Wednesday, April 4

Yecla

Today another visit to Yecla steppe area with a regular visitor and friend. Arriving at about 8.30  with the clear blue sky and light wind's. It looked like it could be a promising day, it wasn't long before we connected with a fantastic Black-eared Wheatear,
Black-eared Wheatear
Rock Sparrow, was displaying and showing well. A few Swollen shinned  Stone Curlew were running around, a Southern grey Shrike showed. Good numbers of  Linnets, Goldfinches, and Serin.
I was trying to move us along quickly to maximise your chances of seeing the Sand Grouse, they seem to show/fly around better in the morning, but we just kept hitting into birds, another Black-eared Wheatear. A very close Thekla's( Lark, Hoopoe, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, good numbers of distant Calandra Larks displaying and in full song,
Thekla Lark
 while scanning I pick up 2 black-bellied sand Grouse, but my direction was not good enough so they got missed. Eventually we arrived at the best area for the Sand Grouse we could hear them calling, it sounded like good numbers were present, the call vaguely recalls Mediterranean Gull, by now the wind had got up and it was cold, but the light was still good, Greater Short-toed Lark, and Lesser Short-toed Lark, were showing  well.
Greater Short-toed Lark
As we made our way in the direction of the calling Sand Grouse, Out of nowhere a Great-spotted Cuckoo put in a show with the usual noisy clattering. A pair of Chough seem to nest in an abandon Finca roof space, Calandra larks had by now given themselves up for a photo.
Calandra Lark
And at last, our target bird for today's trip Pin-tailed Sandgrouse showed up, just like buses, they all seem to turn at the same time? Not one but fifty to sixty, all sheltering behind a stone ridge out of the strong winds, Scopes came out and a prolonged view of these iridescent golden bronze coloured birds, Happy days. we move in closer eventually they flushed as one, like a squadron of the RAF Red Arrows, they circled around us several times at low level looking more like Waders in close formation than Sandgrouse, a great fly past before landing in the next field.
Pin-tail Sandgrouse
Lesser Kestrels were mobile, with a few just sat in the stone fields,  Booted Eagle over and Buzzard. A Male Fox came trotting by on a mission and not bothered by our closeness. We decided to have a break and a copper. I wander off for a leak, and look up! a Golden Eagle was over the top of us I call out "Golden Eagle" we watch it climb higher and higher and then suddenly it folded its wings and dived at great speed it pulled out of its dive and plucked a Lark out of the sky, amazing and really close view, what a treat to see this behaviour. (Sorry no photos just too quick)
Heading off down the track  Northern Wheatear Black Wheatear, 2 Woodchat shrike,
A really good days birding. 
 Unfortunately, I'm going to have to do it all again on Friday hard life, isn't it??
hope you enjoy the photographs
cheers Bryan.

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