Read on for an excellent informative birding trip report to Spain in the first two weeks of May â€™07. Superb photos of Spanish specialities included.
Recently back from an excellent two weeks in Spain, with plenty of quality birds and some photos â€“ which was the main reason for the trip.
This time I decided to visit a few places I hadnâ€™t been before and try for a couple of species I havenâ€™t any photos of, i.e. El Planeron for Dupontâ€™s Lark (with Sepulveda as a back-up) and a place I hadnâ€™t heard of until my good friend Julian (Jules) Sykes put me onto it â€“ Villafafila, for Great Bustard……….
Jules is a bird-guide based in Oliva, about halfway between Valencia and Alicante, and sees them regularly at fairly close range on his holiday tours to this area, so I considered it worth the extra mileage and certainly wasnâ€™t disappointed â€“ they were everywhere along one stretch of road.
Also on the agenda were La Plataforma in the Sierra de Gredos and the Trujillo/Caceres/Plasencia triangle in Extremadura. If things went well I was hoping to spend the last few days staying with Jules and Amanda at their guest house in Oliva.
I flew from Bristol into Valencia Airport on the 1st May, arriving at 10.35 which gave plenty of time to collect a pre-booked hire-car and have a look around Moro Marsh, about 30 km North of the airport, another of Julesâ€™ little gems he took me to last year. Although it was warm and sunny it was also blowing a gale here so many birds had their heads down in the reed-beds, still I managed a few things â€“ Pratincoles, Bee-eaters, Little, Common, Sandwich, Whiskered and a rarer White-winged Black Tern, 30+ Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Gadwall, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot and Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Grey and Purple Herons, Little Egret, Yellow-legged Gulls, Reed and Great Reed Warblers, Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola-ugh, an awful name for one of my favourite birds), Tawny Pipit, Hoopoe, 1000â€™s Common Swifts with some Pallid Swifts among them, Swallows and House Martins, Common Sandpiper, Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts and Redshanks, not bad for a couple of hours, seeing as most of this time was spent trying to photograph a Pratincole.
Left here early afternoon and headed for El Planeron via Daroca, Carinena and Belchite arriving early evening. Light rain for most of the way with, surprisingly, some really heavy hail-showers on higher ground, in fact it was difficult to see through the windscreen at times and the road had suddenly turned white â€“ I had to remind myself I was in Spain in May.
Not many birds en-route due to this but some interesting countryside north of Daroca – Peregrine, Griffon Vultures and a group of 14 Red-billed Choughs were seen.
A quick drive around the two El Planeron tracks soon produced several Dupontâ€™s Larks singing along with Short-toed, Lesser Short-toed, Crested and Calandra Larks, Tawny Pipit, and a male Marsh Harrier.
I decided to sleep in the car here for an early start in the morning.
2nd Mayâ€¦Just as well I did start early because at about 12.00hrs an official of the SEO (Spanish Ornithological Society) arrived and as I didnâ€™t have a permit pleasantly asked me to leave â€“ it would appear that local bodies might be tightening up on permits as a visit to La Lomanza after here got me the boot again from another warden for not having a permit. I probably now have the dubious honour of being the first person to be kicked off both reserves within an hour!! Anyway the few hours spent at El Planeron was well worth it, I managed to get a few photos of Dupontâ€™s and Lesser Short-toed Larks which was what I wanted most of all.
Warning – beware the mozzies, theyâ€™re vicious, I killed over 100 in the car before I could leave.
Birds I managed to see in the area include â€“ Dupontâ€™s, Short-toed, Lesser Short-toed, Calandra and Crested Larks, Stone Curlew (heard during the night), Tawny Pipit, Red-legged Partridge, Cuckoo and Great Spotted Cuckoo, Bee-eaters, Hoopoe, Corn Bunting, male and female Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Blackcap, Woodchat, Serin, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-winged Stilt, Purple and Grey Heron, 2 egrets overhead (Little or Cattle), Swifts, Swallows and House Martins.
