Southwest Murcia – Hell’s Canyon

Leader: José Manuel Escarabajal
Participantes: PS, ML, MLM, DLM, IC., VH, AE.

CHECK LIST:
Roller, Swift, Mallard, Swallow, Bee-eater, Stone Curlew, Rock Dove, Jackdaw, Booted Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, House Martin, Sandpiper, Chough, Golden Oriole, Little Egret, Magpie, Short-toed Eagle, Red-legged Partridge, Nightingale, Black-eared Wheatear, Green Woodpecker, Rock Martin, Kestrel, Carrion Crow, Golden Eagle, Hoopoe, Spotless Starling, Spotted Flycatcher, Cattle Egret, Little Owl.

  The day starts at 8.30 with a quick coffee then an hours drive down to the southwest of Murcia. Our first stop on the way to the canyon is un-scheduled, we spot a Roller sitting on a cable with its bright blue chest shinning in the sun, also flying around are Swifts and Bee-eaters, colours everywhere! Back in the car we set off down counrty lanes to the first scheduled stop at a reservoir. As we unload our telescopes and cameras Jose spots a Booted eagle hunting for food, and above circling high in the sky are 12 Griffon vultures. Looking down from the high walls of the dame we can see Great Crested Grebe , Coots, Moorhens and Little Grebe fishing for there breakfast.  On the other side of the dame are House martins, Rock Dove, Chough and a fantastic looking Golden Oriole, sitting in the same group of trees is a Little Egret.
We move away from the dame down a tack following the out-skirts of the reservoir, here the weather changes and the clouds roll in bringing a light shower with them, as we turn a corner we spot a Short-toed eagle looking for prey.  At the other end of the reservoir we join a road again and head off for the canyon, on the short drive there we see Nightingale,Black-Eared Wheatear and on the roof of a farm shed Cattle Egrets.
Turning off the road on to a track are two Griffon vultures quite close so we stop and watch them, to our surprise they slowly get closer to the ground and disapear behind a hill, so we walk in that direction, when we reach the top they take off no more than 100 meters away, these birds are impressive with there massive wingspan.  Ten minutes more in the car and we reach the track for the canyon, we unload our backpacks and head off.  The track is easy waliking with breath-taking views of the pine clad mountains, we come to a stream with insects skimming about  in pools at its edge, and in the trees around us birds are singing.  We stop at an old house for a packed lunch in the shade of a big pine tree as another short shower passes.  After our lunch we head off  up the track which leads us to the canyon, here the high cliffs close in on us, and the trees growing on its steep faces make for a spectacular site. After a steady walk of half an hour we come to a bend in the canyon, we stop and set up our telescopes to look at a cliff face high above, on its ledges trying to keep out of the rain are Griffon vultures dotted everywhere.  The rain starts to get abit heavyer so we pack up and head for the car.
In a nearby village we stop for a quick coffee and deside to stop at one more place before we head home, on a quite road side we park the car and search the moutain for any sign of life, we spot some wild goats( Muflone) grazing under pine trees, and also high on a cliff face two Griffon Vultures shaking off the rain that has now stopped.  Shortly a Golden eagle appears above glidding around majesticly, while we watch its flight along the cliff it lunges at one of the vultures chassing it away, then it returnes and does the same to the second one, when the vultures are gone it takes a purch on a high ledge and keeps an eye on the area.  As we pack up and head for home a rainbow appears.
On the drive home we see Little owls along the road side sitting on posts and cables, with the daylight slowly fadeing away we spot a Golden eagle purched on a electric tower no more than 80 meters away, this has been a fantastic day even with a little rain.

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