Sunday, 15 April 2012

5 days in Spain

Six of us set off early on April 7th to bird around the Madrid area. Our flight left before 8am from Gatwick which gave us a good chance to get some birding in that day. Our itinerary, worked out by Edge (Mark), took us from Sepulveda to Benavente to San Juan then finally to Guadarrama. A total of  at least 150 species were seen or heard, 6 of which were new for me.
There were lots of highlights, near Sepulveda we searched hard for DUPONT'S LARK which gave itsef up after singing from the darkness and generally managing to ghost between sparse vegetation, here to were numerous GRIFFON VULTURES, flying at eye-level on the edge of a gorge being joined sporadically by the odd EGYPTIAN VULTURE (first new bird) and BOOTED EAGLE.
Griffon Vulture

 A drive north and west took us to an area near Benavente and a village called Villafafila, we pulled up in a lay-by surrounded by large arable fields scanning these fields we found no less than 350 or more GREAT BUSTARDS!!! a sight I will never forget, groups 30-60 and odd birds here and there, amazing. Dave wandered down the road and found 9 BLACK BELLIED SANDGROUSE (tick no.2) a difficult bird to find and a real bonus.
Great Bustard

 The other stand out moment here on the first day at this site was, Gav finding an IBERIAN GREEN WOODPECKER in a small clump of trees at least half a mile away, I am still in awe!!
The next morning was spent around a large lagoon just south of Villafafila it held, GULL BILLED TERNS, KENTISH PLOVERS, 4 SPOONBILLS, TAWNY PIPITS were flying over there were also plenty of BLACK WINGED STILTS and AVOCET. A quick stop at a small clump of trees produced several BONELLI'S WARBLERS, IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF, GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO, SUBALPINE WARBLER and SHORT EARED OWL. GREAT BUSTARDS were in the fields and 3 HOOPOE flew over there. All the time round the lagoon LESSER KESTRELS and BLACK and RED KITES were seen. After some great tapas in the village we decided on a circular route around the area that held the Great Bustards. The highlight was when Stephen picked out a LITTLE BUSTARD (tick no.3), in a stubble field, great find! we managed to find another 4 birds on the other side of the road.The rest of the afternoon we drove round slowly adding to the list of birds, our second and third GOLDEN EAGLES a MELANISTIC and an INTERMEDIATE type MONTAGU'S HARRIERS, along with more Great Bustards, White Storks, several races of Yellow Wagtail, ROCK SPARROW, to name but a few.
White Stork


Subalpine Warbler

Montagu's Harrier

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Little Bustard

The next day was a longish drive to a little place called San Juan which has a large dam, from here we found BLACK VULTURE (tick no.4), SHORT TOED EAGLE, BONELLI'S EAGLE and good numbers of AZURE WINGED MAGPIES but not the hoped for Spanish Imperial Eagle.
Azure Winged Magpie

Black Vulture

Our final day saw us in temperatures of -3 degrees C in the morning to 20 degrees in the afternoon!! We looked for and found CITRIL FINCH (tick no.5) in those bitterly cold morning temperatures at around 1700m altitude, here we also had CRESTED TITS and CROSSBILLS. We descended from the mountains and started seeing Griffon Vultures again with the odd Black Vulture and a Short toed Eagle. Another stop now not far from Madrid added a singing GOLDEN ORIOLE, LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER and further on SARDINIAN WARBLER, WOODLARKS plus a ew butterfly for me Provence Hairstreak. The last part of the day before our flight back was spent on some plains to the north-east of Madrid one random stop found us adding SPANISH IMPERIAL EAGLE (tick no.6) to the trip list, a great finish!! we weren't quite done as we found approximately 20 Great Bustards which were watched while we could see planes taking off from Madrid airport in the background.
Provence Hairstreak

Red Kite

Citril Finch

There were many more highlights in that short time, these are just a few, the atmosphere was always jovial and I thank my travelling companions for making it so enjoyable with some great anecdotes from everyone especially Mr.G and great organisation from Edge, thanks to all :-)


Steve Ashton said...

