Sunday, 30 March 2014

More Spain


 This is the little hamlet of Riglos, a bit touristy owing to these spectacular sandstone cliffs, the scale of which is hard to imagine until you get up close. They are home to lots of Vultures as well as a dead cert wintering location for Wallcreepers which can be found, with patience, in the shady crevices I was told.

so here we are a bit closer having parked the car just outside the hamlet
As I climbed nearer this Black Kite came drifting over me

and then I saw the first wallcreeper, aka rock climber!
(and, no, he hasn't got a bare bum, its his "ordinary" shoes slung round his waist if you look closely!). I don't fancy this as a pastime at all, thanks. There were 4 lots there today

From here, just turn round and admire the view while waiting for the Wallcreepers to appear

This plant caught my eye tho' I've no idea what it is - have you?

I spent 4 hours here gazing into shady crevices like this without any Wallcreepers showing themselves - there was a brief glimpse of a Blue Rock Thrush, photograph impossible. This view also shows Griffon Vulture nest ledges ( look for the white poo)

Oh look! There's one now

This place was very quaint and narrow, a bit like Loporzano but more hilly

and this yellow plant was very striking but, to me, unscented

this next picture, which I've twiddled a bit, gives some sense of scale, and the bravery of the rock climbers; they frightened me 
So, I failed to see the Wallcreepers here, oh well!
Next day I went South into the steppes and regretted not taking my telescope. Apart from the larks present, all other stuff was a long way away, or very wary. A good camera, together with the skill to make the most of it, like Steve Ray or Phil Smith, are also essential; so, with apologies, no pics of the goodies found . This first view is typical of the scenery, quite unlike any other part of Spain I've been to

Here is the place I was directed to, where I found Stone Curlew, Calandra, Thekla, Short Toed, Lesser Short Toed, Crested and possibly Dupont's Lark, Black Bellied and Pin Tailed Sandgrouse, Tawny Pipit, Short Toed Eagle, and Linnet!
Later, at a small lake and reedbed,  I found the warden, one Alberto - smashing bloke, who was very excited by the prescence, among the Red Crested Pochard and Black Necked Grebe, of a pair of Tufted Duck! 

 Later, back at Loporzano, another walk into the low hills at the back of the village as a thunderstorm brewed up in the hills

the scent of this almond blossom was just superb

and as the sky darkened, the blossom itself seemed to glow, it was all very dramatic, and I couldn't resist getting all arty!

Back at the church the White Storks were at home on the somewhat crumbling tower

and as it started to rain I headed back, stopping for this pic of the Castell Montearagon

When I got back to Boletas, somewhat damp, the Storks were down feeding, and this is my attempt to photograph them at the end of the rainbow!

My prize for getting wet was this butterfly photographed while the sun was still shining, a superb Spanish Festoon. It was worth the trip almost just to see this
Final part 4 to come

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Spain part Dos - that Griffon moment

That single Griffon Vulture soon became three, drifting out from the big hills to my North

The another, still Griffons

In a very short time, as if by magic, there were more up there, including, at the top of the picture, an Egyptian Vulture


then the whole baker's dozen just spiralled up and up, and disappeared, just like that, a very spectacular sight and a good start to the holiday - 'specially after my doltish beginning yesterday
After that it was very much down to earth again, literally, to admire these beautiful little Narcissus, they are about 4" tall

The walk back into the village was in pleasant sunshine, these are typical views of this tiny, charming  hamlet

I collected my packed lunch (excellent) from Ester at Boletas and made my way to Riglos for the great Wallcreeper odyssey - getting nearer, the spectacular sandstone pillars began to appear
episode 3 in a day or two - will I witness a wallcreeper, and what else?.......

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

To Spain - (no point in getting old if you don't get daft, but this was a bit over the top)

Seeing as some of us were off to Antarctica, I decided to go South a bit meself, to the Boletas Birdwatching Centre near to Huesca, and in the foothills of the Pyrenees. This is a pic of a Pyrenee from a previous visit back in May 2004 with Neil Frampton, when we stayed on the French side - see

This time I went KLM via Amsterdam to Barcelona and then a 3 hour drive. The problem was the departure board at Amsterdam showed a 10.05 flight to Barca at gate B16, with a strange flight number. I assumed (BIG MISTAKE) it was one of those flights with more than one number and settled down by the gate to wait. Then I became aware of my name over the PA, went to the desk to be told I was on the KLM flight from gate D87.Rush rush rush, got there a couple minutes late darn it. My excuse is that the KLM flight at 10.05 wasn't on the board, just the Vueling one I waited for. Should have checked at the desk when I got to the gate- dolt. No worries I was transferred to a later flight at no cost and arrived 2 hours later than planned - i.e after dark - at Boletas -

Next morning took a quick walk down the lane before breakfast, and this Red Kite came drifting over, but only one, unlike last Sunday at St Margaret's - see, and

A look back at the Guest House - the trees in the garden are a useful landmark

This was on the wall of that ruin on the right, Josele the owner of Boletas called it an Egyptian Grasshopper - not bad at 3+ inches long and looking like a small grey warbler as it flew into a bush 

In the distance, the snow in the mountains, and some Spotless Starlings on the electricity building and a blurred raptor in the distance (and no, I didn't see it while taking the photo) 

After breakfast a walk out behind the village, into the low hills, where there was lots of Almond Blossom, with a gorgeous scent - more of this later

I got quite excited by this butterfly until I realised it was a Wall Brown, but still a beautiful creature

A look back at the village of Loporzano, the church tower has seen better days (like me), and is home to a pair of White Storks (unlike me)

Looking the other way into the wilds, with more Almond Blossom

and a close-up of the Castel Montearagon, home to Black Wheatear apparently

after a while, as it warmed up, this Griffon Vulture appeared overhead 

The next post will show what came after this - all good stuff

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Out of Hibernation

Coo-er, that's a long gap since the last blog, my excuse being the weather and old age. There has been some activity on the railway layout, more than recent winters 'cos it's been so (relatively) warm. Tree making and scenery painting has featured

but there's still lots of work to do around the engine shed and main station, but progress will slow down a bit now as the demands of the garden and spring birding compete for time

On the subject of the weather, I awoke one morning to find this spectacular cloud formation above the Kingsdown Road, weird wasn't it?

This morning I found the Juniper beside the pond to be releasing pollen in profuse quantities - a reminder of things to come for Asthma and Hay Fever sufferers I guess

and, like Tony Morris, the first moths of the year, Hebrew Character and Common Quaker. My notes show that last spring there was no suitable weather for moth trapping from 7th March until 9th April, with one session on 19th March which produced, guess what - a March Moth!