Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Our autumn has abruptly cast her door wide open and the days seem grey, trees baring their skeletal shapes, where once they had been adorned in many hues of green. It's a time where nature takes a rest, where life seems to move along at a leisurely pace and prepare itself for the harshness of winter.

And yet, during a period when the excitement of autumn migration subsides, I visit my regular haunts seeking the first of our wintering birds. Even now there are large numbers of birds passing through in search of their favoured wintering grounds. As I write this article, Black Redstarts, Chiffchaff, Ring Ouzel and Meadow Pipit are here in ever increasing numbers, some will stay, but a great many will slowly make their way ever southwards. Recent visits to 'my local patch', Llanos de Libar, have been rewarded with some winter regulars and Water Pipit is now busy chasing its cousin, Meadow Pipit, away from the small pools in the higher meadows.

Redwing, Song Thrush and Ring Ouzel are now in the lower area of the Libar valley, feasting on the abundant harvest of Hawthorn. Alpine Accentor, so difficult on occasions, can be seen dancing around scree slopes beneath the high bluffs and the odd bird showing well framed by blue skies on the clifftops. Was it my imagination, or did I hear Wallcreeper above the dense Hawthorns? Pretty sure I did and this will consign me to more visits, creeking my old neck to scan the high cliffs, suffer now I must for my art! My gentle strolls through my local Olive grove are now accompanied by the constant chastening 'tut tuts' of Blackcaps, whilst Song Thrush are increasing almost daily and most recently I saw my first Siskins of the winter, always a great pleasure to observe.

The Society will be holding a field meeting at the lagoon of Fuente de Piedra on December 12th and I will certainly be going along hoping for some decent views of Common Crane. I can remember seeing over 1300 of them at this location some four years ago, so hope springs eternal. The surrounding area can also be interesting, with Stone Curlew somewhere around and in very large numbers, whilst the lagoons should have some waders and duck species within easy viewing distance from the new hides. Some raptors that can be found here during the winter are Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Bonelli's Eagle and Peregrine Falcon, so the day promises to be worth attending.

Note: See web site http://www.andaluciabirdsociety.org/
and Forum http://www.andaluciabirdsociety.org/forum/index.php

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