02 April: Embalse de Puentes - Adrian's patch

After having shipped my sister back to the UK where the Moslem Brotherhood have apparently shrouded southern England in desert dust (not quite as good as listening to Billy Connolly on the subject of Jihadist bomb-makers, suicide bombers and virginal burkhas, - it's on youtube) I got down to the serious business of trying to sort out photos for the talks and label them, the rain helping put me off the idea of getting out birding, of which there has been a serious lack, in spite of Common Swifts flashing past the window whilst I write, which could account for more than the usual number of typo errors as I am multi-tasking by also listening to Act 2 of Il Barbieri di Seviglia, very recommendable. 
By the by, and apropos of absolutely nothing, apart from the fact that you lot seem to spend half your time having a refreshing cuppa of tea (no wonder the British Empire disintegrated!), Cattle Egrets in Oz have bright orange-ochre heads and necks so that they look like a totally different species. 
And just in case you missed the news, part 1 of the Antipodes trip, the introduction and parrots all in glorious technicolour, is in the costa blog just before this blog. So, herewith Dave's account of their trip to 'Adrian's Patch' today.
   Have a good trip, Dave and Gilly! Today we headed back up between Puerto Lumbreras and Velez Rubio to be escorted by Adrian round his patch. All twelve of us met up at junction 6 on the A91 for a cuppa before convoying off into the wilderness. Spotting birds as we went we added Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Magpie, Barn Swallow, Wood Pigeon and Crested Lark before stopping by some disused farm buildings. The garage appeared to be the nesting site for Red-rumped Swallows. Also seen were Rock Sparrow, Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Jay, Great Tit and Red-legged Partridge.
Further along the road we stopped again. On the ridge above was a medium sized bird perched which flew off before being "scoped". It could have been one of two Common Cuckoos we heard shortly afterwards. Adrian spotted a large eagle flying away. Silhouetted against the skyline I believed it to be a Short-toed Eagle by the level position of the wings whilst gliding. Searching for raptors towards the "Grandmother's Molar" mountain, I could only claim a Kestrel. Below us in the shrubs, Dartford and Sardinian Warblers showed well. John and Alan saw a swift species.    On the way to the next location we saw a Little Owl on a ruined barn. We stopped next to a running brook in a rambla with reed beds. We could hear Cetti's Warbler and Gilly spotted a Zitting Cisticola. A Common Sandpiper flew off as we arrived. The water attracted Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and a pair of Meadow Pipits

Heading for the Embalse de Puentes dam we saw two Great Spotted Cuckoos on the way. Immediately upon arrival we heard but didn't see Bee-eaters. There were three Cattle Egrets on the pump house roof. There was very little on the water. Great Crested Grebe, a pair of Mallard and a flotilla of Coot. I spotted three distant Griffon Vultures. A female Kestrel posed well on the dam's floodlights. We first heard then later saw a Red-billed Chough. Crag Martin, White Wagtail and Rock Dove were added to the list.

We then descended to the pine forest for a picnic lunch. No woodland birds seen, but John saw a possible Lesser Black-backed Gull on the reservoir some distance away.

A good days birding. Thank you, Adrian. 
    Kevin Borman, one of our members has just had his book Flamingos in the desert published. It deals with his explorations and experiences in the Almeria region.

     Gilly and I are off to Extremadura next week so I've left Rod Prout in charge.

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