RIO GUADIANA AT MERIDA - ALANGE DAM AND RESERVOIR - RICE FILEDS AT MADRIGALEJO - ALCORRIN DAM AND RESERVOIR
WEATHER; yet another full day of sunshine, temp range from 4C - 26C
RIO GUADIANA AT MERIDA – ALANGE DAM AND RESERVOIR – RICE FIELDS AT MADRIGALEJO – DAM AND RESERVOIR AT ALCORRIN
WEATHER: another perfect day of wall to wall sunshine. Temp range 4C – 27C light breeze.
We had a mish-mash of success and failure today and nothing stood out as a fantastic sighting, yes we added many new species to our sightings list, but the few target species we went in search of never appeared.
We set of after breakfast for the 90 minute drive to Merida, I took a new route by-passing Cáseres which took us alongside the large pool at Arroyo Talavan. We stopped by the roadside and scanned the pool where we added Egyptian Goose & Eurasian Teal to the list and also listed Eurasian Spoonbill, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Northern Shoveler, Black-winged Stilt and few other common species.
We saw the usual array of raptors in the sky as we made our way south. That is what’s amazing about Extemadura, you can always see something in the sky. We listed Black & Red Kites, Griffon and Black Vultures, Common Buzzard, Common and Lesser Kestrels.
We parked by the Roman Bridge in Merida and walked along the bank of the Rio Guadiana, we could hear Common Nightingale and Cetti’s Warbler and many Cattle Egrets were flying around. Our walk along the Roman Bridge was amazing too, what a structure and over 2000 years old.
the Roman Bridge at Merida over the Rio Guadiana
We added lots of species such as Glossy Ibis, our first Night Heron, Little Egret, Purple Swamphen, Great Cormorants, Greylag Goose, Blackcap, White Wagtail, more Spoonbills and lots of Coots, Moorhens and mallards etc.
Next we drove to the dam at Alange but first, we stopped along the roadside to look for some Giant Orchids. As I searched for the flowers, Mark found Subalpine & Sardinian Warblers! I found the Giant Orchids but they were mostly over, hardly any colour in them. I did also find lots of Champagne Orchids and a single spike of Sawfly Orchid.
a single spike - Sawfly Orchid
unfortunately the Giant Orchids were already passed their best
At the dam we had close views of dozens of pairs of Alpine Swifts that nest under the walls of the dam, also thousands of House Martins were there and a few Red-rumped Swallows. On the ‘dry’ side of the dam a small stream trickled away where a reed bed grows. In the reeds we found 4 Purple Herons, a single Glossy Ibis, Mallard, Moorhen, Little Egret and a small party of Common Waxbills.
the view from the top of the dam, in the reedbed below we saw a few species includinmg four Purple Herons
We walked over to the trail that takes you around the shore of the huge reservoir and below a cliff face where many Griffon Vultures were nesting and drifting around the peaks. We saw Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, lots of Serins, Blackcaps, Goldfinches, Chaffinches and we could hear a Cirl Bunting. We never found the expected Rock Bunting. On the lake we saw more Egyptian Geese, lots Great Crested Grebes, Gull-billed Terns and Cormorants. On a rocky island we found several pairs of White Wagtails.
The Reservoir at Alcorrin
A little disappointed with our findings we left the area and went back into Mérida where we bought lunch and ate it sitting at a picnic bench overlooking the river. From there the afternoon went a little downhill but we still found some new birds for the trip list.
It took 40 minutes to drive to Madrigalejo Rice Fields, along the way we stopped at a stream near the fields, there we saw very little except for White Storks, a Hoopoe, Bee-eaters, Cetti’s Warblers and we heard a Nightingale. A Common Snipe flushed from beneath us as we scanned from a bridge, our first snipe of the trip.
The rice fields were bone dry, it was like a desert, the fields had been ploughed but not seeded and flooded, all the channels were dry too! One filed ad been ploughed earlier today as it was still moist, we found two Northern Wheatears, a single Yellow Wagtail ssp. Iberiae and to our great surprised we found two Water Pipits both showing the colours of summer plumage.
Another section of the fields sat beside the small Arroyo Pizarroso, it had a steady flow of water, we could see Moorhens and we heard Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler and Common Nightingale. A short walk produced very little we were after asighting of Tree Sparrow but all we saw was Spanish and House Sparrows. We saw a few species along a hedge: Sardinian Warbler, a lovely Orphean Warbler and two Common Nightingales. Mark heard a Common Cuckoo but it was distance, we did find a Common Buzzard in a dead tree.
Our final search for Black-bellied Sandgrouse was thwarted by a road closure, however, we did scan a large area of Llanos just south of Zorita but without luck.
Our final birding of the day was at the huge reservoir at Alcorrín, it was great there, plenty of birds to see albeit they were quite distant. A small pool seen along the way produced our first Common Sandpiper, we also saw Eurasian Spoonbill, Great, Little & Cattle Egrets, Grey Heron, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall and Mallards.
We viewed the reservoir from a couple of p0laces and amassed a good list of species, new birds included a pair of Garganey, Ruff, Redshanks, Eurasian Teal, all three egrets, Egyptian Geese, Black-winged Stilts and more Great Crested Grebes than you could shake a stick at!
We left the Reservoir at 6:30pm and arrived back at hotel one hour later, a cold beer before dinner went down well and my team Aston Villa won yet again, so I was made up!