Elena & I tried Sierra Loja for one of my nemesis birds, the Ring Ouzel on Sunday, but it was like Piccadilly Circus up there. Hundreds of runners & hikers racing up the hill from Los Abades, the big motorway services place at the bottom. In addition to the runners with their drink stations, first aid points, photographers etc. there were also mountain bikers all over the mountain, and up at the top a convoy of quad bikers tearing the place up, so as you can imagine the birds were not happy with all that company. However we did reconnoitre & discover where the Ring Ouzels were feeding and decided to try again on Tuesday. I'm very pleased that we did.
As I was climbing up and down steep hillsides trying futilely to get close to the wretched ouzels in the hawthorn bushes, Elena noticed that they were all drinking from some puddles on the road way below us. So I clambered down and we crept up as close as I dared in the car to the said puddles, and there they were, dozens of'm. Well done Elena. Here's a view looking back along the road in question, the puddles being behind me as I took this shot.
I was using a 1.4 extender on my 500mm lens and managed to get some very good shots of the birds drinking from the puddles, I didn't quite realise until now just what a handsome species the Ring Ouzel is. I like those silvery edges to the breast feathers below that white ring around the throat. Very nice.
I must say they all looked very healthy and well fed, which is not surprising as the hawthorn trees up here are laden with berries this year which might also explain why the birds were so numerous.
In addition to all the Ring Ouzels there were quite a few Redwings sharing the watering hole. Always a pleasure to see them, quite small in comparison to the Ouzels but very attractive thrushes in my opinion.
A few other species were also at the party. here's a Rock Sparrow showing us the yellow spot on his throat. This is mentioned in the Field Guide but this is the first time I have got to see it.
Rock Buntings were also partaking, as were Linnets, Goldfinches, Chaffinches and one or two Mistle Thrushes.
I was pleased to get some photos of the Mistle Thrush as I find them extremely skittish and wary of human presence in Spain. They seem to be much easier to get good views of in England for some reason.
Here are a few more shots of the Happy Hour at the watering hole. It was a very happy hour for us two anyway. The weather was perfect, the views spectacular and the birds all very obliging. What more could we ask for.