Thursday 16th February
Today we joined the Costa Blanca Bird Club for their field trip to Yecla. It was lovely to see friends again and also to meet some new people. On the way to the meeting point I listed Magpie, Hoopoe, Woodpigeon, Spotless Starling and Collared Dove.
We set of across some dusty tracks and my first bird was a Calandra Lark, one of my favourite larks, mainly because it is relatively easy to identify. There were also plenty of Crested Lark, some of which may have been Thekla’s but splitting those two species is beyond me! Some of us spotted an early Northern Wheatear and as we drove around we added Black Redstart, Buzzard, Red-legged Partridge, Little Owl and Raven to the list. The lucky people in the leading car also had Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse.
John and I decided to leave the group as we wanted to continue up to Corral Rubio. We said our goodbyes and headed another 75kms towards Bonete.
On the road from Bonete to Corral Rubio we turned right onto a small track to have a scan around. Looking down into a slightly wet area of a field I spotted a few Cranes. Brilliant! They were a good distance away to photograph but at least they were there.
On the lagoons just outside Corral Rubio we saw Flamingo, Shelduck, Shoveler, Mallard, Marsh Harrier and a possible Golden Eagle. Next we continued through Corral Rubio and along the road towards Petrola.
As we drove along this road, scanning both sides, I spotted a flock of large birds to our left and it was easy to see they were our main quarry; Great Bustards, about 30 of them!
We continued to the crossroads near to Petrola, turning left and them immediately left onto our favourite track. Magpie, Crested Larks and Linnets were seen and a Calandra Lark stood up tall giving us a good view of it. As we reminisced about great birding days along this track with friends, we passed a track on our right and I was saying that we had sometimes seen Bustards over to the right in an area we didn’t usually go to. Amazingly, as I was saying this I spotted a long line of birds on the brow of a hill on the right. John did a quick reverse and we headed along the track towards them. Another 30+ Great Bustards were there, or maybe they were the group we had seen flying earlier. Either way this was a great sighting. I was out of the car getting some photos in case they suddenly took off, but we managed to approach them getting closer than we have ever managed before, although still requiring a lot of zooming in with the camera. Happily for us the birds just walked very slowly over the brow of the hill before they disappeared from view, giving me plenty of time to take lots of photos!
Once these birds had gone out of sight we returned to our usual route ending up by a couple of small lagoons/pools near an old building. A favourite place of mine in this area. Here we saw a flock of small birds, mainly Linnets with a few Chaffinch, Goldfinch and possibly other finches mixed in. A Corn Bunting was perched on a wire fence by the pool and I spotted a bird I was pretty sure was a Hen Harrier, but John sadly missed it. A couple of Lapwing flew up as we left and a Buzzard and a Kestrel were seen as we continued back towards Corral Rubio.
As we approached the village there were two Golden Eagles in the air above the car and when we got to the lagoons past Corral Rubio two more, or maybe the same two Golden Eagles were flying over the lagoons. One flew quite low in front of us giving great views.
We had a coffee stop at the petrol station before heading home having had a really excellent day out. Not a massive total but some quality species had been seen well.
Species list – Flamingo, Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Great Bustard, Crane, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Calandra Lark, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Wheatear, Iberian Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Magpie, Raven, Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.