Monday, 6 January 2014

Bird Watching in The Alpujarra

Bird Watching in The Alpujarra

This years grape harvest was poor in The Alpujarra with many bunches of grapes shriveling up or bunches with only 5 or 6 grapes. As a consequence, many of the “frugal” bunches were left unpicked awaiting our annual pruning session in mid December.  This coupled with a long, hotter than normal Autumn meant that not only did we have the normal birds hanging around, but that we even had a surprise visitor that we have not seen in the 11 years we have been here. A Sardinian Warbler which spent a lot of time feeding on the unpicked grapes. Even when we did finally prune the vines, we left the grapes dangling and were rewarded visitations from Robins and Blue Tits in addition to the Sardinian Warbler.

Sardinian Warbler feeding on grapes at Finca Montaña

Our House, Finca Montaña is 1300m above sea level and it can get quite cool up here in the late autumn and winter. Snow doesn’t usually last more than 3 days as it’s always warm when the sun is out. However the night time temperature does often get down to around -8 degrees centigrade. That said our winter resident birds include: Golden Eagles, Griffon Vultures, Kestrels, Larks (crested and Sky), Black Eared Wheatears, Black Caps, Stone Chats, Robins, Blue Tits, Jays, Magpies and Ravens. A little above us (in the Juniper) we have Ring Ouzels (from around 2100m). But never before a Sardinian Warbler.

We are now planning to leave bunches of grapes every year in the hope of attracting more birds.

Black-eared Wheatear at Finca Montaña

In Summer the list of birds to be seen expands dramatically to include Egyptian Vulture's, Hoopoe's, Bee Eaters and various swifts and Swallows to name a few. 

Higher up on the mountain tops we are rewarded with Alpine Accentors which are remarkably tame on the summit of Mulhacen 3482 (mainland Spain’s highest mountain) where they have got used to being amongst people and feeding off the crumbs and remnants of sandwiches.

Alpine Accentor on Mulhacen
Spring is a good time to visit with both the migratory birds passing through and the summer visitors arriving. Finca Montaña is ideally placed for bird watching, situated very remote, in its own 5 acres of grounds but surrounded by mostly undeveloped natural mountain side and a few small holdings still mainly farmed in a traditional way.

Mike and Jane who own Finca Montaña provide a full board package from £30 per night.  As qualified International Mountain Leaders they also offer guided walks and treks in The Alpujarra and Sierra Nevada.