The second morning dawned cold and clear with the thermometer dipping down to -6.5. We were a little startled by quite how cold it was and wrapped up in about a million* layers. We sat tight at the watch near Boya with some Spanish watchers plus Simon & Karen (aka Julie aka Dave [dont ask!]). The only bird song was a handful of Wrens
. Rubbish. A handful of deer of both the common species (Fallow are absent from this area) were seen but the watch passed off without a hint of any canid style action. As a group we were struck by the magnitude of our task. A massive vista with lots of habitat. Yikes.
|Rob scanning the valley|
The journey back produced a very smart male Black Redstart
, plus our first Bullfinch
, Crested Tit
, Cirl Bunting
and my first Spanish Blue Tit
& Great Spotted Woodpecker
. A quick turnaround with some corking coffee at the hotel and we set off to the steppes and Villafafila lagunas. Crossing a river en route produced a couple of Great White Egrets
plus a few common waterbirds.
Calling in at the visitor centre at Villafafila we got the gen, finding out that 90% of the geese had left the area which was a shame. Marsh Harriers
were all over and a pool revealed Lapwing, Golden Plover, Greylag, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall
. Small stands of trees contained some White Stork
nests and birds were conspicuous soaring and feeding. Heading along a track into the hills we chanced across lots (c400) Great Bustards
in a variety of places. It was at this point I noticed my camera was unable to get focus lock properly and I was very pissed off. This is the reason for the dross photos. Hopefully John will send his on shortly.
|Sandgrouse. I know...|
2 small birds flying across the vista resolved to be Black-bellied Sandgrouse
but these became invisible in the stubbles when they landed. Big flocks of Skylarks
filled the grassland and a juvenile Peregrine
flushed by us subsequently flushed a female Merlin
. Further wanderings revealed the rather fitting Fieldfare
in a copse. It was brass monkeys. I was getting bored at this stage by the endless grass and tiring from the punishing schedule and this feeling was shared by my compadres and so we headed home.