Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Spring comes rolling in


I have just completed leading a thoroughly enjoyable and productive six day tour here in Extremadura and after three months of seemingly almost endless rain, the sunny days and blue skies were a blessing indeed. The landscape is emerald green now, with a haze of yellow crucifer, with clumps of wild narcissus. We did extremely well for birds, each day producing memorable highlights: my first Purple Heron of the spring, four Spoonbill flying in a line against a deep blue sky, no fewer than twenty species of birds of prey, a total of 75 Great Bustards and wonderfully close views of Little Bustard in a flower-rich meadow, fifteen species of wader (not bad for the interior of Spain in mid-March), both sandgrouse, no fewer than ten Great Spotted Cuckoo sightings in one morning, eye-level views of Alpine Swifts in the mountains, Pallid Swifts in late afternoon sunshine whilst we sat in the main square of Trujillo, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming near the house literally as we were leaving for the airport, Calandra Larks rising in groups to sing over the plains, a Bluethroat standing tail-cocked beside a ditch in the rice fields, a Penduline Tit singing on a willow tree. Still present were groups of winter birds (Common Crane and Grey Lag Goose) but also a real sense of spring migration underway: groups of Red and Black Kite drifting north, an Osprey arriving to feed in front of us. It was the combination of great company from our guests, amazingly good birding plus the glorious weather that made this trip such a memorable one.

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