November 2016 – Sierra Mágina

Many members had been looking forward to upcoming trip to Sierra Mágina – Úbeda – in the more northern reaches of Andalucia.   So a 0900hrs. start on a brilliant, but chilly morning had 23 members eagerly greeting José Luis Sánchez of Sierra–Trek – our guide for the day.  Setting off in convoy we soon reached the track that took us 35km over the top of these magnificent mountains.  We stopped to bird watch of course, but also to view the scenery on a day of great visibility.  Our birds included extremes from Firecrest to Griffon Vultures, many Ring Ouzels and seven, yes seven, Golden Eagles.  Perhaps hardly surprising, as this area has the largest concentration of Golden Eagle within Spain.
We took our lunch at the shepherds hut in warm sunshine, accompanied by Long-tailed Tits, Mistle Thrushes and a Hawfinch, although the ambient temperature at our altitude of 1637mtrs was only 8c.  The track reaches a drivable top altitude of 1700mtrs [350mtrs higher than the UK’s tallest peak] an indication of how amazing this area is.
Not to be outdone with just mountain birds we finished the day back down at 550mtrs around Laguna Grande clocking up a few waders, including Common and Jack Snipe.  Azure-winged Magpies and Buzzard were silhouetted against the now disappearing sun – a fabulous way to end a great days birding.
A comprehensive report of the trip will appear in the winter edition of the ABS magazine.

Derek Etherton

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