We had a bit of a late start this morning after last nights celebrations when Manchester City beat Chelsea and secured their place in FA Cup final. As we have Ryan and Jane with us today, it was nice to have a lie in and breakfast "al fresco" before heading out to do some birding a little further afield. The weather here is glorious, by 11am we were well on the way and the temperature had already reached 22degrees.
From Quesada we took the AP7 towards Alicante airport exiting at the AP7/E15 signposted Albacete. Staying on this road until we reached the exit clearly marked Albacete/Madrid A-31.
The site we visited today is approximately 175km from Quesada which, unlike in the UK, is a pleasurable hour and a half drive from our villa. The motorways here are modern, well maintained and move freely, burying any thoughts of the dreaded M6 deep into the back of our minds.
Within a few minutes of leaving the motorway at Bonete we had seen our first of many Great Bustard. The males were displaying to the females in full view - a fantastic start to our day.
Here are a few of the photographs of both Little and Great Bustard that we took throughout the day. We have some of mixed male and female groups and will post them tomorrow.
The classic steppe habitat here is perfect for the Bustard and Sandgrouse. When the new railway link was built it was thought that it may affect the Bustards adversely but I think this picture we took today maybe disproves this theory.
Along with a very impressive 70+ Great Bustard (30 female) and 7 Little Bustard (5 female) at this site we also recorded an abundance of Magpie (more than we have ever seen here before) and Lesser Kestrel which was a first for us at this site. The Kestrel were actively mating on a telegraph pylon.
Other birds recorded: Kestrel, Rock Sparrow, Corn Bunting (everywhere !), Booted Eagle (2), Great Spotted Cuckoo (2), Stone Curlew (2), Iberian Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Rock Dove, House Sparrow, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Red-legged Partridge, Linnet, Goldfinch, Serin.
Great Spotted Cuckoo
Moving towards Petrola we passed through the village of Higueruela it was so quiet here it was like a ghost town. Not a single car was on the road and we saw just one person carrying a model aeroplane and one farmer in his field. It was 3pm and very hot - you know what they say about mad dogs and English men.
Along the road we recorded both Northern Wheatear and Black-eared Wheatear, Swallow, Carrion Crow, Red-rumped Swallow, Crested Lark, Wood Pigeon and Golden Eagle (1)
Next stop Laguna de Petrola - Water levels were high and there had been an obvious movement of Yellow Wagtail as they were on all the fences and on the edge of all the flood water which had formed temporary pools on the farm land, there were even Flamingos near the farm house barn.
"Little and Large"
The ever growing Flamingo colony at Petrola Lagoon
Going to leave it there for today. We have had such an amazing days birding we still have a lot more to record on the blog, including some photographs of small groups of Great Bustard we saw later in the day - Part two tomorrow.