Last week we had a few days away in Mojacar, stopping overnight in the Sierra Espuna on the way back. This was not really a birding trip but, of course, we were always on the lookout for interesting species! On our first day we went up into the village and the highlight of this visit was the sight of three Black Wheatears on a wire and then in a rocky area just below the village, the only trouble was we didn’t have the big camera with us! Later that day we drove along to La Garrucha where we saw a group of about 15 Common Scoters sitting on the sea. The weather was not good for birds as it was windy and showery, but there were a couple of Cattle Egrets, along with a fewBlack Redstarts, Meadow/Water Pipits, White Wagtails and Crested Larks on a flooded field near the beach. The following day was lovely and sunny in Mojacar so we decided to drive into the Cabo de Gata and visit a few of our favourite coastal villages. Unfortunately, it appeared we were travelling away from the good weather and into more showery and windy conditions. We visited Las Negras, and Los Escullos, where we had seen Trumpeter Finches last year but there was little hope of seeing anything in the rough wind we found there today. On the way back we stopped off at La Isleta, but did not add any more birds to our list. On the way home we decided to call at Mojacar to look for the Black Wheatears again. It was sunny and warm there so we sat on a wall and waited. Red rumped Swallows were flying below us, and after a while I spotted our target bird on a distant crag. Then another appeared below some buildings to our left, and finally they both appeared on the rocks below us, and this time we had the camera with us! Later, back at the Hotel Indalo we watched House Martins flying in and out of the hotel balconies looking for nest sites and we remembered that some had been nesting on our balcony when we were here last year.
The next day we drove the coastal road to Carboneras and John spotted a Blue Rock Thrush as we flushed it from behind a rock before it disappeared again. On our way back I was pleased when I saw the bird in the same place, and a number of Black Wheatears were also in the area. On Friday we left the hotel and headed towards Alhama de Murcia where we drove onto the small roads and tracks around the Guadalentin river area. Corn Buntings were singing all over the place and there were plenty of larks around too. We saw Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Hoopoe, Kestrel and a Marsh Harrier but sadly, although we saw plenty of Magpies there was no sign of the Great Spotted Cuckoo we had hoped to see. On the plus side a single Little Bustard flew over giving us a great view of it. We enoyed a picnic by the Guadalentin river and later retired to a very nice hotel at the Santa Eulalia Monastery, which is situated in the woods at the bottom of the Sierra Espuna. A short walk round the gardens found us a Serin and a Green Woodpecker, and during another stroll the next morning we saw a female Blackcap in the monastery grounds. When we left we headed up the mountain eventually arriving at the highest point where there were some amazing views. In fact there were fantastic views all the way around the mountain. We could hear birds all the time but seeing them in the trees was another thing. We saw plenty of Chaffinches and I spotted one Coal Tit but that was about it. To be honest we were not really there for the birds as much as to enjoy the scenery. We ate our picnic in the woods on the way back down towards Alhama de Murcia, and had a drink in the little cafe there before setting off for home. We had a pleasant surprise as we were travelling on the motorway around Murcia when John spotted a large bird circling on our right and it turned out to be a White Stork, quite a good way to finsh off our trip we thought.
Species list – Mojacar area – Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Common Scoter, Buzzard, Kestrel, Yellow legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Collared Dove, Crag Martin, Swallow, Red rumped Swallow, House Martin, Meadow/Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Blue Rock Thrush, House Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Southern Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Reed Bunting. Guadelentin/Espuna areas – Little Grebe, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Red legged Partridge, Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Black winged Stilt, Woodpigeon, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Swallow, Robin, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Sardininan Warbler, Southern Grey Srhike, Magpie, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting, Coal Tit, Blackcap, White Stork.