Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sierra Espuña

Today with my good friend  Trevor Asley we decided to visit Sierra Espuña, Murcia. leaving Gran Alicant  at 8.45 arriving about 10.30. Our target bird for today and hoping to see  was  "Hawfinch" which has  been seen there recently. A few stop on route to look at  birds on the way up the mountain. Adding  Jay, Crested Tit, Long tailed Tit, Crossbill, Coal tit, Great tit, Chaffinch, to our list.
Moving swiftly on to the top and a early lunch break. The weather was sunny, blue sky and warm with light winds, I said to Trevor no need for my thermals today, it was perfect conditions, soon we arrived at the Ice Caves, we were greeted by a good number of Mistle Thrush and Ring Ouzel flying around and calling.

Ring Ouzel

 We didn't have to wait very  long for our target  bird to arrive, maybe about 15 minutes, not one bird but two which showed  well and for a prolonged time.
 At this time we normally would have had a werther's moment, but sadly we didn't have any of these celebratory sweets! So we settle for a thumbs up,  Ring Ouzel's Redwings, Crossbills arrived frequently, giving great opportunity for photography.  And then the weather started to change  suddenly the clouds started gathering blocking the sun,  wind was picking up pace, and whistling  through the pine woodland,  temperatures were dropping like a stone. At these altitudes (1400 meters ) the weather can change very quickly, We persevered  for total two and a half hours, in freezing wind chill conditions thank god I had my Ron johns on??? ( long johns)
We left the ice caves battered by the ice cold winds but with a little skip in our step and happy, its not every day you get to see Hawfinch at a few meters, the best views I've ever had, and well worth the effort to get there,
Not a big list but quality day's birding and a few nice photos.
                       Many thanks to Trevor

History of Sierra Espuna Regional Park
Sierra Espuña generally enjoys a Mediterranean mountain climate. The Regional Park of Sierra Espuna is absolutely stunning! It is located inland in the province of Murcia and covers some 25,000 hectares. It has been protected since 1930 and in 1992 it was classified as a Regional Park. Pine trees cover most of the park and, as it has some 20 mountain peaks above 1,000 meters the views over the top of the pine forests are magnificent. It takes its name from its highest mountain, the Espuna at 1583 meters

 Ricardo Codorniu
The park has quite an intriguing history. The region of Murica enjoyed great prosperity during the late 18th century when it plundered its natural resources including most of its pine forests. When Ricardo Codorniu, a passionate nature lover and forest engineer returned to the region in 1889, he was devastated by the destruction which the years of economic boom had caused. He set about restoring the forest, replanting some 19,000 hectares and becoming known as the ‘apostle of tress’. As you drive though the park you’ll notice evidence of his hard work as a lot of the pine trees are planted in straight lines.
Today the park is criss crossed with many hundreds of kilometres of marked walking and cycling routes. The mountain road is very well maintained and there are numerous panoramic viewpoints as well as some great picnic and barbecue areas. If you’re lucky you’ll see the Moufflon mountain goats, wild boars and circling Golden Eagles.

Ring Ouzel

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