Now I don’t know if it’s the first time on record, but it’s certainly the first time that I have ever seen both Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and Black-bellied Sandgrouse in the same day in the drylands of Alfés.
It’s not unusual to see Pin-tailed Sandgrouse here, in fact this is the only place in Catalunya where the species breeds (some 50 pairs at most?), but seeing a Black-bellied Sandgrouse is quite another matter. For one thing there are probably no more than 10 or 15 pairs of this avian gem left breeding in Catalonia, and they don’t breed at Alfés. Secondly, actually seeing them even if they are in the area requires luck, timing and a little celestial indulgence.
Alfés is only 6 or 7 minutes from my front door so I made a short incursion, mostly to locate the Pin-tailed Sandgrouse’s favoured haunts this season in preparation for a birding trip in late March. Two British birders have booked 2 nights in la Garbinada, a splendid rural hotel in the nearby village of la Granyena, and one of the prize birds around is precisely the Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. I don’t suppose the Black-bellied Sandgrouse will stay around until then, as when I last saw it it was flying directly away from me at a nifty speed!