Great Bustards in Andalucia

There’s nothing like starting a new year watching species that you don’t really find easily in the UK. That’s what our English friends were thinking when they called me to organize our “shiny steppes” birding tour. They were very excited having a go on steppe birds only, so we went for a half-day tour focused on these birds and skept the lagoons nearby. After having a great local breakfast at Osuna, we drove to my favourite display areas, where we quickly found around 30 Red Partridges, very well distinguished now that the fields are green and the crops stay short. The Great Bustards were at that time somewhere else, but we enjoyed 4 Common Buzzards, 4 Red Kites and some flocks of Spotless Starling and Spanish Sparrow. We continued on and had a short walk that allowed us to add some Crested Larks, Goldfinches, a few Stonechats and 4 lovely Hoopoes that were following us. Soon after we arrived to a bushy area were we could hear the European Green Woodpecker and saw some Great Tits and 2 Kestrels. Some plots were being ploughed and we could enjoy dozens of White Wagtails very much taking advantage of it. We thought the day was completed by lots of Feral Pigeons, Chiffchaffs and a Southern Grey Shrike, but as we were about to finish the journey we found a Red Kite that somehow drew our attention. We stopped the car, took the binoculars to follow its path and, all of a sudden, John and me yelled at a time: Great Bustards! We immediatly set the scope on the tripod and enjoyed an amazing flock of 11. There was one among them that seemed quite excited about its bubble soap coutship, but the ladies were not very interested at this time of the year that -although quite sunny- still belongs to the winter. We enjoyed them for nearly half an hour and then decided to celebrate the sight with a bottle of wine at Osuna’s centre. Everyone was quite happy about this fast winter tour. However, I disliked hearing a noisy workshop not far from there, and as we drove back, a lonely greyhound bothered the flock, that had to take two short flights to avoid it. I personally just hope that we succeed in keeping this small andalusian population of Great Bustards. May you have an idea, please get back to me.

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