From Wetlands to dry hill tops as we start to head North.
Deb and Renate Day Eight.
The three of us set off early hearing Red-necked Nightjar (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis) as we left the house, we went past Granada and up to Tablas, once we were there we went out on to the board walk trail. Right from the start we could hear Penduline Tits (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) and the first bird we saw from the small platform was a fine male which was collecting nesting material. This little pool was quiet except for singing Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Grey (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) and Purple Herons (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus). From the first island top we scanned the surrounding pools picking up Red-crested (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) and Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Great Crested Grebe (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) and a fly over Black / Cinereous Vulture (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) which later when we spoke to one of the guides was a rare brd at the site. We continued on along the board walk getting views of Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), our only Reed Bunting (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus) of the trip, Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra) and as we were photographing a very nice Great Crested Grebes Deb picked up a female Bearded Tit (Reedling) (Bigotudo / Panurus biarmicus) as she dropped into the reed across the pool. This bird was followed by a second female and a nice male but they all disappeared as soon as they landed. As we had already seen Penduline we did not go on to the larger island but turned left and made our way out to the hide, on the way we heard Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus), had flight views of several Night Herons (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), more Purples and Greys as well as another male Bearded Tit, Yellow Wagtail (Lavandera Boyera / Motacilla flava iberiae), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Whiskered Tern (Fumarel Cariblanca / Chilidonias hybridus) and in the Tamarisks several Melodious Warblers (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Tree Sparrows (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus) and Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus). In the hide there were several nests of Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), the young had fledged but were still in the hide and the adults returned to feed them sometimes through a small crak at the top of the door. Here we also had a Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) which was trying to eat a largish Crayfish, Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia) and the frst of several Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia).
We carried on around the board walk back towards the visitor centre adding only Viperine Snake (Culebra Viperina / Natrix maura), Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa), a single Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) and Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser). We went back to the car for drinks and a bit of Renate's German Chocholate cake before taking the second trail which included several hides and a larger tower hide at the furthest point which gave a nice view over the wetland. Just before the first hide we stood on a small boat jetty and listened to a Savi's Warbler (Buscarla Unicolor / Locustella luscinoides) out in the reeds but we did not see it so we continued on. Just as we approach another one of the hides Deb had fleeting views of a Moustached Warbler (Carricerin Real / Acrocephalus melanopogon) which dived into cover before Renate and I could get on to it but a few seconds later I had equally fleeting views of the bird as it disappeared in to the larger reedbed. From the next hide we were very pleased to see a nice male Ferruginous Duck (Porrón Pardo / Aythya nyroca) which showed well but did not come close enough for a decent shot. We had spoken to a warden earlier in the day and he had been very helpful with info about the Savi's and Moustached Warblers but had said that there were no Ferruginous on this part of the reserve with the whole population being on a part of the wetland that was restricted with no access, this made this bird all the better. Deb comented that the bird looked a bit like their Hardhead (Aythya australis) but it is a different species. During the walk back to the carpark we had views of Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) and a male Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii).
Just as we reached the turn for the car park we again heard the Penduline Tit in the same area as earlier so we scanned the Tamarisks and soon located a part built nest with a fine male bird adding some more material to the structure.
We returned to the car and had another drink and added European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) and Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica) to the day list before putting Hoces del Duratón in to the satnav and heading onwards.
We stopped a couple of times during the journey but we did not add any thing to the list except for a couple of Monk Parakeets (Cotorra Argentina / Myiopsitta monachus) as we drove around Madrid. Another one of the stops was on the roadside next to a corn field full of the most beautiful blue Corn Flowers (Centaurea cyanus). We reached the Hostel, booked in and unloaded before having some thing to eat in a near by bar, later Deb and I headed out to the first part of Hoces del Duratón whilst Renate had a break. On the way we made a quick stop at a group of ruined farm buildings and had a walk around seeing Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla) and Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus).
We arrived and parked along side the main track where we soon had several Woodchat Shrikes (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) in view along with Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Sky (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) and Woodlarks (Totovia / Lullula arborea), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Pallid Swift (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis), Black-eared (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) and Northern Wheatears (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) and Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus). The whole time we were at this spot there was the lovely sound of bells ringing from a large flock of sheep, the shepherd was bringing them back in towards their night time home just as the sun was starting to drop. He had two really beautiful Pyrenean Mountain Dogs with him and the whole sceen was very nice and was recorded in lot of our photographs from the day.
As the light dropped we could hear the one species we had come to try and find but the two or three Dupont's Larks (Alondra Ricotí / Chersophilus duponti) we could hear were quite a long way off across a small ravine so we did not see them, we also heard Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and Red-necked Nightjar (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis) before we called it a day and went back to the accommodation.
Photgraphs from the top: 2x Great Crested Grebes (Somormujo Lavanco / Podiceps cristatus), female Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), male Penduline Tits (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) nest building, Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Corn Flowers (Centaurea cyanus), Corn Flower, Deb in the Cornflowers, Ruined barn and 4x Shepherd and his dogs.