After a quick look around the ruins of the original town of Belchite, just to remind myself of manâ€™s folly, I set off for Sepulveda via Calatayud, Soria, Aranda de Duero and the E5/A1 arriving at the Hostal Villa de Sepulveda in nearby Santa Cruz by evening and booking in for three nights, I enjoyed the area so much I later booked a fourth night.
3rd – 5th Mayâ€¦The next three days were spent between Santa Cruz and the Hoces de Rio Duraton/Ermita de San Frutos, a great area for birding and the scenery around the Ermita area was alone worth the trip. Iâ€™ve never seen so many larks in such a small area and holding 7 of the 8 species in Spain must make it the lark hotspot in Spain. Other birds were well represented, apart from waders and waterfowl which was to be expected in such a dry area, virtually everything seen was seen very well giving excellent opportunities for close study of differences between species, all in all a brilliant place to spend a couple of days.
One of the highlights of the trip was waking in the mornings to the dawn chorus from the Hostal window, Great and Blue Tits, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Serin, Blackcap, Cettiâ€™s Warbler, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Cuckoo, Wood Pigeon, Golden Oriole, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, White Wagtail and Nightingale were all taking part in this orchestra of sound.
Over the three days good birds were seen at several road stops on the way to the Hoces de Rio Duraton/Ermita de San Frutos including â€“ Ortolan Bunting, Golden Oriole, and Montagueâ€™s Harrier, Rock sparrow, Black-eared Wheatear, Orphean Warbler, Azure-winged Magpie etc.
Birds along the Ermita track include – Dupontâ€™s, Short-toed, Calandra, Crested, Thekla, Woodlark and Skylark, Tawny Pipit, Corn and Cirl Buntings, Black-eared and Northern Wheatear, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Sparrows, Blackcap, Orphean (several), Dartford, Subalpine and Spectacled Warblers, Yellow and White Wagtails, Stonechat, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Serin, Wren, Woodchat Shrikes, Nightingale, Azure-winged Magpie, Swifts, Swallows, House and Crag Martins, Red-legged Partridge, Kestrel, Black Kites, 3 Booted Eagles, 1 Short-toed Eagle, 2 Egyptian, 100+ Griffon Vultures (these pass so low over your head youâ€™ve got to duck!), Ravens, Carrion Crows, Jackdaws and 60+ Red-billed Chough. Bee-eaters were noted most days â€“ seemingly still moving north.
A short visit to the Rio Duraton just outside Sepulveda produced Subalpine Warbler, Blackcap, Golden Oriole Wryneck, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Song Thrush and Green Woodpecker.
6th Mayâ€¦ Left for Villafafila about 8.30am via the E5/A1 to Aranda de Duero, the 122 to Valladolid, the E80 to Tordesillas and the A6 as far as Villapando, where I picked up the minor road to Villafafila. Only problem here was the road to Villafafila had a roadworks sign and barrier across it with a detour, on looking closer the barrier left room for cars to pass and it had a speed limit sign so it couldnâ€™t really be closed, could it, anyway knowing this was the best area for Bustards, and being a Sunday, I ignored all this and drove past the barrier, no problems at all! The road was a bit rough but perfectly driveable and when I got to Villafafila the road was closed but there was a signed detour track here that took you into the town!!
Most of the best birding areas are along, or off, this road including a couple of hides and several good tracks and lagoons, this combined with a short trip down the road to Otero de Sariegos gave plenty to see.
A drive down the first track I came to produced 6 Great Bustards, one standing on the track itself, several Montaguâ€™s Harriers, a Short-eared Owl hunting over the cereal fields â€“ this was at mid-day so feel sure it must be breeding here, 2 Booted Eagles and a Black Kite overhead.
