Thursday, 4 September 2014

Great Bustards, raptors and a trio of Mongoose

Wednesday 3 September

September's definitelyhere and we seem to be all out and about.  Friend Andy, literally, as I think he is presently up of the Atlantic coast enjoying a pelgic out of Bilbao - and probably in the rain!  Meanwhile, following my very hot afternoon on Tuesday, John and Jenny Wainwright determined on an early start and spent Wednesday in teh osuna area followed by the scenic cross-country return journey over to the Laguna Dulce and were well-rewarded for their time.  Most peole are happy with the sight of one Mongoose but not John and jenny; they had a trio.  Does that make them "Mongooses " or "Mongeese?"

Osuna and Laguna Dulce  3rd September

A hottish day (31C) with a fair breeze - thankfully

It was decided on the spur of the moment late on Tuesday evening that we go to Osuna for the day, as it had been five months almost since our last visit.  So at 8am Wednesday morning we set out from Salar.  A few Jackdaws, Collared Doves, House Sparrows and a male Sparrowhawk were seen enroute.

After coffee, we started for the area around the railway bridge, seeing a Common Buzzard sitting on the crown of a small hillock.  We came off of the main road onto a track that runs parallel to the railway track here there were Zitting Cisticolas, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, Stonechats and a couple of juvenile Woodchat Shrikes. In the fields to our left several families of Crested Larks were feeding, a few Red-legged Partridges fled from the fields into the olive grove, where we also found two Hares and whilst watching these two creatures some Bee-eaters flew over but weren´t seen, but a Hoopoe was. In the distance good numbers of Ravens were about (as is the norm here) and we spotted one Jackdaw, closer in.

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike Alcaudon Comun Lanius senator (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Over the bridge and along to the area where we hoped to see the Great Bustards, seeing on the way more Ravens, two more Buzzards and an adult Southern Grey Shrike.  As we gained the track, a flock of some twenty three Black-bellied Sandgrouse came low across the fields and then a group of four joined them. They landed once but took off very quickly going well out of sight from then on.  We did, however, put up a small group of Calandra Larks, and another two Buzzards also from the fields.  Lots of Crested Larks and Northern Wheatears about then I spotted out target bird - a male Great Bustard - he was strutting about with his tail cocked, before flying off.  We took a smaller track on our return journey and found two more Great Bustards by an olive grove, they flew off into a stubble field giving us good  - if rather heat-hazy -  views.

First sight of the Great Bustards Avutarda Comun Otis tarda (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Returning to the main road we turned off onto the Vereda del Alamillo track, and parking by the reed beds here we saw Cetti´s Warbler, a female Sardinian Warbler and heard a Reed Warbler.  The Raven group here had increased to thirty birds a lot of them on the old ruin over the reed bed.  As we progressed down the track the cicadas were in good "voice" and in the olive groves we saw literally scores of Red-legged Partridges and a couple of Hoopoes.  Down at the farmhouse (where the Rollers are normally situated) we saw our first hirundines namely House Martins, Barn Swallows then a big flock of Common and Pallid Swifts came over.  On the buildings we found Rock Doves and one Lesser Kestrel.  Making our way back three Egyptian Mongoose tore across the stubble field into a reed bed.

Great Bustards Avutarda Comun Otis tarda (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Making our way back to the autovia we decided to go across country through Los Corrales and Campillos and on to Laguna Dulce, we did get a Booted Eagle and a Common Kestrel along this road but nothing we hadn´t seen prior.

Laguna Dulce:

Our first sighting as we entered the hide was a Snipe on the front foreshore alongside a Green Sandpiper.   To our left we located six Kentish Plovers, a Common Sandpiper, another Green Sandpiper, a few Black-winged Stilts and two female Shovelers.

The lonely Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
On the far side of the laguna we found White-headed ducks, Mallard, two Teal and two Gadwall and a Grey Heron.  Plenty of Greater Flamingos about still as well as Common Coots, Black-necked, Little and Great Crested Grebes also a good number of Black-headed Gulls, but only one Pochard was noted.  A female Marsh Harrier was spotted perched in the bushes and she only came off the once  - probably to keep the ducks and coots on their toes!

On the far inlet below the ruin Black-winged Stilts, Dunlin, Avocet, Ruff, Common and Green Sandpiper were feeding, when two Egyptian Mongoose ran across the shoreline, one of them grabbing a  juvenile Black-winged Stilt as it went, then turned around  and dashed back off into the reeds, one of them standing for a few seconds enabling a photo to be had.  This action caused all the waders to disappear from here for a while.

Egyptian Mongoose Herpestes ichneumon one of the mischievous little rascals that feed on juvenile birds
In the reeds around the hide we saw Cetti´s and Reed Warbler, Goldfinches, Zitting Cisticolas, House Sparrows, Corn Buntings, and above us and over the far reed beds Common Swifts, House Martins and Barn Swallows were seen.  After a cup of tea then we headed for home quite pleased with our day out, but ready to get out of the sun.

 It certainly sounds like a greeat day's birding enjoyed by all, aprt from, that is, the unfortunate juvenile Black-winged Stilt!

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.  

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