Friday 16 June 2023

Pyrenees Adventure: Day 8

Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens

 Saturday 3 June

Time to start out on the long return from the far north to the far south of Spain and our respective homes in Malaga, La Linea and Granada province, etc.  But not without a stop on the way to explore the plains near Belchite, the town itself and our final overnight stop near Guadalajara, just east of Madrid.

Lots of interesting birds on the initial journey south including Buzzard, Raven and kestrel plus very many Corn Buntings. Lovely to see both Raven and Carrion Crow along with more Common Swifts and the occasional Magpie, Heron and Jackdaw.  Again, no shortage of either Red or Black Kite and suddenly we were once more recording Woodpigeons.

Then it was a lovely time spent on the steppes, having noted a couple of Little Grebes on the small pond as we approached our destination, where we recorded just about every lark species; Calandra, Short-toed, lesser Short-toed, Crested, Thekla and Sky Larks but not the local Dupont's Lark.

Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens

In addition we saw Bee-eaters, Back-bellied sandgrouse, Iberian Grey shrike and a couple of Black-eared Wheatears. Raptor included Red and Black Kites, Booted Eagle and Kestrel before finally recording our first Montagu's harrier as we were leaving the site to drive on towards the mixed town of Belchite.

The war-destroyed (1937) old Belchite

Belchite is two two adjacent towns; the original town which was completely destroyed during the Spanish Civil war and left in ruins by Franco to demonstrate the futility of war, and the new town built right next to the ruins. A very sombre feeling seeing these ruins, especially having witnessed on television the recent destruction of so many Ukranian towns and villages by Putin's Russian army following their illegal and ongoing intrusion as they make war and they try to subjucate an independent country to their demands.

Birds seen:

Little Grebe, Cormorant, Heron, White Stork, Red Kite, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Common Swift, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Sky Lark,  Barn Swallow, House Martin, Black-eared Wheatear, White Wagtail, Nightingale, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Iberian Grey Shrike, Magpie, Red-billed Chough, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting.

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