The first of two superb days away in the west of Andalucia.
Deb and Renate Day Four.
The three of us got up early and headed along the A92 to the fields just to the west of Osuna, we were not doing a full run around the site but thought it would be good for the trip list to get a few species under the belt from the area. We pulled off the motorway and took to the smaller roads and tracks, we parked near the frst bridge and started the day list off with Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Crested Larks (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) and Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa). We moved on down the road a few KM, on fences along the railway we saw Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and just as we drove up on to the bridge a couple of Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) flew over and landed in the next field so we had good views of them once we had parked on the second bridge. We scanned the fields and picked up Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae) and Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax). We then drove along the track towards the large distant factory building checking the fields as we went and soon started to notice larger and larger numbers of Black Kites until we reached a large rock sticking up from a crop field which near 30 birds perched on it and on surrounding fields we counted well over 100 more. In this same area we had Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo). We retraced our way back towards the second bridge but turned off right and headed for the third bridge, on the way we stopped and scanned the fields and soon had the scope trained on a group of 12 Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) which were striding across a distant field but closer than the last time Deb had seen them here. We moved on to the third bridge where Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), a nice male Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) which sat nicely and Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor). We dropped down from the bridge and took the track out in to the fields adding Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula).
Again we retraced our steps an the turned towards the fourth bridge, on the way we stopped on the roadside and watched a group of Collared Pratincoles (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola) on the field and in the air, this species is one that looks like it flys just for the fun of it and is enjoying it's self at the same time. We drove up and over the bridge and down to the Sparrow plantation where we had really good views of several Spanish Sparrows (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis) dust bathing on the track as well as several move Lesser Kestrels and lots of Black Kites. Just around the corner we pulled up by a disused Cortijo and soon had nice views of a pair or two of Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus), lots more Lesser Kestrels, Jackdaws and a surprise Tawny Owl (Cárabo Común / Strix aluco). We returned to the fourth bridge and then continued on along the road to a bridge a little further on where we checked the dry river bed area and saw several nest loads of White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus).
From here we dropped back south to the A92 and then on two other roads making our way out to the not so wet wetlands of Brazo de Este. Most of the ditches out in the areas around the fields were dry and we only managed to pick up a fine male and several female Black-headed Weavers (Ploceus melanocephalus), Great Reed Warblers (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and more Collared Pratincoles on the dusty drive out to the main canal sluces. Once we were at the sluces we took another track and checked an area of Tamarisks and reedbeds nearby and very soon had another lifer for Deb and Renate in the shape of a very smart male Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) which we could hear calling almost constantly but it took some time to get good views. Here we had singles and a couple of flocks of Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus), Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), Cetti's (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Reed (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus) and Willow Warbler (Mosquitero Musical / Phylloscopus trochillus). We continued on along the track and stopped at the first area of water where there were good numbers of White Storks, Spoonbills (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia), Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Cattle (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Avocets (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta), Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and a very nice Squacco Heron (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides). On the opposite side of the road there were more Grey Herons, a few Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhens (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and Purple Swamp-hens (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio). We moved down to the second area of water and boosted the trip list with a very nice summer plumaged Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluviali squatarola), Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea), as well as more Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills, White Storks, Great Reed Warbler, lots of Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula), Whiskered Tern (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus), Collared Pratincoles and the first of only two species that I saw and niether Deb or Renate got on to during the whole trip a Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago). We continued on along this same road checking some more wet areas on the way, amongst a roost of Little Egrets we picked out a single Great White (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) as well as Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Black Tern (Fumarel Común / Chlidonias niger), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) and Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina).
At the end of the track we turned back towards the spot where we had turned out on to the fields and left this good site behind us on our way out to the Trebujena Saltpans, on the way we had nice views of another Night Heron in the roadside ditch. We passed around the side of Trebujena and took the road out to the Rio Guadalquivir, just before the river we stopped and checked some pools, we did not see much new but we did get some nice shots of a very close flying White Stork. We continued on along the side of the river heading pretty much east until we reached the large saltpans which had a good number of Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Red-crested Pochards (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and then birds of the day 3 superb Marbled Duck (Cerceta Pardilla / Marmaronetta angustirostris) after watching these cracking birds for a good while and getting some nice shots we dragged our selves away and continued on to the end of the track and made our way through the Algaida Pine woods making a short stop near the entrance and adding Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tits (Carbonera Común / Parus major), heard a Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) but again did not see it, Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata) and lots of Swallowtails (Papilio machaon) and Clouded Yellows (Colias Común / Colias corcea).
Once we were through the woods we dropped down passed Bonanza Salt Pans and checked out the three pools in amongst the Green Houses and fields nearby, here we added White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and Little Bittern (Avetorillo Común / Ixobrychus minutus) as well as Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea) and Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata). Our final stop of the day was at Bonanza where we checked the roaside pans, the river and the larger pools, we were soon watching good numbers of Little Terns (Charrancito Común / Sterna albifrons), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Curlew Sandpiper (Correlimos Zarapitin / Calidris ferruginea), Little Ringed (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), Audouin's (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Slender-billed (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) and two not so helpful Lesser Short-toed Larks (Terrera Marismena / Calandrella rufescens) which would just not give us good views. Down by the river we came up with just Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) before we made our way into the town of Sanlucar and found rooms at a nice small hotel in the centre which was very reasonably priced.
Photographs from the top: A mass gathering of Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Sun rise near Osuna, Male Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Collared Pratincole (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola), Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus), Deb and Renate, White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), Marbled Ducks (Cerceta Pardilla / Marmaronetta angustirostris), White Stork on natural nest, White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala), Slender-billed Gull (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei), Little Terns (Charrancito Común / Sterna albifrons) and Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus).