Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Tarifa AND Extremadura

Tuesday 9 June

Yes, you guessed, John and Jenny Wainwright are off on another birding expedition once again and I am feeling most jealous, especially coupled with the report I have just received from Pat and Eric Lyon regarding their few days up north in Exremadura (see end).  Between the two couples they seem to have recorded just about every iconic bird that you would wish to see out here in southern Spain.

Tarifa 8 June: Day 1

A very warm day with breezes at Tarifa

We started from home at about nine o'clock to join the autovia en route seeing Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings, House Sparrows and Blackbird.

We thought it would be cheaper taking the "piage autovia" as previous journeys had only cost us eleven euros from start to finish. A major mistake; the charges were up, due to tourism I was told, and were exorbitant, being nineteen euros and a few cents.  Anyhow, regardless of this it was a rather mundane journey down, as our usual coffee stop at km190 was closed and we had to go a good while until we found one.  But, while we were here we did catch a glance of a large raptor,         though too far for any id. 

Griffon Vultures Buitre Leonardo Gyps fulvus  at nest site (PHOTO: John & Jenny Wainwright)

As we left Tarifa for the hotel, wWe stopped in at km99.1 the Algorroba viewpoint.  We realised that we wouldn't get the numbers of birds coming across here as the major migration has finished.  We did however get hundreds of Griffon Vultures, two Lesser Kestrels, a Common Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and a couple of Black Kites.  In the trees and bushes we found Nightingales, Blackcaps, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinches and Chiffchaffs, while above the Common Swifts were wheeling along with a few House Martins and Barn Swallows. 

After settling into the hotel we moved on to Bolonia.  Here we picked up White-rumped, Little and a few Common Swifts, also Blue Rock Thrush, more Griffon Vultures and one very shy Egyptian       Vulture which showed for about thirty seconds.  In the trees and bushes we found House Sparrows,   Sardinian Warblers, Goldfinches and Cirl Buntings.  Along at the beach we saw Yellow-legged and  Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  As we pulled into the site a Nuthatch was heard calling.

So back to the hotel for a few well earned beers.

Cirl Bunting Escribano Soteno Emberiza cirlus (PHOTO: John & Jenny Wainwright)

Extremadura with Pat and Eric Lyon

Just to let you know the birding was first class last week.  First day on our long walk (6 hrs!!) over fabulous heath and moorland awash with wild flowers and Ortolan Buntings, Dunnocks, Bluethroats - yes, three together in the bins !! - Black-eared and Northern Wheatears.  As we climbed onwards and upwards we saw Golden Eagle, Griffon - Egyptian - Black Vultures, Sparrowhawk, Hobby  and Merlin - and a great view of the Short Toed Eagle with a snake dangling !  Red and Black kites too of course.  

We came across a herd of Cabras - I counted 40 - and then just a little bit further a herd of about 12 males - their horns were very big - Jago likes to chase but we had him on the lead.

Second day, another high walk to the Laguna Grande fed by belting ice.  We had the Rufus-tailed Rock Thrush, as well as Blue Rock Thrush, and a Water Pipit,  As well as the other heathland birds already mentioned, on the way down we saw a couple with long lens cameras pointed towards the river and underneath an overhang we had a Dipper!  Just brilliant.  The couple were Dutch and keen birders having already been into Monfrague etc.
Third day walking the heath we had Tree Pipit, Spectacle and, Dartford Warbler, Whitethroat, Pied Flycatcher, Siskin, Citril Finch and Cuckoo.  At the end of our walking days we always had our cool beer at a camping bar alongside a river and under pine trees so of course we got a lot of woodland birds; best view ever of Short-toed Treecreeper, right in front of us,   
On the journey back we had the Black-shouldered Kite and the Hen Harriers, Bee-eaters - but sadly no Rollers.
Over the three days birding we had 78 species - well thrilled.
A good trip and the varied fauna and the birding made it memorable.  A long drive though.
Anyway, just had to do a bit of bragging !!
Good for you Pat and Eric.  You will certainly be encouraging others to follow in your footpaths! And the same can be said of John and Jenny as they start to unveil the wonders of Cadiz province.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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