Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Birding in Zaragoza and the foothills of the Pyrenees

On Friday the23rd of September Paul Lewis and I took the late flight to Zaragoza with Ryan airways,our
fellow travellers were a rock band called A POETIC YESTERDAY and a Portugese stewardess from Lisbon, This made the packed flight bearable.
On arrival at Zaragoza airport it was raining,ironically they had not had rain for 8 months.
Got our cases met Albert Bueno our guide and drove for an hour in a thunderstorm to Lecina,
where from the outside it looked like Bate's Motel,however a swift beer and sandwich ended our day at
Saturday morning awoke 06.30hrs still raining,the Htel Rincon del Cierza was pleasant clean and staff
friendly.Around 07.00hrs Alberto Paul and I set off for the Steppe specialities,the rain had stopped when we reached El Planeron,where we heard 4  Dupont's Larks and Paul and I were certain fleeting views.Dozens of Calandra larks were flocking and a Southern Grey Shrike obliged.
Spotless Starlings were in good numbers and a few Lesser Short toed Lark flew over.
Wheatears were abundant at this passage time.Moving on we saw our only Black Kite of the trip and at Belchite we saw two Black Redstart and a host of Swallows.
At Villanueva a single Griffon Vulture on a rock and two Rock Sparrow and a Sparrowhawk on a telegraph pole.Moving on to Tosas this small village held the only breeding record of Bonelli's Eagle,
it was here we were incredibly lucky or Alberto knew his sites well . Looking at

one bird it was clearly tagged beacuse of its rarity status. this was a special moment as we watched the pair fly amongst Crag martins in there valley.
We left to the sound of Cetti's warbler as we made our way back to  Belchite here we photographed the old ruins ,then back to the Steppes again for Tawny Pipit and Short toed Lark,dozens of Stone Curlews and a pair of Raven.
Fourteen Chough put in an a appearance as did our first Black bellied Sandgouse.
It was then on to Los Monegros for Bustards on route a Short toed Eagle posed on a pylon,
Moving on after lunch to Alberto's home patch of Otininio where six Little Bustards obliged,ten more Black bellied Sandgrouse alas no Pintail,up to four Little Owls obliged only one got photographed.
On route to Loporzano and Boletas near Huesca we counted 15 Common Buzzard and 6 Cattle Egret overhead we arrived Loporzano around 19.45 hrs.
We met Estelle and were shown our room ,we had our evening meal then a few beers in the one bar town before retiring.

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