Saturday, 3 June 2017

Fuentetodos and Belchite, Provincia de Zaragoza.

Granada Wildlifes tour of Belchite and the Pyrenees.
Day One. A rather wet day on the steppe lands of Belchite.

A cloudy, damp start to the day at Fuentetodos but it did not stop us having almost a full days birding.
The group were up and about early so we had a walk out on to the fields behind the hotel, on the track down to the pool we heard and saw House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis).
Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus).
Further along the track we went out into the fields, the clouds were starting to get lower and when we reached the point where we decided to turn around it started to rain but before we did we saw Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Thekla (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) and Short-toed Larks (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla), Turtle Dove (Tórtola Europea / Streptopelia turtur), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus) and a singing male Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus).
Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus).
We returned to the hotel and had breakfast before heading towards Belchite and the out on to the steppe type areas beyond there, on the way we spotted a Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) sat on a pylon so we pulled in and watched for a while before it flew towards us and away over a ridge nearby.
Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus).
We also had a calling Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) before we moved a little further down the road, we stopped again when we saw a fine male Black-eared Wheatear (Collalba Rubia / Oenanthe hispanica) which was sat up on a bush near the road. At the same spot we there was a Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris) feeding in amonst the roadside flowers, it showed well out on the tarmac between the plants. On the fields there were several Short-toed Larks, another calling Red-legged Partridge and in amongst the flowers on the roadside several Small White (Pieris rapae) butterflies.
Juliet and David Looking for the calling Rock Sparrows.
As we continued on we turned a corner and away in the distance we had views of the Santuario de Ntra Sta del Pueyo, a fine looking building but our attention was drawn to a ruin on the roadside where we could hear several Rock Sparrows (Gorrión Chillón / Petronia petronia) call, we soon tracked them down along with Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina) and Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs).
On the far side of Belchite we also added Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator).
Scanning the fields from a dry patch in the track.
We enter the main site at El Planeron, soon after we started up the track the rain stopped for a while so we parked up and scanned the area seeing Rabbit (Conejo / Oryctolagus cuniculus), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), a Lesser Short-toed Lark (Terrera Marismena / Calandrella rufescens) which was feeding out on the road, Calandra (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and several more Short-toed Larks as well as a calling but unseen Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis).
Having a walk in the sun as we did not see much for the first two days.
Further along the track we had 5 Stone Curlews (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus) sneaking through the vegetation trying to avoid being seen but they failed and we had good views along with Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Red-billed Chough (Chova Piquirroja / Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), loads of singing Corn Buntings and due to the low clouds and drizzle lots of Barn Swallows and House Martins which were feeding down at near ground level. We continued on along the track but due to the rain things were getting rather sticky and by the time we reached the far end of the site the wheel arches were full of mud and the track was like an ice rink so we turned around.
Spiny-footed Lizards (Acanthodactylus erythrurus).
We drove back up the hill to a far better track where we could get some grip, during this time we saw a very pale Booted Eagle which was sat out in a field looking well hacked off with the rain, Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Iberian / Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and along a signed track off the rather muddy track we had a walk and apart from the above species we all saw another Short-toed Eagle which for Andy P and myself flushed up two Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Ganga Ibérica / Pterocles alchata) but they stayed low and the others missed them.
Checking the wheel arches just to see if we can get any more mud in ???
We returned to the Van and made our way out of the site, the same pale Booted Eagle was seen along with a flypast Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) on the way. We went into Belchite where we had some lunch on the way we had a couple of Black-bellied Sandgrouse fly over the road. During lunch we picked up a male Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) before moving on to another spot a few Km up the road where we walked out in to the dry countryside which was by now getting warm as the sun had come out, during the stroll we saw good numbers of Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) as well as a lot of other the species seen earlier in the day. As the sun was now out we saw several butterflies on the wing including Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and Spanish Gatekeeper (Lobito listado / Pyronia bathsheba) as well as lots of Spiny-footed Lizards (Acanthodactylus erythrurus).
Due to the fact that the sun had shown up at last it was getting warm so we returned to the van and went back towards El Planeron but called at a small pool on the way and saw a Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Blue / Common Emperor (Anax imperator), Iberian Blue-tail (Ischnura graellsii) and Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathinerum).
Removing a KG or two of extra weight !!!!
Out on the areas of Steppe areas we saw much the same species as earlier in the day and as the rain returned and was heavy we decided to give in and headed back to the hotel.

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