Fifteen members met at Caudete for the start of April’s outing of the Costa Blanca Bird Club, on a surprisingly chilly but sunny morning. After enjoying a morning coffee, we ‘condensed’ into only four cars – a necessary precaution with the network of lanes that faced us, and set off onto the Yecla Steppe area. When we got lost for the first time, a Greater Short-toed Lark was seen briefly, but then we found our way out onto more promising country.
Our eyes, though, were soon trained on the sky, and a gorgeous pair of Golden Eagles soared almost overhead, occasionally interacting spectacularly, and once being mobbed by a Magpie.
A little further on, a few of us saw a Short-toed Eagle, as it sailed over, then hovered characteristically. A Little Owl caught our attention next, but good views were impossible, and our eyes again turned skywards – this time for a mystery bird that resembled a Goshawk as it dived and tumbled in the sky in a most agile manner. Later study of Gunilla’s excellent photograph was all we needed to see that it was, in fact, no other than a Common Buzzard! Many Swifts flew over.
A big flock of Calandra Larks came to our attention, and we started to scan for more small birds, soon locating a Northern Wheatear and Lesser Short-toed Larks as well as Skylarks and many Thekla Larks. Two Pin-tailed Sandgrouse were flushed from beside the track as we approached the farmhouse. Here it was apparent that Domestic Pigeons and Spotless Starlings were vying for nesting opportunities with Lesser Kestrels, but we managed to see several of the latter before turning towards Caudete.
Almost immediately a fine male Montagu’s Harrier flew by to add to our raptor list, and Paul soon found a Black-eared Wheatear, whilst Greta, not to be outdone, spotted a male Black Wheatear at the other side of the car. We investigated the area at the end of the track, and were rewarded with the rather strange view of a Red-billed Chough apparently entering a house!
Time for lunch and we made for the Restaurante Lengüetera, Caudete, where the ever-attentive Manuel did us proud. It had been a good day.