Next week we have a two day booking with a party of 3 birders who are on holiday here for a couple of weeks. They have requested we take them out in the hope of seeing Lesser Kestrel and Little Bustard, so this morning we headed out to a new site we wanted to explore SW of Caravaca De La Cruz. We set out at 8.00am (just as we would on a day tour) and reached our destination just before 10am. The journey takes about an hour and a half but we stopped en-route for a welcome coffee and croissant.
Lesser Kestrel were showing in good numbers, on the telegraph wires, on the ground and in a deserted building at the crossroads (which was where we had previously seen them). The light was not good, the weather was unpredictable, overcast and rain was in the air. The Lesser Kestrel colony has definitely increased in numbers since last year, which is nice to report. After watching them for a while we set off to explore the surrounding areas along the main roads and the caminos. New territory for us, so no great expectations - boy were we in for a surprise !!
An abandoned farm building not far from the main road was obviously a favourite spot for the hundreds of sparrows out here. We recorded 4 different types: House, Tree, Rock and a single Spanish Sparrow all in the and around the same building - Sparrow.....tastic. The poor light and strengthening winds made it very difficult to photograph these birds today but the pictures below are the best we managed to get. Over the next 3 hours or so we drove slowly around the area and were lucky enough to see .......... in no particular order ........ Booted Eagle, Roller (2), Little Owl, Hoopoe, Black Kite, Chough (4), Great Spotted Cuckoo, Raven (3), Bee-eater, Northern & Black-eared Wheatear, Crested/Calandra/Greater & Lesser Short-toed Larks along with all the usual suspects.
We were happy birders !
As we headed back to take a last look at the Kestrels, Mark spotted a vulture above a pig farm, then another, then another, and another ! A quick diversion off the main road saw us heading across the land via a farm track in hot pursuit. We entered the farm yard (which has public access if you stick to the track) and pulled up alongside the pig pens. There were still 12 vultures in the air above us and we thought we had seen one on the ground. We were busy scanning around the pig pens when there RIGHT IN FRONT OF US was a Griffon Vulture sitting in the field. It was no more than 100 metres away from us, bold as you like, just sat in the field ! This bird was clearly winged tagged although we can't quite make out his number. Definitely one of those birding moments that you will never forget ! When the "beast took flight" we moved on a were lucky enough to locate a further 8 birds on the way back to the main road. 21 Griffon Vultures in one day, in the space of 20 minutes what more can a man ask for ?? Well actually we would have liked the weather to be kinder so we could have got some good photographs to share, but we're not going to complain :-)
Griffon Vulture in flight