Tuesday, May 14th: We started the day birding around the hotel. There was some excitement at first. James had seen a Lammergeier flying a few minutes before, then spotted a sitting bird high up that looked like another. However, it turned out to be a Griffon Vulture. Birds added at the hotel included Dunnock, Common Firecrest, and Coal Tit.
We then drove a short distance to the start of the trail for the wallcreeper. The trail starts near the Gabardito mountain refuge (for bad weather). We birded the meadow there and kept scanning the cliffs. Before we headed up the trail we found Citril Finch, Red (Common) Crossbill, Lammergeier, and a mixed flock of about 50 choughs: Alpine Choughs and Red-billed Choughs. The trail started with a gentle grade along a dirt track, but then became rocky and started climbing more steeply. After about a mile's walk, we arrived at the base of the cliff where the wallcreeper is supposed to be. We took a few minutes to rest, then started staring up the cliff. At some point one the guides heard a wallcreeper. One of the group saw a bit of movement, and our scopes were soon pointed at a Wallcreeper. We noticed the wallcreeper had a bug, that it was a male, and that it flicked its wings a lot. Pretty soon a female wallcreeper appeared, took the bug, and vanished into a rock hole, presumably their nest site. She soon reappeared. We continued to watch them for some time.
|Mountain and Cliff||Wallcreeper Cliff|
We noticed some Southern Chamois across the valley. We were also distracted by another Lammergeier. It gave much better views than before, and we spent some time watching it soar about. Then we headed back to the parking area.
The parking area gave us some crossbills at close range. The road back to the main road also had some surprises for us: A couple of Eurasian Bullfinches flew up from the roadside as our van approached. The group in the car (which was following) saw a Black Woodpecker. We turned around hoping to see it too, but our search failed to refind it.
We also stopped at a bridge over a rushing river where we found our first White-throated Dipper and a Gray Wagtail. We drove by the hotel entrance to a wooded area where we found a Eurasian Wryneck. A bit further down the main road we encountered a Red-backed Shrike.
After lunch, we went up the road from the Hotel Usón. Early on, we had a close view of an Egyptian Vulure sitting near the road. The road winds up through a slot canyon (Boca de lo Infierno) with the river rushing beside it. Then it opens out into a broader canyon before coming to a lovely alpine meadow at Selva de Oza. We saw several more Red-backed Shrikes and a few Yellowhammer, among other birds. We also spotted a Southern Chamois. Wildflowers were in bloom and the ditch along the road contained many tadpoles and some Palmate Newts (Lissotriton helveticus) hunting the tadpoles. We then returned to the hotel and dinner.
My trip total now stands at 200 species, including 67 lifers. Although my day list only contained 39 species, 7 were lifers.
Hotel Usón, Hecho