Albacete, Castilla La Mancha – Paul Coombes

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Day 6 – I met up with Paul Sparkes 0700 near Murcia. Two and a half hours later we were north west of Albecete, heading for an area where Paul had seen SPANISH IMPERIAL EAGLE on a few occasions this winter. A slow drive along the wooded valley and within 10min …. Bingo! Unfortunately, the bird wasn’t hanging around and drifted along the tree line and out of sight. Great Spotted Woodpecker was hard and fleeting glimpses of two birds were had. RED KITE and Buzzard were abundant, showing in good numbers all day. There were many Red legged Partridge and I was informed they’d been introduced to the area by the local hunting brigade. It made sense that that the Raptors here would be scavenging on the shot birds that were not / could not be collected.

Throughout the day two Spanish Imperial Eagles were seen, mostly at a good distance, but they did both put on a good show high over the valley mid morning. After a good lunch a visit to around Bonilla was worthwhile. It was very cold. Recent snow remained in areas around the steppe, but the sight of two groups of GREAT BUSTARD were warming. One group of 30 plus birds flew over giving quite a spectacular sight. A return for the Raptors once again gave us fleeting views of the Spanish Imperial Eagle right through to sunset. Not many other species of bird today. A lone Marsh Harrier, Little Owl, a few Carrion Crow and some small distant flocks of Larks were the only additions. A big thank you goes to Paul for showing me these fabulous birds and for a top day all round. Bird trip list 105 species.