A 7 am start to get up onto the plains before the heat of the day really kicks in. From the Bonete exit we headed for Higueruela. A track on the left near the railway produced Wheatears, including Black eared, and Corn Buntings as well as a fox making it’s way along the railway embankment. An overflying Pin tailed Sandgrouse gave itself away with a corvid like call, but not quite right. The bird itself showed a very clear white underside and a long ‘pin-tail’. Next stop was the estacion where an unfamiliar call got us onto Rock Sparrows but the real attraction was a pair of Lesser Kestrels bringing in food to a nest site in a wall. The food drop taking no more than three or four seconds. Further along the road (where a few trees provide cover) we got a Little Owl and a Jay. Also Spotted Flycatcher, Iberian Green Woodpecker and Black Wheatear. Next was a small Poplar grove, a short distance from the main road, where Bryan had seen Golden Oriole a few weeks back. We were soon enjoying views of these impressive birds flying from tree to tree. Their fluting song often giving away their approximate location, but actually spotting them in the foliage was far from easy. The shade here was most welcome. Also present was Mistle Thrush and Short toed Treecreeper along with Bee eaters.
Onward towards the lagoons of Petrola we observed our only Great Bustard of the day, a rather distant view, but a view nevertheless. The lagoons lacked the variety of waders present just a couple of weeks ago but still held a good number of birds. Of note was a single Collared Pratincole and some Gull billed Tern, hunting over fields, (as they do).The plains around Corral Rubio were relatively quiet. A number of Corn Buntings but hardly any Calandra Larks. Most of the lakes had dried out completely. At one point we stopped next to a field of white poppies, in full bloom. A stunning site.
Species list – Shelduck, Mallard, Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Black-necked Grebe, Greater flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Coot, Great Bustard, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Black-headed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared , Little Owl, Swift, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Green Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Calandra Lark, Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Spotted Flycatcher, Short-toed Treecreeper, Magpie, Jay, Carrion Crow, Spotless Starling, Golden Oriole, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Serin, Corn Bunting.