Friday, 20 January 2017

Axarquia Bird Group visit to the Guadalhorce, Malaga

Thursday 19 January

Dave and his bird group my be "hardy up in the north-east of Almeria and "mad dogs and English may go out in the midday sun"  (must have spent July in the region), but it tales a Welshman and a Dutch lady to go birding in the cold, wind and rain!  Dry when I collected Lisette and left Algarrobo for Malaga for the monthly meeting of the Axarquia Bird Group but once skirting the city some light rain and then, arriving at the Guadalmar church, more persistent  and heavy rain.  So, we sat in the car for fifteen minutes and watched the antics of a Robin, Black Redstart and White Wagtail and then, with no other members putting in an appearance, spent fifteen minutes trying to work our way through the maze of one-way streets on the Guadalmar estate until we finally reached the western-most chiringito, recording House Sparrow, Blackbird and Kestrel on the way.

At last time to find some shelter, both beach side chiringitos were closed, and take a look out to sea where the choppy waves were constantly hiding any resting gulls.  No shortage of both Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls followed by the arrival of Black-headed Gulls.  A handful of Cormorant were feeding off shore and then Lisette, whilst I was answering a phone call, was able to see both a dozen or so Gannets and a small number of Sandwich Terns.  By now Lisette was feeling the cold so made a dignified retreat to the nearby hotel for some warmth and an expensive copy whilst I picked up some very close Monk Parakeets feeding on the grass along with Spotless Starlings and a ringed BlackbirdChiffchaffs were flitting about the hedges and Lisette also recorded a Crested Lark.

We could see the lighter, brighter sky to the south and once we had found an open bar for a coffee the rain had stopped and it even felt a little warmer, probably up to 5C!  So, the short ride round to the mouth of the Guadalhorce where we could check out the lower reaches of the river, shore and relatively sheltered sea.  A single Grey Plover and Turnstone on the shore were joined by a handful of Sanderling and even a Kentish Plover put in an appearance.  A lone Little Egret flew down river, took one look at the rough sea and then promptly returned from when it had come.  Collared Doves and more Chiffchaffs feeding around us along with a couple of Meadow Pipits, House Sparrows and a Stonechat.  Strange to sea a female Kestrel on the opposite shore of the river standing in the water and, presumably, taking a drink.  Not too many Crag Martins feeding in the air  but an almost last look out to sea found a "floating black blob" which, when scoped, was revealed to be a Common Scoter.  Finally a rather lovely Sardiniian Warbler as we made our way back to the car to head off via the airport to the Guadalhorce at Zapata.

No sooner had we arrived at Zapata where by now the clouds were breaking and the temperature had upped another couple of degrees or so, than we found numerous Chiffchaffs and stopping to take a closer look at the exposed water in the reeds we picked up our first of a number of Bluethroats recorded.  Overhead we had the sudden appearance of a female Marsh Harrier and quickly followed by a second, giving the appearance of mother and juvenile.  Also in the battered reed bed we found Greenfinch and a Heron. Working our way along the track towards the turn to the ford, now almost certainly inaccessible unless you have a death wish or a very large-wheeled tractor, we picked up White Wagtails, Serin and Goldfinch plus a couple of Little Egrets along with a passing Cattle Egret.  Similarly, no shortage of Stonechat, Spotless Starlings and more Robins.

Passing the devastated flood meadow we came to the turn to the ford which looked wet and treacherous, especially for a two-wheel drive car.  Ant to think less than twenty-four hours earlier I had driven right down to the river.  A Hoopoe on the grass next to the car as we turned near the bridge the we sat and observed the large puddles at our end of the track more Bluethroats and a Meadow Pipits came to drink and even a pair of Green Sandpipers.  A single Greenshank put in an appearance whilst overhead we had our first sighting of the circling Booted Eagle.  This bird seemed to stay with us for the rest of our stay and was later joined a second individual.

It was whilst we were on this track that we received a call from Corrinne and Oliver Hibbert to say that they ,too, had turned up at the Guadalmar church, slightly late and no other members present so made their way to the two hides, Casillas and Wader, on the far side of the reserve.  Here they recorded White-headed Duck, Booted Eagle and Black-winged Stilt amongst other common ducks and passerines.

