Mary’s Blog – Anso, Arbajun, Aibar and Salazar Valley

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Today we drove across the mountain road to Roncal, down to Burgui and from there towards Lumbier. As soon as we left Anso there was a Griffon Vulture perched on top of a farm building at the edge of the village. Our first stop was at the Arbajun Gorge where Griffin’s were in the air and many small birds were singing in the trees below the viewpoint. After peering into the trees for sometime a small bird flew in and gave us a brief view of the yellow stripe on it’s head, it was a Firecrest, a great little bird. Shortly after another bird flew in which we managed to see enough of to identify it as a Subalpine Warbler, another good one. We saw a small flock of Chough flying above the gorge before heading to Lumbier for our coffee stop. While having our drinks a Peregrine flew overhead calling loudly. A Red Kite was nearby which could have been the cause of the commotion.

From Lumbier we drove to Aibar and took a small track through some agricultural land, seeing Stonechat and Corn Bunting before we got to the small stream where we had previously seen Ortolan Bunting but not today sadly. Several Nightingales were calling from the bushes along the stream. We waited a while in case the bird turned up, which it didn’t, but as a bonus a fabulous Short toed Eagle flew right overhead, brilliant!

Next we came back to the main road and headed up another small concrete road which leads up to a water container. Here we ate our lunch before looking around for some birds and finding Northern Wheatear, Black eared Wheatear, Linnet, Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Peregrine, Tawny Pipit and a Lark which might have been a Thekla’s Lark but our identification skills are not good enough to tell.

We retraced our journey but turned left at Navascues to follow the Salazar Valley. This is a nice drive with several pretty villages on the way to Ochagavia. At one point we passed between two rocky cliffs but I wasn’t expecting to see much as it was a narrow area. However, I spotted a large bird flying from the cliffs in my side of the road, across to the other side. John stopped the car as I was yelling at him to take a look, and amazingly it was a fantastic Lammergeier, quite easy to identify as it was not flying too high. Definitely, bird of the day!! Or even of the week!

As the bird vanished over the ridge we continued to Ochagavia where we stopped for a drink. A Grey Wagtail and a Dipper were both seen in the river there.

Finally, we made our way back to Anso seeing a Raven and a Red backed Shrike along the mountain road back from Roncal. All in all it had been a great birding day.

Species list – Grey Heron, Griffon Vulture, Lammergeier, Egyptian Vulture, Red Kite, Black Kite, Short toed Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Swift, Thekla’s Lark? Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Dipper, Nightingale (HO), Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black eared Wheatear, Blackbird, Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Firecrest, Great Tit, Red backed Shrike, Magpie, Chough, Raven, Crow, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.