Our leader for the day, Mick Richardson, met 19 ABS members at the service station on a beautiful but cold, crisp morning. Was he, I wonder, the only person not to realize it was cold as he was still wearing shorts! At least the attending members were wrapped up in warm clothing, thank goodness.
Assembled into as few cars as possible we set off up the mountain, reverse of what was originally planned – this is where local knowledge is so good. Only a couple of stops were made going up as the aim was to seek the Ring Ouzels, Redwings and Fieldfares that have recently arrived for winter. Plenty of Ring Ouzels were found and viewed in detail by all members. Mick also pointed out that both Northern & Southern European Ring Ouzels were present. The plumage difference was striking and very obvious to all. A few members had sightings of distant Alpine Accentors high on the cliff face.
The journey back down was more leisurely stopping for views of various mountain birds.
Half of the party went to a local venta for a menu del dia whilst the other half carried on to the afternoon spot of Huérta Taja to picnic and continue birding. An estimated 250 Stone Curlew were located along with some Lapwings in the ploughed fields. Lots of House Sparrows in the trees by the path and I think everyone managed to locate one or two Tree Sparrows in the pack. Two female Hen Harriers were busy hunting with one bird passing low overhead to give superb views. The other members made their way to us after lunch and we eventually moved to nearby fields to find the Little Bustards. Success – 35 of them – and a super way to end a most enjoyable day. Thank you again Mick Richardson.
A lengthier, more comprehensive report will appear in the Winter 2018 magazine.
Derek Etherton – Magazine editor
Ring Ouzel. Subspecies Turdus torquatus torquatus and T.t.alpestris both winter in Andalucia as well as being a common autumn migrant (birds passing through on their way to wintering grounds in Algeria and Morocco). Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus has an artic – alpine distibution with small populations also occurring at high elavations north of the Alps. Populations of the Alps and mountain ranges are classified as T.t.alpestris whilst those of the northern population as T.t.torquatus. Interestingly Ring Ouzel are philopatric and return to the same breeding and wintering areas each year.