I wasn’t surprised that it was negative news about the Candanchu chairlift being open and so there went our chance of seeing any snowfinches. However, Astun was open for business and we trundled over there after breakfast, stopping to watch a few Black Kites quartering the fields at the bottom of the Hecho Valley. We drove through Jaca and then up towards the French border at the Col du Somport and then the ski station of Astun. We called in to one of the restaurants for coffee and bacon baguettes (oh yes) before boarding the chairlift two at a time.
As always, it was a lovely serene and peaceful experience to do this and once at the top at around 2100m we walked past the lake and up into the hills. It’s just too green and ‘soft’ for snowfinches and to be honest it was rather quiet with only a flyover Lammergeier, some Water Pipits and a few Northern Wheatears.
|Great scenery at the top of the chairlift|
So we spent some time enjoying the fantastic scenery and then returned to the chairlift, calling in to the café for some cold drinks. A lucky move as it turned out as I heard a Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush singing and then we picked it up perched on some boulders quite some distance away. Scope views were decent and I breathed a huge sigh of relief as this was a much-wanted lifer for the group.
Once down at the bottom we drove out and stopped for our very late (3pm) picnic lunch, only to be joined by a singing Rock Bunting – a huge bonus as they just don’t seem to be very numerous now.
We then drove to a pine forest where Western Bonelli’s Warbler was easily found by Roberta, and there was also Subalpine Warbler, Eurasian Nuthatch, Three-toed Treecreeper, Firecrest and Great Spotted woodpecker, plus a few Heath Fritillaries.
|Nice view once again|