Working our way back along the track to the airport end exit and homeward journey we stopped to watch a Sparrowhawk shooting swiftly left with a Marsh Harrier behind.  then, to the front, we had a Buzzard and in the distance, near the hills a good, long observation of a Bonelli's Eagle. We also had a couple of Ravens in the area for about ten minutes.   Crested Lark, Stonechat and a two trees full of Collared Doves on and near the fields to our left with, finally, at the end of the track more feeding Chiffchaffs in the reeds along with another Robin and a Great Tit.  For such a bad start, a total of 43 species plus the additional two from Corrine and Oliver made a very respectable total for the day.  By the way, not taking a camera paid off with the number of species recorded but, on the other hand, we had very near sightings of both Bluethroat and Hoopoe that were just calling out for a photo.  I must check my telephone ans see if I was successful!

Birds seen:
Common Scoter, White-headed Duck, Gannet, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Buzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Sardinian warbler, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Zapata, behind Malaga Airport

Wednesday 18 January

Only barely thirty minutes before needing to get to the airport and collect Jenny.  But what a mess this site has become as a result of the December floods.  But nature is a marvellous healer, if we can keep the humans away, and I am expecting it to return to its former birding paradise within the next six months or less.  I even managed 17 species, as below, and at least it was fractionally warmer than inland, especially with Dave's Arboleas Bird Group up in Almeria Province.

Grey Heron Garza Real Ardea cinerea
The lovely Marsh Harrier Aguilucho Lagunero Circus aeruginosus
Time for the Hoopoe Abubilla Upupa epops to depart
A few of the large flock of Serins Verdecillo Serinus serinus
Birds seen:
Little Egret, Heron, Marsh Harrier, Green Sandpiper, Moorhen, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

The end of Andlaucia with the Arboleas Bird Grou[p

Wednesday 18 January

Whilst I managed a little over thirty minutes checking out conditions at Zapata whilst awaiting jenny's return flight from the UK, Dave and his hardy crew were up north, well east I suppose, in the far reaches of Andalucia.  I thought it was cold in Malaga with a temperature of 8C at 1 pm but as can be seen in Dave's report some place can reach depths that no sun-lover should ever contemplate!  For me, not so much the feeding Crag Martins over what was a gentle ford but now a raging torrent but rather the lovely female Marsh Harrier that drifted over opposite the airport's boundary fence and quickly followed by a magnificent and handsome male.  A local breeding pair?

Wednesday 18th January:  Rambla de Almanzora & Vera
We're hardened birders up here in north-east Andalusia!  Was 3 degrees in a fresh wind going to put us off?  Never....but a close run thing!  We were meeting at the ford in the Rambla de Almanzora.  Reports had suggested that birding wasn't that great due to pipe-laying works.  Gilly and I motored in from the Desert Springs end.  Most of the usual pools had disappeared.  On the ones that were left we managed to see Green and Common Sandpiper and some Mallard.  Also saw Goldfinch, White Wagtail, Magpie and Moorhen. At the ford we had another Green Sandpiper.  We met up with John, Alan, Les, Rod, Colin, Val, Trevor & Ann.  We were all suitably attired for the freeze!  A male Black Redstart flitted between the cars for shelter.  Walking up towards the sewage works we saw both Northern and Spotless Starling, Grey Heron, Blackbird, Hoopoe, Robin, Iberian Shrike, Serin and ChiffchaffBlack Headed Gulls flew by and a male Kestrel was seen to catch prey and fly off.
The motley crew of birders - and not one wearing shorts! (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)
An executive decision was then made to warm up at the Villaricos cafe.  Suitably refreshed we moved to the beach.  The sea was quite rough.  A few Cormorant were on the harbour rocks.  A Turnstone and a Sanderling flew by and a Sandwich Tern was diving for fish.  Alan then spotted a single Razorbill in the harbour entrance.  Quite difficult to see as it only spent a second or two on the surface before diving again.  We then walked over to the estuary where Les was the only one to see a Kingfisher shoot fast and low back behind us.  A group of mainly Black Headed Gulls took flight on our arrival.  Les clocked at least one Mediterranean Gull amongst them.  Also seen were Little Egret, Coot, Dunlin, Kentish Plover and Little Grebe.  I spotted a Great Crested Grebe just offshore.  An island of resting seabirds included Audouin's and Mediterranean Gulls and Sandwich Terns.  John located a distant Gannet, confirmed by Alan.  Walking back towards the vehicles I found a Grey Plover, some Sanderling and Kentish Plover on the rocky isthmus.  As we were leaving Les saw a Black Necked Grebe on the sea.
Male Common Teal Anas crecca (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)
We then convoyed to the dual carriageway overlooking the pools opposite the Consum Supermarket behind Vera Playa.  The water had returned.  Crag Martins were flying above the shrubs.  We found Black Winged Stilt, Teal and Shoveler.  Alan spotted a Grey Wagtail.  A White Headed Duck was also seen.  Gilly and I left before a male Marsh Harrier appeared.
Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus (PHOTO: Gilly Elliott-Binns)
John and Alan checked out the laguna by the Millionaire's Bar and added Lesser Black Backed Gull and Water Pipit.
Considering the cold weather and the works on the rambla a species total of 51 ain't bad! Thank you to John for being in charge this week.  John, Alan and I are sharing the leadership of the group from now on.  Photos by Gilly.
I'm off to El Fondo this Saturday with more of the group.  Snow is possibly on the cards! Regards, Dave
Sounds as if some birders are determined to make the most of El Fondo whilst the possibility of a rarity or two still exist. 

