This weekend, in order to get away from the Mayday village fiestas and all that that entails, I decided to have a look on Saturday at the area to the extreme Northwest of the region, around Cañada de la Cruz. I normally have a look around this area earlier in the year, and in fact I had already been here once this year towards the end of January with Mick Brewer, but we had been unable to do all the exploring we wanted due to a recent heavy snowfall. So, I was going to have another try. I was quite impressed as to how green everything looked, and at the sides of the narrow road leading up there from Cañada de la Cruz, there were still pools of snow-melt water. In fact it seemed quite strange to be somewhere with the temperature at around the 35ºC mark, and at the same time to be able to look over towards the Sierra Nevada in neighbouring Granada province, and see snow on the tops there.
Once past Caravaca de la Cruz, the views are almost alpine
Driving up past Cañada de la Cruz, even more so - although the white is not snow, just the colour of the rock
And some of the views from the top of the road
Missed the Black-eared Wheatear, but got this Short-toed Eagle that floated around for a while
Diving up beyond Cañada de la Cruz, every bush seemed to have
either a Corn Bunting or Crested Lark posed on it
I do love the acrobatic little Nuthatches
- can't understand why the blood doesn't rush to their heads and make them fall off!
You really appreciate things like Blue Tits when you don't have them around you all the time
And then another first for me for the year in the form of a Cuckoo that started calling, but from very distantly on the mountain. Other birds seen from here were Cirl and Rock Buntings, Woodchat Shrike, and a few glimpses from time to time of the Nightingales which were singing constantly.
As I had several places I wanted to visit, at about 2-30pm I left the area for my next stop.
Some more general views on the way down from the top of the Cañada road
- and in this last photo you can just make out the distant snow topped mountains
Big bush of Broome that was in flower adding some colour
At one puddle of snow-melt water, I was fascinated to see tens of small Blue butterflies gathering on the edges of the puddle. Presumably to pick up some chemical, I think there were two species, one of which Common Blue, but I've no idea of the other. Anyone with any ideas?
This was at a farm where there is a colony of Lesser Kestrels, but which also normally has some other interesting birds around, such as Carrion Crow, Chough and Rock Sparrow, and while waiting for some of the Kestrels to show themselves, I heard the characteristic song of a Golden Oriole. Amazing how well a bird with such bright colours can hide itself – I know it was there in a small stand of pines, but could I find it!! Luckily there was no such problem with the Kestrels.
Rock Sparrow singing its heart out - you can just about make out the yellow spot on its chest ...
... and if there was any doubt, this back of the head view confirms the i.d.
This Chough obviously hasn't heard the species is meant to shun human company
Female Lesser Kestrel
Not particularly common in Murcia, the stronghold of the Carrion Crow seems to be in the northwest
Male Lesser Kestrel
Staying there for about half an hour, it was soon time to be moving on again. This time it was to the outskirts of a village called Campos del Rio, on the way through to Molina de Segura, and the ‘Rio’ referred to is actually the ‘Rio Mula’. I’d never been to this area before, but my reason for stopping here was to check out a couple of reports I’d seen in the last few months of people seeing pairs of Ruddy Shelducks here in some of the farm reservoirs. Well checking the reservoirs in question, I did come across a single Ruddy Shelduck, but it had a yellow ring on one of its legs – obviously escaped from some collection.
If for nothing else, to lay the rumour of a small colony of Ruddy Shelduck to rest. Yes there was one there, but it had a plain colour ring on it and was therefore an escape from a collection.
Western Olivaceous Warbler seen across the river ...
... and a much closer Pied Flycatcher seen overhead
Birds seen during the day:
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis); Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus); Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna); Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos); Pochard (Aythya ferina); Red-crestd Pochard Netta rufina); White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala); Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus); Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus); Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni); Hobby (Falco subbuteo); Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus); Coot (Fulica atra); Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus); Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius); Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos); Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis); Common Tern (Sterna hirundo); Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus); Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto); Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur); Cuckoo (heard only) Cunulus canorus); Common Swift (Apus apus); Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus); Bee-eater (Merops apiaster); Hoopoe (Upupa epops); Green Woodpecker (heard only) (Picus viridis); Great Spotted Woodpecker (heard only) (Dendrocops major); Crested Lark (Galerida cristata); Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla); Woodlark (heard only) (Lullula arborea); Swallow (Hirundo rustica); Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica); House Martin (Delichon urbicum); White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba); Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica); Blackbird (Turdus merula); Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cettia); Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus); Western Olivaceous Warbler (Hippolais opaca); Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta); Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus); Bonelli’s Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli); Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca); Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus); Great Tit (Parus major); Coal Tit (Parus ater); Penduline Tit (heard only) (Remiz pendulinus); Nuthatch (Sitta europaea); Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla); Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator); Golden Oriole (heard only) Oriolus oriolus); Magpie (Pica pica); Carrion Crow (Corvus corone); Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax); Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor); House Sparrow (Passer domesticus); Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia); Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs); Serin (serinus serinus); Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris); Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis); Linnet (Carduelis cannabina); Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra); Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus); Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia).
Total, 66 species.