Monday, 18 February 2013

Saturday 16th February - Sierra Espuña

Having heard what had been seen in Sierra Espuña last weekend while I was around Inazares, I though that a visit to Sierra Espuña was in order, so on saturday morning, I set off for Alhama.  Arriving there at just before 10 am., there was a lot of mist, and knowing it would be even worse on top of Espuña, I decided to make a detour via the EDAR (sewage farm) of Alhama while I waited for the mist to burn off.

This EDAR is in the industrial estate before you get to the main A-7 motorway when coming from Cartagena, and is one that I have only recently discovered.  Apart from the sewage farm itself, there are two reed fringed pools which have a good variety of ducks (and I would presume waders in the appropriate season).  Since I last visited, a hide has been erected overlooking on of the pools - unfortunately this appears to be the shallower of the two as the only birds in the pool were a group of 14 Black Winged Stilts, with a few Coots and Moorhens in the reeds.

 View across the northernmost pool

 The new hide - I think I was the first to use it!

 Location of the new hide

The other pool was much busier though, with 14 Little Grebes trilling away, a pair of Black-necked Grebes (it'll be interesting to see if they stay), Pochard,  Shoveler, White Headed Ducks and Mallard, and in the surrounding reeds a single Purple Gallinule (Swamphen), Reed Buntings, Blackcaps, Cetti's Warblers and Chiffchaffs.

 Male White-headed Duck

 Typical view across the southernmost pool

Along the reed fringe, a Purple Gallinule (Swamphen)
In the reeds were various Chiffchaffs
Overhead was a group of hirundines, which turned out to be about 30 Crag Martins, 20 House Martins and a couple of Swallows.

I stayed about an hour, and then set back off for Espuña.  I'd forgotten how popular the area is for cyclists, and so it took me over an hour to get from here to the top of Espuña (the area around the radar station).  As I was driving the last part of the journey, from the 'pozos de la nieve*' carpark up to the top, I flushed two birds from the side of the road, which flew off calling - 2 Alpine Accentors.  Parking up, I wandered around the rocks there trying to refind them, but had no luck whatsoever - the problem with the top there is that it is a military restricted area with no access to the very top where the accentors probably went.  I hung around for about an hour and a half searching for them but they were nowhere to be seen, and the only birds I did see were a pair of Coal Tits and a single Chaffinch!
 View looking up to the top of Sierra Espuña
 At the top, typical Alpine Accentor country

One of the few birds seen, Coal Tit

Having had enough of seeing nothing, I went back down to the 'pozos de la nieve' and walked round to the 'Pozos de Nieve de Murcia*' (the ones that have NOT been reformed).  On my way down from the very top, I could hear numbers of thrushes and Ring Ouzels from the car, and on my walk to the 'pozos' there were obviously a lot more here.  Before getting to the meadow where the 'pozos' are, you have to walk through a pine area, and this was absolutely alive with thrushes, flying from one side of the track to the other.  I rapidly saw a few Redwings amongst them, with some actually on the track itself, and I could hear Fieldfares as well, and eventually I saw one fly across the track.

On the track leading down to the 'pozos', a Redwing

Going down to the farthest 'pozo' where there is always a small pool of water with some rose bushes around it, I got myself into the shade to see what I could see.  And it was a lot - there were Ring Ouzels everywhere with a smattering of Blackbirds, Redwings and Mistle Thrushes.  I also had a pair of Cirl Buntings (which I think must nest somewhere nearby as I often see them when I come up here), Greenfinches, a single male Rock Bunting, Coal and Great Tits, and in the background I heard at least a couple of Jays.

 Perched on the remains of one of the pozos, a female Cirl Bunting

At the bottom of the hill, a pine tree with Mistle Thrush and Ring Ouzel
 In the wild rose bushes, various birds dropped in - here a Redwing...

 ... a Ring Ouzel...
 ... another Redwing...

 ... and another Ring Ouzel...

 ... Greenfinch and Rock Bunting...

 ... yet another Ring Ouzel...
 ... two Redwings with a Ring Ouzel landing in the background...

 ... yet another Ring Ouzel...

 ...and another Redwing...

 ... two more Ring Ouzels...

 ... another three Ring Ouzels...

 ... and yet another trio!  Phew, just how many were there altogether - at least 30!

