Having ticked off most of the expected birds in the first two days, we weren’t expecting to add many more birds to our list. Even so we returned to Monfrague full of hope.
At Salto del Gitano, we saw the expected Griffon Vultures, Black Storks, Crag Martins and more. We continued to Villarreal de San Carlos and had a walk down to where the little camping huts are. John had already heard a Golden Oriole singing so we sat down to examine the trees where the sound appeared to be coming from. We thought we might be able to see one of the birds partly hidden in a tree but that was the only view we got. We walked up the street for a coffee and just like on Wednesday a Jay flew into the nearby tree. As we headed for the car park an Iberian Green Woodpecker flew by at speed.
Our next stop was at La Tajadilla picnic area where the usual Griffons were around but not much else. Moving on to Portilla del Tietar we found the area to be very busy with birders, so we had to go past and turn round again before parking in a rough lay-by. We walked back towards the hide hearing several Nightingales singing in the trees and a Cuckoo was calling continuously, a new bird for our list. We saw a large raptor flying high above us, which was definitely an eagle, but which one we couldn’t tell.
At the viewpoint it seemed to be mainly Griffons again but I spotted another eagle high above and took a few photos to try to identify it later. We decided it could only be a Golden Eagle or a Spanish Imperial Eagle, and from later reviews of the camera screen it appeared to show the white shoulders which are diagnostic for Spanish Imperial Eagle. Happy days! This photo is from a previous visit.
We set off back to La Tajadilla to eat our picnic. A Black Stork was flying nearby but there was still no sign of any Vultures apart from Griffons.
We left here and headed back towards San Carlos planning to stop in one of the viewpoints on the way. As we pulled into a lay-by I spotted a Black-eared Wheatear flying up off the ground and called it out to John who slammed the brakes on while I dived out of the car. I had been wanting this bird for days! Luckily they like to perch and we spotted it sitting on a metal fence a little way up the hillside so I was able to get a few record shots on the camera. While looking at this bird we heard another behind us. I was delighted to see it was a Subalpine Warbler, a bird we haven’t seen for years. Another record shot helped to identify it.
Next we returned to Villarreal de San Carlos to have another look for the Golden Orioles. We soon heard them and sat for a while watching Azure-winged Magpies, a pair of Blackcaps, a Black Kite and a Woodchat Shrike. As we were thinking of leaving I spotted one of the Golden Orioles flying in front of the trees and leapt up to get some blurry photos as it sped by. For the next few minutes two Golden Orioles flew backwards and forwards making our day complete.
By now we were quite hot and tired so we headed back to the apartment for a rest. During a quick stop by the river two Bee-eaters flew over and a Grey Wagtail flew down to the water
Species list – Black Stork, Griffon Vulture, Black Kite, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black-eared Wheatear, Blackbird, Subalpine Warbler, Blackcap, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starling, Golden Oriole, Jay, Magpie, Azure-winged Magpie, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch.