Dodging the storms around the Plains and Lagoons.
Pam, John and I set off heading west for the Osuna area, the weather was not looking promising but the further we travelled the better it got. As soon as we arrived we started to pick up birds and some mammals, on a stubble field we counted at least 12 Brown Hares (Lepus europaeus) and a covey of 15+ Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa). On the bushes, fences and roadside vegetation we added Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer Domesticus), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) a nice bird sitting on a wire fence calling loudly and Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata). On the surrounding pylons several Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax) and a Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) were perched and in the air good numbers of Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) were seen flying low south. Other birds in this area were Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops).
We moved on to the second of the new bridges that cross the still to be laid high speed rail link between Sevilla and Granada, as we approached several Stone-curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) flew into a small olive plantation were we saw several more feeding in the ridges. From the bridge we picked up a couple of Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) feeding in a recently ploughed field, several Thekla Larks (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) sang overhead and on the far side of the bridge we then found the birds of the day, 6 Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) were seen walking across a stubble field before settling in a corner of the field. We took one of the tracks and got closer and had some fantastic views, after awhile the birds started to walk out on to the stubble again and this was when we discovered there were in fact 9 birds in the group. Also seen in this area were Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica), Short-toed Lark (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
We continued on along the road and passed a disused Cortijo with about 25 Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) hunting around it and also added Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus). Just before the junction to La Lantejuela we were treated to a view of about a thousand White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), some on the ground and many starting to move on in large flocks. On a small area of water under the newly constructed railway bridge we picked up several Greater Flamingo’s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis). In the air several House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) flew around low over the fields and several Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) dragonflies flew over the wetter areas. On a pylon and wires four Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) were perched and a single Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) flew into some roadside fruit trees. Also seen in this area were Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris) and Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur). We had some lunch in Marchena and then had a quick look at a site on the edge of town where we had a cracking immature Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor).
We then moved on to Laguna Verde de Sal where there were a great many birds, mostly Eurasian Coots (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus) and Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos). Mixed in with these were a couple of juvenile Whiskered Terns (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chlidonias hybridus), a female White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Black-necked Grebe (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus). In the bushes we located Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).
We then moved on a few Kms to another smaller reed filled Laguna, again we had most of the above including several male White-headed Ducks and loads of Red-crested Pochards. New species included Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris). In the air above the laguna by the time we were leaving there were hundreds of hirendines including Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica). The weather closed in a bit so we started the drive back towards Antequera where we called at a small lagoon near the town. Just as we turned off the main road large numbers of Yellow (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava), three White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) along with a single Grey (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea)were seen. In the thistle lined ditch we found a Willow Warbler (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochilus), Ortolan Bunting (Escribano Hortolano / Emberiza hortulana) x5/6, Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Whinchat.
On the water there were about 50 Greater Flamingo’s, a couple of Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa) and Avocets (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta) all feed in the mud. On the far back there we a few Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) dabbled around in the reeds and in the air there were Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia), Alpine (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido / Apus pallidus), Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirundo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). On the wires we saw Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis). The next stop was on the fields near the house where we got distant views of a small flock of Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).
Photographs from the top: Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda), Pam and John digiscoping the Bustards, White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra), Ortolan Bunting (Escribano Hortolano / Emberiza hortulana) 1x Immature and 1x Adult.
85+ Bird species seen during the day.