Day 17 26.04.2017
Today was our first day working in Spain, near the border town of Badajoz. The habitat here was minimal at best, with most of the land developed for agriculture. That being said, there were still a few nice birds, including a few Great Bustards, obviously the most important species for our research. Serins were very common although notably not photogenic, as were the Short-toed and Calandra Larks. In our evening session at the same site I had a bit more luck, with a few nice Iberian Grey Shrikes, a Black-winged Kite and a couple of brief Spectacled Warblers. The real highlight of the day was a small river with a few shrubs near it. Here I had a few Melodious Warblers and listened to a symphony of Great-reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Blackbird. We also called off at the river in Badajoz itself. Birding was a bit restricted here, but I had three trip ticks in the form of Penduline Tit, Great White Egret and Squacco Heron, although both were distant. I got a butterfly lifer in the form of Bath White.
Badajoz: Calandra Lark, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Collard Dove, Woodpigeon, Thekla Lark, Crested Lark, Iberian Grey Shrike, Common Magpie, White Stork, Common Buzzard, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Spotless Starling, Red-rumped Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Common Swift, Grey Heron, Hoopoe, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Jackdaw, Quail, Great Bustard, Short-toed Lark, Black-winged Kite, Great-reed Warbler, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, Squacco Heron, Serin, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great-white Egret, Penduline Tit, Greenfinch, Western Bath White, Green-striped White, Iberian Marbled White, Small Copper,
Day 18 27.04.2017
Today we returned to Spain to an area just south of where we worked yesterday, in the area surrounding San Rafael. Here I had possibly the rarest thing on my trip so far, a well-advertised footpath, and it made my day so much easier. Obviously the highlight of the day was the re-appearance of Common Waxbill, which were fairly abundant around the village. A small river valley produced Cetti’s Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Serin and Iberian Grey Shrike in decent numbers. A couple of Little Bustards added some steppe spice to the mix too. I also saw my first Golden Oriole of the trip, as opposed to hearing them, a stunning male flying away from me. Typical views I feel! In the afternoon we headed West from Villa Fernando to an area of more pasture. Great Bustards were here in small numbers, but there was nothing out of the ordinary despite being a pleasant evenings birding.
-Iberian Grey Shrike
San Rafael: Calandra Lark, Sardinian Warbler, Collard Dove, Woodpigeon, Thekla Lark, Crested Lark, Iberian Grey Shrike, Common Magpie, White Stork, Common Buzzard, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Spotless Starling, Red-rumped Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Common Swift, Grey Heron, Hoopoe, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Jackdaw, Short-toed Lark, Serin, Cattle Egret, Common Waxbill, Iberian Grey Shrike, Turtle Dove, Golden Oriole, Melodious Warbler, Cettis Warbler, Little Bustard, Zitting Cisticola, Chaffinch, Stonechat, Western Dappled White, Green-striped White, Iberian Marbled White, Small Copper, Clouded Yellow, Brown Argus,
Villa Fernando: Calandra Lark, Woodpigeon, Thekla Lark, Common Magpie, White Stork, Common Buzzard, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Spotless Starling, Red-rumped Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Common Swift, Stonechat, Great Bustard, European Bee-eater, Hummingbird Hawkmoth,
Day 19 28.04.2017
Today we headed back past Vila Fernando to the village of Orada. I was set to work on an area of pasture just north of here with good access and decent habitat. Sadly the wind had picked up and the cloud cover was near total, plus rain was forecast to add to weather woes. Sadly we avoided the rain but the wind had put most of the birds down. The undoubted highlight of the day was a young Black-winged Kite plucking its prey on a telegraph pole only 20 meters from where I was positioned. Given how distant these raptors have been, seeing one like this was really something. The best of the rest also included a number of raptors, our first Golden Eagle of the trip which was soaring above our car as we drove home. I also had an extremely dark Booted Eagle on my transect. None raptors; a small group of Great Bustards was always nice, and there were a few Calandra Larks to enjoy throughout my walk.
Orada: Calandra Lark, Woodpigeon, Thekla Lark, Common Magpie, White Stork, Common Buzzard, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Spotless Starling, Barn Swallow, Common Swift, Stonechat, Great Bustard, European Bee-eater, Booted Eagle, Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Common Kestrel, Black Kite, Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Collard Dove, Iberian Grey Shrike, Blackbird, Quail, Red-legged Partridge, Linnet, Goldfinch,
Day 20 29.04.2017
Today was our third day off since we arrived in Iberia. We chose to spend our day in Extremadura picking up some of the species we might not see whilst out on transect. Sadly the weather turned against us with a strong wind all day and heavy rain during the morning. It made the birding a lot less fun and at times it even became hard work.
Our first port of call was a wooded river valley near Montijo where we knew there would be Isabelline (Or Western olivaceous) Warbler. Despite the conditions it did not take us long to locate a few singing birds. They were not showy but we managed to find one bird which would occasionally reveal itself. We also had a trip tick of Wren here, plus a few nice birds such as Purple Heron, Night Heron, Great Reed Warbler and Common Sandpiper.
