Yecla Field Trip – Stephan and Els

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Nineteen birders found each other, sometimes to their own surprise near the Lesser Kestrel farm at the Zepa of the Estepas de Yecla. Of course some of those birds were seen around, flying or just sitting and looking around. Lots of Barn Swallows, and one Red-rumped Swallow circled the farm and the goats. Calandra Larks were singing their strange song and chasing each other, and on the side of the road the first of many Corn Buntings opened its beak for thrilling tones. Another roadside bird: the modest Short-toed Lark. Everywhere we saw the Thekla LarkSome good eyes found our first Little Bustard. The bird frequently looked over the growing wheat, showed it´s black and white neck, probably made it´s peculiar call, and then ducked down until it needed to look out again. High over us passed the first couple of Short-toed Eagles, showing their broad light coloured wings.

The next stop deeper in the fields proved rather hectic. A Pin tailed Sandgrouse was spotted on the ground, but the bird took off soon, taking with it a group of five. They disappeared in the far away fields. Then the same group or a different one took flight, at the same moment as a group of several Stone Curlews. Between the many flowers and stones we found a Northern Wheatear.

After the fields and orchards in the Lesser Kestrel farm area we drove slowly past a Meadow Pipit to the dirt road connecting the tarmac roads in the ZEPA. We could feel that the winter rains certainly had not  improved the dirt road surface. From the ruin of a farm, usually good for Rock Sparrow, a Little Owl followed our progress. A ravine showed us the results of the force of the water that had been flowing there. At the other side of the ravine a couple of Mistle Thrushes looked wary at the flight of a male Sparrowhawk.

A big farm surrounded by orchards and a wild garden housed Serins,  Greenfinches and Goldfinches, House Sparrows, and an unfortunate Spotless Starling that was being caught by a Kestrel.


Lunch was at the Lenguetero Restaurant in Caudete, where we  enjoyed a generally excellent lunch. The committee used the opportunity to inform the members of a proposal to make a donation to the Amigos de los Humedales del Sur de Alicante (AHSA). The members supported the proposal with unanimous approval. Our leaving member Dave was thanked for his contributions to the CBBC.

After lunch we set forth again to the Zepa of Yecla now for the part at the other side of the Yecla – Almansa road. With the exception of a couple of Hoopoes not much happened at first, but then a Little Bustard was spotted, pressed to the ground until the bird felt discovered and took flight, showing the mass of white of the wing feathers. A careful search of the surroundings was done, and we found four more of these spectacular birds. Then of course other birds were found, new species were Black Wheatear and Iberian/Southern Grey Shrike. A flock of birds caused discussion, but at the end of that we could not identify them soundly as Black-bellied Sandgrouse. Also on the list for today were Wood PigeonCollared DoveHouse MartinSardinian WarblerCarrion CrowChoughMagpieBlackbird and Song Thrush