A few more Lifers and a day dodging the storms.
(Deb and Ian Day Two).
(Deb and Ian Day Two).
Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), which was quickly followed by a male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), a small flock of Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo). Our second stop was on the first bridge which crosses the railway line and our first surprise was that there were hundreds of very small Natterjack Toads (Sapo Corredor / Bufo calamita) trying to cross the track but they were trapped by the large curb stones. From here we had very nice views of a cracking male Little Bustard (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which was calling from a field along side the railway, a pair of Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax), singing Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and some nice views of Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) both on the ground and in flight. From here we moved on along to the second bridge but just as we went back onto the road again we saw a small bird fly across infront of the car and into some thistles, this turned out to be a very nice male Spectacled Warbler (Curruca Tomillera / Sylvia conspicillata) which showed very nicely on the top of a spike of Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum). We continued to the bridge after some scanning we picked up a distant group of 6 Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) which gave Deb and Ian their second lifer of the morning but the views were not great so we decided to try and get a bit closer on one of the many tracks. In amongst the crop fields we had several nice views of the Iberian Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus / capensis) and Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus).
On the way we passed a large derelict cortijo were we stopped and got some good views of several Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) amongst the hords of Feral Pigeons (Columba livia) and picked up the first of at least nine Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) to be seen during the day. Further on we had good views of Red-legged Partridges (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), another Roller, at least two Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto). We parked at the end of one of the spurs off the main track and walked a bit further through the crops until we found the Great Bustards but we could only locate 5 of the birds. In the same area we also saw 3 more male Little Bustards, lots of Lesser Kestrels, Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) and in the fields near the Bustards there were dozens of both Cattle (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) that were probably feeding on some of the many Toads that were so common in the area. We retraced our steps and headed down towards the third bridge but on the way we had great views of several Black-bellied Sandgrouses (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis), the first were in flight but we did get views of some of the seven birds on the ground. Just before we got to bridge we had a small flock of around 20 Collared Pratincoles (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola) in a field along with several Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus). From the bridge we located Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and both Red-rumped (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) and Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). A little further along this road we turned on to a track and checked out a large group of Eucaliptus trees and soon had the next lifer on the list with a nice male Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis) sitting on the nearby fence, with one in the bag we started finding them all over the site, in a nearby ditch we added Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Reed (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Melodious Warblers (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta). We continued on along this track to a very large deserted Cortijo were we saw more Rollers, Lesser Kestrels, European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), a soaring Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), another of the many Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia). We took a different track back to the road and again saw another Roller and a cracking male Montagu's Harrier along with Alpine (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus). Back at the road we headed off North again and parked on the road side and quickly found Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula). We then retraced out steps back over the bridge and onto the main road again and continued on towards La Lantejuela on the way we stopped to look at some roadside plants which included the beautiful Nigella papillosa subsp atlantica and the spectacular thistle Onopordum nervosum.
Whilst we were looking at these plants we also scanned a small area of water down near the railway line where we found Avocets (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta) and Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus) and in the air we had good views of more Black Kites, Booted Eagles and a small group of Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) which circled over the railway. We continued on and stopped near the Arroyo del Salado and found a juvenile Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus), on the bridge another Roller and in the skies several pale phase Booted Eagles. Our next stop was in the town of La Lantejuela where we found a nice small bar and had some lunch.
After lunch we started to visit some of the many wetlands in the area and after the wet February and March that we had just had they were all pretty much full and several that I had not seen before had appeared. Our first stop was at Laguna de la Ballestera and Immediately we could pick out good numbers of Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Lesser
(Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), along with several groups of Eurasian Coots (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and in the air a dozen or so Whiskered Terns (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus). We parked just on the edge of the Tamerisk trees and had a walk along the track quickly picking up Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), a flock of four roosting Grey Plovers (Chorlito Gris / Pluviali squatarola) one of which was in summer plumage, a couple of pairs of Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), a single Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and a raucous Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus). We then turned around and walked back towards the car, during the whole walk we were surrounded by lots of Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and out on the main lake there were several of both Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator) and Lesser Emperors (Anax parthenope). In this area and during the day we also had several butterfly species including Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Brown Argus (Aricia agestis), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Common Blue (Icaro (Dos Puntos) / Polyommatus icarus), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) and Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera). Once back at the car we continued on to we made our way to Laguna de Consuegra and again there were good numbers of Greater Falamingo's, this time we also had nice views of several summer plumaged Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis), plus several Great Crested (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus) and Little (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis). On the far end of the lake amongst the reeds there 30 or so Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Common Pochard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata) and in the air again there were 20+ Whiskered Terns zipping about. We continued on a short way seeing more Kentish Plovers, a singing Great Reed and lots of Reed Warblers. On the way back to the car we started to notice that there were several storms starting to brew up around us and one was already letting fly a few bolts of lightening and the thunder could be heard rummbling away in the distance. As we neared the car a couple of very smart looking Purple Herons (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea) were seen chasing each other, one bird dropped on to a small reedy pool near the road and the second went over to a larger area of water on the far side of the road. We had a look for the first bird but even though the pool was small the reeds were dense and the bird remained unseen as did the bird on the larger pool. Whilst searching for the Heron we had cracking views of nest building Whiskered Terns, some passing Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) we had been seeing this species all morning but this was the first group any where near the water as all the other flocks had been feeding out over the fields. We then made our way back to the main road and headed for Laguna de la Turquilla but when we arrived I was disappointed to see that the reeds had almost completly swamp the lake and this made it immpossible to see any birds on the water, we did have a few Red-crested Pochards in flight and in the area around the lake there were good numbers of both Black Kites and Booted Eagles as well as a pair of Common Buzzards. We then headed back towards Osuna but made a quick stop at another laguna on the way which held good numbers of Red-crested Pochard in two flocks which combined must have totalled over 200 birds. We also saw Avocet, Black winged Stilt and a few more Kentish Plovers. Continuing on we had brief views of an adult Black-winged Kite by the road but could not find any where to stop. We went through Osuna and got back onto the A92 and headed for home.
Photographs from the top: Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur) DH, Black-bellied Sandgrouses (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) DH, European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) DH, Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) DH, Red-legged Partridges (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) DH, Nigella papillosa subsp atlantica MDR, Onopordum nervosum MDR, Ian and Deb birding at the Lagunas, Grey Plovers (Chorlito Gris / Pluviali squatarola) MDR, Storms over the Laguna's x2 and Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) DH.
DH= Deb Hopton, MDR= Me.
DH= Deb Hopton, MDR= Me.