Little Bustards and Big B#st#rds

2011_09_12 CDC - Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) 01
Female Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax)

Back in Spain I may as well keep up with some Spanish stuff also. So I went off to the steppes for a quick look to see what was going on in the terrible heat we are having here. To my delight I found a large flock of female Little Bustards walking along the fields right beside the road. Some even walked across the road. Now that the crops are all cut the Little Bustards are more visible, even though their plumage does help to blend them in. I was just turning down a dirt road to see if I could find some sandgrouse or Great Bustards when along came the army. Not walking, not in tanks but in one of their attack helicopters flying overhead very low.

2011_09_12 CDC - Eurocopter Tiger Attack Helicopter
Big B#st#rd
Well that put the cat amongst the pigeons as they say. The next thing I know is the whole flock of Little Bustards followed by about twenty Pin-tailed Sandgrouse are in the air and off out of sight. So that´s it for here I think to myself. I also began to wonder why is it that these helicopters are allowed to overfly at low altitude a Zona ZEPA, an special birdlife area that is protected? Here´s a link to the Map of the Campo de Calatrava Zona ZEPA. I was a third of the way along the road from La Puebla to Pozuelo de Calatrava.
Anyway, I went to the Laguna de Pozuelo de Calatrava to see what was there. There was a nice sunset with Flamingos and Stilts and plenty of birdlife. Ten minutes later the same helicopter came overflying the lake at about 200 feet banking around to get a good view. Well that upset a lot of flamingos and other birds making them all rise. A spectacular sight I am sure from the air, but serious disturbance to the wildlife. 
It´s not only here I have seen these helicopters, but they do what seem like tourist trips over the Vicario reservoir as well in Peralvillo. Are these guys in training or running a sightseeing business? They cause noise and disturb the birdlife in many of the places I visit, some of which are within protected areas. Surely they have areas for their training that are not protected. I don´t care if it´s the army, they may be here to protect Spain, but they should also respect what is protected.
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