Alcoy and Font Roja – by Stephan and Els

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Fifteen keen birders gathered at the foot of the Font Roja, among them a surprising amount of Dutch speaking people. We drove round the bends to the parking site near the Visitor´s Centre, from where we continued our journey on foot. Serin, Great Tit, Blackcap, Coal Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Goldfinch and Chaffinch were seen within a short time, and the sounds of most of these birds accompanied us as we made our way uphill. Firecrest was heard, but kept itself behind the leaves, and a Treecreeper sought refuge behind the Holm Oaks. The insignificant short trill of the Bonelli´s Warbler was heard, and to our surprise a Chiffchaff appeared. After showing a lot of dark leg the bird flew away, immediately chased by two Bonelli´s Warblers, one of which came back to look at us. Blue Tit, Sardinian Warbler and Crested Tit were also seen, and then a raptor was spotted high in the blue sky. The extruding head finally helped identify it as a Honey Buzzard, although the long wings caused some discussion. Then a beautiful Subalpine Warbler was spotted. Later, on the little meadow, the most valiant walkers heard a bird singing. The sounds made a fairly good match with that of the Subalpine Warbler described in the guide book. Rob, who was back down at the parking area first, was compensated with a Black Redstart.

Greta and Paul lead us to the Barranc del Sinc. The first Griffon Vultures, and then Ravens, began to circle above us. We looked at the nests of the vultures, and saw a wing marked Griffon Vulture. Common Swift and Pallid Swift flew very high up in the sky, whilst on our level Crag Martins were numerous. Some little birds were seen, but mainly left unidentified. Then a melodious song was heard, and Cathy and Rob spotted a Melodious Warbler in a pine. One of those little birds! Another new one was a Stonechat. Again Paul and Greta did very well in bringing, during rush hour, all of us in one group to the next stop, L´Hostalet in Cocentaina. We were welcomed by our host, who gave us the fine food he always served to Malcolm, even though he was absent. After lunch some diehards went again to the Barranc del Sinc, to follow the path into the ravine for some more mountain tracks and impressive sights. We were rewarded with a Blue Rock Thrush that acted like a flycatcher, regularly flying from its perch chasing insects. Rock Sparrows were heard. A Spotless Starling tried to hide itself in the chimney of the old factory, but didn’t escape from Pete’s sharp eyes. Today’s list of birds ended with Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, and Barn Swallow.