Plains and rains
Just a bit fed up with the recent lack of birds and excess of traffic on our coast, Barry and I set off to visit the baking plains of Albacete one August morning. An unidentifiable eagle flew off too quickly as we left Bonete, but several Bee Eaters and three Lapwings were spotted before we were through Corral Rubio.
Swallows abounded over the plains, but little else was to be seen on the parched landscape – hardly a drop of water anywhere. We had driven some two or three kilometres along the lonely tracks before three female Great Bustards rose from a field on our left and dropped unconcernedly close to our right. We subsequently found three fine males – a little more wary, those, then a good flock of ten of these magnificent birds. We made our way to the lagoon of Pétrola, much reduced in the drought conditions. There was no sign of Flamingos having bred this year, but a good few adults stood around, together with a few Shelduck, a Purple Heron, two or three Grey Herons, a lonely Avocet, a party of Gadwall, and a Blacknecked Grebe. What may have been a Peregrine flew away quickly. We drove down to Caudete for a fine lunch at the everreliable Lengüetera, whereupon the heavens opened! The rain, thunder and lightning did nothing to prevent us from enjoying the wonderful Yecla plains, where we saw the most enormous flock of Jackdaws, six Stone Curlew, and a good variety of passerines, including Subalpine Warbler and Blackeared Wheatear. But the best, as so often, waited until last, when Barry’s sharp eyes spotted a great male Montagu’s Harrier, then I found a nice Greater Shorttoed Lark. Meanwhile, the town of Yecla was virtually under water!
Montagu's Harrier male