The chance of a lift up the mountain was too good to miss this morning, and gave me a great chance to get another look at some favourite spots on the hillside above the village.
The drive uphill is a familiar route, and the usual suspects showed well along the way. Woodchat Shrikes of course, watching intently from favourite, prominent perches and waiting for prey – or us – to stray too close.
Crested Lark, and pairs of Stonechat – some with young – provided a familiar escort as we approached Caballo Blanco. A stroll above the horse paddocks brought more Woochat Shrike, the black and white flash of a Hoopoe and the summer swirl of Swifts and hirundines overhead.
A Golden Oriole called loudly from the safety of a stand of trees, but remained elusive and stayed well hidden. Great views a Southern Grey Shrike made up for it however…even at a distance, the grey cap and back and longer tail separated it quickly from its smaller Woodchat cousins. Always a nice tick for the day…
Great to see a Black-eared Wheatear, looking a touch dishevelled after the trials of the breeding season: this particular individual was clearly now moulting before heading south for the winter. Next up though, the highlight of the morning….our second Roller of the year! What seemed like duller, maybe greyer plumage made me think female at first, but the sexes are similar and I wonder now if it was a juvenile. An intriguing possibility – either way, the dark mask and stout, black beak together with its size and build left me in no doubt.
We watched the Roller flash across the track and into the cover of an old orchard..which infuriated a pair of Woodchat Shrikes, and the unfortunate trespasser was noisily mobbed and driven on. A beautiful bit of detail before we drove slowly down, and with scratchy Serin and metallic, jingling Corn Buntings still singing in the midday sunshine we headed home.
A superb couple of hours, and with some of the most exciting birdwatching in Europe right on our doorstep, there’ll be plenty more to come as the weeks roll on. For all the details on how to join us for birdwatching trips and holidays down here in southern Spain, click here…and please keep checking the posts for all the latest news!