Saladares del Guadalentín, Alhama de Murcia (37.760109, -1.398948)
Weather: Sky 4-2/8 cloud, wind SW F0 - 4; temp.18 - 28ºC. 09:20 – 17:20.
I had planned to go with Mark Powell to try again for the Cream Coloured Coursers, but as there was no news on them, and the weather forecast was for high winds and storms, we decided against it.
As it happened, there was no wind at all and only light cloud, so I decided to go the saladares again, where I saw the Rollers last week. Arriving there at 9-20, instead of going straight to the Rollers area, I went first to another area where in previous years I have seen Rufous Bush Chats.
I had no luck with these, but did see various Woodchat Shrikes and Turtle Doves and a Spotted Flycatcher there, and had a Lesser Kestrel fly overhead. In the distance over the middle of the saladares I saw two large raptors soaring, and on getting my ‘scope on them, could see they were two adult Golden Eagles, which slowly drifted away.
The Lesser Kestrel I had flying high up overhead
And one of a pair of distant Golden Eagles
I drove slowly around the perimeter of the saladares along the service roads and tracks, checking out any ploughed fields just in case there might be Coursers here (and more likely, Black-bellied Sandgrouse), but drew a blank on both. Partway round, on an electricity pylon, was an immature Peregrine.
Peregrine on a pylon
I got round to the Rollers about midday. They had obviously finished their displays for the day, but on searching around, I did see several of them, including a pair being harassed by a third.
Always good to see, a pair of Rollers
And they weren't too happy when a third Roller flew over them
The Bee-eaters were being very showy, and nearby was a male Spectacled Warbler singing.
"Here you are dear - have a fly"
"Thank you very much - what do I have to do in return?"
A bird you can never see too many of
I then took some of the tracks through the middle of the saladares, where I saw Calandra, Short-toed and Lesser Short-toed Larks and a pair more of Spectacled Warblers and two Chough, and was lucky enough to flush two Black-bellied Sandgrouse from a field. As I was by now quite close to the area where I started, I decided to have a second go for the Rufous Bush Chats. On the way round I flushed a further three Black-bellied Sandgrouse, and saw a third (juvenile this time) Golden Eagle.
One of several Short-toed Larks seen looking for grubs on the ground
And this male Spectacled Warbler singing from on top of a weed
Once they start singing, there's no stopping them
Nearby, a Calandra Lark keeping a lookout
Decided it was time for a song too
In the distance, a group of three Black-bellied Sandgrouse came out of nowhere
One of a couple of (Red-billed) Chough that were also grubbing around on a ploughed field
Back at the Bush Chats area, I had a stroke of luck and saw two Rufous Bush Chats flying at the back of an abandoned ochard. I decided to have a walk through to see if I could get a closer view, and although I didn’t see them again, I did almost step on a Red-necked Nightjar which flew a few metres and sat back down again for as long as it took for me to get my camera out, and was off again.
I spent the rest of the afternoon on the other (west) side of the River Guadalentín, but saw nothing else out of the ordinary.
On the west side of the Guadalentín river were several Tree Sparrows
View of the River Guadalentín from the west side looking south
And looking north
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Moorhen (Gallinua chloropus)
Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis)
Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
Roller (Coracias garrulous)
Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)
Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Red-necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis)
Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Rock Dove (Columba livia)
Swift (Apus apus)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra)
Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)
Lesser Short-toed Lark (Calandrella rufescens)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba alba)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica)
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
Rufous Bush Chat (Cercotrichas galactotes)
Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
Fan-tailed Warbler (Cisticola juncidis)
Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)
Magpie (Pica pica)
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)
Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
Serin (Serinus serinus)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra)