Andujar Trip – Part Two – by Malcolm Palmer

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We left our Hotel in Andújar after our two pleasant nights there, and headed back eastwards. A small navigational glitch was quickly overcome, and we made our way to the Embalse de la Puente de la Cerrada, in fact a small, dammed section of the Guadalquivir River. Here a coffee stop served to help us find a few more birds. The only waders of the trip were a Green Sandpiper Dave managed to find, and a couple of Black winged Stilts, but a Melodious Warbler sang from deep cover, and Nightingales were everywhere. Kathy, however, was unable to see one, even though she seemed to be the first to spot Wrens! We drove on through Cazorla, and found cloud covering much of the sierras, but, after watching Rock Bunting for a while, a stop at Arroyo Frio was enough to find our first Nuthatch, and we soon had good views of Crested Tit and Short toed Treecreeper. Red Deer were feeding beside the roads, but low temperatures drove us back into the valley when we went higher to peer at the great cliffs in the hope of seeing Lammergeier – we had to be content with Chough and Raven there.

We booked in at the excellent Hostal Mirasierra, where my groups have been more than welcome for some twenty years. Walking out from the hotel, we were highly surprised to see three Bonelli’s Eagles together – a highly unusual sighting, especially in spring, of this largely sedentary bird. A nice young male Wild Boar came to enjoy the bread thrown out to him as we set about our dinner – this is a feature of the Mirasierra. Next morning, as we drove down the Tranco reservoir, we again saw three – presumably the same three? – Bonelli’s Eagles, then headed up to the high areas of the Sierra de Segura, where a Rock Sparrow was soon found. Dave saw – and photographed – a Tawny Pipit, and some members managed to see Black eared Wheatear before we took our leave of the mountains and headed down to the plains of Caravaca and so home. It was voted a very good three-night trip by all concerned, even though the Lynx failed to materialise.