Sunday, 10 February 2013

Saturday, 9th February - In hunt of thrushes.

On Saturday 9th February, I arranged to go with José Navarro Leandro, Fernando Tomás and Juan Lopez Ruiz to look for thrushes in the northwest of Murcia, close to Caravaca de la Cruz in what is the highest area of the region.
A few weeks ago in the same area, Fieldfares, Redwings and Ring Ouzels had been seen, and a Yellowhammer ringed.  I was hoping that as it was still as cold, they might still be about.  Setting out from Murcia at 7-30 a.m., we arrived at the valley just below Inazares at just before 9, and having put on all our cold weather clothing (the car thermometer was showing 0ºC, but any pools of water we found were solid ice, and there was a chill NW breeze blowing), we set out to walk the valley leading up to the village Inazares.  Along the valley are many wild rose bushes, but most were devoid of berries, and those that did have any, the berries themselves were very small.

Typical view along the valley leading to Inazares
We saw a fair number of thrushes, but they were mainly Songthrushes and Mistle Thrushes. However, we did manage to see three male Ring Ouzels.  Other than that, on the small bird front, we saw quite a few buntings, mainly Corn and Rock Buntings, but also a couple of Cirl Buntings, and the first Yellowhammer I’ve ever seen in the region of Murcia.  There was also a fair number of Chaffinches, but although we kept an eye out, there was no sign of Brambling which I thought may be mixed in with them.

It took about an hour to walk down the valley from where we had parked (unfortunately, against the sun in the almost cloudless sky), which is where we had most of the finches and buntings, and also a Great Spotted Woodpecker and the tail end of a Golden Eagle soaring.  It took another hour and a half to walk back, this time with the sun behind us (obviously), but against the wind which had started gusting quite strongly.  On the way back, we saw Dunnock (not an easy bird to see in Murcia) and I heard a Wren but couldn’t locate it to see it.  Also on the way back, my first ‘local’ Blue Tit for a couple of years!  Driving down from Inazares to the main road, alongside an abandoned broken down farm building, we found a group of about 40 Rock Sparrows.

A Dunnock found in one of the bushes

We decided to have a look in another place I know for thrushes at the back of Cañada de la Cruz, close to the mountain Revolcadores (which is the highest in Murcia, at over 2,000 metres), but for some unknown reason, we found no birds here at all!  As we were all getting hungry, we then went back to the main Caravaca to Pueblo de Don Fabrique main road and found an excellent meson to have lunch in.

Leaving there at around 3-30p.m., we decided we needed a walk and so went back to Revolcadores behind Cañada de la Cruz to have a look for small birds.  Having climbed for about ½ an hour, we found some full sheep/goat water troughs, so decided to wait around these to see what turned up to drink. Apart from a Fox, we saw more of the same birds we had seen in the morning, including a single Blue Tit, 6 Rock Buntings, 3 Ring Ouzels, Songthrushes and Mistle Thrushes, and we also had a single Redwing sit on top of a flowering Almond tree for a minute or two, and saw our only vulture of the day, a Griffon Vulture (in this area there are normally groups, sometimes quite large, of these).

  Typical views from the slope of Revolcadores

 A rarity near the coastal areas of Murcia, Blue Tit

 One of many Mistle Thrushes seen during the day

One of the winter specialities of the area, Ring Ouzel

We decided to come back down the hill at 5-30, about half an hour before sunset, as it had started to get chilly, and we knew once the sun went down it would be seriously cold.

We left having seen not a lot of birds, but certainly a fair few that we don’t tend to get in the coastal area of Murcia.

Birds seen/heard during the day
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) – Zorzal Charlo
Songthrush (Turdus philomelos) – Zorzal Común
Blackbird (Turdus merula) – Mirlo Común
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) – Mosquitero Común
Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra) - Triguero
Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia) – Escribano Montesino
Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus) – Escribano Soteño
Yellowhammer (Emberiza citronella) – Escribano Cerillo
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) – Pinzón Vulgar
Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) – Mirlo Capiblanco
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) – Pico Picapinos
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus) – Paloma torcaz
Magpie (Pica pica) - Urraca
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) – Corneja Común
Raven (heard) (Corvus corax) - Cuervo
Dunnock (Prunella modularis) – Acentor Común
Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) - Verderón
Long-tailed Tit (heard) (Aegithalos caudatus) - Mito
Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia) – Gorrión Roquero
Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)  - Herrerillo Común
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) – Águila Real
Wren (heard) (Troglodytes troglodytes) - Chochín
Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) – Buitre Leonardo
Redwing (Turdus iliacus) – Zorzal Alirrojo

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