Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Mar Menor blasted by the elements, Mountains high and calm, Guadix eagles and a cracking Chough to boot!

timbobagginsabroad, feb 2015
Cabo de Palos, Feb 18th 2015


You can see Mar Menor on the map but you'll not see much footage from here because the gale force winds that have been blowing from the North persisted the whole time I was there. It rained all day the 17th at San Pedro del Pinatar and the normally calm Med looked like this at Cabo de Palos.





Cabo de Palos harbour


The nice little harbour there housed some nice little and not so little yachts and boats and during a brief lull in the wind and the rain brought a much needed dash of colour to the day.


Enough was enough and I decided to drive away from the weather, into Almeria and the semi desert areas around Tabernas, surely it would be dry and warm there!




Nr Tabernas, Almeria, Feb 19th 2015


Nope, not really! In the shadow of the Sierra Nevada to the east I was expecting it to be cold (it was) but in a place that receives less than 250mm of rain a year I wasn't expecting light drizzle and as you can see from this pic of Almerian heights rising towards the Sierra Nevada, the wind was still blowing! Not nearly as strong but enough to blow those Tamarisks around!


Blue Rock Thrush, Tabernas






From the town of Tabernas itself I got my first Blue Rock Thrush of the trip, bit of a grainy effort due to the poor light but never seen one perched on Prickly Pear before, and speaking of cactus this is one I've not seen here before and as yet not identified.

Cactus sp, Tabernas, Almeria, Feb 2015



timbobagginsabroad, feb 2015
Spanish Ibex, Olula, Almeria
Amidst the turbulence there were calmer moments and none more so than when I dragged the van up to the top of Castro de Filabres and Olula de Castro on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada. Splendid views, hardly a soul to be seen and the only sound to disturb the silence was the clattering of hooves on rock of Spanish Ibex

By the sixe of their horns these are surely young 'uns


timbobagginsabroad, feb 2015
Spanish Ibex, Olula, Almeria
Olula de Castro
Almerian rack and ruin, nr Tabernas.
Further down, in the dusty foothills, this is more typical of Almeria and whilst there are the plenty of Larks (Thekla and Crested mainly) and the odd Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting nothing much stirs!















But certainly, if you want to get away from it all and have a quiet time, this is the place!
On the edge of the Sierra Nevada, nr Olula de Castro
 
El Almendral, Almeria
The van loved the descent from there! Back down in Gergal and a cafĂ© on the outskirts of town, a Spanish naturalist tapped me on the shoulder as I was processing some pics and despite his English being as bad as my Spanish, by the power of the photographic image I was able to establish that he was a butterfly enthusiast, but he knew his birds too, and he pointed me in the direction of a pair of Bonelli's Eagles. I didn't see them but the trip up to said place was memorable and around the small village of El Almendral, where they were supposed to be, was wild, weird and wonderful!







Heading further west I stopped for a day close to the Sierra de Baza parc naturel nr Guadix. Wind free and warm for a change, the sandy dry riverbed of the Rambla de Finana brought me a splendidly close Red Billed Chough, one of a pair that looked like they were nest prospecting.

Red Billed Chough, nr Guadix, 22nd Feb 2015

There are dry river beds, or ramblas as they are known colloquially, right across the region of Almeria and the trick is to find one that still has a bit of water in it ... then you'll get wildlife. This one started off dry and barren then suddenly developed a trickle!


Rambla de Finana, Nr Guadix
Rambla de Finana, Nr Guadix


Rambla de Finana, Nr Guadix


Rambla de Finana, Nr Guadix

.... and as soon as you get water, you get life
Red Squirrel, Rambla de Finana

Red Squirrel, Rambla de Finana


Chiffchaff, Rambla de Finana

Chiffchaff, Rambla de Finana

The Chiffchaff was one of 10 or so all within 30 metres of wet stream.



Black Wheatera, Rambla de Finan
Its easy to get lost in a world of your own down in some of these ramblas. With a bit more care and attention, not to mention focus, this could have been my best ever Black Wheatear pic .. they're devilishly skitty!




















Golden Eagle, imm / juv, Rambla de Finan, 22 feb 2015


Stepping outside the river bed in an attempt to gain some height and perspective I certainly did have to focus as 2 immature / juv Golden Eagles sailed past!

Never easy to get a close shot, these 2 came right over my head and then kept going without flapping once!


Golden Eagle, imm / juv, Rambla de Finan, 22 feb 2015

Golden Eagle, imm / juv, Rambla de Finan, 22 feb 2015
That made my morning, the way the light was shining through these magnificent bird's wings as they sailed majestically above me was nothing short of breath taking. This last pic isn't the best by any means, this bird was a kilometre above me, but look at those wing spots ... awesome!






























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