Thursday, 13 May 2010

Monday 10th - Wednesday 12th May

Castile La Manche

Monday 10th

En route to the Cabaneros area I decided to make a stop near Petrola for a couple of hours birding and some breakfast. After a quick food stop I moved off into the plains and was soon rewarded with 9 male Great Bustard displaying to a single female. At the same time on the other side of the road 4 male Little Bustard were very active displaying to a hidden female, fantastic!

After watching them for a while I moved on to an area that on my previous visit had been good for Sandgrouse. After 10 minutes and a short walk I had found a group of 12 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse showing fairly close. Whilst watching these unique birds a party of 4 Black-bellied Sandgrouse flew over. Other birds recorded in the area included Calandra Lark (numerous), Thekla Lark, Black-eared Wheatear, Rock Sparrow (above left), Bee-eater and Southern Grey Shrike.

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

Arriving in the Cabaneros area late, there was just enough light for an hours birding. A walk along a river just outside the National Park produced a number of good species. Pied Flycatcher, Spanish Sparrow, Booted Eagle and Green Sandpiper were all recorded. This area was covered in White Stork nests with approximately 23 nests seen in the short half mile walk. The highlight of this short walk was 4 Black Vulture and a single Griffon Vulture which drifted slowly over the river.

Tuesday 11thThe first full day in Cabaneros began with a walk down a track which dissects a section of wildflower meadows. This area was extremely productive for three species in particular, Golden Oriole, Azure-winged Magpie and Woodchat Shrike, all of which were present in good numbers. Turtle Dove and Quail were both very vocal in the area, the latter showing well at times.

Golden Oriole

As I proceeded down the track and it began to warm up raptors became more active. Small groups of Black and Griffon Vulture were a constant fixture in the air as were Booted Eagle and Black Kite. A perched Short-toed Eagle posed well for pictures, although the heat haze made it difficult to focus the camera on the bird.

Short-toed Eagle

Next stop was an area that on my previous visit had been good for Black-shouldered Kite. Almost as soon as I arrived a Black-shouldered Kite appeared and proceeded to hunt the area in front of me. I watched the bird hunting for 10 minutes until it eventually gave up and decided to perch, I managed a few pictures (below) but unfortunately the heat haze was again an issue. Other species seen in this area included, Roller, Nightingale, Greater Spotted Cuckoo, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Azure-winged Magpie (below), Golden Oriole, Spanish Sparrow and White Stork.

Azure-winged Magpie

Black-shouldered Kite

My favourite part of the Cabaneros area was by far the final destination of the day, which on my previous visit had held a pair of displaying Spanish Imperial Eagle. I started out with fingers crossed that they had remained to nest in the area. The walk down to the site produced new birds in the form of Bonelli's Warbler, Sub-alpine Warbler, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting and Grey Wagtail. During the first half an hour at the site a number of raptors appeared over the ridges including Golden Eagle, Booted Eagle, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture and Black Vulture but my target species still eluded me.
A bit of patience paid off and after another 15 minutes an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle drifted in low along the canopy line and landed just out of view. A few minutes later the bird re-appeared and slowly gained height over my head, initially only 30m above me. Such close encounters of this spectacular species define the term "breathtaking" and are certainly recommended if you have not yet been privileged enough to experience them for yourself.

Black Vulture

Wednesday 12th
Before setting off for home I couldn't resist another try for the two raptors that define this area Black-shouldered Kite and Spanish Imperial Eagle. I located the birds in the same area that I had visited yesterday. After enjoying superb views of both species I begrudgingly headed home. A succesful and rewarding couple of days birding. The species listed in this post can be enjoyed on a number of our tours, for further information please feel free to contact me -

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