That Griffon makes for an impressive bird Alan, I have never seen one.

Warren Baker said...

Mouth watering species Alan, some kind of sighting that was - all those Bustards!

Mike H said...

Seems like you had a terrific trip Alan, some great photos to remember it by as well.

heyBJK said...

Spectacular shots, Alan! I can't really pick any single one I like best, although I am partial to raptors. Fantastic photos!

Tammy said...

SOunds like an amazing trip! Those are some impressive species you saw! Your photos are all outstanding!

Rohrerbot said...

It's strange for me to hear that people bird in Spain, but I like that you did. From your shots, you've got some incredible birds. I'd love to see the Hoopoe. Hope you had some wonderful Spanish food. Estoy un poco celoso:)

Greenie said...

Alan ,
Sounds like an incredible trip , with a brilliant array of species found . Great shots , especially the Griffon Vulture .

Dave A said...

Great shots Alan, a lovely memory of our trip!

ShySongbird said...

What a great time you had! You will have plenty of good memories to look back on as well as lots of lovely photos. My favourites are the Storks, Magpie and Cuckoo. said...

Im glad that you enjoyed in my have seen birds that i have never seen like the Spanish Imperial Eagle and the spotted cuco!!
Spain is the European country with more bird diverdsity.

Martyn Wilson said...

Excellent account Alan plus some great phots to boot.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Holaaa!!!... Has estado en mi tierra... Madrid.. Me alegro mucho... Mis fotos de aves son de la zona de Guadarrama... Great pictures!!!... Muy buena la de la Avutarda, Críalo, Buitres, y otras aves.. I love all.. Un saludo desde el Guadarrama..

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Holaaa!!!... Has estado en mi tierra... Madrid.. Me alegro mucho... Mis fotos de aves son de la zona de Guadarrama... Great pictures!!!... Muy buena la de la Avutarda, Críalo, Buitres, y otras aves.. I love all.. Un saludo desde el Guadarrama..

Richard Smith said...

a great species list, i do like the griffon vulture ! ! excellent trip ! (better than this last fortnight in Kent) RS

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Steve, thank you, watching the Griffons at eye level was a real treat.

Hi Warren, the Bustards were amazing, we think that site could the biggest concentration of them anywhere.

Hi Mike, thanks, as usual I messed up a few pics with some dodgy settings but at least I got a few that were ok :-)

Hi Brian, thank you, you and me both 20 raptors in 5 days was fantastic!!

Hi Tammy, thank you it was certainly memorable and with some really nice people too :-)

Hi Rohrebot, thank you, Spainis fantastic for birds, great diversity and some lovely countryside :-)

Hi Greenie, thank you, the Griffons were very impressive and there were lots of them.

Hi Dave, thanks for your comment and great company on the trip.

Hi ShySongbird, thank you, there were lots of photo opportunities but just watching the birds was great.

Hi El Campero, thank you it was a great trip and Spain does have fantastic diversity, it was my first proper trip there :-) Saludos!!

Hi Martyn, thank you, we were very lucky and great company made the trip all the more enjoyable.

Hi Ana, thank you, it is a fabulous area you have there, we all loved it :-)

Hi Richard, thank you, it was a great trip, at least I didn't miss anything back here :-)

Christian said...

A wonderful trip Alan, with some truly memorable birds on offer.

Mary said...

A great account Alan - a very exciting trip for sure!

Jerry said...

Wow, it's incredible the wildlife you get in Sissinghurst these days!!

Derek Smith said...

A fantastic trip report Alan.
Brings back many fond memories of birding in Spain, a wonderful place.

Jeremy said...

What a lovely selection of birds, Alan. And blue skies, too! I really need to get around more. Great shots!

Alan Pavey said...

Hi Christian, thank you it was a great trip.

Hi Mary, thank you, I hope you are both well.

Hi Jerry, it is amazing, I love all those surprises :-)

Hi Derek, thank you, Spain is very special.

Hi Jeremy, thank you, I'm very lucky to get to see so many places.

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