Back on the main road again more Great Bustards were soon seen, (50 + by the time Iâ€™d reached Villafafila), several more Montaguâ€™s, 70+ White Storks, another Short-eared Owl, Red and Black Kites, Booted Eagles, Calandra and Crested Larks, Northern Wheatears, Corn Buntings, Yellow and White Wagtails, Spotless Starlings, House, Tree and Rock Sparrows (all three side by side on one of the hides), Fan-tailed Warbler, Turtle Doves, Hoopoe, Red-legged Partridge, Quail, Raven, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Jackdaw, Kestrel, several Lesser Kestrels, Swifts, Swallows and House Martins, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Coot, Dunlin, Knot, Sanderling, Ringed and Grey Plovers, Lapwings, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, 15+Whimbrel, Gull-billed Terns, Black-headed, Yellow-legged and one adult/sub-adult Audouinâ€™s Gull â€“ which I think must be unusual for this area.
A short drive back along the main road in the evening looking to get some photos of Great Bustards was everything Jules said and more â€“ they were everywhere you looked, singles displaying, small groups of young males fighting, females watching the older well-whiskered males in full display and others just feeding in the cereal fields, some coming quite close to the road, this was what Iâ€™d been looking for the past few years, somewhere where youâ€™re at least in with a chance of getting a picture, so I rigged the tripod up in the car and just sat quietly waiting for one or two to come closer, and they did â€“ easy, many thanks Jules.
I slept in the car again overnight, there is a hotel in Villafafila but it was a bit too expensive for a single.
7th Mayâ€¦Today gave many of the birds seen yesterday plus 2 â€“ 1st summer Mediterranean Gulls, 4 Greylags, Shelduck, Common Sandpiper, Cattle Egrets and Bee-eaters. A drive along a couple of tracks found Lesser Kestrels breeding on ruined buildings plus a novelty – Red-legged Partridge singing from the roof of one, which I found very amusing for some reason, probably something to do with weather vanes. The Lesser Kestrels were a warm-up for what I was to see at Otero de Sariegos, there were dozens of them, perched on roof-tops, overhead wires etc, breeding in cracks in walls and under roof tiles, one roof even had nest boxes built into it with just a hole in the front showing for them to enter and leave, if you want to get to grips with Lesser Kestrels this is certainly the place to come to, brilliant.
Other birds seen here include Chiffchaff, Melodious and Garden Warbler, Black Redstart, Tawny Pipit, Crested and Calandra Larks and a singing Golden Oriole â€“ but I believe this was a Spotless Starling mimicking one as there was hardly a tree to be seen let enough to breed in!
It was really hot now and no good for photography, Iâ€™d seen about everything Iâ€™d hoped for so decided to use the heat of the day to travel down to Extramadura, arriving at Torrejon el Rubio about 4 hours later and booking into the Alojamiento Monfrague (formerly Pension Monfrague) for 4 nights.
8th Mayâ€¦Spent most of the day in Monfrague Parque Natural. Starting at the Arroyo de la Vid, a Black Stork in the river started the ball rolling followed by several Red-rumped Swallows and Crag Martins, Blue Rock Thrush, Crested Lark, Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers, Bee-eaters, Black Redstart and a Black Kite. The lay-by a little way up the road gave Hawfinch, Orphean Warbler, Cirl and Corn Buntings, Woodchat Shrike, Woodlark, Azure-winged Magpie, Short-toed Treecreeper, Hoopoe, Great and Blue Tits and Griffon Vultures overhead.
On to the castle next, Rock Buntings, Rock Sparrows, more Blue Rock Thrushes and Black Redstarts, Short-toed Treecreepers, another Hawfinch, Long-tailed Tits, Bee-eaters and Crag Martins, several breeding Griffons at close range plus those constantly in the air and two Black Storks rising on a thermal.
No Choughs to be seen or heard this time and also noticed was a definite lack of Swifts â€“ the air is normally filled with them at this time of year but very few were to be seen.
Down to Salto Gitano next, as usual the Griffon Vultures stole the show, scores of them sitting around on the Pena Falcon rock-face or in the air, it never fails to impress no matter how many times you see them here. The usual pair of Black Storks were nesting in their small cave, two young in the nest, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Black Redstart, Short-toed Treecreeper, Serin, Nightingales etc a Peregrine and single Black Vulture overhead before the loud-speaking woman nearby made up my mind it was time to move on.
