Despite the poor weather Hoopoes and Cuckoos were singing in our cabin grounds. We drove to the start of the trail and plenty of Azure-winged Magpies were around, with the dawn chorus simply phenomenal. Huge numbers of Hoopoes (20+), Nightingales (10+), Corn Buntings (15+), Cetti’s Warblers (10+) joined the smaller numbers of Serins, Golden Orioles, and Sardinian, Subalpine and Garden Warblers in near constant song from the lush hedgerows and trees that flanked the river.
|The view over the dehesa|
Sat on the bank for only a few minutes, I was amazed to see a colossal Black Vulture flying fairly low over the orchard behind me. I managed some photos, but was still shocked as to why it was so close to the ground. However, it soon became apparent that about 12 Vultures were feeding on something over the brow of the hill, as several Griffons and a couple more Blacks appeared. I got back to scanning from the view, and a surprise tick was bagged in the shape of a recently split, yaffling Iberian Green Woodpecker.
|A Black Vulture|
|A sub-adult Golden Eagle|
It was cruising slowly south, and as I looked up a couple more raptors the other side of me, to the west, caught my eye. I spun round to see a distant Black Kite and Short-toed Eagle drifting north at a similar pace, but almost directly above my head was the second (presumed Golden) eagle from the viewpoint. This time the light was perfect, and it was a hell of a lot closer, and I was quickly able to note a black trailing band to the tail, and a very pale head. Fumbling quickly through Collins it became apparent that this was quite possible the big guy! We set up the scope in record time, and once I peered through the lens I was onto cracking views of the bird, circling slowly above us.
|The view from the Mirador del Embalse del Jandula|
Completely made up (this was the bird of the trip, edging ahead of Crested Coot based on sheer raptor factor), we headed back to the car and decided to check out the Mirador del Embalse del Jándula/La Lancha for some Lynx/Owl/Bunting searching. The track down to the viewpoint (Mirador) was horribly rocky, but we got nice views of a sub-adult Golden Eagle (probably second or third year). From the view we tried in vain for nesting Black Storks, instead getting another Short-toed Eagle, a couple more Black Vultures and a Thekla Lark.
|A showy Hoopoe|