Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Spain,Extremadura, 2017. Part 4. Follow the Birding Road.

Another early start today, we crept out of Finca Flores trying not to wake anyone as we left. It was still dark outside after all and not everyone wants to start their day that early!
Once again we were going to try our luck on the birding road but this time we would by pass Trujillo and use the motorway to get to our desired turn off much quicker. 
We were there in time for the early golden light!
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
In fact the light was still fairly dim for this Red-legged Partridge.
We drove the road at length seeing the same subjects as the day before.
Crested Lark
Crested Lark Galerida cristata
 and Calandra Lark
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra.
Once again, the bird song filled the air.
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra
My favourite shot of the day was this White Stork bathed in the morning light.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia
Ignore the Stork and look at the ground.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia
The grasslands are full of wild flowers. Insect life prevails and bird food is plentiful. Birds are encouraged to nest and act as natural pest controllers. Magic! Well not really, it's nature at work without too much of man's interference.
We went so far along the road with no luck with the Monty's so we headed back to the N521 to try Mike's alternative birding road, again the direction was Santa Marta de Gasca and it was the first turn we had ignored the previous day.
At the turn off there were notices that appeared to warn of road works ahead but the road wasn't actually closed so we proceeded to take it.
Big mistake. They were in the middle of a major reconstruction and road widening scheme. What had previously been birding bliss was all gone and not only that we suddenly found ourselves  following an earth mover with a lorry following behind us. We were trapped, committed to going forward in a direction we didn't want to go now. The road seemed to have vanished, we were on a building site! It could never have happened in the UK that's for sure. We wondered if we could get out as the conditions were better suited to a 4x4. Thankfully it hadn't rained for some time so at least the soil was dry. 
Relieved we eventually found our way out of the situation and proceeded to Santa Marta, through the village and beyond to a river bridge where we decided to try our arm at photographing the Swallows.
Once again using a bare lens I had a certain amount of success.
Red-rumped Swallow  Cecropis daurica
It can eventually drive you mad trying to capture them in flight so best not try for too long.
Red-rumped Swallow  Cecropis daurica
It can also lead to trying to get a better vantage point too. I held my breath when I saw Mike slipping down a 60ยบ slope heading towards the water. Like a true pro he was paying no attention to personal safety as he performed a miraculous juggling act with his camera and lens. Thankfully both he and the camera outfit came to no harm. 
That over we found ourselves once more on the original birding road ( as well as the shortcut that would have avoided our roadworks experience!) so once again we patrolled the road looking for the Monty's.
Then bingo! It flew past, a male bird. Mike who was driving slammed on the brakes and we both jumped out of the car. I failed to focus on the bird whilst Mike seemed happy his shots were reasonable enough although far from what he had in mind.
We decided to stake out the place Rich had seen them the previous Sunday and sure enough the female showed up, although distantly, before vanishing. 
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
Heat haze due to the distance rendered my shot purely a record.
After some time I relocated the bird and she was sat close to the road a few hundred metres away. We decided we would try getting closer using the car.
Driving within 50 metres we stopped.
We were both ready with our lenses sticking out of the window. The view of the bird was reasonable but not perfect. 
Could I lock on focus? Could I heck. The bird flew without me getting a single shot. Mike on the other hand had done reasonably well. I was a tad envious! Mike told me if we wanted to get decent views of the Monty's we would have to find their nesting site where there would be several pairs and lots of flight opportunities. This we had failed to do so thus far but there was still hope I'd get my shots too.
It was decided a bit more Kestrel therapy was needed so we abandoned the mission for the day and headed back to the Bullring.
Lesser Kestrel  Falco naumanni
That gave me a bit of an uplift, something actually looked reasonable.
Lesser Kestrel  Falco naumanni
All was not lost yet again but I was feeling that so far the trip had been something of a failure and I had a feeling that despite Mike's superior success he wasn't totally enamoured with our progress either.
At least dinner was something to be happy about. Finca Flores also had a resident bird guide and although we didn't use his services he was good enough to tell us we needed to head to the Monroy crossroads if we wanted to find the Monty's nest site.
Tomorrow was another day. Tomorrow we'd turn the corner. Tomorrow we'd crack it!

No comments:

Post a Comment