Friday, 27 March 2015

Day 2 - the high Pyreneese

A pre-breakfast walk produced numerous Corn Buntings, a Firecrest and our first Sardinian Warbler.

With a decent forecast, we decided to head up to the Ski resort at Astun to look for the high alpine species. On arriving there was clearly plenty of snow still on the lower slopes, but more worryingly the car park was virtually snow free, and patches of bare scree and rocks could be seen above the resort. Alpine Chough were quickly located, but a thorough search of the car park and hotel complex failed to uncover any Apline Accentors. A pair of Dipper were, however, found on the small exposed stream area beneath the Ski station. 3 small birds were noted flying off from some scree quite high up and at least one showed, or at least appeared to show, extensive white wing panels as they flew off. A search with the scope only uncovered a few Chaffinch.

Dropping down to Villanua quarry failed to uncover any Wallcreepers or Accentors, but at least 3 Golden Eagles and 3+ Lammergeiers, along with our first Rock Buntings of the trip were seen. Crossing the road for a picnic lunch overviewing the river produced at least 6 Black Redstarts, and 3 Dippers.

We then decided to try the Gabardito area in the Hecho valley. Although we located the turn off on the "main" road to the refuge we managed to miss a later turning and ended up back at Hecho. We did, however, pick up several Yellowhamer and a Iberian Green Woodpecker (Bevan only). A second try found us connect with the correct road and this was the most birdy area visited so far.  A flock of finches on the way up included at least 12 Hawfinches. Around the refuge meadow a large flock of Chaffinch fed. Other birds included Great, Coal, Crested and a pair of Marsh Tits as well as a pair of Common Crossbill.

Mammal interest was a brief view of a Red Fox whilst the presence of numerous bunches of Mistletoe in the conifers was noteworthy as we only find it in deciduous species back home.

Another 2 Lammergeier and Golden Eagles added to the impressive day total for these species, whilst a migrating male Hen Harrier provided added interest. 

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