We had agreed to go up to Petrola with Geoff Culliford to try to find some Great Bustards for him. Our first birds were numerous Crows and Magpies along with the odd Crested Lark. Not a very inspiring start. Eventually we joined our usual track outside Petrola and headed off across the countryside. A small group of Calandra Lark were seen, a new bird for Geoff, but trying to spot them once they had landed again in the brown soil was quite difficult. As we continued I spotted a Little Owl on top of an old building, a place where we have seen them before. A few Red legged Partridge ran across the road in front of us, sadly not Sandgrouse which would have been better. Geoff spotted a few Lapwings in a field with some Spotless Starlings.
We continued along this long track until John spotted something in a field up ahead and to our right. They were a good distance away but as we got nearer we were able to tell that they were birds, in fact they were our target birds, Great Bustards! We managed to get nearer to them and turned right so the birds were on our left and the sun was behind us. We had great views of the birds, 28 of them as they slowly walked away from us (as usual) and headed over a bank of ground. Geoff was very pleased, although he wasn’t that happy with his photos (they were much better than our’s though) but this was probably as close as we have ever been to the birds, other than when they have flown overhead on past visits.
After watching the Great Bustards for a while we continued on our route, seeing not much else, and headed to the Petrola lagoon for our picnic. A nice male Marsh Harrier was ‘sky dancing’ with a female which was great to watch as we ate our lunch. A few Flamingo and Shelduck were on the lagoon but it was otherwise quiet. Driving back we saw a single Lapwing at the end of the road before heading off towards Higuerela. We had an unplanned stop on the way to look at two raptors which we eventually decided were probably Buzzards. Soon after we stopped again to watch another male Marsh Harrier flying low over a field to the side of us. At Higuerela we drove along a track to look in some wooded areas where we found Chaffinch, Great Tit a surprising Great Spotted Woodpecker (as we never see them on the Costa) and two thrushes, a Mistle Thrush on the ground and a Song Thrush in a tree.
We headed back along the road towards Bonete, and back on the motorway to Gran Alacant. Geoff wanted a quick look in the Clot so we went along with him and I spotted my first House Martin and Swallow of the year, just one of each species. The usual Teal, Shoveler, Little Grebe and Western Swamphens were seen but the hoped for Pintail and White headed Duck were nowhere to be found. Walking back we spotted our second Song Thrush of the day, and a beautiful Little Egret which was preening itself in the scrape, a change from the usual Cattle Egrets seen there most afternoons.
All in all it had been a great day and we were happy we had managed to find the Great Bustards for Geoff who had also added a few other species to his list for this visit to Spain.
Species list –Little Grebe, Little Egret, Greater Flamingo, Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Red legged Partridge, Coot, Western Swamphen, Moorhen,Great Bustard, Lapwing, Woodpigeon, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Calandra Lark, Crag Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonchat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Chiffchaff, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Magpie, Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet.