Last week we had a two night stay at the Hotel Monasterio de Santa Eulalia in the Sierra Espuna. A lovely place to stay. It was not a birding trip as such but we did see a few birds over the three days. We headed up into the sierra on Wednesday and had our lunch at the Fuente del Hilo picnic area where we caught glimpses of Coal Tits and Crossbills in the trees. I was hoping some Wild Boar might turn up but they didn’t appear.
We continued our drive up the mountains and stopped at the high viewpoint where more Crossbills were sitting on the telegraph wires and a Jay flew across in front of us. From here we set off up a road towards the Pozos de la Nieve (ice houses). A short walk from the parking area took us to the ice houses where we found good numbers of Barbary Sheep grazing, before they all moved away. We walked over to a point where we could see the Barbary Sheep below us and noticed a few blackish birds in the trees. While we watched, several of these birds flew out and relocated to our left. It was hard to see the birds as they all tended to land at the far side of the trees and they were difficult to see in flight. I finally managed to see one bird facing us and confirmed that they were Ring Ouzel. We were surprised to see so many of these birds at one time. There must have been 30 to 50 of them. A Raven called loudly and put in a brief appearance before we set off down the other side of the mountain seeing a couple of Chough sitting on top of a high rocky cliff.
We spent the next day visiting the pretty village of Aledo and discovering a nearby gorge called Estrecho de la Arboleja. During a short walk in the gorge John and Dave saw Redstart and Melodious Warbler, and we all saw Long tailed Tit and Sardinian Warbler. This short visit suggested this might be a good place for birds as it is fairly quiet and there is plenty of cover.
On Friday we left the hotel and set off back over the mountain. At the first picnic area we had good views of Crested Tits and the Crossbills were still on the wires at the high viewpoint. We stopped again at Fuente del Hilo and had a walk along to the nearby Visitor Centre. Later we enjoyed our lunch back at the picnic area and had a drink outside the cafe. At last someone spotted a couple of Wild Boar coming over the road towards the cafe. Brilliant! Several people were giving them food and there was more food on the ground next to the cafe. This was the first time I had seen Wild Boar in the sierra although lots of other people told me they had seen them there. We headed home having had a great few days in the mountains.