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Huetor Tajar, Granada Province

Tuesday 17 January 2017

What a difference you notice at this time of the year when you travel both inland and to higher altitudes.  Clear, warm and sunny on the Mezquitilla coast with night temperature of about 11 rising to 20C+during the day.  Approaching Loja the temperature had dropped to just 2C and the first part of my morning visit to Hueter Tajar started at a a very chilly 4C!  The idea was to try and find the wintering flock of Little Bustards but with field workers operating on the opposite field no sign of one.  I re-visited along with twice checking out the other popular site for these interesting birds but the little b stards always seem to know I am coming and make themselves scarce.  On the other hand, well over a hundred Lapwing seen and a count of 156 Stone Curlews, and given how they manage to almost disappear whilst they rest up on the ploughed fields, probably suggests that there were more than two hundred of the latter present.

Just a few of the hundreds of Stone Curlew Alcaravan Comun Burhinus oedicnemus
The visit had started at the top of the town with a walk down the praised path separating the fields and a Grey Wagtail as soon as I set off quickly followed by a number of House Sparrows, Linnets and Black Redstarts.  As I walked the path I found a handful of Tree Sparrows using the bare tree as a resting place then a number of feeding Meadow Pipits and the first of many good-sized flocks of Spotless Starlings.  A couple of Cattle Egrets flew in to feed on the greener field and also a White Wagtail.  Also seen on the path were Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat and Goldfinch.  Just one more new species when a couple of Short-toed Larks put in an appearance.

The track just beyond the Stone Curlew field produced a lovely Little Owl on the roof of the corner house and then a Blackbird.  Whilst on the outskirts of the village near Mick Richardson's house I had a number of Azure-winged Magpies along with Collared Doves.  More Crested Larks in the fields and then a handful of Serin along with many more Linnets as I stopped to admire a resting Iberian Grey Shrike.

The local Little Owl Mochuelo Comun Athene noctua
A Kestrel posed om top of a tall bare tree as I turned to follow the now flowing Cacin river which produced a Green Sandpiper, a few Chaffinches and many feeding Chiffchaffs and finally a first Bluethroat of the year.

Birds seen:
Cattle Egret, Kestrel, Stone Curlew, Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Little Owl, Short-toed lark, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Monday, 16 January 2017

It may be sunny birding here but in the UK?

16 January 2017

Having reported on my Saturday visit to the Charca de Suarez and bemoaned that the weather was cool and cloudy but leasing to very warm, clear and sunny, my friend Chris Bell from Worksop in Nottnghamshire emailed me to report on his birding day at Blacktoft Sands near Goole on the Humber in East Yorkshire.  Not only very cold but a lengthy journey to boot.  On the other hand, he at least is able to sit in the warmth at home and look out of his window to watch the recently-arrived Waxwings!  Now that's a bird that always seems to make a bee-line to the furthest point the minute it hears that I am back in the country and on the lookout.  Read Chris's message and see what I mean.

Blacktoft Sands, River Humber: Saturday 14 January

I am very sorry that when I read your Saturday visit report to Charca de Suarez on Saturday, that I smiled.

I visited Blacktoft Sands on Saturday and it was probably my most disappointing visit to that site.
The first hide I visited, Xerox, had approximately 30 Wigeon and about the same number of Gadwall plus a pair of Teal.  The second hide, Marshland, had a single Snipe, and a single Lapwing.
Well it was cold, but not as cold as expected and the wind diminished during the day, so that the -7 C wind chill factor did not materialise, and it was sunny.   There was a dusting of snow on the Wolds enhancing the view.

