Thursday, 28 February 2013

3 Little Wolves & The Big Bad Pig (part 2)

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 & Mallard. 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.


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How brains and birds become mutually exclusive