MORNING WALKING ALONG THE MARCHENILLA TRACK ONTO THE RIVER HOZGARGANTE - AFTERNOON WALK ALONG THE RIO GUADIARO AT ESTACION CORTES
WEATHER: bright sunshine all day but the persistent easterly wind (Levante) was annoying at times.
Our rarity finding continued as we found a Ruppell's Vulture in the Guadiaro Valley, it was that man Patrick that did it again.
Today was our pre-arranged mid-tour slow-down - half of the group wanted the day off from birding and decided instead to go walking around the village and onto a local woodland walk. Dawn took then woodland-walking whilst I took the the two remaining birders out locally.
Over driving down to San Pablo we turned onto a dirt track that led us to Marchenilla. The farmland along the Marchenilla track is looking very dry and barren at this time of the year but it is full of finches and sparrows and plenty of raptors fly over it. We quickly listed Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, House Sparrow, Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola and both Starling species - Common & Spotless.
part of the very dry Marchenilla track
Not long after we found Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel and a superb GOSHAWK, it was a juvenile showing its markings very well. Next came a BLACK-WINGED KITE, this scarce breeding species is the third one I've seen recently at this site. Further along the track we found Common Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Eurasian Hoopoe, Northern Wheatear, Crested Lark. Corn Bunting and we counted over 50 Griffon Vultures. Red-rumped and Barn Swallows passed over in a steady stream and distant Short-toed Eagles drifted on higher thermals.
our only Hoopoe of the trip so far
The Rio Hozgargante was virtually dry, just a few small pools remained. However, after watching one pool we soon realised that several species were coming down to drink. We saw Common Kingfisher, Pied Flycatcher, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, European Robin, Reed Warbler, Serin, Willow Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Goldfinch and Blackbird.
We drove to Gaucin via the Marchenilla track noting Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Redstart and more Griffon Vultures along the way.
After a long lunch just four of us set off for a short birding spell at the Rio Guadiaro Valley near Estacion Cortes. The wind was gusting badly at times but it did calm down for longer spells. We quickly found a number of species as we watched the river from a footbridge, a male Cirl Bunting was drinking not too far away whilst Pied Flycatcher, Blackcap, and Sardinian Warbler all fed on blackberries.
the Rio Guadiaro seen from the footbridge
We walked a kilometer down-river noting a few more species including Common Kingfisher, Spotted Flycatcher, both Grey and White Wagtails and a number of raptors overhead. Towards the end of our outward walk we made two exciting finds, the first was of a RUPPELL'S VULTURE, this was the third sighting of this species I have made this year in this area, unusual because it is 40km away from the coast where it is normally encountered! Nevertheless the sighting was a good one.
Just after that we found a TWO-TAILED PASHA Butterfly. This extraordinary African species is the most colourful and the largest butterfly beast that you are likely to encounter in Europe, it was feeding on rotting figs as they lay on the ground.
the magnificent Two-tailed Pasha
Other sightings made during this last walk of the day included: Red-rumped and Barn Swallows, House and Crag Martins, Griffon Vulture, Booted & Short-toed Eagles, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, Jay, Grey Heron, Cetti's Warbler (heard), Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Common Stonechat and lots of Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Linnets.
That concluded our birding for the day, for dinner we ate in the village, it was still windy and a little chilly but we all enjoyed a lovely meal and plenty of local wine.