5th June – Ochagavia
Today was John’s birthday and we were having a ‘non birding’ day out in Ochagavia, a really pretty little village with a river running through the middle of it. Despite the ‘non birding’ day, we saw a Grey Wagtail in the river, and at our picnic site just outside the village, we were happy when we added Dipper to our trip list.
6th June – Nevacues, Arbayan Gorge, Aibar
Today we left Isaba and headed towards San Sebastian for a two night stay there to finish off our holiday. We planned a route which took us via a few birding spots on the way. Julian had told us to check out the park in Nevascues where apparently Wryneck can be heard singing in the trees. We stopped there for a while and could hear birds in the trees, but as we are not experts in bird calls, we are not sure if we heard Wrynecks or not! Our next stop was at the Arbayan Gorge where a family were flying a drone over the gorge, not very helpful for birders! Despite this we did watch a Blue Rock Thrush in the gorge below us for a while and saw a Blackcap in a tree at eye level, singing well. Two new birds for this trip. Next we followed Julian’s instructions towards a village called Aibar. He had told us to find a concrete road just before the village and drive along this. In fact we initially missed the concrete road and set off along a gravel track instead through some farmland. After we had gone quite a way we were thinking of turning round but I suggested we just went round the next bend to see what was there. This proved a good plan as we found a small stream with some reedbeds which seemed to be worth a look. We got out of the car and saw a few small bird moving around before we got a view of one having a bath in the stream. We were very excited when we realised it was an Ortolan Bunting, a lifer for us and a stunning little bird. It seemed happy to carry on bathing and preening in spite of us watching and photographing it, a fantastic birding moment! Eventually we headed back up the track and into the picnic area opposite for our lunch, accompanied by a Nightingale and Corn Buntings singing. From here we looked across and spotted the concrete road we were supposed to have driven up, so after lunch we headed up that way. At the top we enjoyed good views of Black eared Wheatears, both male and female, and a Kestrel was flying around. This was the end of our birding trip as we now headed to San Sebastian, an amazing place to end our holiday.
Final Species list – Species list to date – Grey Heron, White Stork, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Lammergeier, Red Kite, Black Kite, Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Short toed Eagle, Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo (HO), Swift, Bee eater, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Swallow, Red rumped Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Alpine Accentor, Robin, Nightingale, (HO), Black Redstart, Stonechat, Wheatear, Black eared Wheatear, Blackcap, Blackbird, Ring Ouzel, Song Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler (HO), Long tailed Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Red backed Shrike, Dipper, Spotless Starling, Golden Oriole (HO), Jay, Magpie, Red billed Chough, Alpine Chough, Raven, Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Serin, Citril Finch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting, Ortolan Bunting.