Monday, 26 September 2011


Carol and I got back on Sunday afternoon after a fantastic week walking in the Sierra de Grazalema natural park in Spain. It's a beautiful area where wildlife is abundant, sometimes familiar and sometimes very unfamiliar. For me the Griffon Vultures pictured above and below were the stars of the show, their huge size and mastery of the air, as well as their sheer numbers, we saw up to sixty birds in the air at one time, were a great sight. We were pleased to have their company every day while walking in the surrounding valleys and mountains, maybe they thought we were potential carrion, especially when Carol tripped on a rock on the trail on the first day. Their luck wasn't in though when after a bit of first aid she bravely picked herself up and limped on, nothing to do with the Praying Mantis that we saw lurking alongside her in the undergrowth of course.

Other birds of prey seen included Booted Eagles, Short-toed Eagles, Lesser Kestrel, Kestrel, Peregrine, Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. Bonelli's Eagle will have to wait for the return trip.

The three pics below are all of a Lark, the question is, Thekla or Crested, or maybe something else? We hired a wildlife guide for one day who pointed out a Thekla but the one pictured was seen by us later in the week. I'm going to put fifty pence on this one being the same but i'll place it each way rather than on the beak, just in case.

Other birds seen during our stay included Southern Grey Shrike, Crested Tit, Crag Martin, Dartford Warbler,Subalpine Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Firecrest, Short-toed Treecreeper, Spotless Starling, Serin and many more.

Other birds were more familiar like the Stonechat below and an abundance of Redstarts and Black Redstarts

A bird that I was very pleased to see was the Chough, pictured below, I've never seen one in the UK but I think they are great birds and very entertaining as they foraged around the crags and rocks in large garrulous flocks.

Rock Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Yellow and Grey Wagtail, Corn Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Linnet and Goldfinch all turned up during the week as well as plenty of Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, a female is pictured below.

Below is one of three species of Wheatears seen, it's a Black Wheatear, the picture really doesn't do justice to this bird, we saw four of them as well as the Black-eared and Northern species.

Tomorrow i'll try and post a few pictures of some of the other creatures seen on our walks.


Greenie said...

Phil ,
Great account of what must have been a fantastic trip , no pun on Carol's accident !
The list of species seen is really mouth-watering .
Re. the ? bird , my money is on a Lark .
Look forward to the next episode .

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Phil, sounds like you had a really good time, Griffon Vultures are fabulous being accompanied everyday by them must have been a real treat, I could certainly live with that. I've only just added Thekla Lark to my life list this year, so I'm afraid I'm no expert, I would plump for Thekla though with the shortish bill and reasonably full crest? :-)

Marianne said...

So that's where you've been :) sounds (and looks) wonderful. I agree with Alan about the lark. As well as a Theklaish bill it has quite prominent specs. Hope Carol's all better now.

Ken. said...

Hi Phil.
It looks as if you and Carol had a fantastic trip, how envious am I???
Wonderful photo's you photographic skills are coming on leaps and bounds. What a great number of species for your life list.You must have been dying to get out and about every morning to see what new species you could see.
Nice one Phil, great memories.

Ken. said...

re: the Lark. Never having seen either of the 2, if I had to catagorise it, I would say it is a Thekla Lark, going by the bill size and shape, and the crest not being to pointed as the Crested.

Warren Baker said...

I look forward to the next installment then Phil, keep them photo's coming :-) ( It's all in the lighting mate ) Heh heh