Trevor and Bryan go Birding – Trevor Ashley

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Sunday 5 Feb:  A very windy morning which yielded few birds of note.  After visiting the Santa Pola Salinas and El Pinet the Palm Farm Road did produce a fine male Hen Harrier followed shortly by a female, but nothing else.

Monday 6 Feb:  Bonete, Petrola and Yecla.

At Bonete almost the first birds seen were a couple of Black-bellied Sandgrouse Great Bustards were seen in good numbers, 25 in one group and then another of 20, their striking blue/grey head and neck showing well in the sunshine.  Calandra Larks seemed abundant and some Rock Sparrows were picked out amongst the flocks of House Sparrows.

At Petrola there was a lot more water than usual.  In fact there were lakes where normally the ground is dry.  On the major pools Greater Flamingoes and Teal predominated with a few Lapwing.  A single Green Sandpiper and a single Water Pipit were seen but generally birds were scarce.

By lunchtime we decided to head south towards Yecla.  Here’s a question.  Why would you drive a Ford Fiesta across a ploughed field?  The answer is simple…to get a closer view of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse for the photographer.  A flock of 80 or so soon departed but 3 remained to enable some close ups. They might have thought they were invisible but the strong wind may well have helped drown out the sound of the approaching car.  Further along the track, heading for the ‘Lesser Kestrel Farm’, 2 Great Bustards took to the air with their laboured flight.  A little further along the same track we disturbed a flock of 15 or so Black-bellied Sandgrouse.  Numerous flocks of Linnets seemed to be all over the place with relatively few Corn Buntings.  A single Mistle Thrush flew off showing a very distinctive white underwing.

Not the greatest species list but fine views of both Sandgrouse and of course the Great Bustards made for a good day’s birding.

Species list: Grey Heron, Shelduck, Greater Flamingo, Teal, Mallard, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Great Bustard, Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Calandra Lark, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Serin, Linnet, Corn Bunting, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird and Robin.