FUENTE DE – PEMBES BEECH WOODLAND
WEATHER: Absolutely fantastic, clear sky, sunny, warm with very light breeze, just perfect!
Although it was cloudy over the valley and over our hotel we could see patches of blue sky further up the valley and this fuelled our optimism. Most of the group went out for a morning walk at 7am, we saw several species but the most important were the new birds for the trip list which were Spotted Flycatcher and Common Redstart. We also saw Grey Wagtail, Red-backed Shrike, Jay, Robin, Black Redstart and several common garden birds.
Our trip on the Teleferica (cable car) to the top of the mountains was the highlight of the visit to the Picos de Europa, we arrived at 9am in good time, we were the first people in the queue. In the car park we found Serin, Coal Tit, Common Redstart and a few other species before boarding the cable car at 10am.
waiting for the cable car to open
The magnificent 7 on top of the world!
You start at 1070 meters above sea-level and rise 753 meters in 3 minutes 40 seconds to a height of 1,823 meters. It is a wonderful experience and once you are on the top of the mountains the scenery is spectacular. An amazing place, with a unique habitat and flora to match. However, despite the weather being perfect the bird life was rather scant, we struggled to find a single bird in the first 30 minutes of our visit.
Distant Alpine Choughs could be heard and eventually we found Black Redstart and |northern Wheatear. We walked for about 30 minutes before we found a Water Pipit and a couple of Linnets, then a few Griffon Vultures flew over us and more choughs appeared.
It was a good hour before we found an Alpine Accentor and even then, only a few of the group saw it! The finding of the Snow Finch was much more comprehensive, everyone got to see them. Over the next hour we all had great views of SNOW FINCH as many were flying across the face of huge rock-face and although they were distant the light was so good that binoculars were quite adequate.
looking for Snow Finch oir taking a rest?
Alpine Choughs seemed to be everywhere, they even came down and sat beside us hoping for scraps of food which we duly supplied. Our walk back in glorious sunshine was fairly uneventful, we had scope views of Water Pipit, Northern Wheatear and another Snow Finch, this one flew below us and showed very well.
Alpine Chough - several came down for crumbs
There were plenty of Chamois sightings too and we saw a Weasel which was quite surprising.
We ate lunch in the restaurant at the cable car terminus, sitting out on a balcony with terrific views and Alpine Choughs around our feet. We were back down at the lower terminus by 2pm, it had been a wonderful experience for all of us. We then took a short break back the hotel in the heat of the day and met up again at 3pm.
The afternoon walk was a bit of a let-down as far as bird sightings were concerned, because instead of being too cold and windy it was too hot and calm! We drove the short distance to the village of Pembes which is up on the mountainside above Espinama.
The track above Pembes
Pembes is really quite unique and very unusual, it has ancient buildings, very narrow streets and archaic constructions all over the village, it is like going back 100 years in time. Many birds nest in the thousands of nooks and crannies you find in old buildings, House Sparrows, Barn Swallows, House Martins, White Wagtails, Black Redstarts, Common Redstarts and Serins are all over the village.
In the beech woods above Pembes you can find Middle Spotted Woodpecker if you are lucky, today we were unlucky, in fact we walked uphill for nearly an hour without seeing a single woodland bird, it really was siesta-time. A few butterflies were dashing and we watched a few raptors through openings in the trees but not much else.
On the way back through the village we saw Spotted Flycatcher, Bullfinch, more Serins and we watched Common Buzzards, Ravens and an Egyptian Vulture.
Dinner was served at 8pm another delicious affair with plenty of wine to help it go down. Our last full day was over we travel back to Madrid tomorrow, we plan plenty of stops as we all have evening flights.