Its worth a visit
Day 2 a trip to the Sierras Subbeticus and Virgen de la Sierra (7/09/11)21/09/2011 11:01
Allthough as mentioned previously Migrants appered to be thin on the ground in most of the area we covered a,this site proved time and time again to be by far the most rewarding and reliable of the ones we birded.
For a start there was a very goood range of species to be seen from large raptors to the small warblers on the lower slopes of the mountain.
most of the lower part of the area is loose rock on a gradual gentle slope and by far the most prominent bird species was Stonechat of which we conted some 65 different birds(see photo gallery).Winchats accounted for a very small fraction of the migrants with only 5 birds encountered on our first trip to this area.Wheatears too were in short supply with just 2 birds both Northern species encountered on the half way mark of our descent.4 Common Kestrel were in constant view with an adult appearing to be giving flying lessons to its accompaning family.
Warblers were present on the lower reches of the mountain road with melodious,Issabelline,Sardinian and Orphean warbler all recorded albeit in small numbers.
2 Tawny Pipits were on the road on the last bend before we reached the quarry with the old Granite Mine.
The area which contains the quarry was most rewaring,
We were greeted by the sight of around 75 corvids swirling over the old mine which turned out to be Choughs.These turned out to be most approachable and several shots of the birds in flight were obtained(photogallery).
In the good covering of Gorse and similar growth there was both Dartford Warbler and 2 Spectacled Warblers as well as at least 3 Bonnelis warblers.
5 Black Wheatears were present around the entry to the quarry for the duration of our trip.
The area around the quarry is also a good spot to set up scope and watch for any movements of large raptors.
There was an excellent movent of Swits/Hirrundines allthough most birds were very high on this occassion and a further excursion to top of the hill on this occassion was a must.
At the top of the mountain there is an excellent viewing area were one can see for miles in all directions.
Today the movements of Swifts and Hirrundines (particulary Alpine and Pallid Swifts and House martins and Red Rumped Swallows) was extremely high.A count of at least 500 Red Rumped Swallows 8 Alpine Swift and 14 Pallid Swifts,around 85 House Martins and 9 Common Swifts(in three hours) was probably an underestimate.Around 55 Griffin Vultures moved South during our stay though we wernt sure wether these were migrants or local birds.
A single Bonellis Eagle flew spectaculary past our observation post to rest on rocks for some 30 minutes before itself flying off to the South.
On our desent down the mountain the first copse produced 6 Crossbills,3 Bonnellis warblers,6 Blackbirds2 Melodious warblers and3 Spotted Flycatchers and 2 Chiff Chaff.a Short Toed Eagle was foun perched on a large roch oppositte the quarry entrance.
Around 29 Crested Larks were counted on the road between the entance to the climb and the summit.
There was superb examples of Swallowtail Butterflies on the higher parts of the mountainparticulary on the highest watchpoint(photogallery).
After a quick descent of the mountain it was decided that the last hours of the day should be spent again at Rio Azore to see if last nights movemrnts were to be repeated.
As one soon realised the numbers were to be much down on the previous night.
Red Rumped swallows were still passing in smaller numbers with more of a mixture with Crag martins this time
There was still 33 Serin waiting to drink from the river along with some 16 Spotted Flycatcher with just a single Pied Flycatcher feeding in the little gulley on the other side of the woode bridge.
A walk to the bushy area to the left of the wooden bridge produced 3 Sardinian warblers,2 Bonnellis warblers,a single Isabelline warbler and 2 Blackcaps.
Bee eater numbers were also down with just 25 birds passing South between 19:00 and 19:45 hours.A Common Kestrel was hovering over the quarry for about a half hour being constantly mobbed by 2 Ravens.
A single Hoopoe came down to drink at 19:15 and 5 European Swallows circled for about 10 minutes before heading off to the south.
We decided to concentrate our attention on the quarry face for the last 30 minutes of lightand sure enough we were to be rewarded when bang on 20:08 an Eagle Owl again left a small cave overlooking the river and disapeared into the smal woodland near the top of the crag.