Jeannet, Eddie and I decided to risk a trip to the “estepas” at Yecla despite the overcast, cold and windy weather that was forecast. (For those who do not know the area, “estepas” does not mean not grassy “steppes” but bare, stony, mainly uncultivated fields). We drove up via Pinoso, seeing 2 Stone Curlew on the way. On arrival it was windy but bright and we were immediately treated to 5 Black bellied Sandgrouse, plus a large flock of maybe 200+ Calandra Larks. Driving on we had good views of 2 Pin tailed Sandgrouse feeding in the fields, soon followed by another 11. A distant Peregrine Falcon was confirmed when it later swooped right in front of our car. There were good views of flocks of Skylarks, Linnets, Thekla’s Larks, and Crested Larks, plus 5 Mistle Thrush, and we were struck by the large numbers of Chaffinch.
We turned left off the metalled road and followed the track signposted to Casa del Reventao, and stopped at Los Aljibes, which I cannot recall the club ever visiting. This is a farmhouse with a fenced garden area with trees, which proved particularly productive for us yielding a surprising number of “garden birds” including 3 Song Thrush, Blackbird, male and female Blackcap, Northern Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Serin, and most surprising of all, a single Crossbill.
We moved on, with a distant Golden Eagle followed by 2 Chough, and then near the Alarcon SA buildings at least one Rock Sparrow and a couple of Tree Sparrows. With dark clouds now threatening rain, we decided to head for home, but the highlight was still to come, with a large flock of at least 53 Pin tailed Sandgrouse feeding or perhaps trying to shelter from the wind.
Species list (compiled by Jeannet) – Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Stone Curlew, Black bellied Sandgrouse, Pin tailed Sandgrouse, Rock Dove, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Crag Martin, Skylark, Crested Lark, Thekla’s Lark, Calandra Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Chough, Northern Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Serin, Crossbill. Total 42.