RIO ARAGON – JACA – CANDANCHU & ASTUN SKI RESORTS Our pre-breakfast walk along the lane outside the hotel produced very little, the weather had turned, it was now windy, overcast and it threatened rain.
We watched Crag Martins visiting their nests in the road-tunnel just 500m from the hotel, we also saw Coal, Blue, Great and our first Long-tailed Tits. Both Griffon and Egyptian Vultures sailed down the valley, a Peregrine Falcon was a nice find and RedcKites showed too.
Our destination to day was the ski centres at Candanchu and Astun with a number of stops along the way, the sky looked a little clearer as we drove out of the mountains towards Jaca but we could see patches of rain ahead of us.
Our first stop was at the Rio Aragòn not far from Puente de Reina where we searched for Wryneck without success but several other species kept us entertained: Cirl & Corn Buntings, Common Sandpiper, Golden Oriole, Common Nightingale and Red Kites.
Next we visited a area of open woodland where oak trees dominated, it is a well-known spot for Bonelli’s Warbler which duly showed, also Subalpine Warbler and Firecrest put on a show. After a dull start the weather got brighter and a few butterflies emerged, the amazing Adonis Blue was the star attraction with Furry Blue, Spanish Gatekeeper and Speckled Wood adding interest. A few orchids were also drawing the crowds!
For our lunch stop we drove into the centre of Jaca and parked at the ancient Citadel where a colony of Rock Sparrows breed and Tree Sparrows are common. We saw both very well as we enjoyed our picnic on the grass.
For the rest of the afternoon we drove up to ski resorts on the French border, Candanchu was the first place we stopped at. It was a very successful visit with several good species seen. A few Northern Wheatears sat on posts and rocks as did Black Redstarts, whilst Linnets and Water Pipits showed well in the grass.
Then we had a purple patch as we found Rock Thrush and then Citril Finch. The finches fed in the grass in several groups and the Thrush sang from one of the ski-lift supports. A flock of Alpine Choughs landed nearby as we watched the finches.
We also visited Astun ski resort but apart from getting really good views of Alpine Marmot and a Chamois we saw very little.
Our drive back was very pleasant as we passed through stunning scenery, we nipped over the border into France before we started the homeward journey, Citril Finch, Black Redstart and Griffon Vulture are now also included on our French list!