I stayed there for a couple of hours watching all the thrushes rushing about, until some hikers came up the hill, noisy as always, and flushed everything away.  I stayed for a while longer in case the thrushes came back, but they didn't, so I eventually decided to call it a day up there, and headed on for home.

I got back to my home area and there was still enough light to have a look over the Mar Menor, so I stopped at the layby opposite the 'marina de Carmoli' (km.8 on the F-34).  From here there was a mass of Great Crested Grebes (I counted 147) plus at least 40 Black-necked Grebes and almost on the horizon I located the Red-throted Diver that has been here for a while now.

I also had a quick look as the sun was setting over the 'marina' itself where there were at least 7 Marsh Harriers doing some last light hunting, but unlike the previous night, there ws no sign of either Hen or Pallid Harriers.

* Pozos de nieve - These are deep holes in the ground, covered by bee-hive looking rock structures, that were used to create ice.  Snow was shovelled into the wells in winter, which under its own weight formed ice.  This was then removed by mules to either Murcia or the port at Cartagena.  For more details see:

Birds seen/heard during the day:
Red-throated Diver - (Gavia stellata) - Colimbo chico
Little Grebe  - (Tachybaptus ruficollis)  - Zampullín común
Black-necked Grebe - (Podiceps nigricollis) - Zampullín cuellinegro
Great Crested Grebe - (Podiceps cristatus) - Somormujo lavanco
Cormorant - (Phalacrocorax carbo) - Cormorán grande
Mallard - (Anas platyrhynchos) - Ánade azulón
Shoveler - (Anas clypeata) - Cuchara común
Pochard - (Aythya ferina) - Porrón europea
White-headed Duck - (Oxyura leucocephala) - Malvasía cabeciblanca
Marsh Harrier - (Circus aeruginosus) - Aguilucho lagunero
Purple Gallinule (Swamphen) - (Porphyrio porphyrio) - Calamón común
Coot - (Fulica atra) - Focha común
Moorhen - (Gallinula chloropus) - Gallineta común
Black Winged Stilt - (Himantopus himantopus) - Cigüeñuela
Yellow-legged Gull - (Larus michahellis) - Gaviota patiamarilla
Slender-billed Gull - (Larus genei) - Gaviota picofina
Woodpigeon - (Columba palumbus) - Paloma torcaz
Collared Dove - (Streptopelia decaocto) - Tórtula turca
Swallow - (Hirundo rustica) - Golondrina común
House Martin - (Delichon urbicum) - Avión común
Crag Martin - (Ptyonoprogne rupestris) - Avión roquero
White Wagtail - (Motacilla alba alba) - Lavandera blanca
Robin - (Erithacus rubecula) - Petirrojo europeo
Black Redstart - (Phoenicurus ochruros) - Colirrojo tizón
Stonechat - (Saxicola torquatus) - Tarabilla común
Ring Ouzel - (Turdus torquatus) - Mirlo capiblanco
Blackbird - (Turdus merula) - Mirlo común
Fieldfare - (Turdus pilaris) - Zorzal real

Songthrush - (Turdus philomelos) - Zorzal común
Redwing - (Turdus iliacus) - Zorzal alirrojo
Mistle Thrush - (Turdus viscivorus) - Zorzal charlo
Cetti's Warbler - (Cettia cetti) - Ruiseñor bastardo

Blackcap - (Sylvia atricapilla) - Curruca capirotada
Chiffchaff - (Phylloscopus collybita) - Mosquitero común
Great Tit - (Parus major) - Carbonero común
Coal Tit - (Parus ater) - Carbonero garrapinos
Southern Grey Shrike - (Lanius meridionalis) - Alcaudón real
Jay - (Garrulus glandarius) - Arrendajo
Spotless Starling - (Sturnus unicolor) - Estornino negro
House Sparrow - (Passer domesticus) - Gorrión común
Chaffinch - (Fringilla coelebs) - Pinzón vulgar
Serin - (Serinus serinus) - Verdecillo
Greenfinch - (Chloris chloris) - Verderón
Goldfinch - (Carduelis carduelis) - Jilguero
Reed Bunting - (Emberiza schoeniclus) - Escribano palustre
Cirl Bunting - (Emberiza cirlus) - Escribano soteño
Rock Bunting - (Emberiza cia) - Escribano montesino

1 comment:

  1. I'm noting all these places and hoping to be able to get to a few :-)