GUIDES: Paul Sparkes & J. M. Escarabajal
PARTICIPANTS: Ray Wright, Chris Keep & John Hodgkins
Jackdaw, Greenfinch, Stonechat, Magpie, Wheatear, Southern Grey Shrike, Crested Lark, Dartford Warbler, Red-legged Partridge, Curlew, Rock Dove, Greenshank, Moorhen, Green Sandpiper, Crow, Sparrowhawk, Little Owl, Blackbird, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Tern, Rock Sparrow, Cattle Egret, Little Grebe, Peregrine Falcon, Short-toed Lark, Spotless Starling, Green Woodpecker, Jay, Crossbill, Short-toed Treecreeper, Chough, Kestrel, Golden Eagle, Hoopoe, Bonelli’s Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Osprey.
We met our friends at an afternoon’s birding in the wetlands of southern Alicante, after chatting we agreed on a guided tour in the Murcia region for another day.
As agreed we met on Saturday October 13 at a gas station on the road halfway between Murcia and Alicante and headed for the interior plains in search of Murcia’s raptors often in these ecosystems for food during this season.
We did not have much luck with birds of prey in the early hours of the morning but other birds stopped to pose in front of our telescopes: several Stonechats, Warblers and Crested Larks began cheering the day followed by several views of Grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Magpie, Red-legged Partridge and numerous flocks of Greenfinch. We continue the morning with good observations of a flock of Stone curlews (Ray’s favorite) and a Little Owl on the road to the slopes of one of the junctions that crosses this natural landscape, we made several stops at some of the irrigation ponds that are in area, their we could see aquatic species such as Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and Little Grebe.
We approach the slopes of sandstone and from a distance we see a harrier attacking a flock of Jackdaws then disaperse. Raptors begin to appear as we start a short walk along the river bed, here there are several rock doves, more Jackdaws, kestrel and a pair of Ravens. And a few minutes later, in an area close to the look-out ponit we see one of the stars of the day: a small group of Rock Sparrows Spotted by Ray while a little further away is a peregrine falcon on the plain.
We decided to try our luck in the nearby mountains to continue tracking birds of prey. So we drive our car up the steep slopes of the mountain range between dense green pines. It was time to make a stop for a light snack, a typical mountain restaurant where John had a friendly meeting with a group of wild boars that usually come to eat the leftovers from the restaurant. After lunch we left very satisfied. We continue our search in the heart of the forest. During the short ride we could locate the Crossbill, Jay, Green Woodpecker, and after a great deal of Twitter Search to a fleeting and elusive Short-toed Treecreeper (another star of the day), but in the rugged mountain tops the birds on show were more lively with the presence of a Peregrine Falcon, a couple of crows and several choughs.
As large raptors didn’t appear we headed back to the plains to end the evening. And our decision was correct because on the way back, and out of the mountains, Jose spotted a copy of Golden eagles circling on the low hills. It was the beginning of a promising end, as usual for itineraries with Birding Murcia, the late hours of the evening are one of the best times of day. Indeed, again Jose discovered a female subadult Bonelli’s eagle perched on power line its crop crammed with food. We were able to watch her with our telescopes until she decided to move away in search of its roost. Just a few minutes later a female marsh harrier flew by our observation point and almost simultaneously an osprey took flight from a nearby pole doing a flyby over our heads to the satisfaction of the whole group. A dramatic end that left us all a big smile …