Friday, January 11, 2019

Maigmo and Montnegre

We were last in these two mountain areas last September and on a cold January morning we made a return trip. We set off from Gran Alacant with clear skies, in good light and within 20 minutes we were close to the foot of the mountains. If you are there for the views then you will see strange iron ore rock formations, odd shapes and colours steep sided slopes and deep gullies and ravines.

On the way up to Maigmó there are open areas with untilled fields, sparse almond trees in places, but on the higher slopes it is covered in pines. Woodland birds are hard to spot and not easy to see and this was certainly the case this morning. We travelled up at an easy pace and listening as we went. Chaffinches and Serin were easy to spot and in good numbers. Calling were Long Tailed Tits, Great Tits and both Crested and Cold Tits were seen. A Woodlark called in the distance and remained unseen and Crossbills were all around us. At first they were not easy to locate, but we had great perched views of them of both sexes on two separate occasions and in full sun. Six of them flew over on one occasion

At the top and from the viewing area Red Squirrels are often there and one posed for us. In one of the pines we saw two nests of the Pine Processionary Moth, but unusually the nests were blue and not in a white ‘net’. Any idea or explanation would be welcome, also a closer views of Crossbills.

Other birds seen were both Mistle and Song Thrush, Robins, Sardinian Warblers, and Wood Pigeons called from way off. Although we had full sun the temperature went as low as 3 degrees.

We took the road to Montnegre, but stopped at the river before the town. Here there was plenty of movement as birds flew around and over the running water. White Wagtails were numerous and we had a clear view of a Grey Wagtail.

Robins, House Sparrows were all spotted. An Iberian Green Woodpecker called. Then feeding on the fruit of Pomegranate trees were a male and a female Blackcap. They are not always easy to see, but these two were in full sun and gave us easy watching.

We drove up and stopped at the sharp turn signed Montnegre. High above the ridge were over twenty Griffon Vultures. We checked them out one by one and in the mix was a Bonelli’s Eagle

Okay the views were high ones but when the photo shots examined it would appear that there were two separate birds. They had to be birds of the day and they have been seen here before. At this point a car appeared and to and to our pleasant surprise the driver was Malcolm Palmer of CBBC bird club, who had been watching the Bonelli's Eagle from further on down the track, nice to meet up with him again and chat and great that he's still birding and enthusiastic at almost 80 years young, I hope I'll the chance to say some thing similar.

Carrying on down the track we were not so lucky, but a Black Wheatear perched up and flew around. Dartford Warblers generally oblige along this road and were seen. Black Redstarts are common in winter time and both sexes were seen. A few Common Kestrel's hawked near the village of Montnegre. There were some notable absentees, but they will be there for next time.

In sunny, sheltered nooks, there were some Almond trees that were in full bloom and cover in bees.

And so its official spring must be here? ??

just after John left I looked out the window and this distant blue rock thrush was on a neighbour's house.

Many thanks to John for getting me out in the fresh air, after my resent bout of shingles.

Have a great day

Cheers Bryan

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