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Birdwatching in Straits of Gibraltar & La Janda

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Old Thursday 30th January 2020, 15:49   #851
Jon Turner
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Originally Posted by Barred Wobbler View Post
We got lucky with the weather. We flew into Malaga in cloud and spots of rain on Saturday 4th January, but it was sunny by the time we got to Estepona and apart from some coastal cloud the following day (clear skies inland, where we went looking for alpine accentor) we had sunshine every day for the next two weeks, with very little cloud. The rain started when we were getting onto the plane at Malaga on the 18th.

That puddle at La Janda, north of the sluice on the road to Mediana was absent during our whole stay and the roadworks on the track from Venta Retin were just being completed in the first two days of our stay. Motorway standard.

The track in from the Vejer end of La Janda was best for black-shouldered kites, with two pairs. We saw odd individuals elsewhere. Most of the cranes, huge numbers, that were on the rice fields in their hundreds the week before we arrived had relocated to the fields on either side of the Facinas track near Cortijo Las Habas, behind Tahivilla, leaving smaller numbers on the rice fields. A surprise there was a black vulture sitting in a field with several hundred cranes on 16th January, a couple of days before we came home.

We had bluethroats at Bonanza.
I've never seen Alpine Accentor in 15 years of visiting SW Spain! Can you let me know where? Was it up at Montejaque? That's where I mostly look!

We had to go round again when landing in Gib. Fortunately he popped it in nicely second attempt. Malaga airport had been closed for much of the day (23rd) - not sure where we would have ended up.
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Old Thursday 30th January 2020, 16:36   #852
Barred Wobbler
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I've never seen Alpine Accentor in 15 years of visiting SW Spain! Can you let me know where? Was it up at Montejaque? That's where I mostly look!

We had to go round again when landing in Gib. Fortunately he popped it in nicely second attempt. Malaga airport had been closed for much of the day (23rd) - not sure where we would have ended up.
Alpine Acc was a target bird for this trip, photos of one, anyway. I'd never managed to get a pic in loads of visits to mountains in the south and in the Pyrenees.

I've only had the briefest of views of them, my first one at El Torcal in February in 2007. another one landed on the edge of the grass right next to my car in the car park at Candanchu in the Pyrenees a few years ago and stayed only long enough for my camera to start focusing, before it flew off over the top of the car, never to be seen again.

Spring 2019 I was back at Candancu, up the ski run, right on the French border when one landed on an outcrop I was walking past, but again it was off like a shot.

In December I saw a report that a group of 14 had been found in Sierra de las Nieves near Los Quejigales picnic area. I made further inquiries and was told how to get to where they'd been. It wasn't easy.

About 800m before Los Quejuigales is a chained-off track to the right. I parked there (a little over 1300m) and set off uphill. After some pine woodland is a bare area and I was hoping they'd be there, because I'm not a fan of tramping up hills. They weren't.

We kept going, me with about a stone or more of camera kit and a coat that I soon wished that I'd left in the car. The temperature was only 9°, but the sun made up for it. Pleasantly warm (without the coat). The track entered more pines for a couple of km, before coming out onto bare ground again. It runs uphill from where I parked the car at a constant grade of about 1 in 10 for a bit over 4km to the top at Puerto de los Pilones.

At around 1700m I was thinking we were onto a loser when that one in the photo landed on a big rock right next to me. It then flew across the track to the top of a lightning-blasted pine tree, where it was joined by a second bird. They came onto the ground and moved closer and we had them with us for a little over 10 minutes before they flew off.

Later in the week we went looking for more, firstly at El Torcal, where I'd seen my first one in 2007, but although we had great views of male ibex grazing right next to us there were no Alpine accs.

Next day we tried Grazalema, towards the radio masts at Puerto de las Palomas, but when I came out of the trees and saw the climb to the bare ground at the top, I realised my heart wasn't in it, because of the second location I had lined up for that day. Llanos de Libar at Montejaque, that should have been an easier option. No luck there either. Spent time on foot scanning the rocks, but at least I could drive the track at this time of year.

I know from other reports that single birds had been seen in 'Sierra de las Nieves general area' and I assumed that these were at the same location as I'd found my pair. Co-ords 36° 41' 15"N, 5° 2' 00"W.
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