Birding landscapes

Wallcreeper wonder land II

 Alan and Marge on their way to a meeting with a Wallcreeper

Wallcreeper wonder land

Farther along the same path. The sun appears to be winning the battle with the fog. Do we start looking for the Wallcreeper now?

Here are some snapshots from a recent day out birding with Alan and Marge in my part of northeast Spain.

Late January. That on the ground is fresh snow, and that in the air is fog. The sun and blue sky is not far away. 

Farther up the same path the sun shone through the fog. We could see where we were: walking along the base of spectacular sandstone cliffs. The only shame was that we couldn’t admire the wonderful views “You’ll have to come again next time you’re here” I remarked.

Alan has wanted to see a Wallcreeper for more than 20 years now. When these photos were taken he was hopeful of seeing his prized Wallcreeper, but in the end would it be just another day to add to those 20-odd years of waiting? There are rarely any guarantees with birds.

I lagged a little behind, scanning the rock walls and taking some photos of the marvellous landscape. Alan, driven, forged ahead with Marge close behind.

An Alpine Accentor flew up and away half way up the rock face. Crag Martins wheeled one way and then another. A Red-billed Chough hurled itself into the void below its rocky perch, with a startled “Che-err!”. The sun shone resolutely through the mist, we bathed in its warmth and the snow started melting at a surprisingly rapid rate. A Blue Rock Thrush peered over a small pinnacle-shaped rock, its head gleaming satin dusky blue. A Wallcreeper flicked its intensely coloured wings, just for a second, but enough for our  human eyes to catch a glimpse of the movement and locate the avian treasure.  

We all watched as the Wallcreeper worked its way up and across the sheer rock face. Now hopping and prying with its bill, now fluttering around an overhanging with its wings outstretched. The similarity between the Wallcreeper and a large colourful butterfly was quite striking.

As you stand there pressing your binoculars into your eye sockets, contemplating one of the milliard of nature’s true wonders, that tiny figure flickering and flitting across the face of that immense wall, you somehow manage to hold your breath; perhaps fearing that as if by merely breathing you have the power to shatter that magical moment before it can be properly etched onto your memory.

Excerpt from “Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains”

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