Marsh Harriers were few and far between and only 5 came into roost.  No Hen Harrier into roost what-so-ever.  Even when the Barn Owl put in an appearance, it spent most of the time in the reeds, It obviously  didn’t know I was scoping it there.  Best without a doubt was a Bearded Tit that showed very well, be it that it wasn’t close.  Had a nice Sparrowhawk fly through.

Only real wader species was a Dunlin that touched down on Ousefleet for about 5 seconds, and a couple more that flew through.  There was a disappointing lack of bird movement with neither Golden Plover, Pink Footed Goose, nor Curlew on the move.

So looking on the positive side, I didn’t get my feet wet from flooding nor from precipitation, it was neither as windy nor as cold as forecast, it was sunny and I had the necessary "ticks" to nudge my year total to just above the 100.

Whilst watching the Match of the Day replay this morning (Sunday) spotted 5 Waxwings in front of the lounge window and a walk this afternoon  resulted in finding 39 together (on TV aerials).

Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus (Internet Photo)

Re-reading the message this morning I note that we have similar totals for the year to date, all two weeks.  Whilst I added Cetti's Warbler on Saturday, Chris recorded three birds that I have yet to see, namely Waxwing, Sparrowhawk and Bearded Tit.  Chance are that it will only be the Sparrowhawk that I pick up in Spain during the rest of the year.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

A rather quiet morning at Charca de Suarez

Saturday 14 January

Off nice and early so that I could be at the Charca de Suarez reserve on the western outskirts of Motril by opening time at nine o'clock.  A calm, cool and cloudy morning with just the occasional break to reveal some blue sky albeit back in Mezquitilla this afternoon it was beautiful warm and sunny with clear blue skies.

Chiffchaff Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita

On arrival straight to the Laguna del Taraje where I was rewarded with a couple of Purple Swamphens, Mallard, Coot and Little Grebe plus the odd Moorhen or two.  But all about me the ever-bust feeding Chiffchaffs.

Purple Swamphen Calamon Porphyrio porphyrio
On to the main hide overlooking the Laguna de las Aneas where, once again, there was a good supply of Coot, Mallard, Shoveler and Pochard plus White Wagtails, Cormorants, the long-staying White Stork and a "collared" Red-knobbed Coot at the back of the water.  The arrival of a small flock of Black-headed and two Yellow-legged Gulls added to the variety.  The first raptor of the morning, a Common Kestrel, was seen resting on the top of the adjacent radio mast.  No egrets and just the single Grey Heron a the back of the water.

Red-knobbed Coot Focha Moruna Fulica cristata
Having checked out the main residents it was back to the Laguna del Alamo Blanco so that, at  least that was the intention, I could spend most of the morning watching the arrival and departure of the local waders and await a showing by the resident Water Rail.  What a hope!  The only wader seen all morning was a single Black-winged Stilt and no egrets to be seen.  Lots of Chiffchaffs and about three pairs of Teal and I did eventually locate a feeding Cetti's Warbler.  A female Marsh Harrier made a brief and distant appearance.  In addition to a handful of Moorhen two Purple Swamphens were observed.

Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus
So, change of plan as I looked for a rewarding, and warmer, hide for the rest of the morning and arrived at the Laguna del Trebol.  A Red-knobbed Coot was feeding immediately below the hide and a further half-dozen were also found.  In addition to the Chiffchaffs and Common Coots, the trio of Wigeon were still on site and a Robin flew across to visit the bush immediately in front of us.  Over the water we began to see the arrival of many Crag Martins to feed over the various lagoons.

Wigeon Silbon Europeo Anas penelope with Red-knobbed Coot behind
Walking back towards the entrance I was entertained by first a female then a male Black Redstart and even a male Blackbird.  Just to be on the safe side, I made a quick return visit to the hides at both the Lagunas del Taraje and del Alamo Blanco before deciding to call it a day and leave just after noon.
Black Redstart ColirrojoTizon Phoenicurus ochruros

Both a Robin and Kestrel were seen driving down "Turtle Dove Alley" plus a Crested Lark at the far end and a quick visit to the picnic area at Velez de Benaudalla produced a good mixed flock of Greenfinches and Chaffinches.  It also revealed the over-growth of vegetation on the far wall which, if the Dippers breed here again this year, will make them difficult to observe.

