Gull billed Tern
I'd done very little birding in Spain, most of my family holidays have been to the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly Cyprus and Lesbos with the odd trip to Portugal and the Balearic islands. So when the opportunity arose to go to Central Spain I was very keen to go. Steve Cawthray had told me about his previous Tom Gullick experience and it sounded just the job, a short but intensive bird watching trip which included 5 species I needed and many I would love to see again.
Spain is a wonderful country for birds with vast open plains with scattered oaks, rocky uplands, and surprising areas of wetland (at least in the winter). There is space, space for people and space for Wildlife. Our party was made up of Steve Cawthray, who did most of the organising and liason, Steve Haynes who was the financial advisor and Pauline. We met Tom Gullick at Madrid airport and travelled south in his Landcruiser for about an hour before our first stop. Unfortunately I cant remember the names of any of the sites we visited as we moved from site to site very quickly with little chance to make notes. In fact we drove around central southern Spain with almost Military precision. Moving from target species to target species covering considerable distances. We drove along rough tracks and through fields in order to find as many birds as possible. We took it in turns to act as look out, standing up through the sun roof as we bounced over deeply rutted fields looking like some Tank commander at El Alamein. The tactics worked though and a few bruises were worth it to see grassland species such as Calandra Lark, Quail, Little and Great Bustards
For me the best birds of the day were 14 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, a new species for me, which we were able to get quite close to. The Eagle Owls were a bit special, we saw 5 birds and marvelled at their sheer size. Other birds on day one included : Bee-eater, Gull billed Tern, Whiskered Tern and Montagues Harrier.