A quick stop at the Bridge area down the road revealed more of the same birds plus Subalpine Warbler, Blackcap, 4 Alpine Swifts, 100â€™s of nesting House Martins and two coach-loads of schoolchildren!! Another stop at the far end of the bridge found a pair of Blue Rock Thrushes fly-catching from the tops of the trees, never seen them do this before so spent a little time watching and found they were quite adept at it, very few misses, Red-legged Partridge, another Subalpine Warbler, 4 Black Vultures, several Black Kites and a Black Stork were seen before moving on again.
Next port of call was the Mirador de la Tajadilla, seeing Short-toed Eagle, Red and Black Kites, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Nightingales and a male Black-eared Wheatear on the way. Azure-winged Magpies and House Sparrows helped me eat my sandwiches while Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed away across the other side of the river and Nightingales, Subalpine Warbler etc made their presence known.
On to Portilla de Tietar for more vultures etc but no sign of the Eagle Owl, holed up somewhere out of the heat of the day I expect, I should have been as well as temperatures were around 30 deg C.
After an hour or two here in the shade of the hide I suddenly remembered Almaraz and the Embalse de Arroyocampo was not that far away so on the spur of the moment set off for it, glad I did as I had a great 1Â½ hours birding here â€“ Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kites, pair of Marsh Harriers, Kestrel, Penduline Tit, Saviâ€™s, Great Reed, Cettiâ€™s and Fan-tailed Warblers, 5-6 Waxbills, Crested Larks, Bee-eaters, Magpie, White Storks, Night, Purple and Grey Herons, 3 Purple Gallinules, Moorhen and 50+ Cattle Egrets flying in to roost. On the way back Buzzard and Southern Grey Shrike were seen, and talk about good luck, I arrived back at Portilla just as a lone Spanish birder had located the Eagle Owl, he kindly offered me a look through his scope, a real gentleman, especially as it disappeared again within a few minutes.
But all was not over yet, just before Fuente de los Tres Canos there was something on the road ahead, no it couldnâ€™t be, but it was, a beautiful Red-necked Nightjar, gradually I drove closer until I was only 6ft away, even then it didnâ€™t fly until I got level with it. I then saw another four between here and the Plasencia â€“ Torrejon road.
9th Mayâ€¦Drove down to the well known Black-shouldered Kite site near Monroy but no luck, evenings are usually best theyâ€™re more active then. White Storks still nesting in the pines, many with young, plenty of House and Spanish Sparrows nesting in their nests. Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Raven, Sardinian Warbler, Serin, Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike and Red-legged Partridge were also seen.
From here I took the first Talavan road seeing Great Crested Grebes on a small lake and a few larks by the road, I was heading for a picnic site Iâ€™d found on a previous visit along the Hinojal road. Good for Orphean Warbler with several singing and one seen down to 10ft. Bee-eaters were very much in evidence sitting on overhead cables, I spent most of my time here photographing them and a Woodchat Shrike that joined them. Woodlarks and Crested Larks, Hoopoe and Red-rumped Swallow were also present.
Carrying along the road I turn left for Santiago del Campo seeing Crested, Thekla, Calandra and Short-toed Larks, Hoopoe etc before reaching the Arroyo de Talavan and stopping for a while. A Spectacled Warbler was singing from the top of a small tree on the left and a Great Spotted Cuckoo sitting inside a tree on the right, Kingfisher, Spotless Starlings, Spanish Sparrows, Black Kites, Griffon Vultures and a pair of Kestrels were also seen before I moved on. A quick look at the lake near Santiago del Campo had a family of Little Grebes on it and a Grey Heron with a huge bulge in its neck and the tail of a fish just showing in its mouth.
