...and a Mistle Thrush!
I took the path and found the "cliff with the cleft". I was in position...now where were the WALLCREEPERS?
Red-billed Choughs played on the cliff face. Black Redstarts hopped around the scree. No sign in 2 hours. Then there it was distant but distinctive. I only got one ten second view but a view I got. It was always going to be a tough challenge to get a decent pic...I failed. At least I'd seen one.
After picking her up I decided to try the Candanchu Ski resort north of Jaca. I'd have preferred to go to Riglos for Black Wheatear, Rock Thrush etc but the Sunday crowds would have been a nightmare so we headed for the cooler tops (it was 38c).
The hoped for specials never materialised but it was a beautiful spot (one of many). I thought i might have seen some flocks of Alpine Chough but no. The Ski Lifts open in July apparently so we were just to early. We were pretty high though!
A fine male Serin was in full song...
Returning to our place we were treated to an amazing show of raptors in the lower Hecho Valley. At least 30 Red Kites,10 Black Kites and 2 Booted Eagles and a Buzzard...
After all the "fun" in Barcelona I had a specific plan for our last day (Monday). Focus on one site, give it time and relax! The site I'd chosen was a good drive from our place. We left at 9 and arrived in the area around 11. The village I'd chosen was called Revilla. I'd gone for it rather than the better known Escuian simply because of eBird which showed greater numbers of this bird at the former.
When we reached Revilla (which was difficult to say the least) we parked next to the information board which unfortunately informed us it was another 45 minute walk to the viewpoint! None of the info' I'd looked at had mentioned this. It was nearly midday now and the temp was touching 40c!! This course of action was not an option. It was also VERY disappointing after nearly 3 hours.
What to do?
Try Escuain! Trouble was it was on the other side of an enormous gorge. Still, nothing else for it and off we went again. Worth mentioning here how understanding Louise is, putting up with these logistical hiccups!
It took us a good hour to work our way round to Escuian. Again, information about the site was limited, so I wasn't sure about the layout of the site. We parked our car by a stream and had lunch. Escuain basically consisted of around half a dozen old derelict buildings BUT luckily one seemed to have been renovated? It turned out to be a Visitor Centre for the bird I was hoping to see!
I went in and there was a lady in obvious ranger uniform. Looked promising, except she couldn't speak English! I know someone who can though. After a few minutes it became clear that the bird was fed on Tuesday's and Friday's and the feeding station was 90 minutes walk!! It was turning out to be a great day? She also told us there was a short circular walk from the building. This didn't raise my hopes as I'd taken many a short circular walk from visitors centres in the past. Generally they're a waste of time, especially in this heat. Still, it's the only shot I had so I left Louise under the trees with the stray cats to read and set off.
I hadn't gone 20 yards when I heard a very high pitched call...I just managed to grab a record shot before it flew off...
The relief was tangible. At least I had a shot. There turned out to be 3 different viewpoints all relatively close together. Louise joined me and I shuttled between the vantage points. I soon picked up some Griffon's...
I reckon there were at least 50 birds in the Gorge. I then picked up a pair of Egyptian Vultures...I just managed to catch one as it sped across...
Great birds but I'd seen them previously. They weren't what I was hoping to see. I'd had a couple of distant sightings of my target in the Upper Hecho Valley but I was hoping for better views.
Then...at last, there it was.
First, very high...
It was as hot as anytime during our visit and it did affect the pictures. I'm reasonably pleased with what I managed to get however.
I was treated to a magical 15 minutes with a world class species. Just one...but one was enough. Again no apologies for posting a series of images...
You can see the beard on this one...
Back into the Gorge...
...and finally right over my head!
This made all the effort worthwhile. A brilliant encounter with a magnificent bird. The trip hadn't gone to plan...but it was better than being at work!
I would definitely visit the Pyrenees again. It's a beautiful area. Maybe the French side again next time?