27 January : Adrian's patch (Puerto Lumbreras - Vélez Rubio)

male Black Redstart

I too was out yesterday to La Janda, but first herewith Dave's account of the Arboleas' Group visit to Adrian's patch. My account will follow tomorrow or Saturday. As a fervent patcher myself (as opposed to being a lister/twitcher), I found this very interesting. Mind you, it does help to have a varied, habitat. I shall put in the Spanish names later as I'm a bit short of time today.

If you've read previous reports, Adrian lives in the foothills between Puerto Lumbreras and Velez Rubio. Today he kindly agreed to show group members round his patch. The members included Colin, Sandra, Rod, Linda, Paul, Kath, Jacky and Steve. We all met up at the cafe off junction 6 on the A91 Granada motorway. After a coffee we headed off in three cars, guided by Adrian, along country lanes and tracks with overcast skies above us. It's always difficult birding in a convoy as the following vehicle passengers don't often see what the leading vehicle occupants do. We started with Jackdaws in the car-park and along the way we added Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Black Redstart and Stonechat. I missed the Green Woodpecker. A lark perched upon a ruined hut we believe was a Thekla. We saw a Mistle Thrush before we got to a large farm compound surrounded by a chain-link fence. Perched upon it was a Stonechat, which was briefly joined by a Dartford Warbler and a Blackcap. Colin in their car spotted a Sardinian Warbler.
Crag Martin
We made our way towards the Embalse de Puentes, seeing a Cormorant on the way. From up on the dam many of his mates were resting on rocky outcrops, on a distant concrete bank and feeding on the water. Above us were hundreds of Crag Martins, a pair of which came to perch on a gutter pipe near us. Paul spotted a House Martin. On the water we saw two Yellow-legged Gulls and eventually we had a Little Grebe and Jacky spotted a Coot. Little birds only included White Wagtail and Chiffchaff. The water level was ok, but the distant reed beds and shrubs all appeared to be dead. We drove down to the pine tree wood below the dam to have our picnic lunch. Colin spotted a Grey Heron and Paul was first to see a Robin. Jacky saw a Grey Wagtail  and a pair of Mallard was also observed. Apart from those we saw Serin and I heard Rock Sparrows calling.
male Blue Rock Thrush
From there we made our way to La Parroquia village, seeing a Black Wheatear on the way. At the far end of the village is a rambla with a stream. The recent storms had caused flood damage so there was little vegetation. A pair of Grey Wagtails and Chiffchaffs were seen while a Kestrel was eyeing us up from the power line. Paul was first to spot at least 3 distant Griffon Vultures. Steve saw a Moorhen.
Moving on we saw some Red-legged Partridge and Hoopoe. Our ultimate stop was at some abandoned farm buildings. (On previous visits we'd stopped there first) The sun was now shining which showed off the colour of the male Blue Rock Thrush very well. A male Black Redstart also showed well as did a male Blackcap.
We ended up with 37 species. The scenery and almond blossom was fantastic. Thank you again to Adrian for showing us round.

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