Friday, 10 March 2017

Spain - Caceres Plains To Las Villuercas - Black Bellied Sandgrouse!!

I was out on the plains at first light with a mission to complete. I will leave no road unturned until I find Black-bellied Sandgrouse! I sat in a hide for the first hour where I had company in Barn Swallow that were prospecting for a nest site. It will get busier in here as the months roll on guys!
This area is on the Trujillo Caceres plain border and an area I had not spent a great deal of time in. I saw a group of Little Bustard a pair of Hen Harrier and a stack of gulls that were beyond scope range. I then moved further up the plain on the rough road in the hope of connecting with Sandgrouse.

True to form the Pin-tailed were the first to give themselves up so I decided to set my stall up to see if other Sandgrouse joined them. There was a lot of movement of single birds above the feeding area and after about twenty minutes I thought I heard a bubbling call and two birds were circling. I could not get a good view and the birds set down on the plain. The next five minutes were spent questioning what had happened but one thing was for sure I was staying put!

Forty minutes later the Pin-tailed were moving about again but there were four birds that were not calling flying in low from behind me. Binos, camera, action, in a very quick order. Yes at last Black-bellied Sandgrouse! Woo Hoo!
After a celebratory breakfast I moved on to Delietosa and Las Villuercas areas to look for Thekla Lark. This species breeds at higher levels than Crested Lark and the habitat of mountain ridges with valleys and mid level fields and orchards fitted the bill nicely. 

I drove a route described in Where to Watch Birds in Spain. The 100 Best Sites by Montero, Juana and Barrio. This is a very useful guide with route maps and lists of expected species for all seasons. I don’t think Thekla Lark have read it! I recorded Mistle Thrush and Short-toed Eagle en route.

Tomorrow is my last full day in Extremadura and Thekla Lark I’m coming after you!!

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