Next we headed off to Alange, a small town on the shore of a large reservoir. This was our first taste of rocky Extremadura mountains. As soon as we pulled up we heard and then saw a Rock Bunting (Lifer), then followed quickly by Blue Rock Thrush and Black Wheatear (Lifer). Obviously the wheatear was a trip highlight immediately but it did not show particularly well at any point. We returned here in the evening and it showed much better, although still not brilliant. Also in the evening I finally nailed a Berger’s Clouded Yellow (although no pics) at the fourth time of asking, and had a few goodies like Montagu’s Harrier and Lesser Kestrel. All the while flocks of Alpine and Common Swift circled overhead, and higher up still were soaring groups of Griffon and Black Vulture.
Between our rainy morning and sunny afternoon at Alange we headed deeper into Extremadura to a cork oak woodland at Sierra Grande de Hornachos where we hoped to find cirl bunting. Sadly only Yoav saw a cirl bunting but I didn’t mind, as I saw my most wanted bird for the trip; Western Orphean Warbler. Tragically I saw it for only a matter of seconds before I lost it, and attempts to relocate it were unsuccessful due to the birds reluctance to sing. Hawfinch, Mistle Thrush and Nuthatch were all nice trip ticks for me, and I also got to have more views of Short-toed Treecreeper and Subalpine Warbler. Within the woodlands the butterfly composition notably changes, and I had more False Ilex Hairstreak plus a butterfly lifer in the form of Lang’s Short-tailed Blue. It would have been much better if the wind had dropped I feel but I can’t complain.
-Lang's Short-tailed Blue
Montijo: Isabelline Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Cettis Warbler, Nightingale, Wren, Greenfinch, Serin, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Zitting Cisticola, Goldfinch, Linnet, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Collard Dove, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Common Sandpiper, Mallard, Black-crowned Night Heron, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, White Stork, Black Kite,
Alange: Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Cormorant, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Gull-billed Tern, Black-headed Gull, Griffon Vulture, European Black Vulture, Montagu’s Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, White Stork, Cattle Egret, Bergers Clouded Yellow,
Sierra Grande de Hornachos: Hawfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Western Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Western Orphean Warbler, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Short-toed Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Collard Dove, Corn Bunting, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Short-toed Eagle, Griffon Vulture, European Black Vulture, Black-eared Wheatear, Grey Wagtail, Large Psammodromus, Mediterranean Terrapin, Iberian Hare, Small Skipper, Common Blue, Western Dappled White, Meadow Brown, False Ilex Hairstreak, Lang’s Short-tailed Blue,
Day 21 30.04.2017
Today was a bit of a disappointment. Our morning out in the field was spent further south, at Evora. Access here was difficult but we made the best of it, but sadly the weather continued to be poor and this time we were badly caught out by the rain. The constant cloud cover produced light so poor I did not even take my camera out of my bag. It’s a shame the light was so bad, there were Melodious Warblers showing really well along one of the riverbanks, as well as Woodchat Shrikes. If the wind had dropped who knows what would have popped out of the bushes. Steppe birds were in short supply, only a couple of Little Bustards and a few Calandra Larks to show for the morning out. We called it a morning early as a result of the conditions, just as well, as we narrowly avoided a torrential downpour.
Evora: Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Spanish Sparrow, House Sparrow, Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Melodious Warbler, Cettis Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Nightingale, Woodchat Shrike, Serin, Woodpigeon, Collard Dove, Feral Pigeon, White Stork, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Bustard, Black Kite, Black-winged Kite, Common Kestrel,
Day 22 01.05.2017
So today was our final day in Portugal, and we spent it at an area near to Villa Fernando, and area of open pasture but with many cows. The birding here was not bad, with both Bustard species present in low densities (5 Great, 7 Little). A few Calandra Larks and European Black Vultures were nice to see. There was an insane density of both Corn Buntings and Spanish Sparrows. With the latter a single eucalyptus must have contained over 1000 birds, but still not managed to get a decent photo.
In the afternoon we made our permanent move across the border to Spain. Travelling was spent, for me, mainly asleep. Once we arrived we unpacked before heading out to some of the nearby mountains for a spot of light birding. The birding here was excellent, with the unique collection of species we had seen at a similar site on our day off. A few Black Wheatear were present but we struggle to get good views. Blue Rock Thrush were also present and notably easier to approach but still no incredible frame filling photos, probably not helped by the wheatears apparent dislike of the species, chasing them away whenever they were close. A distant Rock Bunting was all we saw of them. The real highlight for the afternoon were the flocks of calling Alpine Swifts just feet above our heads, coming so close you could hear their wings whoosh by. A single butterfly lifer and trip tick; Southern Marbled Skipper! Very Nice!
-Blue Rock Thrush
Villa Fernando: Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Spanish Sparrow, House Sparrow, Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Melodious Warbler, Cettis Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Nightingale, Woodchat Shrike, Serin, Woodpigeon, Collard Dove, Feral Pigeon, White Stork, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Bustard, Black Kite, Black-winged Kite, Common Kestrel, Great Bustard,