17 March 2014

A Scandinavian Rock Pipit at The Head

March would be the peak time for picking up spring Littoralis back when I was birding at Sheringham in Norfolk and so maybe today's bird at St Davids Head should be no surprise. I wonder just how many are lurking in Pembs through the winter and how many go through on passage. For myself I'm thinking they are regular migrants though I do remember how variable numbers were on the east coast from one spring to the next.

Today's bird showed a faint pink wash to the throat sides at some angles and a kind of vinous tinge to the malar region so a bird in summer plumage following body moult but not the brightest by a distance. The supercilium was particularly striking, especially in front of the eye which is unusual I think. I'd expect it to start just before the eye and be boldest over it. The underparts were fairly pale and boldly streaked brownish, less grey in both regards to Petrosus. The outer tail feathers were very clean white for the distal third. The head, back and mantle were quite grey, lacking strong olive tones and contrasting with the browner (unmoulted?) wing feathers. The legs sometimes appeared dark but often more pink, as can be seen in the photos. How characteristic this is of Littoralis I'm not sure but it seems fairly consistent in my recent experience.

03 March 2014

North-east Granada again

A quick visit for Kathy and I to the Cave in Galera and a quick photo diary of the area in February. Despite multiple computer failures, I've managed to get a post together for a largely unwatched area at a quiet time of year. Nice to see the odd summer migrants arriving - the Lesser Kestrels are back in force in my favourite deserted village out on the plain, breeding behaviour already evident. Nice to see the Almond trees coming into blossom. And the sun was great!

Skiing in the Sierra Nevada was a first (of many, hopefully), the snow conditions were brilliant and we had three gorgeous Alpine Accentors sharing our lunch - forgotten how good they are - bold and subtle-looking at the same time. Naturally no camera with us as they came to within a few feet.

The Sierra Nevada from the Sierra de Baza
The Iberian Shrike was singing at the Hoya de Baza, a once brilliant area being 'improved' (or in plain English - destroyed) bit by bit, a little more each year. The list of things we've seen in this tiny remnant is amazing but it's almost all gone now.

Rock Buntings and Rock Sparrows are really common around the Cave, the Rock Sparrows are breeding already.

Much of the agriculture in the area is small scale, though it's pretty industrial on the plains, often not very concerned with Health and Safety.

The area around the Sierra Maria is really varied and accessible. The woodland birds are generally very easy to see, though the Woodlarks, singing on the ridges, proved difficult to photograph.

Lots of Red Squirrels in the pine woods. Foxes are common too and some look very like our own. Others in places like Eagle Owl Valley look slim and long-eared, a bit like Jackals.

Golden Eagles aren't common, Short-toed and Booted Eagles are the commonest eagle species, though none of those were about in February.

Sub-adult Golden Eagle

Cirl Buntings are less common than Rock Buntings but share the same habitat, being found high up in the sierras as well as in the valleys.

This Grey Wagtail was singing at Castril Gorge

Dartford Warbler, almost a garden tick

On the road to Negratin