The rest of the road down to the CC-912 is not very interesting. On reaching this I turned left to go back to the old original Talavan road and the hide at the edge of the reservoir, it was hot again and some shade was needed. Swallows were again nesting in the hide, apparently this was their second attempt; someone pulled the first nest down!! Great Crested and Little Grebes could be seen sitting on their nests in front of the hide and a Great Reed Warbler sang non-stop. Gadwall, a few Mallard and a White Stork were the only other birds seen on the water while Stonechat, Southern Grey Shrike, Crested Larks, Fan-tailed Warbler, another Great Reed Warbler, Crag Martins, Red-rumped Swallows, Water Rail and a Golden Eagle were seen on the other side of the road here.
From here I took the Monroy turning, seeing very little until I reached the Santa Marta de Magasca turn, carrying on to come out on the EX-208 I did manage a couple of Little Bustards, Crested and Calandra Larks, Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, a pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos near a White Storks nest on a building beside the road, a male Pied Flycatcher here as well, another pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos several kilometres further along where there is a small pool, also here Sardinian Warbler, Red-rumped Swallows and a Stonechat, a few Black Kites and White Storks were also noted overhead along the way.
10th Mayâ€¦ Drove from Torrejon el Rubio to the Santa Marta de Magasca road off the CC-912 seeing a pair of Rollers in the nest-box area after the Rio Almonte valley plus Hoopoe, Crested Larks, etc.
Along what I call â€œrotten roadâ€ because the surface is pretty rough, it was in 2002 and it still is! Good for birds though, 2 Great Bustards started the ball rolling, soon followed by 3 more and 2 Little Bustards. 2 Black vultures overhead plus one sitting on a rock,(this was one of many times I wished it wasnâ€™t so hot, the heat haze ruined photography) several Griffon Vultures overhead, Red and Black Kites, Kestrels, Buzzard, Montaguâ€™s Harriers, Southern Grey Shrikes, Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, Stonechat, Crested, Thekla, Calandra and Short-toed Larks, Great Spotted Cuckoo, 2 or 3 Rollers, 3 Little Owls, Raven and Jackdaw – these are gradually taking over the Roller nest-boxes along here which is not good news.
On joining the N-521 I turned towards Caceres and to the Embalse de Guadiloba. I had a brief visit here in 2002 and thought it had great potential so took this opportunity for another look, it was well worth it, Sub-adult Imperial Eagle, 4 Black, 2 Griffon Vultures, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Black Kites, 2 Little Bustards, Crested, Thekla and Calandra Larks, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, 3 Great Spotted Cuckoos, several Golden Orioles, Hoopoe, Cettiâ€™s, Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers, Nightingale, Azure-winged Magpies, Common Magpies, Stonechats, White Stork, Grey Heron, Little and Cattle Egrets, Water Rail, Swallows, Swifts, Crag Martin, Raven, Pratincoles, Redshank, Black-winged Stilt and Little Ringed Plover were seen.
Not only was the birding good but the trees gave some excellent cool shade for a couple of hours in temperatures of about 30 deg C â€“ phew, far too hot for me.
After this and some excellent views of Golden Orioles I set off for Santa Marta de Magasca village, hearing a couple of Little Bustards â€˜fartingâ€™ on the way, and then back down to the N-521 closer to Trujillo, highlights being several Montaguâ€™s Harriers, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, Red-legged Partridge, etc.
Driving towards Trujillo Belen came into my head, so that was where I headed for next. Iâ€™m a great believer in these spur of the moment decisions, over the years theyâ€™ve led to finding some excellent birds. A couple of hours later I was on the way to Torrejon having seen 18 Great Bustards, 7 Little Bustards, a pair of Stone Curlew, a pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos, Calandra, Crested and Thekla Larks, Hoopoe, Black Kites, White Storks and a Montaguâ€™s Harrier sitting in the road.
But the day was not over yet, 2 Red-necked Nightjars were along the Jaraicejo to the EX-208 road and another on the EX-208 about 1km from where I joined it.
