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|
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 Starling! White 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|
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|
|White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia|
|Female Hen Harrier Aguiluchopalido Circus cyaneus|
|Very distant Spanish Imperial Eagle Aguila Imperial Iberica Aquila adalberti|
|Who are you Mr Eagle?|
|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|
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 http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.