Greeted by early morning fog we headed back off into the mountains this time to the area of Sierra Norte. Once we had risen above the fog we began to wind our way through some superb dehesa habitat offering tantalizing glimpses of Little Owl, more Azure-winged Magpie proving very elusive to get a good look at as they flashed away through the Holm Oaks offering only brief glimpses darting between thick leafy branches just out of reach. A large over flying skein of birds prompted an impromptu roadside stop before we determined that they were Cormorant heading east. Further up at our first watch point we were assaulted by the screams of a pair of Jay.
Had we known what awaited us at the ‘Wolf’ watch point we would perhaps not have lingered so long. We could see as we approached numbers of Griffon Vulture in the air but after a steady scan across the Sierra Morena we realized that there were many more on a nearby hillside and a further group soaring to the northwest of us.
A 'Grey' Fox seen by half the group making its way down one of the steep grassy slopes was an extra bonus for those that saw it.
Our picnic lunch in a tiny picnic area by a small stream that we would never have found without local knowledge gave us a well earned rest although Grey Wagtail and a splendid Hawfinch hidden amongst a tangle of branches were ample reward to those that kept the optics close by.At this point the group split up to wander along some of the wooded pathways. I took the opportunity to walk back up the road a way to try and get some pictures of another family group of Azure-winged Magpie we had flushed as we drove down the hill. Perhaps 5-10 fed amongst dense young trees in a walled area that had once been the garden of a substantial, but now run down, water mill. With patience I was able to take some record shots of this beautiful bird as one or two individuals fed by the roadside and around the tree bases. Here Black Redstart and Stonechat offered further close photo opportunities, with patience and some of the group found Short-toed Treecreeper. A Great Spotted Woodpecker called nearby but was not seen.