11th Mayâ€¦Left Torrejon el Rubio at 07.30 for La Plataforma in the Sierra de Gredos. Driving along the N-110 through the Jerte Valley is one of the most beautiful drives Iâ€™ve ever done, the scenery was out of this world, the roads were well surfaced and quiet, a definite highlight of the trip for me. Arrived at La Plataforma in early afternoon and spent rest of the day around the car park area trying to photograph Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Ortolan Bunting and Northern Wheatear, the birds were obliging but disturbance from people proved a big problem and I left without a decent shot of the easiest to get â€“ Rock Bunting! Thereâ€™s not a great variety of birds here but what you see you see well, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Grey and Yellow Wagtails, Stonechat, Water Pipit and Dunnock â€“ has anyone else noted how dark these are compared to British birds.
Leaving La Plataforma I went back down the valley to the Puente del Duque and booked into the campsite, sleeping in the car overnight. A quick look around the campsite area gave a few birds, Coal and Crested Tits, Black Redstart, Short-toed Treecreeper, Chaffinch, Carrion Crow and a Tawny Owl heard during the night.
12th Mayâ€¦A look around the area opposite the campsite was far more interesting and I should have spent more time here to do it justice, however I was waiting for the sun to rise high enough for another drive up to La Plataforma for another try at Rock Bunting. This was a total waste of time, if I thought it was busy yesterday it was nothing compared to today. I gave it an hour or so and gave up, cars were arriving every few minutes and hardly a bird was seen in the car park, I had forgotten today was Saturday!!
After another quick look around Puente del Duque seeing â€“ Pied Flycatchers, Short-toed Treecreepers, Coal and Great Tits, fledged Crested Tits, Rock Buntings, Serin, Wood Pigeons, Stock Doves, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Black Redstarts, Ortolan Bunting, Linnet and Whitethroat I started the long drive to Oliva to pay a surprise visit to my good friends Jules and Amanda Sykes, and hopefully, if theyâ€™re not fully booked spend a few days at their guesthouse.
A quick look at the Parador de Gredos and Puerto del Pico didnâ€™t produce very much, probably due to the weather turning showery and very windy, Red Kite and Booted Eagle being the best.
Arriving at Julesâ€™ place about 9.30 pm to find no-one at home so sat in the car to await their return. About 45 mins later I saw Jules coming down the road so waited until he went in then walked up and rang the doorbell, a look of complete surprise was soon replaced by a large grin, a warm handshake and â€˜bleeding hell John itâ€™s good to see you againâ€™. After explaining he had to go out again he fixed me up with a room and the keys to the house in case I wanted to go out for something to eat, thatâ€™s the sort of man he is.
After a shower and a couple of beers I felt almost human again!
A little later Jules, Amanda and their two sons returned, after more greetings we spent the next few hours catching up on the last 12 months. I felt a little guilty as Jules had just returned from one of his 8 day tours to Extramadura and must have been really shattered.
13th Mayâ€¦Didnâ€™t wake up until 9.15am and decided on an easy day, feeling a bit weary after the long days and 3000km driven so far. After a leisurely breakfast and a bit more of friendly company I set off for the Val de Gallinera, another of Julesâ€™ little gems. The first roadside stop produced Melodious and Sardinian Warblers, Serin, Blue Rock Thrush and Nightingale. Stopping at the Golden Eagle watch-point it wasnâ€™t long before one was in the air, shortly followed by itsâ€™ mate, the two circled around for several minutes before spiralling up and away out of sight, also seen were several Red-billed Chough, Golden Oriole singing, Nightingales, Sardinian Warbler and Serins.
The bridge area at Val de Gallinera held the usual Rock Sparrows, Blue Rock Thrush, Hoopoe, several Golden Orioles, more Melodious and Sardinian Warblers, Woodchat Shrike, Short-toed Treecreeper, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Iberian Yellow and Grey Wagtails, Turtle Dove, Red-rumped Swallows, Crag Martins, Wren, Stonechat etc.
