Thursday 22 March 2018

Four Days in Extremadura - Day Two

Day 2: Monday 19 March

The forecast for today was continuous rain and, for once, it was correct!  Occasional heavy but mainly continuous light rain so a case of birding from the two cars.  Nevertheless, driving out of Trujillo we were soon seeing Blackbird, House Sparrow, Collared Dove and Spotless Starling plus the first of many Magpies.  Ere long we also added both Red and Black Kites.  Naturally, there was always a White Stork or two (read "two" as many!).

Off the main road and onto a country lane towards Monroy we added both Stonechat and Hoopoe along with a large flock of Spanish Sparrows near the warm complete with a feeding Little (rather than Cattle) Egret.  Both Goldfinch and Corn Buntings were on the fences on the other side of the road and, in addition to the many Chiffchafff, a single Willow Warbler.

Corn Bunting Triguero Emberiza calandra

On we drove and were rewarded with our first Northern Wheatear followed by both Crested Lark and Great Tit.  By now we were more than aware of the numerous Barn Swallows feeding low over the ground and then a stop to admire yet another Corn Bunting and Crested Larks on the rocks at the side of the road led us to check out the odd-one out which proved to be a Lesser Short-toed Lark, a most pleasing sighting.

Lesser Short-toed Lark Terrera Marismena Calandrella rufescens
Not just numerous Azure-winged Magpies but also another sighting of Carrion Crows before venturing up a wide track in the now heavy drizzle.  A look to the left produced a distant Black Vulture resting on the ground near a small flock of sheep and then, in the long grass on the other side of the wall on the right, a head sticking up up through the the sheaves revealing itself as a solitary Great Bustard.  Just time for a quick shot through the window before the bird made its departure.

Distant Great Bustard Avutarda Comun Otis tarda through the rain

Stopping close by we all had a very good view of the Iberian Hare sheltering under a small bush.

Iberian Hare Lepus granatensis
Now it was the turn of the many Calandra Lark to put in a welcome appearance and even the occasional Red-legged Partridge.  Whereas the passing Cormorant came as a somewhat surprise the the same could not be said for either the Sand and House Martin as we crossed the raging river.  More Ravens were seen and then on a s,mall pond we added Mallard, Gadwall and Little Grebe along with a lonely Black-headed Gull.

The biggest excitement of the day probably arrived when we stopped an an isolated hide overlooking a popular vantage point for viewing Great Bustards.  Fortunately, I nor the others were on our own.  Having checked out the plains below, recorded the Griffon Vulture and both Common and Lesser Kestrels we prepared to return to the cars, neither Elena nor Barbara having followed us into the hide.  Lovely solid, wooden hide with strong doors and perfect protection unless wet as it was in our case.  The wood had expanded and whereas we could push to enter we now discovered that there was no handle on the inside so no possible way to get out!  Nothing to get hold of as a lever so a case of having to stand near the door and shout, "Help" a few time!!!!  And help did eventually arrive and the girls were able to give sufficient push to open the door.  May have appeared funny at the time but a lone birder would have been in real difficulty and, almost certainly, his/her car left outside unlocked and, quite probably, the mobile in the car.  But to whom would I report this?

Lesser Kestrel Cernicalo Primilla Falco naumanni sheltering in the shade from the continuous rain

And after all this excitement and the rain at last having second thoughts about easing up for the day, we made our way back to Trujillo, recording a Woodchat Shrike before reaching the main road, and in time for a late menu del dia lunch.

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