Birds seen:
Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Heron, White Stork, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Red-knobbed Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow, Chafinch, Greenfinch.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

Friday, 13 January 2017

A couple of days in Barbate and La Janda

Wednesday 11 January

With Jenny off back to the UK for a week to visit her brother I took the opportunity to carry on after the after the airport with a drive down to Barbate and La Janda with an overnight stop in the former.  Planned in advance, it meant I could also take friends Bryan Stapley and Lisette with me so making for a very pleasant interlude with some excellent birding.  Even better, no sooner had we passed Fuengirola than the wind dropped and we had two perfectly clear, warm and sunny days; magic.

The first stop was Los Lances beach having already recorded Booted Eagle as we approached Algeciras, numerous White Storks on nests as we passed by the town and then a couple of Griffon Vulrures as we approached Tarifa.  Walking along the track to the beach we had House Sparrows, the first of many Stonechats, Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Black Redstart, Spotless Starlings, Collared Doves and, best of all, both a Meadow Pipit and Lesser Short-toed Lark.

Green Sandpiper Andarrios Grande Tringa ochropus
Unfortunately, the tide was well in but at least there were no wind surfers to spoil our birding.  Cattle Egrets behind us and on and near the water a small group of both Grey and Golden Plovers along with Sandlerlings, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Dunlin, a single Redshank and just the one Common Sandpiper.  Lots of Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls to be seen and nearer the hide resting on the poles at least a score or more of Sandwich Terns.  Searching nearby we also found a handful of Turnstone and a distant, single Heron.

Mid-afternoon by now so on to Barbate and a first stop at the lagoons before the long road bridge in the hope that there might be some Bald Ibis about; there were not but lots of other birds even if, at first, most seemed to be very distant other than the small LBJs drinking and washing in the puddles on the nearby track.  We had already recorded Cattle Egret and the first of so many Stonechats that it was quite a relief to see the "ordinary" in the form of House Sparrow, Collared Dove, Rock Dove and Spotless StarlingWhite Wagtail almost immediately seen along with Meadow Pipits and Crested Larks. A small flock of Serin and Goldfinch before noticing the larger flock of Calandra Larks moving up the grassy slope and disappearing from sight.

Chiffchaff Mosquitero Comun Phylloscopus collybita

Meanwhile, looking over the water, we soon picked up the large number of Cormorants and both a distant single Little Egret and Great White Egret.  Resting amongst the former were a number of Audouin's Gulls whilst on the shore line were Ringed, Kentish and Grey Plovers.  Next up a small flock of Sanderling along with a pair of Black-winged Stilts, a lone Greenshank, Turnstone and a sole Grey Heron.

As we made our way along the track not only many more Stonechats but both Corn Buntings and Chiffchaff.  Opposite the "special" island we duly found a good sighting of a Stone Curlew before a single Oystercatcher flew across the water.  before returning to the main road we had also added Linnet and a Short-toed Lark.  Finally, as we set off for the town and the Barbate marshes about 7km further ion, a rather large puddle/small pond in the immediate cattle paddock produced not only more Cattle and Little Egrets plus a couple of Black-winged Stilts but a pair of Glossy Ibis.  Not only a lovely sighting but completely unexpected as this is where we had hoped to find the Bald Ibis.  The very quick stop at the beach just before the bridge revealed a Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper and Redshank.

The marshes were basically green fields with a flowing stream next to the path surrounded by mixed vegetation including think rushes.  And what a sight beheld us as scores of Chiffchaffs were feeding all around us.  The neighbouring trees held a good supply of Blackcaps and we also recorded both Greenfinch and Zitting Cisticola as a Buzzard drifted leisurely across the sky at a low altitude.  On the swampy grass we had both Meadow and Water Pipit alongside the feeding White Wagtails.  Also seen in the area were a Robin, Chaffinch and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Buzzard Busardo Ratonero Buteo buteo

Our final stop of the day before returning to Barbate and our overnight hostal was the cliff face at La Barca de Vejer in the hope that the Bald Ibis might have taken up residence at their breeding site alongside the main road.  A Robin calling at the back of the car park but again, we were to be disappointed but then, as we made our way back to the car park, what should fly directly overhead but a flight of six Bald Ibis; our day was complete.

