ANSO VALLEY – ZURIZA – RONÇAL VALLEY – BELAGUA PASS – PIERRE DE ST MARTIN – RONÇAL GORGE – RIO ARAGON AT BERDÛN We made a second attempt to see Rock Bunting and Treecreeper with our early morning walk, fewer members of the group made the effort to get out of bed and that was a wise decision!
It was much colder this morning, coats and fleeces were necessary it was a little windy too. Apart from the usual common garden birds we saw Crested Tit and the Vultures and Kites were ever present.
After breakfast a full group compliment set off to search the valleys of Anso and Ronçal for a few species missing from the list, we intended to drive over the border into France to visit a ski resort where a couple of ‘goodies’ can be found.
The drive up the Anso Valley passes through a narrow gorge as you reach the open area of Zuriza, the scenery is simply stunning. The sun came out as we arrived but it was cold, only 7C. We quickly notched up a number of species including White-throated Dipper which had eluded us until now. Black Redstart, Yellowhammer, Serin, Crag Martin, White and Grey Wagtails and some gorgeous Linnets added to our enjoyment.
A short walk to the nearest forest of pine and beech failed to produce even a sniff of Black Woodpecker.
We then drove to the Pass at Belagua passing through the upper Ronçal Valley, a stop at the top proved very interesting as we found a number of orchids and birds, luckily the weather held for us, high cloud with sunny spells and no wind.
Provence Orchid was nice to see as well as Water Pipit, Rock Thrush, Black Redstart, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Red-billed and Alpine Chough.
Over the border in France we spent a couple of hours having lunch and searching the deserted ski resort of St. Martin, it was still very cold with large clumps of snow still lying about.
Citril Finches were very common there as were Linnets, Serin and Alpine Chough. We eventually got onto our main target species, the Ring Ouzel, first a female showed briefly then we found a male singing from a ski-lift support, again this was a brief sighting as the bird flew a long way off ingl the distance after a minute or so.
We left the cold area of the ‘haute pyrenees’ to much visit much warmer climes down the Ronçal Valley. At our first stop in the lower gorge the temperature was 16C, that’s much better!
Our time in the gorge produced some excellent sightings of Griffon Vultures at their nests as well as a number of nice butterflies, the Scarce Swallowtail attracted most attention but Hummingbird Hawk Moth and a couple of Fritillary also proved popular.
An impromptu stop deeper in the gorge was made when two LAMMERGEIERS were seen circling above the road, we had great views of this pair, wow!
Our last venue for the day was at the river Aragon just below the ‘raised’ town of Berdūn. It was now 24C and layers of clothing were being peeled off by the minute. Not many birds were seen but a few new butterflies were added to our list as well as Butterfly Orchid.