Saturday 18 May 2019

Osuna, Sevilla Province

Saturday 18 May

A lovely sunny day with a cool breeze first thing but soon warming up for the 18 members of the Andalucia Bird Society on their monthly field meeting.  Our venue today was the narrow lane running alongside the new, disbanded, high speed rail tack-bed and around the  neighbouring fields.   slightly west of Osuna.  Just the main track ares and ignoring the rest of the "triangle" which takes in La Lantejuela.  Probably too late to see both Little and Great Buzzard, as was to prove the case, but in time to find recent arrivals such as Roller and Collared Pratincole.  By the time we split up to return home as a group we had managed to record about 50 species with others seeing Golden Oriole, Little Owl and Bee-eater.  But first, as I started my journey from Pedrera I had no sooner joined the A92 near Aguadulce when I spotted a large black bird to my left near the road.  Assuming it o be a Raven, but lightly smaller, I immediately noticed the long tail with square end rather than typical diamond shape.  Jackdaw?  No, a "proper" shaped head rather than the Jackdaw's blunt "square" and all black.  Back in the UK I would not have given it a second thought as I saw yet another Carrion Crow but then I remembered that there were/are no, or so I thought, Crows in this area.  But nothing else it could be; on its own, not calling and flying like your typical Carrion Crow.  Rare, I must admit but possibly a bird in transit rather than residential.

Arriving first I made a quick sortie along the lane to the first road bridge in the hope of finding the breeding Spectacled Warbler but I was not to be lucky on this occasion.  When I returned about 45 minutes later with the rest of the group still no luck but we did find a Sardinian Warbler.  Meanwhile, I did manage to record House Sparrow, Spotless Starling and Jackdaw around the meeting point plus a couple of Red-legged Partridge and a male Montagu's Harrier.

Setting off in the last of seven cars with friends Roger and Jean Smith with me we soon picked up another Red-legged Partridge along with Common Kestrel and feeding in a recently harvested corn field at least seven Lesser Kestrel.  Then it was up onto the first over-bridge and studying the fields below us we soon added a true pair of Montagu's Harriers along with a female Marsh Harrier.  In addition to the pair of Iberian Grey Shrike skimming over the corn we also found both Short-toed Eagle and a distant pair of Griffon Vultures.  A couple of Red-rumped Swallows were feeding below us along with a larger number of Barn Swallows.

Then it was on down the track and off to the relatively near olive grove in the hope that we might find some skulking Great Bustards.  No such luck but we did pick up both Goldfinch and Corn Bunting and arriving at the edge of the woods we stopped and saw our first Collared Pratincole of the day - and a little later a second individual.  Also in a nearby tree our only sighting of an Iberian sub-species Yellow Wagtail.  The rough field in front of us had feeding Calandra Larks which occasionally popped up to give a view and a rather splendid Sky Lark singing its way skywards.  We had by this time also seen very many Crested Larks.  Another species which was well represented were Ravens; we must have seen at least ten during the day.  It was also in this area that we saw our first Booted Eagle.

Back to the road, turn right over the bridge towards La Lantejuela and make a picnic stop at the entrance to the track that would take us down to the old ruined farm buildings.    Half-way down the road we all stopped to admire more Ravens and about half-a-dozen Alpine Swifts.  Just as we arrived we last three cars stopped to admire the pair of Turtle Doves sitting above us on the wires and we were to have close sightings of at least five more before the end of the day. 

Turtle Doves Streptopelia turtur
From or picnic site we could hear a number of Nightingales singing and calling and also saw our first Rollers of the day.  A few Lesser Kestrels were flying around the ruin and Geoff managed to find a distant Little Owl.  Another high Griffon Vulture and then the appearance of five Honey Buzzards which stayed in the area for about five minutes before drifting away.  Whilst here we had a very good look at a white Peacock which was later joined by a "normal" coloured individual.  Who do these belong to, where are they kept, are they living and surviving in the wild on their own?  Questions that, perhaps, somebody else might be able to answer.  Plenty of Spanish Sparrows to be seen before we started off again along the awful, but at least dry, track down to the old farm.  Frank 's car in the lead was the only group to see the Golden Oriole hidden in a small bush as we made the initial left turn.  More Rollers on the way down.

Before reaching the buildings more Red-legged Partridges and then a clear view of a Common Buzzard.  Another Montagu's Harrier was also seen.  Very few Rollers and Lesser Kestrels at the farm and eventually we left to take a different track back to the main road.  Driving well behind the rest of the party I was able to stop, point out an photograph the Short-toed Lark that landed on the side of the track not five metres in front of the car. 

Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
Then it was more Turtle Doves, this time sheltering in the shade under the olive trees.

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
Finally, it was a drive down the abandoned rail track picking up more Spanish Sparrows and Stonechat before parking on top of the viaduct.  Below us about a dozen Black-winged Stilts and maybe at least a score of Lapwing but mainly the forty plus Glossy Ibis that held our attention. 

A large group of the Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Searching found maybe a dozen more Collared Pratincoles before a few Barn Swallows and House Martins flew below the viaduct and a small mixed party of Common and Pallid Swifts flew overhead.  Just the one White Stork feeding its young in the nest build on top of the largest silo and, amongst the herd of fighting bulls, a small number of Cattle Egret.  In addition, Graham's car also saw the pair of Bee-eaters make a temporary rest on the fence to their left before making a rapid departure as other cars followed.  Setting off toward Sevilla  had gone less than a mile when I saw the first of two Black Kites resting on top of pylons.

Birds seen:
Red-legged Partridge, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, White Stork, Honey Buzzard, Griffon Vulture, Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Collared Pratincole, Stone Curlew, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Rock Dove, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Bee-eater, Roller, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, Nightingale, Stonechat, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Golden Oriole, Iberian Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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