Distant Black-winged Kite Elanio Comun Elanus caeruleus
Thursday 12 January

No rush to leave the hostal as we had planned to call in a the local Tourist Information Office and collect copies of their lovely bird guides for the area (available in Spanish, English and German - and maybe even French).  The day had been allocated to la Janda but we did make a very brief stop at both the beach and old lagoon round the back in case something different had turned up as the tide was now very low rather than the opposite of yesterday's visit. The former produced Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls along with Little Egret whilst the latter, in addition to both Rock and Collared Doves, also turned up Spotless Starlings, Crested Lark and a range of water birds including Cattle Egret, Ringed and Kentish Plover, Redshank and many Cormorants.  The track area still held White Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and Corn Buntings along with flying Yellow-legged Gulls.

Corn Bunting Triguero Emberiza calandra
Arriving at La Janda from opposite the Zahara de los Atunes turning we stopped at the top to take in the scenery below as we looked over a mixture of flooded and harrowed fields.  Numerous Stonechats on the fences alongside the track along with Serin, Back Redstart and Greenfinch.  Both a Raven and the first Jackdaws flew over and landed in the field to our right and below then a flock of about sixty Lapwing.  A Buzzard rested on an electrict mast and we could hear, then make out in the distance a good-sized flock of Common Crane.  Whilst a Sky Lark sang from above the first of the White Storks put in an appearance.

White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia
For the first time we turned right at the bottom of the track to follow the now very shallow river towards where we had seen the Cranes.  Nevermind a "good-sized flock" there must have been in excess of a thousand feeding on the fields with small numbers always in the air and strange to see them stretched out in what appeared to be almost a single line.  Back to the beginning and then onwards in the usual direction picking up many Little Egrets and, nearer the track, Linnets and Crested Larks plus regular sightings of both Stonechat and Jackdaw.  The occasional Green Sandpiper and Heron but then the first of a number of Marsh Harriers that were to be seen in the following hours.  However, it  was Lisette who saw and drew our attention to the lovely male Hen Harrier come up from the field and cross the track.  No sooner seen and she had also found a Kingfisher resting on reeds on the far bank of the river.

Female Hen Harrier Aguiluchopalido Circus cyaneus
Soon it was to be Common Kestrel, small flocks of House Sparrows plus a single Purple Swamphen before we found a trio of Mallards on a flooded field opposite the bridge up to the "smelly farm."  A stop just over the bridge on top of the rise to check out the distant pylons produced our Spanish Imperial Eagle as we drove down the avenue a party of five Moorhens and the first of numerous Wood Pigeons.  With only one distant view of a Red-legged Partridge we stopped on the hill up to the farm alongside the pipe-storage area.  here we not only found a few Red-legged partridges but also some very noisy, both vocal and flight, Pheasants.  Meanwhile, above us, a range of raptors and a pair of RavensBuzzard then Booted and Bonelli's and Short-toed Eagles plus a handful of Griffon Vultures.  Could it get any better?

Very distant Spanish Imperial Eagle Aguila Imperial Iberica Aquila adalberti
The Crag Martins and Zitting Cisticola were just a "warm up" for when we stopped at the far end of the far.  There, in the not too far distance to our left, first a pair of Black-winged Kites and a large buzzard-like raptor resting atop a pylon.  Was it a Buzzard or the Steppe Eagle that had been seen in the same area just two days ago?  I await the outcome from the photographs taken.  Probably the former but what if it was the latter?

Who are you Mr Eagle?
Continuing along the road, now in a very bad state of repair, more raptor sightings of both Buzzard and Hen Harrier.  The flooded fields at the bottom produced more lapwing and a pair of Snipe along with more Green Sandpipers, Little Egrets and White Storks.  Also here we found another pair of Glossy Ibis.  A Robin bobbed about at the side of the road and what we, at first , assumed was to be yet another Stonechat turned out to be a rather lovely Dartford Warbler.  The river produced a few more Little Egrets, Herons and White Storks.

Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus

Finally, a stop in Benalup for a coffee before starting the long return journey and as we left the village, still on the edge of La Janda, we were rewarded with a Blackbird perched on a post and both Sardinian Warbler and Azure-winged Magie crossed the  road in front of the car.  A very slight deviation to take a final look at the Bald Ibis cliff site at la Barja de Vejar fund nothing but a drive down through the golf course whilst, again, not finding the ibis did produce a couple of Greylag Geese.  What a strange way to end the trip and with a final count of about 82 species.

Common Buzzard Busardo Raronero Buteo buteo

Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Bald Ibis, Great White Egret, Heron, White Stork, Black-winged Kite, Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Crane, Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Dunlin, Snipe, Whimbrel, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Calandra Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow, Pipit, Water Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Zitting Cisticola, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.