The week began with work on the hillside above Lanjaron. Heard but didn’t see Bee Eaters passing through…stronger winds made listening out for them a little more difficult. Wednesday arrived, day off work. Decided to take a run up the slopes of Sierra Lugar, a landmark mountain south of the village, as yet unexplored.
After leaving the main road over the river outside Orgiva entered an impressive rocky gorge to start the slow drive up the mountainside. Very quickly found a Lesser Kestrel overhead, with a possible nest-site in a craggy outcrop above us. Very soon after we found a Blue Rock Thrush, and had good views as it sat in the sun. The drive uphill gradually brought ever more frequent Black-eared Wheatear, good to find this summer migrant in such numbers.
Ruined mining buildings higher up the track looked to be the perfect habitat for Black Redstart and sure enough before long we had clear sightings. Rock Bunting and as yet unidentified warblers added interest, with the now familiar Crested Larks present higher up. The drive down gave yet more Black-eared Wheatear and as we passed through the gorge at the foot of the mountain a Blue Rock Thrush again showed really well. The morning’s birdwatching finished up as we watched Crag Martins intolerantly mobbing the Lesser Kestrel only a short distance from the main road.
The rocky habitat of the gorge proved perfect for Black Wheatear, jet black with bright white tails. Great to see this Alpujarran resident: two or three individual birds provided a nice contrast with the Black-eared Wheatear we found higher up the mountain. All in all a superb morning, with Lugar now on our must-see list of destinations…see PHOTO GALLERY.
To make the most of the day we took the Tello road up out of Lanjaron to the west of the village, and drove up the mountain towards Ballesteros. Only a couple of Black-eared Wheatear on the lower slopes, but as we passed the treeline Stonechat showed in good numbers. A long-distance view of a pair of large raptors kept us pushing on up the mountainside…we were rewarded with a spectacular view of a pair of Golden Eagles. So rare to find yourself above such magnificent birds of prey, but we had really good views of the pair as they took flight below us and powered away northwards. Fantastic birdwatching and a brilliant end to the day…