Monday, 2 March 2015

Osuna Area, Fuente de Piedra, Laguna Dulce, Teba Gorge and Laguna Herrera, Sevilla and Malaga Provinces.

A day of fields and wetlands for Liz Walsh's last day.

We set off early from the hotel and made our way along the A92 to Osuna at exit 80, once through the small industrial estate we pulled in on the side of the road near the first of the newish bridges over the under construction high speed rail line between Sevilla and Granada. Our first bird was a nice male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) which came in over the live railway line, other species included Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata). Our next stop was up at the next bridge where we parked and scanned the large fields from this elevated possition and found several more Marsh Harriers sitting on the deck, a single Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus) which flapped across nearby fields, several singing Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and on the road we had an Iberian Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus / capensis) run away from us. We drove down the track on the far side of the bridge heading towards a large barn in the distance, as we drove there two huge Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) came in to view flying towards the barn where they landed just out of view. We continued on along the track and found the two birds in a swede type field, they stood for a while then started to walk away and then flew. We checked the fields around the barn before turning around and turning right a little way back down the track where we had the first Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) of the day. At the end of this track we came to the second bridge over the rail line and soon had a couple of Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), a pair of Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). We continued on along the road to the third bridge where we scanned the fields again and picked up a distant male Great Bustard, so we drove along the road and got a bit close for some nice views. Along this road we also saw Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and in a group of Eucalyptus trees we had views of a couple of Spanish Sparrows (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis).
We retraced our way back across the bridge and turned right, after a few KM we stopped to check out a couple of raptors and soon found the second Black-winged Kite of the day sat in a large Oak tree. Whilst we were watching this bird we had a largish flock of Black Kites pass overhead but soon realized that they were not all Kites as we picked out at least 6 Black Storks (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) migrating with the raptors. We moved a little further down the road where we added White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia) to the trip list, plus Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus) and lots more Black Kites.
We again stopped a little further on by a small stream and some Eucalyptus trees, here we had another Black-winged Kite, Red Kite and our first Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) which was a pale phase bird. Within a few seconds the pale phase bird was joined by a nice dark phase birds and another flock of about 20 Black Kites. We made our way through La Lantejuela to the Laguna de la Ballestera but the water levels were low so birds were few and far except for good numbers of small waders including Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) and Little Stints (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta).
There were also smaller numbers of Greater Flamingo's, Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Lesser Black-backed  (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba). 
We checked out several more of the Lagoons but most were dry as we have had very little rain this winter but on the road down to Osuna we found a quite large area of water which was covered in birds so we stopped on the entrance to a field and set the scope up and scanned the flocks. Most of the birds were gulls and flamingo's but there were a few Black-tailed Godwits (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa) and some Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus).
We decided to move on back towards home calling in at Fuente de Piedra, on the samll pool along the entrance road we had good views of around 70 Black-winged Godwits, Several Black-winged Stilts, a Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), a Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and  Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra). We parked and went for a walk around the reserve starting with the board walks where we added a female Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope), Water (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta) and Meadow Pipits (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita) and on the next pools around towards the mirador we found Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca). From the Mirador we saw a few Greater Flamingo's, several Golden Plovers and lots of Gulls but little else so we moved around to the two back hides.From the larger hide we picked up a single White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) and a pair of Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and from the smaller one we just added Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera). We made our way back to the car and drove down the western side of the lake and soon found a dozen or so Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus) and yet another Marsh Harrier.
We again continued on to Laguna Dulce but it was incredably quiet, the only common species was Black- Headed Gull. There were just small numbers of Little Grebes, Northern Shovelers, Gadwall, 3 male Red-crested Pochards, a few Eurasian Coot, Common Moorhen, 2 Black-Winged Stilt and a small flock of Greater Flamingo's.
Our next stop was at the raptor watch point on Sierra Peñarrubia where we instantly had 4 Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) overhead along with a few Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris). In the trees around us we saw Sardinian Warbler as well as 3 Bath Whites (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), a Cleopatra (Cleopatra / Gonepteryx cleopatra), 3 Clouded Yellows (Colias Común / Colias corcea), 10+ Small (Artogeia rapae) and 2 Large Whites (Pieris brassicae). Down on the embalse below we had good views of several Great Crested Grebes (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus). Our last visits of the tour were to some more of the Lagoons around Campillos but all were mostly bird free except for a single Greater Flamingo, A few Black-winged Stilts, a Green Sandpiper and lots of Northern Shovelers
From here we made our way back along the road to Antequera and then on to Granada City where I said goodbye to Liz after three very nice days birding, thanks Liz.

Photographs from the top: Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda), Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), a group of Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Black Storks (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), group of Black-tailed Godwits (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), a single Black-tailed Godwit, female Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and male Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca).

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