw maybe half a dozen Hoopoes, they seem pretty common and widespread. This one's wing feather damage looks a bit fishy to me, I hope it's not been shot at.

We encountered Azure-winged Magpies all over the place, invariably in small flocks and sometimes rubbing shoulders with ordinary Magpies. Noisy, colourful, beautiful, incredibly suspicious of anyone with a camera.

This Hawfinch was down by the river Jandula, but we also saw a few at La Lancha. They seemed a bit more confiding than the Hawfinches of Blighty.

One of the commonest small birds around was Chiffchaff. By the river, while waiting for lynxes, we watched half a dozen of them flycatching over the water. The flight shot was a not very successful manual focus experiment.

More birds from the river area. A juvvie Night Heron, and a Kingfisher. Also around here were many Grey Herons and Cormorants, with Sardinian Warbler and Cirl Bunting camera-dodging in the riverside trees. I saw a Sympetrum dragonfly here too but didn't manage a photo.

Warblers are thin on the ground this time of year, in terms of variety at least, but we did see a few Sardinians and Dartfords, as well as a single Blackcap.

We spent two afternoons at La Lancha, and on both occasions we saw Crag Martins between 4-5pm. These hirundines don't migrate, and so have the skies and what aerial insects are around pretty much to themselves through winter.

A lovely Southern Grey Shrike. We saw a few of these, including a singing bird at La Lancha, which we saw very well through a kind lynx-watcher's scope. The song is remarkably strange and varied.

A common bird of the rocky landscapes, the Black Redstart was one of the commonest insect-eaters around...

... but Robins were ubiquitous, though not many were as willing to be admired as this one.

Long-tailed Tits were also very common. I was keen to get a photo of the dark ibericus subspecies, but this was the best I managed. Other common species included Blackbird, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Blue and Great Tits and Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

I'll round this off with a view of the Embalse de Jandular that lies just beyond the La Lancha viewpoint, and a nice sunset :)


Alan Pavey said...

Great write up Marianne, sounds like a really enjoyable trip. Great pics too, the Kingfisher is a stunner :-)

Mike H said...

Sounds like avery enjoyable trip with many quality photos for memories,Marianne.