Sunday, 6 March 2011

Choughed To Bits

Our evening was taken up yesterday by a fine dinner produced by John and Marion (I'm sure he won't mind me saying, mostly the latter), shared by some equally fine guests. From left and around the table Linda, Don and wife Annie, Steve (Linda's husband), John, Barrie and Moi. Again Marion was left to do the work! With an endless supply of wine we enjoyed a tasty pate, an even more delicious taragon chicken and sure to agree with everyone a steamed (orange) pudding.

Our day started on a wonderful high as the dense early morning fog cleared quickly leaving a cloudless sky and bright sunshine. Enjoying my coffee on the patio, I looked over the 30 foot high wall to see c5 Sardinian Warblers foraging in the roadside bushes. I hurried down but by the time I arrived only this female remained but did allow me this shot.
A better photograph of the still very nervy Spotless Starling

The public wash house, complete with fixed wash boards, in the nearby village of Jarafuel

Just outside of Alcala del Jucar we stopped at this Romanesque monument

for a photo call

and a look of utter amazment as I first clapped eyes on the beautiful little town, of the same name, nestled on a hillside.

A closer view of Alcala del Jucar Castle

Climbing the steep streets towards the church

Familiar to all, a male Mallard on the River Jucar

and the town bridge over the same river

Running the length of the valley another Moorish aquaduct

The entrance to the Cuevas del Diablo (The Cave of the Devil). This extensive cave and chamber system was single-handedly hewn from the rock face by one man who became known locally as 'The Devil'. The price, 3 Euros, included a drink which we picked up at the bar before heading for the veradah and where John and Marion had a lovely surprise for me.

Firstly, we were treated to some aerobatics by a Lesser Kestrel

before the stars of the show turned up by way of c4 Chough.

All of the birds stayed at great distance but a few 'manual focus' shots were possible before gaining altitude, thought to have been over 1,000 feet, and then disappeared. Later in the afternoon we did stop and counted 6 which we considered to be the originals plus 2.

A view from the verandah

The cave was a museum of collectables ranging from postage stamps to farming tools, but this fish particularly caught my eye. The question for Andy Lindsay is it a Zander?

The verandah where the previous photographs were taken from centre picture, taken across the other side of the valley.

This region is home to the Troglodytes, with many homes

carved out of the cliffside,

many of them looking quite ornate.
Finally, there were other birds added to the trip list today namely:-
Nightingale, Little Owl (still not on my GB list this year), Raven, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Red-legged Partridge (seen by John alone), a much bedraggled single Spanish Sparrow and a Moorhen.

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