15th February 2018 Daniel Roca

Wallcreeper winter day

Heavy snow hit the Pyrenees the last days, reaching lower altitudes than is usual. Despite the cold, we are always eager to go birding, and today our primary goal was to spot the wallcreeper. We started early and as we drove higher and higher the snow cover got thicker. The rock faces remained clear though, so we stopped to make a first attempt. No luck. Actually, there might be a wallcreeper somewhere up there, but how to find it?

The north faces are less steep and usually covered by forest.

Descending into a very birdy valley, hundreds of Redwings and Hawfinches were feeding on the olive groves and near a small river. A Golden Eagle crossed the sky and not long after some Griffon Vultures started to glide.

Birding was nice, and the list kept getting better with interesting additions like Peregrine Falcon, Goshawk or Iberian Green Woodpecker. Yet the Wallcreeper was nowhere to be seen. We decided to visit a nearby cliff area, at a lower altitude.

As soon as we got out of the car, there they were. Three of them, no less! Climbing and flying and chasing each other, apparently having a good time! Just like us. You can never get enough of these birds.

Watching them with the naked eye, it was amazing to see how easily they move from one part to the other, making the whole rock look alive. True masters of the cliff. With the binoculars or the scope, we could enjoy the beauty of their plumage. Meanwhile, Griffons kept patroling the rock face, already in “nesting mode”.

This vertical habitat was even more entertaining when a Blue Rock Thrush joined the Wallcreepers. They will soon fly away to higher parts of the Pyrenees for the breeding season. But the Blue Rock Thrush will stay, and will be joined by the ultra-fast flying Alpine Swifts, Egyptian Vultures and other summer visitors. And we’ll be happy to come back to visit them!

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