By 8.30am on Monday 28th May we had turned off the A31 and we were heading towards the village of Higueruela just north of Almansa and in the province of Albacete. The temperature is a chilly 12 degrees, a cold wind and with cloud cover. The surrounding fields are a favourite destination for us where we have had success in the past. Our first stop was where the road turns at a 90-degree angle before the rail line. A Common Buzzard flew and perched on a pylon.
Two Kestrels flew away from the building ridge without us being able to decide whether they were common or lesser. More importantly, a Little Bustard flew quickly and we heard Pin-tailed Sandgrouse calling and then we observed them in flight with two landing in the distance. A Stone Curlew called and one walked in a cultivated field. We were pleased with all that and considered a good start for our morning, but we had hoped for better and closer views of everything.
The fields had had thorough soaking and run-off lagoons and puddles were evident. Everywhere was green and amongst all the cereal crops were red poppies, blue/mauve upright stemmed flowers - an id. awaits - and a multitude of grasses and vegetation. All very colourful and beautiful.
We moved on and before Higueruela we turned onto a Camino. We stopped and listened and in the pines, a Bonelli’s Warbler called and we caught a partial call of a Golden Oriole. Our day was about to get much better. Orioles flew and a female perched on a bare branch of a large tree and in a clear view. It got even better when a male joined her in the same one. There was no branch or foliage to obscure our view although they were not that close. Will we ever be satisfied?
The photographs prove exactly what we saw. We were delighted as these two birds were our best ever clear vision views of this sometimes difficult-to-see bird. Again we heard Bonelli’s Warblers and we both had a very clear just-over-our-heads sighting of this lovely little bird. What a great spot we had found.
We travelled on towards Lagunas de La Petrola in search of Great Bustards especially, but with an open mind on whatever species we could see. On this occasion, we were not successful and apart from seeing two Kentish Plovers,
A little later, a male and female Marsh Harrier flew over a reedbed, but there was nothing of real note to be found. Many of the common species were seen, but some others were absent. Bee-eaters which are usually easy to find were there, but only one or two were around. The cold weather has made Spring very late.