jueves, 6 de agosto de 2015

Looking for Gredos Bluethroats / El Pechiazul

Bluethroat birdwatching in the Gredos mountains (Spain) is an old summer classic, a feeble, and a yearly friendship story… 

An appropriate spring day is the perfect time for a colorful palette walk through green and yellow lush brooms vegetation, on top of which clear blue high mountain skies are radiant. This is the right landscape for the brilliant bluethroats to sing their mating euphoria to the four winds. 

They will be exposing themselves on top of any outcroping schrub, displaying their watchful throat to any possible female mate. Then, it’s only a matter of some patience to follow birds, here and there, while they sing and fly, trustful, allowing sometimes for quite close observations and picture taking. Occasionally, though uncommon, they can even appear on top of a boulder for all to see.

Other birds are normally at the rendez-vous, none as beautiful as this amazing little jewel passerine, wheatears, accentors, buntings and if you are lucky, a rock thrush.

Recent research suggests that Bluethroats in the Central Mountain System in Spain might form a particular subspecies, where presumably due to their high altitude habitat, birds are of slightly bigger size and less than half of them show any white spotting on the blue throat.

Gredos mountains, only a couple of hours from Madrid metropolitan city is a high mountain range, quite free of human influence and a paradise for both mountaineering activities and nature watching. Bluethroats are found here after only about one hour trek from the so called “platform” car parking. They are not difficult to spot, as soon as you are surrounded with their typical lush intricate brooms habitat.

Bluethroats are amazingly common in the Gredos mountains while more difficult to see in other parts of the Central Mountain System. In fact and though I have looked for them in Guadarrama’s Peñalara or Peguerinos areas, I have rarely seen them at all. This might be due to the higher altitude and remoteness of the Gredos massif.

Birds will be leaving the mountains for the lower plains in the winter months, most of them then migrating to Africa, whilst north European birds join bluethroats remaining in Spanish lower lands and marshes.

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