|El Planeron Dupont's Lark sign|
|El Planeron Dupont's Lark habitat|
I was up at 05:30 although it wasn't light until about 07:30. At 05:45 I heard one bird singing strongly and by 06:30 there were at least three birds in the same area. As it became light I parked myself reasonably close to where I thought the song was coming from and waited. The singing reduced as it became light but still continued intermittently. The song had a mysterious habit of moving although there was no sign of anything in the steppe vegetation. Two hours later still nothing. I walked the area again and picked up several more birds singing, probably 7 males by now. This was frustrating I could hear them but not see them. I was starting to think they had an underground tunnel system to move from place to place!
By 11:00 I had given it 8 hours of solid searching and it was decision time, did I leave the larks and head for the Pyrenees as planned or stay with the larks and abandon the Pyrenees leg of the journey? I decided to stay and would have stayed until at least the following morning if necessary. I wanted to see this bird!
Occasionally the song was very close and contained some popping notes, a bit like Raven do sometimes. I caught a brief view of a bird landing after one episode of close calls and it occurred to me that they could be giving a song flight. The next time I heard the call close I looked up and saw a lark plummeting out of the sky, I can only think that it had been singing at a height that it was not visible to the naked eye. It came down quickly but I managed to see where it landed, and then it appeared, for about 20 seconds it was in view before running in to the vegetation. I grabbed the camera and fired off as many shots as I could.
There were other birds in the area, plenty of Lesser Short-toed Larks, plus Calandra and a few Short-toed Larks. I saw two pairs of Stone Curlew, which were calling through the night.
|Lesser Short-toed Lark|
|Pin-tailed Sandgrouse - you can just about tell what they are!|