19th - 26th - Week Tour and Extension
Rufous Bush Robin
I have spent the last week leading a private tour for Father and Son Rob and Dan Pointon and so have had little chance to update. This is a little roundup of the highlights of the tour, a full trip report will be available on the website soon. The Itinerary for the trip was based on our 7 day Costa Blanca/Castille le Mancha tour (see - www.aquilabirdtours.com) with an extension for Dan to visit Cazorla in Andalucia.
Before leaving for Cabaneros we visited a few local area's where we watched common and rare resident species; Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Marbled Duck (with 14 chicks), White-headed Duck, Rufous Bush Robin and Black Wheatear were all enjoyed alongside a supporting cast of typical Mediterranean species like Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Turtle Dove, Serin and Roller.
Montpellier Snake found dead near Montague's Harrier nest. Possibly killed by "playful" fledglings.
Cabaneros did not disappoint and during our two day visit we managed to see all of our target species as well as unexpected ones. A Common Crane was certainly the most unexpected species of the trip and easily makes it into the highlights list along with Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Black and Griffon Vultures, Azure-winged Magpie, Short-toed Eagle, Western Orphean Warbler and Lesser Kestrel.
A full day at El Hondo after returning from Cabaneros left Rob and Dan amazed (as it does with everybody) not only due to the scale and beauty of the area but also because of the lack of access. The usual array of species were seen including Moustached and Great Reed Warbler, Squacco, Purple and Night Heron, Purple Swamphen, Black-necked Grebe, Whiskered and Little Tern, Little Bittern, Greater Flamingo and White-headed Duck. We also managed to locate 2 summer plumage Spotted Redshank and a Wood Sandpiper but the most unexpected bird of the day was by far a Barn Owl which was hunting across the reeds.
On Thursday 24th we ventured towards Valencia to see Red-crested Coot, at this site we also added Melodious Warbler and Sandwich Tern to the ever increasing trip list. Before returning home we spent a few hours at the coast enjoying a superb sea watch. Cory's Shearwater were present in good numbers and watched at close range with a juvenile Gannet and numerous Balearic Shearwater also passing through.
The final day of the tour was spent in Murcia where we managed to get Rob his main target bird - Golden Eagle as well as many other fantastic species including Bee-eater, Roller, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Quail.
After dropping Rob at the airport Dan and I returned for a walk around the perimeter of El Hondo where we found a male Western Olivaceous Warbler which appears to be holding territory. In the evening we visited a nest site for Eagle Owl near Algorfa, 2 birds showed well just before dark along with Scops Owl, Long-eared Owl and Red-necked Nightjar.
The trip to Cazorla provided us with the chance to see a number of species that we had not yet seen on the trip including, Red-billed Chough, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and European Nightjar. The star bird however was a sub adult Lammergeier which gave fantastic views at close range.
A full species list and day to day account of the trip will soon be on the website available as a PDF download. The trip list ended on 184 with a Cuckoo on the way to the airport being the last new bird of the trip, having unbelievably eluded us all week! Thanks to Rob and Dan for a fantastic week. If you would like details of this trip or would like to discuss your own private tour requirements with me please visit www.aquilabirdtours.com