Day 9 – 28th March – Estepas de Yecla, Corral Rubio & Bonete.
I decided to travel further afield today in the hope of some new species, so I left Montesinos around 0700. By 0830 I was listening to the sound of CALANDRA and Short toed Larks along the road skirting the Estapes de Yecla. On the Estapes I searched for Sandgrouse and was eventually rewarded with two groups of 8 and 7 birds. The Larks continued to fill the air with their song and my attention was drawn to 2 passing raptors. They had gone as quickly as they appeared .. Short toed Eagles!! There were no signs of the hoped for Great Spotted Cuckoo or any lingering winter Bustards. So onwards to Corral Rubio and Bonete in Castillo La Mancha. Almost immediately I located 2 GREAT BUSTARD and shortly after a large group containing around 20 birds, both groups very distant. A lone Rock Sparrow and many CORN BUNTINGS decorated the roadside bushes and wires plus a high soaring GOLDEN EAGLE passed silently. Others birds of note were Lapwing and Crossbill.
Spain Day 10 – 29th March – Monnegre, near Alicante.
Today was my turn to show Jose Manual Escarabajal somewhere new. But before we headed north, a quick visit was made to the Montesinos viewing tower overlooking Laguna salada de Torrevieja. 8 Montagu’s Harrier (6 males 2 Females) were seen in the air together drifting over the Reedbed. it was great to see some display flight too. On to Monnegre. 5 Blue Rock Thrush and 4 Black Wheatear were seen throughout the day, but no sign of any hoped for Trumpeter Finch. We had two BONELLI’S EAGLE sightings and at the high end of the Monnegre road, a pair of Griffon Vulture were being harassed by a pair of Peregrine Falcon around Pena Migjorn (the large mountain). A Dartford Warbler was seen skulking in nearby scrub and Crested Tit foraged in the pines around us. My bird of the day though, has to be a fabulously confiding BLACK EARED WHEATEAR. I’ve always struggled to get close and to photograph one of these birds in good light but today was the day. Happy chappy!