Thursday, 11 January 2018

Osuna - again!

Wednesday 10 January

When was the last time you went birding and the first bird seen on the day was a Stone Curlew?  Yes, a Stone Curlew not a House Sparrow, Blackbird, Collared Dove, White wagtail et al but a Stone Curlew.  Well, it happened to me when I took my visiting Dutch birder neighbour Lisette from nearby Caleta over to Osuna for a loop round the "Osuna triangle" with ten other ABS friends.

You can hide but we can still find the Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus

No sooner had we seen one thean we saw at least a further dozen along with White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Crested Lark and Blackcap not to mention hundreds, if not thousands, of Spanish Sparrows feeding in large flocks.   The first of the many Raven were noted and, eventually, we caught up with the Red-legged Partridges.  Our first sighting of a Red Kite was soon followed by more along with Buzzard and Kestrel although it was to be much later when we we finally found our first and only Black-shouldered Kite resting in a dead tree near the viaduct on the abandoned high speed railway track. After the recent heavy rain a large roadside puddle held a feeding Green Sandpiper and then a Blackbird flying along the abandoned railway track.  A Hoopoe flew through the trees to our right.

Just a few of the hundreds of Spanish Sparrows Passer hispaniolensis
The damp fields to the side of the road held numerous Crested Larks and White Wagtails along with a few Linnets and Meadow Pipits.  Amongst the many Spanish Sparrows we also managed to find House Sparrows and the odd Tree Sparrow.  And, rather to our delight, among the Spotless Starlings (known as "Black Sparrows" in Dutch) we also found a couple of Common Starlings.
The fences and nearby trees held a regular sightings of Iberian Grey Shrike.

Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis

But we were here to find the local Great Bustards and peter and company having seen half a dozen fly over were doing their best to find the birds in the fields below as we gathered on one of the high bridges.  Some doing after first finding both ground feeding Buzzard and Raven but, eventually, I managed to find a quartet including a very handsome male.  meanwhile, the marsh harriers and Red Kites continued to fly around us as we made our way down the abandoned track to the viaduct over the now well-flooded meadow.

Always lovelier when the Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus take to the sky
To our right large flocks of White Storks and Lapwing with a moving flock of about two hundred Golden Plover.  Lisette had already found a large flock of Calandra Lark and Steve had seen the only Dartford Warbler of the morning.  To the left of the viaduct a good-sized flock of mainly adult Flamingo and with the handful or so of Teal a single Pintail, three Shelduck and then a lone Black-necked Grebe.

A few of the White Stork Ciconia ciconia flock
Before continuing on to La Lantejuela for a quick lunch we also recorded Goldfinch and Serin plus a couple of Little Owls.  Both Collared Dove and Wood Pigeon, not to mention Rock Dove, were added and it was a delight to see the Sky Lark soaring up as it sang out its little heart.  But a great lack of waders with, apart from the Lapwing, just the single Snipe and a handful of Black-winged Stilt.  But it was on the viaduct that we were truly amazed.  Not the dozen or so Rock Doves that perched on the railing to our left but the Peregrine Falcon that sat just a few metres away on the other side.  After trying our hands at distant photographs Steve took the opportunity to slowly drive up to the bird to get some closer shots and still the falcon did not fly - so we decided we might just as well approach quietly and get some close-up shots for ourselves.  But then, within striking distance if you pardon the expression, the bird took to the air and disappeared below the viaduct.  But to our amazement up she came and re-perched a few metres further on so we did, eventually, get a closer shot ourselves.

Our very patient Peregrine Falcon Falco pereginus
The visit to the lake at the village gave us chance to "look over the wall" before the hide was unlocked for us to take advantage and we were soon adding Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Coot and MoorhenLittle Grebes, Flamingo and a Night Heron were seen whilst, right in front of us, we had Chiffchaff, Cetti's Warbler and a small flock of Common Waxbill.  The arrival of a Purple Swamphen was an added bonus.

With the sun shining brightly we made our way home with time to call in for a short visit to Fuente de Piedra.  Lots of water now and Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Mallard and Shoveler on the flooded field to our left and scores of Jackdaw above the building itself.  Looking down to the field beyond the scrape we found both Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls along with a sleepy Stone Curlew.  A lone Song Thrush flew across the road and Crag Martins were seen above as we headed round the back to the laguneta.  Here we found lots of Shoveler along with both Pochard and Mallard along with Coot and Little Grebes.  Between us and the water we also picked up Robin, Linnet, Crested Lark and Black Redstart.  Final sightings included Blackcap, Lapwing and Hoopoe.

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Night Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Back-winged Kite, Red Kite, marsh harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Snipe, Black-headed Gull,Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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