Monday, 11 September 2017

Tarifa, Barbate and La Janda

Ruppell's Vulture Gyps rueppellii at Tarifa
Friday & Saturday, 8 & 9 September

Friday
Our ABS committee meeting near Estepona last Friday lasted rather longer than we had expected and that coupled with traffic delays near San Roque following a road accident meant that, along with Derek and Barbara Etherton, we did not arrive at the Cazalla mirador until mid-afternoon.  Just a short stay here, having already noted both Sardinian Warbler, Sparrowhawk, White Wagtail and Spotted Flycatcher to observe Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Osprey and White Stork before we headed off for La Janda.


As might be expected, plenty of White Storks in La Janda and our drive down form the road to the canal produced Zitting Cisticola, Stonechat, Corn Bunting and House Sparrow whist ahead of us we were able to pick out both Montagu's and Marsh Harrier.  A few Spotless Starlings and as we made our way along the canal-side track we had plenty of Barn Swallows, a few House Martins and a regular sighting of occasional Crested Larks.

A large pool in the rice paddy produced not just more White Storks but over an hundred Glossy Ibis.  A couple of Black-winged Stilts were seen then we found Snipe, a Common Sandpiper and three Green Sandpipers.  having found a few Lapwing at the far end of the water resting on the bank, a passing Collared Pratincole led us to at least a handful resting alongside the Lapwing.  Meanwhile about 200 or more Cattle Egrets rested at the far end along with the occasional Little Egret and the odd Grey Heron.  Immediately below us we had a couple of Blue-headed Wagtails, the Iberian sub-species of Yellow Wagtail.  In addition, a handful of Coot and a couple of Flamingos were resting and feeding in the pool.

Mixed Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinelus and Catte Egret Garcilla Bueyera Bubulcus ibis
Look carefully and find both Lapwing Avefria Europea Vanellus vanellus and Collared Pratincole Canastera Comun Glareola pratincola and a mystery wader in front of the Cattle Egrets!
As we moved on we started to pick up a number of Jackdaw and the first of a few large charms of Goldfinch and the occasional Linnet.  Checking out the trees on the far side of the river we suddenly had an exploding burst of House Sparrows before they disappeared down into the foliage.  Why?  A passing Sparrowhawk soon revealed the source of the fright.  Not until the last large flock of House Sparrows did we finally find some well marked Spanish Sparrows and there certainly seemed to be a number of hybrids in the the previous flocks.  We also found a passing Buzzard which came to rest on an irrigation pipe.

Green Sandpiper Andarrios Grande Tringa ochropus being seen off by the Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago
Given that we were sending the night in Barbate itself and it had been a long day, no crossing the bridge on this occasion to explore the far area up and beyond the "smelly farm" but rather straight on to the end of the road.  (Makes it sound like a song coming on!)  On the last stretch first more Corn Buntings and House Sparrows on the wires but then a juvenile Woodchat Shrike and finally a lone Northern Wheatear.  Naturally, there were regular sightings of the many White Storks, Little Egrets and Glossy Ibis and an occasional Marsh Harrier.  And so to Barbate where we also found many Yellow-legged Gulls.

Three Little Egrets Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta
Saturday
Breakfast and then up to Lidls, recording House Sparrow, Collared Dove, Black-winged Stilt, Cattle Egret, Spotless Starling, Stonechat, Corn Bunting, Buzzard and Short-toed Eagle on the way, in Tarifa to meet up with the rest of the attending members before heading off to the Cazalla mirador and the, hoped for, thousands of migrating raptors.  A cooler and windier day than yesterday and this was to be reflected in the number of birds seen.  It was also evident, and commented upon, that the weather conditions in the north of Europe had resulted in an earlier migration that normalFor instance, only one Honey Buzzard seen in the whole morning, there should have been thousands, but I had already received a message from Marieke in Belgium that their Honey Buzzards had had a bad breeding season and departed southwards by mid-August  - and it only takes three days for a Honey Buzzard to reach Tarifa.

Short-toed Eagle Culebrera Europea Circaetus gallicus
On the other hand there were many Booted and Short-toed Eagles and as the morning warmed we gradually began to see more and more Griffon Vultures.  A handful of Alpine Swifts passed over and there was always a Yellow-legged Gull or two wandering around when, suddenly exploding out of nowhere, a Sparrowhawk flew up over the edge just missing our heads.  A large kettle of White Storks passed over and soon we had our first Black Storks as a small group of wide seemed to make their way westwards against the strong wind.  A small number of Barn Swallows were regularly seen and then a hovering Common Kestrel.  At last, the sight of a small number of Black Kites, these birds seem to spend the whole summer either arriving or departingBut for me, the best sighting was that of a group of about twenty-five Egyptian Vultures in close formation.  We had seen a group of five Griffon Vulture heading low inland and were later informed that one was actually a Ruppell's Vulture but, well, you can hardly call that a sighting.  But not to be undone, as were preparing to depart that small group must have circled right round for there, immediately above us at no great height, was the magnificent Ruppell's Vulture and giving every opportunity to pick out specific identifiers.  Wonderful.

And then the Ruppell's Vulture Buitre Moteado Gyps rueppellii flew immediately overhead
At this point the group split up with most heading off for La Janda whilst six of us took the narrow road down to the coast and then the rough track alongside the beach.  Amazing to see so many at the cliffside viewing point and, at that point, there seemed to be more raptors here than up above.  Lots of both Booted and Short-toed Eagles along with Black Kites and Griffon VulturesBarn Swallows were flying along the edges, and continued to do so the whole time we were in the area, and as we drove off we added many Stonechats, Crested Lark, Corn Bunting and a first Sky Lark of the morning.  A short stop as we searched the rocks off shore produced a couple of good-sized flocks of Bee-eaters and then we found Whimbrel and a small number of Turnstone on the rocks below.

The next stop produced both Northern and Black-eared Wheatear along with a single followed by a quintet of Raven behind us.  On the rocks the resting gulls were Yellow-legged but also a handful of Audouin's Gulls.  Closer study also produced a number of Sandwich Terns, more Turnstone and a few Ringed PloversLittle Owl and a Little Egret were added to the sightings along with a passing Peregrine Falcon, probable Lesser Kestrel and more Goldfinches.

Part of the Flamingo  Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus flock at Barbate
Now well past mid-afternoon so we all decided a quick visit to Barbate was the best option.  Unfortunately the tide was almost back in and the marshland to the rear looked a very sorry sight and desperately in need of lots of refreshing rain.  Goodness knows what worthwhile the cattle were able to find.  Lots of Flamingos on the water and a small number of Sanderling at our first stop and, once round the corner for a longer stop, we picked out Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls along with the odd Grey Heron and Little Egret.  Not so many waders but we did manage to record Black-winged Stilt, Dunlin and Grey Plover.  We only found three Spoonbills but did eventually record as many as five Stone Curlews on one of the stone-covered islands.  Leaving the site we experience a large flock of Calandra Larks and a single Blackbird and our final stop near the now-full river produced both a Redshank and a Common Sandpiper.

Flamingos  Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus on the move
Then it was time for the long journey home, saying goodbye to Ricky and Sonia Owen, dropping off Linda Roberts at the Lidl car park to collect her car and we were back in Alhaurin just before 9pm which meant that I was home by ten o'clock.  What a long day but a total of almost 70 species!

Birds seen:
Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Ruppell's Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Peregrine falcon, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Dunlin, Snipe, Whimbrel, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Alpine Swift, Bee-eater, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

Always a Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus somewhere!



Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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