|Buzzard Buteo buteo
Taking the country road westwards alongside the new, unfinished high speed railtrack we soon saw numerous Corn Buntings and Crested Larks along with House Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Goldfinch and even a Zitting Cisticola. A small number of Bee-eaters were heard as they passed high overhead. Naturally, whenever we came across human occupation we also found both Rock and Collared Doves. Our first stop was at the first high bridge over the above track and we soon picked up the seven or more ravens that were flying around. A couple of Marsh Harriers but then at least six Black Kites resting on a rocky outcrop not too far distant and then a Griffon Vulture drifted across the far side of the neighbouring olive grove. There seemed to be no shortage of Red-legged Partridges and a local Common Kestrel went through his hovering procedure as he sought out his morning breakfast. Finally, hidden in the distant wheat field, we found our first Great Bustard. Fortunately it was on the move or we would never have found it even with our massed ranks of scopes. As it was, what we saw was just a head showing about the cereal crop. This and the following bridges seemed to be playing host to a large number of Red-rumped Swallows, presumably nesting below.
|The hiding Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus
|Part of the distant flock of Great Bustards Otis tarda
|Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola found on the expected site
Just before we were all once more together, in addition to more Montagu's Harrier and Raven sightings we saw a quick flash of a Turtle Dove, heard it singing and then it reappeared to perch on a nearby electricity wire; the first of the year. We were to hear at least two more during the day. Our final stop in this area was at the turn to the ruined farm where we came across a large flock of Spanish Sparrows and a second Roller having found one on the pylon as we drove along the road. Also present were numerous Rock Doves and a couple of Common Swifts flew over. Whilst listening to, and finally sighting, a Nightingale we also had the pleasure of seeing a Melodious Warbler but could not find the suspected Sedge Warbler. However, the final bird on this corner was the sudden appearance of a Green Woodpecker that flew from the olive grove into the dense trees on the pother side of the track.
|Not only gorgeous Montagu's Harriers Circus pygargus but a first Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur (below)
We then headed off to La Lantejuela where arrangements had been made for a private, escorted, visit to the local reserve based at the ponds collecting the grey water which is normally shut to the general public. Not just Serins and Barn Swallows on the way but both a Southern Grey Shrike and a lone Little Owl resting on the roof of an old barn as we passed the farm. No sooner had we entered than we had a sight of our first Little Egret passing over and a pair of Glossy Ibis rose out of the long grass on the right. A good number of Flamingos were resting on a pool to our left but as we approached they took to the air to join their "friends" on a neighbouring, larger pool. Also on the original water were a couple of Little Grebe, Mallard and the odd Black-necked Grebe. Calling in the tree to our immediate left and eventually seen was a rather lovely, if somewhat shy, Olivaceous Warbler.
|The Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus change pools
|Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricolis in almost full summer plumage
|Male White-headed Duck Oxytura leucocephala (Come late autumn the beak will have turned almost black)
Gadwall, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret, White Stork, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Red Kite, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Lessser Kestrel, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lapwing, Yellow-legged Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Swift, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Nightingale, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Olivaceous Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Southern Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.
|Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinelus
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.