Thursday, 28 January 2010

Watch the birdy

The Sierra Gelada is a grand place to see wildlife of all kinds. Over the last few years we have seen all sorts, from Dandelions to Dolphins from our walks along the cliffs. Today, some wonderful birds from this year. Starting with a small and very wary bird called a Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura). Not found in Britain, this is a rather shy bird and so often difficult to photograph. Here, a pair of Black Wheatears are seen perched on a rock and showing their overall dark plumage, except for a bright, white flash on their rumps. They used to be classified as a member of the thrush family, but thinking has changed on this subject recently and they are now thought to belong to the family of Old World Flycatchers.
An extremely bad photo next and I make no apologies for that, for the bird I was trying to 'capture' is an exciting and very elusive little devil. The Blue Rock-Thrush (Monticola solitarius) is a member of the thrush family and as such, is related closely to our well-known Blackbirds and thrushes. Here, a male bird was doing it's best to avoid being photographed, but I managed to 'snap' him on full optical and digital zoom - which is why the picture is so grainy and bad. Despite this, you can still see the wonderful steely-blue colour, best seen in good light.
A better picture now, this time of a bird we have in Britain and an impressive bird it is too. The Raven (Corvus corax). The largest of the crow family, they make a spectacular sight as they display to each other as these two were doing. As part of the display, one of the Ravens could be seen flipping over onto it's back to fly upside down for a few moments while calling constantly with it's deep, guttural, throaty sounds.
The largest bird to finish with and another gorgeous specimen seen close to. The Yellow-Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) is like the Mediterranean version of the more familiar Herring Gull. Large and very noisy, they are well known for their 'laughing' calls which seem to echo all around the seaside. They always seem to be alert for food and their red-rimmed yellow eye is always searching for an opportunity.
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