Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Three Owls Species in One Tree!

Tuesday 29 May 

When was the last time, if ever, that you recorded three consecutive owl species in your notebook?  Well it happened to we five today.  Meeting up at the usual venta at Exit KM80 on the A92 towards Sevilla, Derek and Barbara, Micky, Lindsay and I set off to explore the Osuna area in search of both Collared Pratincoles and Rollers.  But is just after lunch when a certain gentleman, not Derek nor I, needed to answer a call of nature behind a bushy tree.  No sooner had nature got to work that both single Little and Tawny Owl cam dashing out from cover and took opposite directions reaching the end of the old ruin.  Derek and I watched the Tawny whilst the ladies followed the progress of the Little Owl.  Having spent some time wondering where the owls might have settled it seemed a good idea to go back to the tree and see if there were any pellets on the ground below.  Derek and Micky led the way and turning behind the tree came face to face, at less than a metre at eye height, with a little chap that, no matter how much he sucked in his chest to make himself look bigger with his little ear tuffs pointing straight up, returned the stare of those in front of him.  I'm still not sure who was most shocked, the chaps or the Scops Owl.  For me it was the sudden dash from cover which caught my attention as I was a few steps behind and I think the ladies saw our surprised quarry dashed across the open ground in front and disappear as quickly as he appeared.  Now it has to be said that this is not the first occasion when our friend has managed to flush a bird in the way of the first two owls; last time it was a Red-knecked Nightjar.  Now it certainly puts a new interpretation on, literally, flushing a bird out!"

Short-toed Lark Terrera Comun Calandrella brachyactyla

But back to the start of the morning.  Leaving the venta we had a lone White Stork and no sooner on the country lane the first Stone Curlew of the morning along with Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows.  These first kilometre or two produced Crested Lark, Corn Bunting and numerous Barn Swallows before a pair of Turtle Doves flew on to a nearby power line.  Both Raven and Common Swift flew over and then at our first stop we picked up a single Woodchat Shrike, a couple of Bee-eaters and both Black and Red Kite along with singing Reed Warblers.  On the opposite side of the road we had our of a few Buzzards and a pair of Short-toed Larks walked the track.


Turtle Dove Tortola Europea Streptopelia turtur

On up to the first high bridge over the abandoned high-speed rail track where, from above, we were able to observe a couple of close Stone Curlew and a Red-legged Partridge casually walking down the main road.  Further on along this track we stopped to watch six Black-bellied Sandgrouse fly very close before gradually disappearing away to our right.  Good numbers of Calandra Larks were recorded plus a couple of Sky Larks.  At the back of the field a Marsh Harrier was quartering the area and even a quintet of Gull-billed Terns looking for tit-bits.  Then a really special treat as Derek used the scope to confirm a posing Little Bustard on the edge of the ripening corn.  A Woodpigeon was seen over the trees to the left and then our first Collared Pratincole, in the air and quite distant.  A Booted Eagle drifted by and before returning along the track we also found a small colony of breeding Lesser Ketsrels and a distant Griffon Vulture.  Along with the many Crested Larks, Corn Buntings and Spotless Starlings I found a very small charm of Goldfinch.

Lesser Kestrel Cernicalo Primilla Falco naumanni

Back on the road and a stop at the second high bridge produced a pair of Red-rumped Swallow along with Linnet and a Spanish Sparrow.  Overhead a couple of Bee-eaters and then, driving towards the turn to the third bridge, a Collared Pratincole flew out from the field and came to rest on the road immediately in front of me, less than twenty metres away.  A second individual was found on the ploughed field as soon as we turned to the bridge.

Collared Pratincoles Canastera Comun Glareola pratincola
On the wires two Iberian Grey Shrike and then on to the old farm ruins on the corner before taking the track down to the abandoned cortijo.  Once stopped at this point for our picnic lunch we had our first distant Roller, a Hoopoe and more Barn Swallows and even a few House Martins.  nearby we had, and saw, singing Nightingales.  Working our way down the track we had closer looks at a handful of Rollers.

Roller carraca Europea Coracias garrulus
Our final stop was on the the viaduct of the high speed track and still a little damp with a very small amount of water which held a number of Black-winged Stilts and Avocet.  A few Cattle Egrets feeding amongst the grazing fighting bulls and a good-sized flock of Lapwing.  We even had a lone Glossy Ibis drop in to take advantage of the small stream.

Iberian Grey Shrike Alcaudon Real Lanius meridionalis
From here we split so that I could call in at Fuente de Piedra but upon reaching the salinas no sign of either Lesser Yellowlegs nor Lesser Flamingo which were seen just nine days ago.  Lots of Flamingo, Avocet and Jackdaws and ducks included Mallard, Pochard, Red-crested Pochard and Shoveler.  But only one Little Grebe seen and barely a handful of Coot and no Moorhen.  And then a very slight detour on the way back to Mezquitilla which successfully produced  Rufous Bush Chat.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Red-legged Partridge. Little Grebe, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, White Stork, Flamingo, Red Kite, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Coot, Little Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Rock Dove, Woodpigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Scops Owl, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Rufous Bush Chat, Nightingale, Reed Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.


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