Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Osuna Steppes

Sunday 17 May

Long with Jenny and friends Q and Judith Hill we met up with special birding friend Linda Roberts at Osuna during the late morning to explore the Osuna steppes before spending the night with Linda at relatively nearby Machena on our way down to the Donana National Park and the Odiel Marshes for four days with the Andalucia Bird Society.  Beautiful warm, if not hot day albeit a little on the breezy side, for some wonderful sightings.

Collared Pratincole Canastera Comun Glareola pratincola
All the target birds were recorded including a single Great Bustard wandering through a wheat field with just its head showing before exiting to cross a narrow track and enter an olive grove.  Lovely. A small number of Collared Pratincoles were found on their usual field which appeared to have the fist shoots of cotton plants just appearing whilst above a good range of raptors including well over 100 Black Kites, a single Red Kite, Buzzard, Griffon Vulture, a handsome male Montagu's Harrier and both Lesser and Common Kestrel.

One of very many Black Kite Milano negro Milvus migrans
Having found our first Roller we than had close views of the bird with it showing very well and revealing all its true colours in the bright sunlight.  Also present in this area were a good number of both Ravens and Jackdaws.  Only the occasional Bee-eater but we did see a pair of Hoopoes and House Martins along with both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows.

Smaller birds included Spanish Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail and numerous Crested Larks and Corn Buntings.  Needless to say there were plenty of Goldfinches and Serins to be seen.  This area is well populated with Red-legged Partridges yet we only saw a couple of individuals; hopefully they have not been over-culled by the local shooters.   At least the Turtle Doves were singing well having survived the Spring onslaught as they passed through the Mediterranean.

Lovely to have close views of the Roller Carraca Europea Coracias garrulus
Driving down the long track to the ruined farm buildings, not only did we get magnificent vies of Rollers, as well as scores of Rabbits and an Occelated Lizard, but we found the local Rock Doves and Lesser Kestrels on site at the latter.  A great surprise, though, was to find a pair of Tawny Owls which gave good sightings as they mad a few sorties between trees and buildings and the, to add to the fun, we also found the first Little Owl of the day.

I'm watching you!  A very serious looking Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua
Following dinner with Linda, we venture out just before night-fall to seek out the resident Red-necked Nightjars at a nearby olive grove.  We were not to be disappointed as a number of individual could be heard chirring away, along with a Common Cuckoo and a distant Stone Curlew.  With the light now gone we found an individual which had take to the top of a tall tree right next to the parked car!  Wonderful silhouetted views of the bird as it sand away, made short flights to, presumably, pick up a moth and then back to its favoured perch and more wing flapping before repeating the exercise all over again.  A truly magnificent experience.

Record shot of a rapidly disappearing Tawny Owl Carabo Europeo Strix aluco
And so ended a lovely day and we were all ready for a good night's sleep in preparation for the drive down to the Donana in the morning.

The Rollers Carraca Europea Coracias garrulus were very active

Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Cattle Egret, Great Bustard, Griffon Vulture, Red Kite, Black Kite, Montagu's Harrier, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Collared Pratincole, Stone Curlew, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Tawny Owl, Little Owl, Cuckoo, Red-necked Nightjar, Roller, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Crrested Larl, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Southern Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

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