Belegua Valley and Zuriza

posted in: Mary's Blog | 0

1/6/22 – We set off across the mountain road towards Roncal. At the very end near Roncal we were looking for a Red-backed Shrike as we had seen one here before, although several years ago. As luck would have it we spotted one and John stopped to get a good look at it as he had missed the one I saw yesterday.

We continued on passing through Roncal, Isaba and then on to the Belegua-Larra valley. We drove up the mountain road seeing White Wagtail, and House Martins flying round the their nest sites on old building on the left. A bit further on we saw the hoped-for Red-billed Chough and Alpine Chough flying around and landing on the grassy hillsides. Further on a Mistle Thrush landed at the roadside.

We parked at the loop in the road and looked for another target bird which soon arrived. A couple of Citril Finches appeared, landing on the walls under the bridge, where they usually nest.

We set off back down the mountain, parking by the refuge which appears to have been renovated and in use. The cafe sadly failed to open for our coffee stop. We watched a few Northern Wheatear on the rocky slopes below the parking area where there were many cows and horses, many with young. Chough were seen again as we headed away and Griffon Vultures eventually started to appear after being conspicuously absent.

We picnicked in a wooded area watching Griffons in the air above and an Egyptian Vulture flew around below them. Chaffinch and Goldfinch were in the woods by the picnic area.

Next we headed back towards Isaba but turned left to follow the road to Zuriza. This had previously been a good area for Red-backed Shrikes and this proved to be the case again today. We watched two flying from a small tree to the ground to catch their prey before returning to the same perch. This gave us plenty of opportunities for photos as well as being entertaining to watch.

We continued to Zuriza and stopped for a wander by the river before moving on back towards Anso. We stopped at a viewing area where we had previously seen a Lammergeier nest but it didn’t seem to be in use this year. We were about to leave when I spotted a few Griffon Vultures coming over the ridge and on closer inspection one was an amazing Lammergeier! We were both jumping up and down with excitement after watching it fly slowly along the ridge before disappearing over the top of the cliffs. Unfortunately I had left the big camera in the car so no photos, but at least we both got a good look at this fantastic bird. Happy days indeed! We then continued back to base on Anso for a rest.