|Iconic Black Kite Milano negro Milvus migrans|
|The diminutive Zitting Cisticola Buitron Cisticola juncidis|
Day 1 Thursday 19 June: Osuna and El Rocio
All the birds seen driving off the mountain, save the Thekla Larks, were picked up once I left the motorway at Osuna to check out the road parallel to the new high-speed railway track and the neighbouring fields and steppe-like habitat. Collared Dove, House Sparrow, Crested Lark, Barn and Red-rumped Swallow plus House Martin were seen as soon as I drove beyond the petrol station and before the meeting the new track I had seen a couple of Common Kestrels. The first high railway bridge came up trumps straight away with a distant Great Bustard in the centre of a ploughed field. Having tried to get a few record shots the bird then took off and was joined in the sky by another pair of Great Bustards. Whilst two of the birds circled away, the third made its way my way giving me another chance for a nearer sighting. Majestic; just like watching a flying turkey!
|Great Bustard Avutarda Comun Otis tarda in flight|
|Collared Pratincole Canastera Comun Glareola pratincola (adult above, juvenile below)|
|A strange looking departing Roller Carraca Europea Coracias garrulus|
Back over the bridge and then onwards to rejoin the motorway but not before recording both a number of Jackdaws and the first of the many White Storks that were to be recorded in the next three days. But there were still new raptors to be added to the list. The Black Kites were to be expected and I did eventually catch up with a very "tatty" looking Red Kite undergoing a very serious wing moult. However, it was the small "blob" on top of a pylon that drew and attention and then brought a grateful smile to my face. More interested in watching than photographing, I was able to see the Black-shouldered Kite take off and head back towards the tree line. The first new bird for the year had been seen.
|One of scores of Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Piegadis falcinellus|
|Adult Night Heron martinete Comun Nycticorax nycticorax|
|Squacco Heron Garcilla Cangrejera Ardeola ralloides|
|Squacco and Night Herons happily feeding together in the flooded rice fields|
Having checked in to the Hostal Cristina and the SEO Centre closed, I mad my way over the nearby Centre at La Rocinas - and what a great decision this turned out to be. Lots of water on site and, in addition to the numerous Bee-eaters, I was able to start finding some smaller birds including a pair of Coal Tits which had managed to elude me to date in Spain but not Britain. First I had found Goldfinches and then a couple of Great Tits but things got even better as I made my way to the first hide and, before startling a Jay which quickly departed the scene, I had a pair of Tree Sparrows. Below the hide there were resting Spoonbills and Mallards whilst a couple of Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers walked the water's edge. A small Moorhen family wandered out from the reed cover and then I decided to walk on towards the next, hidden, hide where I found both White Wagtail and more Spoonbills along with some Coots. Black Kites quartered the skies above. There were numerous Azure-winged Magpies in the area and looking out over the grasses surrounding the main inlet to the ponds I found a small group, maybe no more than a dozen, of very small brown birds which looked suspiciously like, and then confirmed on the camera, as Common Waxbills; yet another new species for the year. Just as I was thinking there was nothing else to add to the days list and a pair of male Blackbirds broke cover.
|Tree Sparrow Gorrion Molinero Passer montanus|
|Tutle Dove Tortola Europea Streptopelia turtur|
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Grey Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black-winged Kite, Red Kite, Back Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Swift, Bee-eater, Roller, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Sedge Warbler, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Waxbill, Serin, Goldfinch and Corn Bunting.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.