For their September field trip, the Costa Blanca Bird Club took a three night excursion into eastern Andalucía, and, by some miracle the whole party of fifteen more-or-less coincided at the comfortable Hotel Don Gonzalo, Cenes de la Vega, just outside Granada, around midday. After booking in, we made our way up to the highest point of the road available towards the Pico Veleta, where, at almost 2,700 metres, we had hoped for views of the elusive Alpine Accentor. It was not to be, but a temporary automotive problem led to us getting good views of a pair of Ibex, and some very tame Rock Doves may well have been less than wild! Both species of Redstarts put in an appearance, and on the way down, a stop by the roadside was well rewarded, when two splendid adult Golden Eagles gave fine views, and Alpine and Pallid Swifts flew overhead.
Next day Granada’s traffic refused to release the alleged leader, who was subjected to some derision when he rejoined the party near Calahorra, where they had already seen a Honey Buzzard, a flock of Chough and some Rock Sparrows. We made our way up the picturesque Puerta de Raguas, where, at 2,000 metres, we hoped to see Citril Finch. Stephan thought he glimpsed one briefly, but we did get decent views of Red Kite and Marsh Harrier, as well as Serin and Crossbill. Down, then, on winding roads, into Almería province, taking lunch in a small village on the way, and arriving at Cabo de Gata in the steamy heat of the afternoon. Some members saw a Black Stork en route, whilst others had good views of a Golden Eagle, but a siesta was the order of the day now, before sallying forth to start the wader, gull and egret list from the nearby hides. It had been a long day, with a varied bird list, and the Hotel Blanca Brisa’s dinner was appreciated. To be continued….