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Wednesday 26 June 2024

Driving North to Borja, north west of Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain.

Making my way north for a while.
Ebird List for Laguna de la Veguilla, 42 Species.
Trip Total Day One, Birds 61, Butterflies 5.

Male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).
I set off earlier than planned as I was woken at 0405 by the local spreader of death spraying his Olives yet again, so I thought that I may as well get up, load the car and go as I certainly wasn't going to get any more sleep.
Male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus).
I drove East to Granada and then North around Jaen and up towards Alcázar de San Juan where I wanted to visit Laguna de la Veguilla, on the way I started the holiday list off with a calling Red-necked Nightjar (Chotacabras Cuellirrojo / Caprimulgus ruficollis) near the house, a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which was stupidly sat right in the middle of the road and as it started to get light out passed Jaen I added a large flock of around 300 Spotless Starlings (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor) coming out of a roost in some pines trees, the first of several Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) which was still resting on a roadside pylon, Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and several small groups of Iberian  Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cooki) before stopping for breakfast.
Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) with prey.
Male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) with prey.
Just after breakfast whilst still heading north all traffic was diverted off the motorway and directed by 30 odd Guardia Civil officers into one of the large bad weather parking areas, where all my paperwork and driving license was checked and the car searched, the poor guy that did mine opened the boot scratched his head and called for a dog as he really didn't want to empty it, anyway 15 minutes later all was confirmed as OK and I was on my way again, pleasantly and efficiently do.
Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris).
Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris).
Marbled Ducks (Marmaronetta angustirostris).
During the rest of the drive up to the Laguna I saw House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), lots of Common Swifts (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and at least 2 male and 1 female Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) at different points in the drive.
The large Reed Beds at the Laguna.
I arrived at the Laguna and checked the first of the hides which gives the best all round view of the area, out on the water there were very good numbers of White-headed Ducks (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) including quite a few immature birds, Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus) and many wading Greater Flamingo's (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus).
Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina) immature.
Around the reed beds I heard and saw at least 7 
Bearded Tit (Reedling) (Bigotudo / Panurus biarmicus) but probably several more than this count, a single calling Savi's Warbler (Buscarla Unicolor / Locustella luscinoides) which the Medio Ambiante guy that had joined me in the hide couldn't hear even though the merlin app on his phone could, Reed (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Cetti's (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and several Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus).
White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) immature.
White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) immature.
In the sky new species for the day included 3 Black-tailed Godwits (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa), the first 18 of which eventually turned in 38 Avocets (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), many hunting Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia) which were returning to nearby nests, European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) and a zitting Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis).
Avocets (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta) and White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala).
The Medio Ambiante guy went and I walked down to the second hide which was not far away along a track which was lined by Zygophyllum fabago, from the second hide I only added
Gadwall (Anade Friso / Anas strepera) and on the walk back to the car Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris).
Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus).
Next I drove around to the hide near the visitor's center and whilst sat there talking to another Spanish birder added a single immature Red-crested Pochard (Pato Colorado / Netta rufina), some introduction Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) complete with trackers, 5 Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), a very brief Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), a heard but not seen Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and a showy Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus) + 2 more near the visitors center building, also seen were Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa) x2 and loads of Rabbits (Conejo / Oryctolagus cuniculus).
Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus).
I returned to the car and after refueling I continued on North but made a second stop at a spot just off the motorway where I usually go to try for
Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) but due to the time of the year I didn't expect to see them as it is usually a Winter and Spring site, however I did see 2 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Ganga Ibérica / Pterocles alchata), Greater Short-toed (Terrera Común / Clandrella brachydactyla) and Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Woodchat (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator) and Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops) and a nice male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).
Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus).
Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus).
At the same site I also saw 
Bath (Pontia daplidice) x8 and Small White (Pieris rapae) x5, Common / Southern Blue (Polyommatus icarus / celina) x1, Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera) x3 and Iberian Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthameli) x1.
Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus).
Tree Sparrow (Gorrión Molinero / Passer montanus).
I continued on after getting a coffee and drove straight through to Borja where I was going to be staying for two nights, on the way I boosted the list with 6 Gull-billed Terns (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) which flew over the motorway in front of me, a dozen or so Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and 4 Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) on the outskirts of Madrid.
Bum end of a male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).
Once I had checked in I went for a walk and got back just in time, as a couple of minutes later the thunder, lightening and torrential rain started which put me off going out birding later as I thought that the tracks I wanted to check would probably be a tad muddy.

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