|Red-legged Partridge Perdiz Roja Alectoris rufa|
What a beautiful start to the day as I left home on Saturday morning; not a cloud in the bright blue sky, perfectly calm and the sun beating down at 8.30. Thekla Larks, Goldfinches and a Kestrel on the wires as I came down the mountain and the first of the Barn Swallow flocks as I made my way through the back of Los Romanes and so on to Casabermeja and the motorway towards Antequera then Sevilla. And that's where the good news weather ended as within twenty metres of crossing into Sevilla Province just to the west of Fuente de Piedra I hit the fog wall which managed to stay with me to within a couple of kilometres of my destination in Osuna for this month's field visit of the Andalucia Bird Society. A great day's birding followed in great company and with so many in attendance, forty-six was the figure I was told, naturally we split into smaller groups with me acting as "rear gunner" along with Derek Etherton in his X-trail, a rather exclusive party of two X-trails and, my counting, a maximum of three English between the eight of us! Two from South Africa, one Dane, one Irish and me from Wales, a truly international selection! (Just waiting for Tom to tell me that he is not English!!!!)
|Corn Bunting Triguero Emberiza calandra checking the skies just in case!|
No sooner had we set off than we were stopping to see the very close Red-legged partridges, never mind the House Sparrows, Collared Doves and Spotless Starlings. There were Corn Buntings everywhere and then our first raptor with a Common Buzzard sat atop a pole in the field to our right. Just as good, a small flock of Calandra Larks resented themselves well before reaching the first high bridge over the now abandoned high speed railtrack. However, a short stop at a crossing over small stream produced not only a flock of Stone Curlews but, in the nearby reeds and vegetation, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler and Cetti's Warbler. Even a Mallard flew over and a the first of very many Hoopoes for the day was recorded. next up was a small charm of Goldfinch and a small flock of resting Bee-eaters.
|Marsh Harrier Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental Circus aeruginosus|
|The most handsome male Montagu's Harrier Aguilucho Cenizo Circus pygargus|
|One of at least thirty Collared Pratincoles Canastera Comun Glareola pratincola|
Making a comfort stop in the village of La Lantejuela itself we managed to record one of the breeding pair of White Storks and then it was on to the Laguna de la Ballestera for our picnic lunch and catch up with the other members of the Society and talk about who had been seeing what. Meantime, on the water itself, we also had a good selection of species to add to the Yellow Wagtails of the Iberian sub-species that we had seen as we entered the approach track. Lots of Flamingos and Avocets and a range of ducks including Mallard, Shoveler, Shelduck and Gadwall. On the edges many small waders including a good number of Little Stints plus Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers along with Black-winged Stilts and Dunlin. The gulls appeared to be mainly Black-headed along with a small number of immature Lesser Black-backed Gulls but, in addition, there were very many Gull-billed Terns. It was also here that we recorded our Serins and a Greenfinch.
|No shortage of Gull-billed Terns Pagaza Piconegra Sterna nilotica to be seen|
|The lunch-time selection - you identify!|
Apart from rabbits, other mammals seen were a Natterjack toadlet (is this the correct name for a young toad?) and a very fat, but still long and low with its legs almost non-existent. However, a few members managed to see a Lynx well away from its normal territory; lucky them as it was a sight probably never to be repeated.
Time to head for the starting point, meet up other members and finally make our respective ways home. However, no sooner under way than we had a fat little mammal cross the road in front of us with legs so short his stomach must have been shining the tarmac! About forty centimetres long and a tail of about thirty centimetres the animal stood about fifteen centimetres at the shoulder. An even dark brown all over in colour it was the seldom seen Egyptian Mongoose. But nobody in the car had a camera at the ready and these animals do not hang around once the long grass and weeds come into sight! But, all in all, a very enjoyable day and my special thanks to the great company of my guests Ita Martin from Ireland and Paul and Cathy Jenkins from South Africa.
Birds recorded from my car:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-legged Partridge,Red Kite, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Kestrel, Little Bustard, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Calandra lark, Short-toed lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail (Iberiae), Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Whitethroat, Southern Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.