By sheer coincidence I was fortunate enough to spend two days up on the steppe this week. The second day was with a group of local birders, some relative beginners, others experienced. The group worked superbly well, with knowledge being readily shared, and the more “eagle-eyed” being on hand to point out the birds!
After the usual coffee stop, we drove across the fields of this vast wide open area of eastern Spain in our hunt for Great Bustards. Some of the group had never seen these birds before, so our quest had added value. After 10-15 minutes of searching, we were rewarded with magnificent views of a flock at least 25 birds. Whilst in the same spot we also had good views of Hoopoe, Linnet, Skylark and Spotless Starling.
The wind was becoming quite severe so we opted to strategically park the van at the next lagoon and use it as shelter as we scanned the water and the shoreline! We were once again rewarded as the lagoon held Flamingo, Teal, Shelduck, Shoveler and Gadwall. The scrub by the shore gave fantastic views of a Southern Grey Shrike whilst a Corn Bunting perched and began to sing from a nearby telegraph pole.
Lunch was enjoyed by the shore of another favourite lagoon where we enjoyed views of White Headed Duck, Marsh Harrier and Pochard. By now, the skies had darkened and the wind was becoming a nuisance so we headed to a village bar for shelter and warmth! Whilst we shared photos of the morning´s sightings, the sky began to clear and the wind reduced sufficiently for us to venture out onto the steppe….and what a worthwhile venture it proved to be…as we scanned for Larks, we spotted a flock of Cranes! These stunning birds often spend part of the winter in this area of Spain prior to their return to north and east Europe for the breeding season. It was a pleasure to see such fabulous creatures, again “lifers” for many in the group.
It had been a great day out, with the species list that included…
Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Southern Grey Shrike, Great Bustard, Greater Flamingo, Crane, Snipe, Lapwing, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Shelduck, Shoveler, White Headed Duck, Pochard, Coot, Red Crested Pochard, Crow, White Wagtail, Goldfinch, Linnet, Hoopoe, Spotless Starling, Corn Bunting, Skylark, Crested Lark, Black Headed Gull, Magpie, Whinchat, Cormorant, Chaffinch, Collared Dove.
Written by David Warrington.
Bird Watching Guide at Valencia Birding