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The Andalucia Bird Society  |  ABS Open forum  |  Calendar Events  |  Topic: Field meeting - Extremadura « previous next »
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William Haworth
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« on: February 12, 2017, 09:58:20 pm »

Good evening. This morning I posted a couple of messages about the forthcoming visit to Extremadura. As they come at the end of Frank's original posting and after lots of other messages, it occurs to me that they are maybe too deeply buried for easy reference. Hence a resend under a new topic.

Original message:

Good morning from a wet and windy Extremadura. The weather forecast for next weekend is looking much better, thank goodness. For Saturday 19th the conditions are warm 16° and calm. This looks a little too near perfect, and makes me nervous about weather forecasts!

To give you an update on birding at the locations we plan to visit, here are a few indications.

We meet at the Don Juan hotel at 9.30am. On the way to Alcollarín we will stop for a few minutes to see whether we find a Great Bustard or two near Madrigalejo. In a few weeks’ time the males will be displaying and they are now starting to move back onto the spring territories.

We will go through the village of Zorita and can stop at the little supermarket for people to get picnic items. We will have a picnic at the reservoir.

Alcollarín is a new reservoir which started to fill 4 winters ago. The rich feeding available on newly flooded ground has attracted huge numbers of birds, and the location is on its way to achieving must-visit status amongst birders. It now overshadows the nearby Sierra Brava reservoir which was described as the third most significant winter site in Spain, after Doñana  and the Ebro delta. There are thousands of duck – mainly Mallard, Shoveller, Teal, Gadwall, Pochard and some Pintail, Wigeon, Red-crested Pochard – and hundreds of Great-crested Grebe. Also many hundreds of Coot and Cormorant, some geese – the resident and exploding population of Egyptian Geese, plus some Greylag, Common Shelduck, plus hundreds of BH Gulls and Lesser BB Gulls.

In addition there are interesting rarities from time to time. For several weeks now we have had a Smew, still there as of yesterday (Saturday 11th). Let’s hope he hangs on a bit longer. There are regular Ferruginous Duck, a group of Spoonbills, and occasional Ruddy Shelduck. A Squacco Heron has been around for several weeks. Black Stork are regular in spring and autumn, so maybe we have a chance of an early mover. The summer birds are a different story, but we’ll leave that for another time.

After our picnic lunch we head for the irrigated fields of Santa Amalia and Palazuelo. The situation is changeable as birds are starting to move north, but as some birds are leaving others are arriving on passage. Last week we had several hundred Black-tailed Godwit, flocks of Dunlin, Greenshank, Ruff, Plovers – Golden, Great, and Kentish, the 3 Egrets, 17 resident Glossy Ibis and of course Common Crane. There are good numbers of Marsh Harrier, some Hen Harrier and occasional Merlin. In the field margins there are some overwintering Bluethroat. Snipe are very common in mid-winter but there were very few last week.

The last location we visit is Moheda Alta, close to our departure point in the morning. We should see the Cranes moving in to their pre-roost gatherings in the rice fields. Time permitting we might have a short walk through the dehesa with the chance of a Black-winged Kite.

I’ll send another message about the Sunday trip around La Serena steppe.
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William Haworth
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2017, 09:59:49 pm »

And here's the second one:

For the Sunday trip, here is a bit of background, some recent sightings plus logistical info.

La Serena is a huge area of rolling grassland which makes up the largest steppe in Western Europe. It is about 30 kms from north to south and 50kms from east to west. It is flanked by the Sierra de Tiros to the south and the Sierra de Orellana to the north, with the largest reservoir in Spain cutting across it. The soil is poor and shallow with numerous jagged rocky outcrops. The area is almost completely devoid of trees, and agriculture is based on grazing sheep (formerly by bringing vast flocks down the network of drove roads from the northern Spanish meseta) and growing cereal crops.
It has a range of interesting birds – resident Great and Little Bustard, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Stone Curlew and Calandra Larks, overwintering Golden Plover, Lapwing, and Common and Spotted Starlings. In the spring and early summer there is a good population of Montagu’s Harriers. The area is hunted over by resident Golden Eagles and Bonelli’s Eagles, and in the summer Short-toed and Booted Eagles.
There have been very large numbers of Golden Plover this winter, with many thousands of birds. Amongst them there have been a small number of Dotterel, and these have been recorded every winter for the past 3 years. The Dotterel were present a week ago but yesterday (Saturday 11th) there was no sign of them and many of the plovers have moved off too.
Two recent trips across the area gave some good birding. Yesterday at the southern limit of La Serena there were a pair of sky-dancing Bonelli’s Eagles, a Golden Eagle and the first Black Kite of the season. Also we saw 3 Great Bustard, a small group of Black-bellied Sandgrouse and 8 Pin-tailed,  10 Red-billed Chough and 5 Little Owls in view at the same time. The highlight of the day was a flock of 70 Little Bustard. There has been a SEO census of Little Bustards as the numbers have crashed over the last few years. After 2 afternoons a few weeks ago with no sightings at all, this group was very welcome. Another single male bird later on suggests that lek formation is starting. This makes birds easier to find, as the winter flocks are hard to locate in the vast area. We have a very good chance of seeing Sandgrouse, most likely in flight when they are located by their calls. There are still large flocks of Calandra Larks, and of Eastern European Starlings mixed in with the Spotless.
We will include a visit to the castle at Puebla de Alcocer. There are fantastic views over La Serena, plus a chance of Blue Rock Thrush and Black Wheatear.
Then we will pass the cliff at Puerto Peña, with a resident Griffon Vulture colony, Bonelli’s Eagle,  and maybe a returning Black Stork.
The final location will be to look for Spanish Imperial Eagle near Casas de Don Pedro.

We will depart at 9.30am from the same location as on the Saturday (Don Juan hotel in Obando). So far 9 people have confirmed they are coming along. Apart from myself we will have another guide with us. The the cost will be €25 per person. If anyone else is interested please send an email to me at william@hawfinch.es

We will have a picnic lunch. If you would like one prepared by my wife Ana it will cost €8. Please let me know if you need one.
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Janet and David
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Janet and David Fisher, married for years!

« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2017, 11:18:27 am »

Hello William,
It will be good to meet you. David and I will drive up to the meeting point on Friday to make sure where it is, then go on to the village of Nevalmiller de Pela to stay at the Casa Rural La Lozano.  We have had bad weather here in Antequera too and as for Huelva!!  If there are any last minute arrangements, my mobile number is 636 176 003.
We are both looking forward to a nice weekend and although we won't be staying for the Sunday trip, we are going to go back home on the more country roads so will probably see quite a it.
Suerte! Janet Fisher
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Wilkinson999
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« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2017, 11:14:31 pm »

Hello Frank,

Peter & I will be joining for saturday & sunday next weekend. We are staying at Don Juan. Look forward to seeing you all for some great birding.

Helen Burgers
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Trevor Hexter
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2017, 12:39:29 pm »

Hi to all who attended the Extremadura trip, we had a great time, both on the trip itself and also in having the excuse to visit the area.

Thanks to William and Neal for organising, pointing us in the right direction and giving so freely of their knowledge.

Likewise to all the other members for their birding skills and generosity of spirit.

Hopefully we see some of you later in the year at Tarifa

Regards

Ruth and Trevor



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