Yecla Field Trip – Els and Stephan

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Fourteen birders met at the Riesma restaurant for the excursion of the CBBC to Yecla. On the last part of the route to Yecla a possible Booted Eagle was spotted, and also a Southern Great Grey Shrike.

After our first bird on the ZEPA of the Estepas de Yecla, a Spotless Starling, it was soon followed by several larks. Some Thekla Larks, lots of Calandra Larks (showing their black underwings), and a few small lightly coloured Short-toed Larks. Circling the farm were 4-5 Lesser Kestrels, which could conveniently be compared  with the Kestrel that was hunting in the same area. Barn Swallows chased insects low above the ground, and high up were Swifts. Later on in the day, the amount of this latter species was amazing. House Sparrows were busy around the puddles of water left over after recent rain.

Wheatear and Lark by Greta Owen©

Carefully we searched the fields for the typical steppe birds, but they stayed out of sight. Nevertheless some lucky ones heard the crowing sound of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, but they were not seen. A stone wall proved to be a good place for Northern Wheatear. We counted three birds, two of them showing themselves well for a long time for the photographers among us. A bunch of six Ravens were flying around a big tree, where they flushed out an unidentified raptor. Linnets and Goldfinches flew around us in small flocks.

Driving through an olive-yard we saw two Red-legged Partridges trying to escape us by stealing away. On the long open stretch of land after that nothing moved but some larks. However, the stone walls gave some exciting views:- a Little Owl was seen by everyone, and a Blue Rock Thrush only by a very few. From the walls we could look into the next field, and there a Short-toed Eagle clearly was enjoying a nice meal before taking flight and providing good views. We drove up through the valley, along fields with wheat. Suddenly something white appeared, and we were all very glad to see a pair of Little Bustards flying up. They circled around us, and settled again in the wheat. The male stood looking over the green, showing the black neck with the white line on it. Then they had seen enough of us, and finally flew farther afield.

We continued our route, over the bad roads through the area, only shortly stopping for a Little Owl on a ruin. We were in time at El Lengüetero in Caudete for a good meal and a chance to practise our Spanish with our guest from Cartagena.

After lunch, we found that after a pleasant morning the weather had changed to cloud and rain. Following the plan, we went back to the ZEPA and covered the west side of the Yecla – Almansa road. The birds were probably wiser than we were, they hid from the rain and the cold wind. Nevertheless we found Serin, Carrion Crow, several mixed flocks of beautifully coloured Linnets and Goldfinches, a Corn Bunting and a Greenfinch. Some observant people also spotted a Wryneck on a pole. We ended a nice day of birding with a Southern Great Grey Shrike and a Hoopoe.