After an afternoon siesta in the shade I spent the evening at Pego Marsh, an excellent area with reed-beds, rice fields, wet meadows and some agriculture. As usual at this time of year migrants were getting scarce but 3 Wood Sandpipers, Redshank and a Greenshank were still around plus a few immature Audouinâ€™s and Yellow-legged gulls, Sardinian, Saviâ€™s, Cettiâ€™s, Moustached, Fan-tailed, Reed and Great Reed Warblers, Iberian Yellow Wagtails, White Wagtails, Nightingale, Serins, Crested Larks, Tree and House Sparrows, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, Purple, Grey and Squacco Herons, Little Bittern, Little and Cattle Egret, White Stork, Purple Gallinule, Red-crested Pochard, Water Rail, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebes, Kingfisher, Cormorant, Pratincoles, Little Ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Whiskered Terns etc.
14th Mayâ€¦A trip to Cap de San Antonio today to have a look at the Pallid Swift colony here, also if lucky Black Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush, saw the thrushes OK but no luck with the wheatears, it was blowing a gale which didnâ€™t help. The swift colony was great, scores of birds wheeling around giving excellent views and also to note the difference in calls between them and Common Swift. A pair of Peregrines, Sardinian Warbler and Serin were also seen plus Yellow-legged Gulls and a couple of Coryâ€™s Shearwater offshore.
Rest of the day back at Pego Marsh seeing more or less the same birds as yesterday.
Â 15th Mayâ€¦Last full day for me, flying out tomorrow morning so no time for birding.
Jules had a booking for the Alicante area today with Rob Wilson, a British photographer, and Rose, a lady from Canada on holiday in the area and asked if Iâ€™d like to come along. Iâ€™d been to this area with him last year and it was brilliant so didnâ€™t hesitate in accepting his kind offer.
After picking up Rose in Alicante we headed for Monnegre, god only knows how he found the place itâ€™s way out in the middle of nowhere but thereâ€™s some really good birds there, we had excellent views of Trumpeter Finch, Black-eared and Black Wheatears, Spectacled, Sardinian and Orphean Warblers, Thekla Larks, Rock Sparrows, Bee-eaters, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, Serin, Red-rumped Swallows etc.
From here it was down to Santa Pola areas- Santa Pola Salinas, El Binet, El Hondo area, a dwarf pine forest for Rufous Bushchat, the Clot de Galvany and the Charco de Contacto, all brilliant spots for birding.
Throughout the day we saw Black, Whiskered, Little, Common and Sandwich Terns, Audouinâ€™s, Yellow-legged, Slender-billed and Black-headed Gulls, Sanderling, Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets, Flamingos, White Storks, Little and Cattle Egrets, Squacco and Grey Heron, Purple Gallinule, Moorhen, 4 White-headed Duck, 5 Marbled Duck, Shelduck, Pochard, Mallard, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, House and Sand Martins, Kestrel, 3 Little Owls, Turtle and Collared Doves, Corn Buntings, 2 Rollers, 4 Lesser Short-toed Larks, Crested Larks, Pratincole, several Rufous Bushchat, Spotted Flycatcher, Common Redstart, Serin, Fan-tailed, Reed, Great Reed, Sardinian and Cettiâ€™s Warblers, Nightingales, Iberian Green Woodpecker etc.
What a brilliant end to a great holiday, Rose went away with 50+ lifers, Rob and me a few photographs and Jules, well someone had to do the work, he went away knackered, heâ€™d been on the go since 7am and didnâ€™t get home until about 9.30pm, I donâ€™t know how he does it, must be made of steel.
One thing I must say anyone booking a trip with Jules, whether itâ€™s for a day, a short break or one of his holiday tours certainly gets value for money, he just keeps going until he gets the birds people want to see, and all done with a good sense of humour.
Full marks to him for making a good trip great and especially for putting me onto Villafafila for Great Bustards. Hereâ€™s a link to his website if anyone wants some great birding trips or just some information on the Valencia/Alicante area. http://www.olivaramatours.com/