Wednesday, 22 February 2012

21 Feb 2012 – Caceres Plains and Sierras de las Villuercas

A real contrast in habitat today. I started out birding the Caceres Plains and then headed east to Guadalupe to bird the mountainous Pico Villuercas. In the morning I did the reverse route of yesterdays trip, starting off on the CC99 to Santa Marta and taking the track west. The highlight was a flock of 63 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse feeding on what appears to be their typical habitat – open mossy unagricultured ground with very little brush or scrub on it. These birds were about 8km in from the east end of the track. Other birds along the track included about 20 more Pin-tailed Sandgrouse at yesterdays spot (4km in from the west were the road bends north-east and there are some trees on the north side of the road and a flood on the south).  Also 6 Great Bustards, Dartford Warbler, Little Owl, Hoopoe, large flocks of Calandra Lark and a couple of Hen Harriers were also nice to see.
The road to Villuercas takes you through some lovely Spanish villages and climbs up through vineyards until it reaches the sierras. My first Black Kite and Acorn Jay of the trip put in roadside appearances on the way. I took the track just north of the village of Guadalupe that runs up to the abandoned military base that sits on a massive granite outcrop on top of the sierra. My quarry was Alpine Accentor, which took me 3 hours to find and then I only had about a minutes worth of viewing before the flock of 4 birds that I found flew off. Still, the views from the top of the mountain are stunning and birds like Short-toed Treecreeper, Firecrest, Dartford Warblers, Crag Martins, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Redstart and Black Vulture were all really nice to see. 
I then headed off east to do half the return journey to Alicante, stopping overnight in Alcazar de San Juan.
Spanish Sparrow (male)

Little Bustard (from 20 Feb)

Little Owl

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse

Calandra Lark

Calandra Lark

Calandra Lark

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