Do you ever get one of those days, when sitting quietly and surrounded by the sheer beauty of nature, that a feeling wells from inside and creates a feeling of such tranquillity as to be almost spiritual? I had this experience today. Deciding to forsake the million things to do on the dreaded computer, I set-off for a tour via the Sevilla road to Montejaque, Benaojan and then to Indiana on the Rio Guadiaro. Prior to Montejaque, near to the famous ‘I don’t work’ dam I had a small herd of Ibex and tumbling through the blue skies above were passing flocks of Black Kite. On top of the pyramid shaped monte corto sat two Short-toed Eagles, looking strangely out of place perched as they were amongst at least fifty Griffon Vultures. Lesser Kestrel were calling and busy hawking insects just above the defunct dam with Blue Rock Thrush and Black Wheatear sat in the gallery watching their mastery of the air. Crag Martins seemed more intent on playfully skipping across the contours of the many rock faces than seriously looking for food. After a brief, but highly satisfying lunch at the Bar Stop at Benaojan Station, I arrived at Indiana. Here, accompanied by the sound of water tumbling over the crafted round stones that form the riverbed, the bright sunshine reflected like jewels in the crown of the Rio Guadiaro and after some minutes I felt the hair on my neck prickle from a sensation of bliss. Little Egrets danced after fish in the backdrop of my view and Green Sandpipers ran comically along the water’s edge. From the rock outcrops of the riverbed, White Wagtails and a solitary Grey Wagtail hopped and jumped after insects as they passed over their heads. It seemed that every overhanging bush or reed had its own Chiffchaff, that would dart from their perches and join the wagtails gorging on a most perfect day for insects. Occasionally a Cetti’s Warbler would burst into song and for a brief moment drown the sound from the rushing river. A flash of blue and a Kingfisher cut through my vision and awakened me from my slumbering watch. Probably just as well as I wanted to go further up river and check for a few more birds!
Parking the car after the second bridge on the river track I unloaded the scope and focused on a nearby bluff and managed to locate a pair of Bonelli’s Eagle sat lazily on a protruding bush, looking totally disinterested in any activity. Just by this parking area a stream flows into the main river and I watched my first Red-rumped Swallows casually inspecting the under parts of the bridge. They are such an attractive bird, more glide than flap than we notice in the more common Barn Swallow. They, or at least what I take to have been the male, were calling and singing, a comical sound that is more like musical notes created electronically on a computer keyboard! I also saw half a dozen Sand Martins (again a first for my patch this year) doing a fly-by with several Barn Swallows. Feeling the sun and a tiredness induced by a more than sufficient lunch, I made my way back to park beside the river. A Water Pipit, getting its first signs of a pink blush, sat on an exposed part of the riverbed midstream. Whilst watching this fine Pipit I noticed that it kept flapping and moving around as if avoiding some unseen phantom. Training my binoculars on the bird I saw a very large Carpenter Bee literally buzzing the Pipit. It made for a highly amusing interlude and definitely a case of the ‘insect bites back’. My final sighting before heading home was a pair of Little-ringed Plover. Now here I have to admit to a very serious shortcoming. In my advanced years and after birding for more fifty of them, then I am prone to bouts of laziness and not writing things down. This deficiency brings me to a question. Little-ringed Plover breed on this river, but isn’t it a tad early for them to be back?All in all a good day and reassuring that all is well in my mountains.