Saturday, 27 February 2016

The rain in Spain fell mainly on us today!

Despite heavy rain being forecast for today we had hoped that it would be like at home and they had got it wrong. Sadly for us that wasn't the case and we woke to heavy rain

Steve had told us about a couple of different sites yesterday so we thought we'd give them a try.

Just east of Lleida is a largish man made lake with a reed fringe that holds decent numbers of wildfowl in the winter. We weren't quite expecting the rain to change to sleet and snow but thankfully it wasn't far to a viewing tower that gave good views over the lake.
1st birds as we walked to the tower were a couple of calling penduline tits in the reeds along with a couple of chiffchaffs.

Out on the lake were lots of shoveler, teal and mallard with a nice surprise 5 garganey.  Over the lake were small numbers of swallow and in the reed fringe were several purple swamphens. 

The rain didn't stop so we decided to check a local site for a wintering flock of little bustards. Steve said check the alfalfa fields by the 3rd roundabout and sure enough, a flock of 85 little bustards. A bit bedraggled but smart little birds.

With no let up in the rain we headed to the other site Steve had told us about yesterday to the south of the town. By the time we got there the weather had improved although the track to the parking area was a bit muddy in places!
The target was sandgrouse although it is a big area. Around the sheep farm were several southern grey shrikes, hoopoe, black redstart and loads of chough. A calling little owl wouldn't show.
The first valley was too low so we headed up onto the rocky plateau. Lifer #2 of the day apeared in the form of 3 black wheatear on the walk up.

The top if the plateau was a mix of arable fields and areas that had been left bare for the sandgrouse.

A funny call drew our attention to a group of birds dropping into the bare ground close by, 13 pin tailed sandgrouse!!! We managed to get a bit closer and get great views of them feeding in the open. Another dozen birds were still flying about but they never dropped in.

As the sun came out it encouraged birds to start singing. On the walk back we added sardinian warbler to the list.

A day that started out soggy and cold, turned out good in the end

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