On Tuesday 11th December we provided a guided trip for a local group of birders. We decided upon the steppe and lagoons of Castilla de la Mancha as the venue. Despite being a little chilly, we were fortunate in that there was no wind and a clear blue cloudless sky. As we scanned the surrounding plains from our first stopping point we saw a distant flock of Great Bustards although they were too far away to provide good views, even with the scopes.
We hoped for further sightings later in the day so set off to check out what was on the first lagoon of the day. Shovelers were on the water in good numbers as were Shelduck and Greater Flamingo. A Corn Bunting was perched on a near wire closeby and a Tree Sparrow was seen on a ruined building.
The second lagoon of the day held Coot, Pochard, Little Grebe and Teal. As we enjoyed our lunch by the shore, we were delighted to see first a Marsh Harrier, then two Red Kites. A little later, a Sparrowhawk settled in a tree close by. We then headed out across the steppe, stopping at various places along the way to scan the surroundings. We enjoyed views of Crested Lark, Calandra Lark, Iberian Grey Shrike, and a Little Owl. Then, we finally found two separate flocks of Great Bustards. We were able to watch them for quite some time, and at quite close range.
As the day drew to a close, some patches of flood water gave good views of Kentish Plover and Red Crested Pochard. The day ended on a high with distant but clear views of a male Hen Harrier.
This area is always worth a visit at any time of year. With some effort and a little patience it reveals some superb species and today had been no exception.
The day´s list included :
Black Redstart, Calandra Lark, Chaffinch, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Magpie, Skylark, Spotless Starling, Stonechat, Tree Sparrow, White Wagtail, Hen Harrier, Iberian Grey Shrike, Little Owl, Marsh Harrier, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Great Bustard, Greater Flamingo, Kentish Plover, Lapwing, Red Legged Partridge, Coot, Mallard, Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Shelduck, Shoveler, Teal
Written by David Warrington.
Bird Watching Guide at Valencia Birding.