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WEATHER: a hot day, full-on sunshine, light breeze. Temp 12 – 30C

Today we went in search of the Great Spotted Cuckoo! We went to the plains of Belen where in previous visits I had encountered the cuckoo several times. It was beautiful out there, vast open spaces lots of birds to look at and the light was perfect.

We scanned from the top of a rise and found many species, we heard a Common Cuckoo, we saw Woodchat and Iberian Shrikes, Thekla’s and Crested Larks, Northern Wheatear, Common Stonechats, both Iberian and Eurasian Magpies, we found Common Buzzards perched and Black Kites on the wing.

A small lake held Little Egrets, Mallards, Moorhen, Great Crested Grebes and Black-winged Stilts. Moving on to nearby place we found our first Red-legged Partridge, then a beautiful male Whinchat, we saw lots of Bee-eaters, a Hoopoe, Greater Short-toed Lark and an abundance of Corn Buntings and Calandra Larks.

male Whinchat - taken through the window of the bus by Tony Moore

One more stop produced brief sightings of a couple of Turtle Doves, lots of Black Kites and a pair of Booted Eagles. We left the plains without a Cuckoo sighting and drove to Alacorrin Reservoir.

Ocellated Lizard - taken by Tony Moore

At Alacorrin we saw that the water level was very high, no muddy margins or islands for waders, the number of birds present was disappointing. We listed all the usual suspects and added Great Egret, Gadwall, Common Coot, Gull-billed Tern, Great Cormorant and Grey Heron to our day list.

Alacorrin Reservoir

We visited the small dam and added Common Sandpiper, White Wagtails and Purple Heron to our list we also saw a few butterflies and one or two dragonflies.

Gull-billed Tern taken by Tony Moore

Gull-billed Terns pairing - the male offering a fish but refusing to let go of it. 

We stopped in town for a cold drink and some tapas before we moved onto the rice fields at Madridgalejo. It was really hot now in the late afternoon, heat-haze rose from the parched land. Our first stop was on a bridge over the Rio Ruecas, we enjoyed views of Egyptian Goose and had fleeting views of Tree Sparrows, Common Waxbill, Reed Warbler and we heard Cetti’s Warbler, Blackcap and Common Nightingales. Scanning the barren rice fields we found a Common Crane!! That was a surprise, it was feeding along the edge of a field with a White Stork nearby.

record shot of the Common Crane - Tony Moore

On the rice fields a little further south we found many Collared Pratincoles, probably a flock of 50 was flying around high above us. We also noted Yellow Wagtail, lots of Black-winged Stilts and Little Ringed Plover. Eventually the Pratincoles came down and landed nearby, we drove around to get closer and take some pictures.

Collared Pratincole - taken by Tony Moore

After that we decided to call it a day, it was after 5pm and we had an hour’s drive ahead of us. Dinner was taken as the usual time of 8:30pm.