David and Steve's Spanish trip (Day Five).
Bustards, the little ones and the big chaps as well!
We headed off in the same direction as yesterday but continued on the A92 as far as Osuna in Sevilla Province. Once we had left the Autovia we stated to pick up interesting species. Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Red Kites (Milano Real / Milvus milvus) were seen both in flight and perched on some of the many electric pylons, we continued to see both species all day in good numbers. All the fields edges, fences and just about any other perch seemed to have a Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) singing from it which made picking out the song of the many Larks in the area difficult but Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Crested (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata), Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) were all seen and in quite decent numbers. As we arrived at the first planned stop we picked up a Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax) which was chasing off a Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius). The site gave us views over an extensive area of agricultural fields on which we quickly picked up a group of four Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) that were some distance away but were marching towards us at pace because of a group of hunters in some olive trees nearer to them than us. We watched these birds for a few seconds and were then aware of five more Bustards flying towards us which must have been flushed by the same hunters; they flew close by and continued on to the fields to the west. We continued to watch the four birds on the ground and had some excellent views while the birds settled down and started to preen. Also seen in this area were Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus).
We continued on and stopped a couple more times adding large numbers of Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia) and Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) to the day list. A little further along our route we viewed a small area of water with a large numbers of birds on or around it including a 100+ White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), many Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), 20 or so Greater Flamingo’s (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus ruber), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Avocet (Avoceta Común/ Recurvirostra avosetta) and all being circled by several more Red Kites. We continued on into the town of where we picked up some food for lunch and continued on to Laguna Verde de Sal where we were treated to great views of a Ringtail Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) which was sweeping over the cereal fields near by, while a second bird was seen from the same place but this bird just sat on the ground some distance away. The Laguna was very quiet compared to my last visit but during a scan with the scopes we sorted out two pairs of Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Common Pochard (Porrón Europeo / Aythya ferina), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Cuchara Común / Anas clypeata), Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cuellinegro / Podiceps nigricollis). We called at a second Laguna called Consuegra, here we did not add any new species but there were good numbers of Greater Flamingo’s and 100s of Northern Shovelers. On the way to the next stop we picked up our only Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) on David and Steve’s trip, two birds were seen which was a bit of a surprise as most had move on ages ago to Africa. On the next Laguna we again did not add any new species for definite but Steve thought that he may have glimpsed a Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) just as it leapt back into cover. There were several flooded fields near by which held several Shelducks (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), a flock of roosting Avocets, Black-winged Stilt, 3x Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), a single Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa) and at least 4 more Marsh Harriers. We then started to retrace our steps back to Osuna, on the way we upped the number of Great Bustards to 10 for the day and stumbled across a flock of about 15 Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), it was nice to have both species in view at the same time. A fabulous male Hen Harrier was dipping up and down between the olives quite some distance away but with in seconds a second Male had appeared quite close to us giving much better views. In the Osuna area during the day we also had Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Cetti’s Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
On the way home we briefly called in at Fuente de Piedra but saw nothing we had not seen the day before.
Photographs from the top: Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) x2 shots, David and Steve digiscoping the Bustards and sun set at Fuente de Piedra.
64 bird species seen.