Thursday, 7 January 2016

Palencia to Santiago de Compostela

A bit of culture, a Spanish Lifer and lots of rain (just like the UK).

Jayne and I started the day with a walk around the very nice old part of the City of Palencia getting shots of several of the older buildings including the very impressive Cathedral in the plaza de San Antolin as well as the 20meter high status of Christ (Cristo del Otero). We also had a look at the Río Carrión and the Canal de Castilla were I was pleased to find a couple of Mute Swans (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor), several Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and good numbers of Siskins (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) in the surounding Alder trees. As we cross back over the Río we saw several more Mute Swans and lots of Mallards. In the town and suroundings we also saw Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula).
We returned to the hotel and collected the car just as it started to drizzle and headed out of the City towards a spot near a small village called Perales where a Hooded Crow had been reported a few days earlier but in the wet conditions all I recorded were 5 Carrion Crows (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), a Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) and a large female Goshawk (Azor Común / Accipitor gentillis) which upset everything as it passed through. 
From here we headed through the rain towards Fuentes de Nava where we were going to visit the lakes at Humedal de la Nava looking for wildfowl but just before we reached the town I spotted a roadside flock of geese and a pull off spot at the same time. Right in front of where I stopped I quickly found 5 Greater White-fronted Geese (Ánsar Careto / Anser albifrons) in amongst the 800 or so Greylags (Ansar Común / Anser anser) and on the oposite side of the road there were several White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Feral Pigeons (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia) and several Corn Buntings (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
We continued on around to the wetlands and I stopped at the first hide and scanned a wind sweep lake surrounded by reed beds but only found 2 more Mute Swans, 3 Marsh Harriers and a Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) so we carried on to another parking area where I left Jayne with her Kindle and went for a walk out to the tower hide nearby. On the way I checked out an area of wet Willow scrub and found Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). Once I was in the hide I scanned a few nearby pools where there were quite good numbers of ducks including Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera), Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca), Eurasian Wigeon (Sibón Europeo / Anas penelope) and lots more Mallards. On the margins there was a single Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) and on field further away 9+ Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) and a flock of Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis). We made a couple more stops on the roadsides but could not find any more geese hidden amongst the 1000s of Greylags so we started the drive up to Santiago de Compostela just stopping the once for some lunch. The weather got much worse and the high winds and very heavy rain made or an interesting drive. In some calmer periods of rain we did see several Marsh and 3 Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) as well as Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris). We reached Santiargo just on dark in very heavy rain but the Satnav took us to the hotel and then to a nearby car park, after checking in we had a walk and found a very nice little tapas bar called Antollos and had some food before turning in.

Photographs from the top: Statue of Christ (Cristo del Otero), Statues in Palencia, Mute Swans (Cisne Vulgar / Cygnus olor), Church in Palencia, Greater White-fronted (Ánsar Careto / Anser albifrons) and Greylag Geese (Ansar Común / Anser anser), Tapas in bar and Bar owner with Tapas.

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