Monday, 8 May 2017

Osuna

What a Roller Carraca Europea Coraccias garrulus morning!
Sunday 7 May


Away by 8 to meet up with my friend, Marieke in Osuna so that I could take her on a clockwise birding round the "Osuna Triangle" with the emphasis on trying to find her both Rollers and Montagu's Harriers before her return to Belgium tomorrow.  On the journey over I saw both Hoopoe and Azure-winged Magpies whereas Marieke looked up in early(ish) morning skies in the town to see not just the breeding Common Swifts but also a quintet of Honey Buzzards rising slowing on a thermal as they continued on their northern Journey to, perhaps, Marieke's study area in Belgium.

Lots of Iberian Grey Shrikes Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis
A quick coffee and then of to the starting point near motorway Junction 80 and almost immediately House Sparrow, Spotless Starling and the first  of many Red-legged Partridge.  Lots of Crested Larks about and then a Raven carrying food passed over.  A stop at the first culvert produced the expected Cetti's Warbler and Zitting Cisticola along with Goldfinch and Corn Bunting.  Whilst I looked one way Marieke looked the other and found a trio of very high Griffon Vultures.  A little early to see our first White Stork drifting westwards but then a trio of Black Kites rose from the earth adjacent to the road.  Whilst watching the departing raptors we noticed that a fourth individual had remained in situ to continue feeding on a rabbit carcass.

Raven Cuervo Corvus corax with juvenile (?) below
Continuing along the road next to the existing train line we had many sightings of Crested Lark along with a few Rock Dove and the first Common Kestrel.  However, it was more interesting to see a couple of Iberian Grey Shrike and within fifty metres another three individuals.  I think during the day we recorded at least eight.  No sooner had we seen our first Woodchat Shrike than we saw a rather heavy Great White Egret moving to the left.  And then the most wonderful surprise.  Knowing that the Collared Pratincoles would not e in their usual field, we looked across the railway line and the, to our delight, we must have have found at east twenty birds on the bare ground or flying above; obviously their nesting site for this year.

Woodchat Shrike Alcaudon Comun Lanius senator
As we made our way down the abandoned high speed track to the viaduct we added both Stonechat and Red-rumped Swallow and looking at the small herd of fighting bulls soon added a good number of Cattle Egret.  Closer inspection revealed a pair of Mallard, more Collared Pratincoles and a about a handful of Lapwing.  In the air both Lesser Kestrels and a Red Kite plus Jackdaw and a single Marsh Harrier.

Turtle Dove Tortola Europea Streptopelia turtur
All very quiet driving down the long, straight road to the entrance track to the old farm ruins.  Just the single Turtle Dove.  A stop just ff the road to look at the first set of ruins produced numerous Lesser Kestrels and Jackdaws along with a few Black Kites, one of which was resting in the tree immediately in front of us.  To the bird's left a tree containing seven Ravens and there were more in the air.  A real "conspiracy of ravens!"

Black Kite Milano Negro Milvus migrans
Then the long drive down along the rutted track to the far ruined farm buildings.  The "nesting tower" seemed to be occupied by Spotless Starlings rather than Jackdaws and just when we had given up hope as we passed by Marieke spotted the single Roller hiding on the fence behind.  Difficult to get a photograph but we consoled ourselves with the thought that we would have a better opportunity on the way back.  But we need not had worried.  Arriving at the old buildings, passing a single Bee-eater on the way, we found a score or more Rollers both resting and flying around with super sightings and  the chance for photographs.  This track also produced more Hoopoes.

Our first close-up of the spectacular Roller Carraca Europea Coraccias garrulus

Not only Rollers but lots of Lesser Kestrels, too.  Add on Collared Dove and Blackbird and this site was the best of the day.

Female Lesser Kestrel Cernicalo Primilla Falco naumanni
Eventually time to move on and we not only picked up a pair of Bee-eaters  on the return trip down the track but also a pair of Rollers at the nesting tower.

Another magnificent Roller Carraca Europea Coraccias garrulus


A stop for tapas in La Lantajuela then on to the lakes on to the eastern lakes bit not before taking a look at the local reserve.  As usual, all was locked up so it was a case of standing on the wall and looking round the side of the, also locked, hide.  The Flamingos were obvious along with a close Black-necked Grebe plus Coot but the, scoping the water, we also managed to add Shelduck, Mallard, Common and Red-crested Pochard, Gadwall and White-headed Duck.  The large heronry at the far end was made up of mainly Cattle Egrets but also a few Glossy Ibis and it would appear that some Cormorants were also taking the opportunity to socialise.  Over the water were feeding Barn Swallows, House Martins and at least a couple of Whiskered Terns along with a Yellow-legged Gull.  Nearer to us we had a Black-headed Gull sitting on her nest just off the shore and the neighbouring bushes housed Nightingale, Serin and Reed Warbler.  Similarly, at the far end we found a pair of Black-winged Stilts and a Marsh Harrier was quartering the distant trees.

Always a Red-legged Partridge Perdiz Roja Alectoris rufa to be seen
Just before we turned off the main road and on to the track to the back of the lagoon we finally saw our Montagu's Harrier, a lovely male quartering the corn field on our left.  What a wonderful sight as this graceful raptor worked its away up and down and not a bit fazed by the small flock of Lesser Kestrels.

Distant record shot of a male Montagu's Harrier Aguilucho Cenizo Circus pygargus
Arriving at the laguna we found here was no laguna; all was completely dried up and looking like a white dust bowl.  And that really was just about the end of our birding as the track/road back through the arable land produced nothing but a dozen or so Cattle Egrets until near the very end when we had a dark morph Booted Eagle.  But with 58 species recorded we should be worried.  And so Marieke returns to her home in Belgium and can look forward to returning in October and we can start birding all over again with, hopefully, a whole new set of birders including many waders and raptors.

Never a moment when there wasn't a Corn Bunting Triguero Emberiza calandra posing and singing somewhere


Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, White Stork, Flamingo, Honey Buzzard, Red Kite, Back Kite, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale, Stonechat, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.



Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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