Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Granada 1st - 4th October 2011

And so off to Granada we headed by train on the 1st October, no Preferente class again, the train was very busy, mainly with old American tourists with huge suitcases they could barely carry. Along the way I saw the usual greater flamingoes, egrets and large and small raptors as we travelled through some very scenic landscapes.

The hotel in Granada was very nice with a great rooftop pool area although with a very small pool. It had a great view of the city and the Alhambra Palace and looked and felt quite Alpine with the Sierra Nevada mountains and tree covered slopes in the background. It was hot during the day but much more pleasent than Seville and Cordoba had been and at night it was surprisingly cold and quite refreshing.

Bird wise it was quiet but swifts were regular flying over the rooftop area as we sat sunning ourselves in the afternoon. As dusk fell spotless starlings flew over heading to roost and one evening we watched a big swirling mass of spotless starlings over the rooftops, all caused by a patrolling sparrowhawk which eventually flew off having been unsuccessful in getting a meal before bed.

We visited the Alhambra Palace on the 3rd October and to be honest it was a little disappointing. Granada was very touristy as Cordoba was too and there were lots of tour groups being whisked around the sights and the Alhambra was no different. Also the main palace complex was being restored and the highlight of the palace, the Patio of the Lions, was closed. The gardens of the Alhambra were very beautiful but I found the gardens of the Alcazars of Cordoba and Seville much more impressive.

Anyway I did get to see some nice birds, the highlight being some hawfinches feeding in some trees but they were very mobile and retiring so I only managed the odd brief view. Also seen was a nice male blue rock thrush, 4 crag martins overhead, jays, blackcaps including some singing males and some flyover chipping crossbills. I also got a good view of a scarce swallowtail feeding amongst the flowers of the garden.

Scarce Swallowtail

Blue Rock Thrush
And so to our last train trip of the holiday, no Preferente class and an early morning start (06:50hrs), as we headed to Algeciras on the 4th October. The first hour of the journey was in darkness but as the sun came up we travelled through some beautiful scenery, especially the part from Rhonda to Algeciras. The train was very quiet too so it was a very pleasent 4 hour journey, helped by amazing cakes we bought in Granada the night before which we had for breakfast.

From the train I saw the ususal egrets and large and small raptors and as we passed through San Roque the sky was full of white storks which the train had disturbed as we passed by. The pylons alongside the train track were covered in storks nests with a few storks still stood on the nest platforms but most of the storks had taken to the air, an impressive sight as they are big birds. I also saw 2 black storks, an adult and a juvenile, stood in a ploughed field as we headed into San Roque and what could have been another 2 stood in a field further away. Other birds included a green sandpiper flying off from a small stream as we passed by, a great spotted woodpecker flying between trees and a squacco heron that David saw but which I missed.

And so we arrived in Algeciras, our final stop and a nice hotel with a large swimming pool in a large area of parkland and what was probably to be the best wildlife of the whole trip.

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