The first day with Sheila and Denis from France.
|Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) and Golden Plovers (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria).|
I met Sheila and Denis at the Cortijo de Tajar for a days birding and after a coffee we were soon out onto the local patch. We moved around the area looking for the sometimes elusive Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) but we dropped lucky as they were out on their favourite fields. It is always superb to see this species but each year when the flock turns up for the winter the numbers are reduced, just 5 years ago we were getting numbers of around 250 birds but this year the group arrived and the count was just 88. On the same fields we had several Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaria), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Spotless (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) and Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Skylarks (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and as we were coming off the track a female Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) showed well on a chain above an irrigation channel and a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) sat out on the roof of an old farm building where they breed.
|Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax).|
We also had a good at the fields where the Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) roost and found good numbers of them in the ridges along with Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
Our next stop was on the edge of town where we had a walk along a track out on to the field behind the Stone Curlews and we soon had a group of 3 Reed Buntings (Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus) sat in a small dead plant at the side of the track, the first time I had seen more than singles on the site. Further along the path there were a couple of Grey Wagtails (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), several Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki), Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and a couple of Dartford Warbler (Curruca Rabilarga / Sylvia undata).
|Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).|
We again moved around the site to the Mesia side were we checked the dry reed bed and the irrigation channels, the biggest surprise was a flock of 20+ Reed Buntings which was by far the best flock I have seen anywhere in Spain. In the same area we had Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Waxbills (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild) calling but they remained hidden in the reeds, Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and two soaring Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo).
We left the fields after seeing some cracking species and went the short distance to Balsa de Rigedor where we scanned the water and found Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and around the margins Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula).
Our next stop was out on the fields near Moraleda where we were hoping for but dipped on the resident Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis), whoever we did add Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus sharpei), Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis) and Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) to our growing day list.
|Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua).|
Down in the Cacín Valley we stopped a couple of times and picked up Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Common Crossbill (Piquituerto Común / Loxia curvirostra) and a Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) which ran across a gap in the reeds and was seen by sheila and myself briefly.
Up on the Embalse we saw many of the species we saw earlier and added Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo).
Further down the valley we had much better views of Dartford Warbler before starting back towards the Hotel but not before picking up Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major) and a flying Redwing (Zorzal Alirrojo / Turdus illacus) whilst we were having a look at two Visigoth graves caved into a large block of Limestone, a nice place to finish the first day.