Mark Etheridge and I set off from Gran Alacant at 7am heading for the Petrola steppe area. We planned to repeat the trip I had done three weeks earlier with Richard Hanman which had been very good with plenty of photographic opportunities. We arrived at Bonnete and took the road to Higeruela where, almost immediately, we saw a fantastic male Black eared Wheatear. A little further on we saw plenty of Calandra larks, Crested larks, Skylarks and a few Thekla Larks, plus a flyover of two Pintailed Sandgrouse. All this and we had not reached the Estacion yet! From the track that runs alongside the railway line we saw Black bellied Sandgrouse, Great Bustards, Stone Curlews, more Calandra Larks, Rock Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Hoopoes and Kestrels.
We carried on to the next birding spot, a small wooded area with Poplar trees on the left of the road before reaching Higeruela Town. Straight away a few Mistle Thrush hopped into view along with a pair of Black eared Wheatears, Spotted Flycatcher, Booted Eagle, Northern Wheatear and Beeeaters. Our target bird was Golden Oriole which I had seen there a few weeks ago. After a little while the Golden Orioles started to call, there are probably two pairs there. We were rewarded by a close, but brief fly past of this fantastic black and yellow bird. After that we had a celebratory jig about!
We set off for the lakes of petrola and on arrival I was surprised to see how much water had evaporated, a few weeks ago this place was buzzing with waders but they had nearly all cleared off leaving the Flamingos, Shelduck, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Black winged Stilt, hundreds of Terns and Black headed Gulls and a single Purple Swamphen. Next were the two lagoons of Coral Rubio. This was a little better but a lot of water had gone and the pool was about half the normal size. Avocets, Shelducks, Lapwing, Black winged Stilt, Gull billed Terns, Whiskered Terns and Marsh Harrier were there but no small waders. The signs were not good for the lagoons at Bonnete which were covered with waders just three weeks ago. we arrived and found it was completely dried out and cracked, more like a desert, only the main lagoon close to the town contained water. This is where all the Flamingos had moved to but not much else. Time was moving on so we decided to call it a day and head for home. Not a big species list but more quality than quantity and with a few good photos as well, we set off talking about our next adventure to the Guadalentin valley in a few days time.