Monday 4 January
With Mick Richardson I joined a few personal friends for a New Year Birding Tour around the "Osuna Triangle" in Sevilla province. Excellent weather, if somewhat on the cold side, and excellent company where we found a plethora of wonderful birds, ending up with a final tally of at least 60 species.
|Hundreds of Spanish Sparrows Passer hispaniolensis to be seen
No sooner had we set off than we found a trio of Stone Curlews followed by a range of smaller birds plus both Spanish Sparrows and a good number of Common Starlings. Indeed, really strange to see a single Iberian Grey Shrike posing at the top of a small bush and completely surrounded by Spotless Starlings. Lots and lots of Buzzards and no shortage of Red Kites along with the occasional Marsh Harrier. However, some time before we found our first of a handful of Kestrels. Also in the area very many Raven and no shortage of Red-legged Partridges.
|Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus
In search of the local Great Bustard population we were rewarded by a final total of 87 individuals giving a good sighting and Derek's little group managed to find a further six on their way home. I think, possibly, the largest number we have seen in one sighting for many a year. The bonus was that a few of the group also manged to record a flock of about 23 Little Bustards that flew across the road in front of their car.
|Very distant Great Bustard Otis tarda
|Record shot of a handful of the almost 90 Great Bustards Otis tarda
The picnic stop for lunch proved very productive. Snipe, Lapwing and Green Sandpiper below the viaduct to the right and on the opposite side a field with over 100 Golden Plover. A large flock of White Stork, maybe over 200, was seen in the sky to the south-east and then the aerial combat! Closer inspection with bins and scopes recorded the Black-winged Kite mobbing a Red Kite and as the former moved away left we became aware of the two Buzzards which replaced the smaller kite. A relatively short-lived engagement as to our delight a juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle slowly drifter left below the raptors above and then remained in the area to slowly circle upwards on a thermal. And just to finish the stay, as the small group moved away they stopped to study the sleeping Ladder Snake (Rhinechis scalaris) on a bank and, whilst concentrating, had a Little Owl almost fly straight into them.
A short stop at the hide overlooking the pools at Lantejuela produced Flamingo and a range of ducks including White-headed plus both Little and Black-necked Grebes along with many Chiffchaffs, Crag Martins and a couple of early-returning House Martins. Following an enjoyable coffee break it was then on to the Laguna Verde de Sal to see if it contained any water. It certainly did but no real depth and occupied by mainly Black-winged Stilts, Lapwing and White Wagtails along with a single juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull. Still plenty of Red Kites and Buzzards to be seen but then we were rewarded by the arrival of a single Bonelli's Eagle; such a magnificent sight.
Time to wish everyone a Happy New Year and make our respective journeys home. For Mick and I it was the drive to pick up the main road back to Osuna and shortly after joining a now deserted road we noticed that there was still water in the Laguna de Calderon where a quartet of Flamingos were feeding. However, not two fields further on along the road, we stopped to admire the hundred plus Cranes that were feeding in late afternoon sunshine.
|Part of the feeding flock of Cranes Grus grus
A great day in wonderful company and some very special birds to make this a very special start to the birding new year.
Mallard, Shoveler, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, White Stork, Flamingo, Black-winged Kite, Red Kite, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Bonelli's Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Coot, Crane, Little Bustard, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Green Woodpecker, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap. Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Raven, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.