23/01 : A nature walk at Nijar

This week's report from Dave and the Arboleas Group is somewhat different and is not devoted solely to birds but something which I'm sure many you will have done at some point. In fact, Dave told me that he would understand if I didn't put it in but I think that it'll do us all good to see that there are other things around and exploring this site in the spring may be a very different story. Birders, rather naturally, have a very marked tendency to go to known sites where they can be sure of birds, even when this means ignoring other sites which may turn up something interesting. What may be dull in the winter could be interesting in the spring/summer and vice versa. For example, at this site, would the protecting wall a male Black Wheatear builds to protect the nest hole be made of garnets? Now that would make an interesting photo.
I was hoping to have a report on a proposed trip to Fuente de Piedra tomorrow but this afternoon the gear box on my car decided that under no circumstances would third gear engage and second was happy with life either - it was like stirring blasted pudding, so it is now in the car hospital and I am walking and awaiting a large bill in a day or so.
And for those within the Málaga Parador de Golf - Plaza Mayor area, a Red Kite has been seen.
This afternoon an e-mail from David Jefferson sequestered in Aberdeenshire. Looking out of his sister's kitchen window a flock of some 20 or so Waxwings flew down into the garden. Fortunately he had his camera to hand! As he said, he's already seen his bird of the year!
And many thanks to those who have responded to my 'market research' piece. More, please, more!

The high winds have continued most of the last week. Today we woke up to snow on the hills around Albox. It put off some, but 7 more foolhardy members went to a new location. We knew it wasn't a birding hot spot so weren't disappointed with the low number. We headed for the volcanic crater behind the village of Nijar. To get to it, drive the E15 between Almeria and Antas and come off at junction 481, us by the southbound slip road  Immediately turn to the right on to a track, ignoring the service road. Follow the track for about 1km.The obvious crater is to your left. Pass the first gap, stopping at the second. There is a rough track through the gap in the rim into the crater itself. 
We were on the lookout for garnets. They were strewn all about, concentrated where sand had accumulated in the gullies. Birds were few and far between. We saw Thekla Lark, Serin, Greenfinch, Black Wheatear, Stonechat, Black Redstart, Kestrel, Crag Martin, Southern Grey Shrike, Hoopoe and White Wagtail. Yes, that is the complete list. We also saw a very startled Fox. It wasn't about the birds today, it was observing all nature.

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