Third tick for the guide, now this was getting a bit embarrassing !!! A great days birding.
GRANADA WILDLIFE'S Spring Tour.
After a rather large breakfast we headed south back to Los Palacios y Villafranca and then out on to the fields, on the way we picked up several Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia), Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus) in roadside ditches and two Ring-necked Parakeet (Cotorra de Kramer / Psittacula Krameri) which flew high along the centre of the road and were only seen by Judy and Myself. Our first stop was along side a large channel just out side of a small town nearby and on the margins we started off with Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata). In the air there were more Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis and a couple of Night Herons (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax). We all got back in to the bus and we headed out over the fields until we reached another area of channels where we again parked and started to scan the reeds in the larger ditch, soon we were watching one of several Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus) that were singing, a fine male Black-headed Weaver (Ploceus melanocephalus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Judy had a brief view of a Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) but it dropped in to cover before she could get the rest of us on to it. We started to drive along the track passed the reeds, the Black-headed Weaver stayed put and I managed to squeeze of a couple of shots of it and a pair of Common Waxbills (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild) flew along the right hand side of the van but kept going. Just passed the reeds we had great views of a Great Reed Warbler which sat out very nicely on the top of a stem. As we drove along this track we were checking the ditches on either side, on the left we started to build quite a list of waders and by the time we reached the sluices at the far end we had seen Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Common (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Curlew Sandpiper (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea), Green (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and Wood Sandpipers (Andarrios Bastardo / Tringa glareola), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) and Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius). We reached the sluces and checked an area of Tamarisks, we were quickly rewarded with good clear views of a Western Olivaceous Warbler (Zarcera Pálido / Hippolais pallida) which showed very well low down in a small bush and for comparison a Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta). Several more birds were seen in the bushes so we decided to park and have a walk around this cracking spot. On the far side of this dyke there was a small pool and a larger area of water swamped by reeds and Tamarisk tree. On the smaller patch of water there was a colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa) which Nick checked over and recorded the colour combinitions so that he could send the info off on his return to the UK. Also on the pool there were a couple of Glossy Ibis, a few Black-winged Stilts and a Purple Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio). We walked out towards the reeds and Tamarisks after Judy had fleeting glimpes of a Little Bittern (Avetorillo Común / Ixobrychus minutus) which dropped down in to the reedbed. In the area we had cracking views of more Ibis, Swamp Hens, Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Turtle Dove, European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and after a good look around the Little Bittern flew the full length of the Pool straight at us giving nice views. We walked back along the reedbed picking up a good sized flock of fast flying Common Waxbill and then the bird of the day for me a Wood Warbler (Mosquitero Sibador / Phylloscopus sibilatrix) which was my third Spanish lifer in three days. In amongst the grasses we found several Iberian Blue-tails (Ischnura graellsii), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas), Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus) and Small White (Artogeia rapae).
We made our way back to the van and then continued on along the track to the next area of water and reeds, there were lots of birds around including good numbers of Whiskered Terns (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Common (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina) and Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Squacco (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides), Purple (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea) and Grey Herons, Spoonbill and Glossy Ibis. In the reedbeds we caught a short blast of a Savi's Warbler (Buscarla Unicolor / Locustella luscinoides) but we could not locate it but we had nice views of a couple of female Black-headed Weavers, more Great Reed Warblers, several flyover Little Terns (Charrancito Común / Sterna albifrons), a fishing Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus) and a nice pair of Northern Pintail (Ánade Rabudo / Anas acuta) whic Judy picked up on the far side of the pool.
We again moved on and checked the next area of water, Judy struck again almost before the van had stopped by picking up the first of two possibly three Great White Egrets (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba), here we also had good views of Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) and just as we were about to leave we managed to get a scope on to a singing Savi's Warbler deep amongst the reeds. We spent another hour or so driing slowly along the track, stopping many times to scan the small pools, we heard several more Savi's Warblers and had good views of a male Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra) which flicked form post to Tamarisk as we followed it along the track, the same or another Osprey which sat on a pylon eating a largish fish and many more exciting species before dragging our selves away from this brilliant site for the drive over to Osuna.
The drive took us just over 1.5 hours and produced our first Roller (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) of the trip as well as Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) for the day.
We had lunch just after we left the A92 Motorway and then headed out in to the fields nearby, at our first stop through the now building heat haze we picked up a pair of distant Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and heard Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus). We moved along the road a short way and took a track out in to the fields where we again had nice views of a female Montagu's which was drinking from a deep rut in the track, heard and saw lots of Turtle Doves but could not find any Bustards of either species. We spent some time checking fields from the last of the bridges along this road and during this time we watched a large very bright Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) and whist we were doing this an Egyptian Mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) crossed the road giving us brief but good views. We continued on around the area checking out several more sites but still we could not locate any Bustards, how can a population of 170 or birds of this size hide so well ? We next called at a large ruined Cortijo looking for better views of Roller which we easily got and also for Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) which we also got but could not find a nice co-operative male to show off his nice grey wing stripe. Just around the corner from the Cortijo we called in at a sparrow colony in a Eucaliptus plantation where we all eventually got nice views of the Spanish Sparrows (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis) that are mixed in with the masses of the commoner House Sparrows (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), also here we saw another Roller, Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and many More Black Kites.
From here we drove through the village of La Lantejuela and on the Laguna de la Ballestera, as soon as we arrived we could see quite a few Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), loads of Gull-billed Tern (100's), many Whiskered Turns (50+), Black-winged Stilts, Little Ringed Plovers, Avocet (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta), a single Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna) and in the Tamarisk around the site a Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata) and several singing Melodious Warblers. Over the water we could also see Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum), Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) and Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii). We checked out a couple more Lagoons but they were both dry, it was late afternoon by now and getting very hot so we decided to drop back to Osuna and check in to the hotel. Later in the early evening at around 18:00 things had cooled down a bit so we headed back out along the same road that we had checked earlier but the outcome was much better. Within a few minutes of reaching the first view point we had a fine male Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) crossing a fields a few hundred meters away and a second was picked up by Lynda in a nearer field but we could only see its head as it walked through a deep crop. We moved on to the second stop we had made early and picked up a very nice adult Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) which was perched on a nearby road sign. Whilst we were studying this bird a chap pulled up on the road below us and shouted up that there were 21 Great Bustards from the third view point further down the road, we thanked him and put him onto the Kite before heading down to the spot. By the time we arrived the majority of the birds had dropped over a ridge in the fields but we did get good views of a couple of males displaying to some female birds.
Very happy with our views we made our way back to the hotel for our evening meal seeing a small flock of Collared Pratincoles on the way.
Photographs from the top: The Group bird near Los Palacios y Villafranca, Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), male Black-headed Weaver (Ploceus melanocephalus), Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus), Squacco (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides), Whiskered Terns (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus), Osprey (Águila Pescardora / Pandion haliaetus), Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba), Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola), Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) and Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans).