30th June. Where's Rob
An anonymous sender recently emailed me this shot of two ex Llamas one of which is sporting a rather dodgy (early 90's) Take That hairdo and appears to be wearing some floral garb, probably from some caravan towing, tarmac laying old witch.
28th June. Quiet
On returning home I stumbled upon an appropriate episode of Jerry Springer entitled Pies and Fat People, a link between lard products and obesity surely can't exist.
25th June: Not a lot
More bird molesting this weekend, hoping to get my mits on some Great Tits or anything else worthy of some school boy humour.
16th June Pt 2. Subliminal Messages
You will notice that on the opposing pages are two articles that have a common interest. If you need a clue it's the Rock Sparrow at Cley. What I find amazing is that by moving letters around within the middle article (Moth Magic) you can make the words: Bollocks, Stringy, Pile of Shit etc etc. Very clever Dominic Mitchell but I'm on your case!
16th June. Fruit Gums
Pygmy's Bell End
14th June. Ring Ding
My first session began this morning at 6am at Williamthorpe Nature Reserve. By 10am I had rung no less than 11 individuals, namely: Linnet (my first victim) 3 Blackbirds, 3 Dunnocks, 2 Whitethroats, Long-tailed Tit and a spanking drake Bullfinch. To my amazement I was not only allowed to slip the rings on but could actually put my hand in the bag and remove them. By the time we packed up I was well and truly hooked and had enjoyed a very rewarding day.
13th June. Back in the olden days
To my knowledge that, until last week, was Mr Fray's only visit and given the above evidence a belated ban of at least 18 months should be placed on him now before any more quality cage birds appear. Further evidence is posted below and suggests that he should also face charges for crimes against hair dressing!!
Stalag Fair Isle where lights out meant just that, as the generator was switched off at 10pm sharp. I also recall not getting much sleep as we then had to listen to the assistant warden attempting to nail the cook to the wall of his room!!!
6th June. Rediscovered
5th June. Return home
First stop off was back at the Belen Plains where only two Great Bustards were seen and a brief farting Little Bustard. Almaraz was the next step but I really couldn't be arsed to put too much effort in as the water levels were quite high and despite the breeze the heat haze was still a problem. I had been given a secret daytime site for Red-necked Nightjar before I left and decided rather than drive into the clouds to try for these. Our first walk through the eucalyptus failed mainly due to Jo moaning about the thistles pricking her feet! However after Jo had returned to the car I gave it another go and succesfully (probably not the right term to use) flushed a couple which showed well on the ground. Apart from a brief stop off at the side of the N5 for a group of Black-winged Stilts breeding next to a pig farm but I can't remember where it was.
All in all an excellent trip, though with a few glaring omissions from the list namely, Black-shouldered Kite, Bonelli's and Short-toed Eagle and Black Wheatear.
4th June. A Plan
Apart from 2 heard only Little Bustards and 11 Great Bustards the rest was pretty run of the mill.
By 8.30 I had given up on any Sandgrouse just as 5 flew across the road 3 of them landing in a weedy field. These proved to be the rarer Pin-tails. We drove up the first Santa Marta track to get better views but unfortunately on leaving the car flushed a party of 6 Black-bellied closely followed by the 3 Pin-tails. A distant Cuckoo flushed off the fence turned out to be a Great Spotted and was joined, surprisingly, by another 2. Happy that we had cleared up around the plains we headed into Trujillo for breakfast items before attempting the Spanish Imperials once more. This time, due to the plan, we were more successful and had scope views of the two adults close to the nest. Our next port of call was to the south of
Following a 2 hour siesta during which we discovered that those sly Spaniards don’t actually go to bed for a nap they just pop into the nearest back street bar, get pissed and make so much noise that those tourists, observing their tradition, get bugger all sleep. Following our broken sleep we called at the local supermarket and purchased supplies for the rest of the day, packing the picnic bag with ½ kilo of prawns, ham, bread, water, sangria, olives etc etc for just 15 euros (a meal which later turned out to be the best of the trip).
First stop of the afternoon was the Embasse El Campo. A few new trip species were added including Savi’s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Night Heron, Little Egret and Purple Heron.
An alternative route to Monfrague is to take the new dual carriageway to Plasencia from the N5. This route was very quick and infact only took 30 minutes to get to the Eagle Owl spot - about 2 hours too early! An extended meal stop near the Hydroelectric Dam provided some nice views of Black Kites, Black Vulture and many Griffons.
Following our excellent supper we headed back to the Eagle Owl spot ,which I've temporarily forgotten how to spell (see below). After a couple of hours of nothing besides a couple of Subalpine Warblers, nightingale and the first perched Black Vulture of the trip which made me realise why they're now called Monk Vulture. We were then joined by a group of noisy Spaniards, who spent the next hour or so shouting laughing and barking - well the dog did! This continued until 10pm when they finally decided to go. It was at this point that they stopped in the road and started jabbering excitingly at a lump on a rock behind us. My fluent Spanish skills acquired over the few days enquired "Bubo?" to which I received a "ce" - language barrier my arse. This lump was indeed a juv Eagle Owl which was later joined by an adult before both disappeared. It was now getting very dark so we headed back to Trujillo having a brief unsuccessful listen for Red-necked Nightjar and almost wiping out a Scops Owl whilst negotiating the treacherous Monfrague highway.
3rd June. Pain in Spain
2nd June. Nob Rock
A rather damp Madrid greeted us first thing so a leisurely breakfast was taken. The diversion to the Sierra de Gredos was put off as the area appeared shrouded in cloud. We arrived at the Hotel Houeso, in Trujillo just after midday. After lunch we decided to visit the Pena Falcon (presumably named after it's phallic stance) Monfrague. The spectacle of over one hundred Griffon Vultures with a couple of Black's and a single Egyptian Vulture for company. A Black Stork had a single chick in the same nest hole as my previous visit in 2003. Around the view point were Rock Buntings, Serins, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martins And Red-rumped Swallows. The Castillo de Monfrague is an impressive sight perched on the edge of the ridge. Fortunately it is possible to drive almost all of the way, by heading beyond the car park and parking where the road ends. So after dragging Jo to the top of the Castillo (a nice treat for her birthday especially given her fear of heights) we took in the spectacular views and had two nice White-rumped Swifts drift by. By now it was 18:30 and I was torn between trying for the Eagle Owls at Portilla de tierter or having a look at the plains to the west of Trujillo. We decided on the latter and had excellent views of nine Great Bustards along the second track along the Santa Marta de Magasca road. Birds along here included 5 Montagu's Harriers, Little Owl,, Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Spanish Sparrow, Calandra, Short-toed and Crested Larks. Pleased with our haul we headed back to Trujillo for food. Unfortunately we picked the worst restaurant in the square and had quite possibly the worst meal that Spain had to offer, consisting of dish water garlic soup, slimy fish fillet (species unidentified) and some dessert hidden among the squirty cream. Fortunately the wine was okay and we made light work of the free acorn liquer. The latter helped make the decent down the stone steps slightly treacherous. More alcohol was required so we stopped off in the hotel bar to remove any after taste of the slimy fish!
1st June. Donde esta la hotel?
The first day of our 5 day trip commenced with a two hour drive to