|Juvenile Collared Pratincole Canastera Comun Glareola pratincola
Lovely sunny start to the day so the car packed and off to Tarifa in preparation for Saturday's Andalucia Bird Society's monthly field meet. Seen off the mountain by a lovely Blue Rock Thrush, we arrived at the El Algarobbo raptor site to the west of Algerciras by about 1.30pm where we were immediately greeted by a pair of Sardinian Warblers. We were also welcomed by a keen breeze coming from the east so we suspected that most of any raptors were more likely to be at the far end of this particular sierra.
|Swallowtail Pupilio machaon
Lunch take and a large group of birders arrived so we decided to head off west to the Cazalla site above Tarifa. On arriving we found that the breeze had now become quite a strong wind. Difficult to see any raptors although we were informed that, in the calmer previous day, there had been thousands of migrating raptors. We had to be content with a few more Griffon Vultures, Black Kites and another Short-toed Eagle.
|A very curious Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus
Leaving the windy ridge we drove down to the coast and paid a short, windy visit to the Los Lances beach where we immediately noticed that the boardwalk had been re-aligned to, presumably, protect the shore edges. Walking to the beach we had numerous House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings but then a female Pied Flycatcher and the first Stonechat. A juvenile Blue-headed Wagtail was on the field to the rear of the hide whilst a Northern Wheatear and male Stonechat posed on the wooden fence rail. Needless to say, there were numerous Cattle Egrets and a few Crested Larks in the area. However, the real find at the site was a rather lovely Sedge Warbler. With the tide almost full and scores of wind-surfers on the sea, there was limited scope for waders in the vicinity. Certainly a number of Yellow-legged Gulls whilst the lagoon in front of the hide held a single Flamingo and a dozen Sandwich Terns rested on the poles in the water to our right. Returning to the car, we found quite a number of resting Ringed Plovers and a few Sanderling on a rocky edge to the above lagoon and then, in addition to the small numbers of Barn Swallows moving through, the appearance of a single Alpine Swift. How strange! Finally, a couple of male Blackbirds and then we were off to Bolonia where absolutely nothing, other than a female Kestrel approaching the beach, was to be seen.
|Dusky Meadow Brown Butterfly Hyponephele lycaon
Working our way slowly down the rack we had a Zitting Cisticola and then a Northern Wheatear flew across the track to the far side of the water. Eventually our first Grey Heron and then a small flock of Greenfinches. Half-way down in a flooded area a single White Stork rested alongside a pair of Cattle Egrets whilst, in the water itself, a quartet of Little Egrets were accompanied by seven Glossy Ibis. More House Sparrows and Goldfinches accompanied us and, over the fields on the far side, a rather lovely female Montagu's Harrier put in an appearance. Similarly, no sooner had we found another perching Greenfinch than we recorded the only Southern Grey Shrike that had been also resting in the same large waterside bush. Just beyond the first of two Turtle Doves that were seen whilst driving along the track.
|Our first Montagu's Harrier Aguilucho Cenizo Circus pygarus; a lovely female bird.
Saturday 21 September
Up and away to take a look at the river in Barbate on our way to meet up with half of the Andalucia Bird Society to lead them around La Janda whilst the remainder commenced their day at the raptor sites. Even more windy than the previous day and, with the tide almost at its top, very little to see other than Yellow-legged Gulls, a few Little Egrets and a small number of waders in the lagoon including (mainly) Ringed Plovers, Sanderlings and single Redshank and Turnstone. The large area of flood water at the rear of the road produced a good-sized flock of Black-headed Gulls and a large number of Flamingos along with the resident Cattle Egrets. Then the phone call came to inform me that the group was on its way to our meeting point at the Venta Apollo XI so necessary to get a move on - and we then saw a Hoopoe as we drove inland from Zahara.
|Record shot of Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
The slow drive with many stops alongside the canal continued to produce numerous Cattle and Little Egrets plus many House Sparrows, Goldfinches and Spotless Stralings. We even had a Northern Wheatear fly across the water and, half-way down in the same flooded filed as yesterday, a small number of Glossy Ibis resting with a handful of Little Egrets. The first Grey Heron was found and, after that, they became a common occurrence.
|The trouble with standing still is that you do need the occasional stretch - so showing the lovely white rump
|Yet another female Montagu's Harrier
Time to drive up to the smelly farm and beyond where we reached the junction before turning and making our way back to the road bridge and the "Ibis Pool". More Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges, then loads of Wood Pigeons plus scores of Jackdaws and Rock Doves, plus a few Collared Doves, at the farm itself. Beyond the farm we found our only Buzzard and a few members also recorded Sardinian Warbler. Indeed, one member even managed to find an Oystercatcher at the edge of the "Ibis Pool".
|Time to say "Good-bye" to our tame juvenile Collared Pratincole
Having experience recent problems with the computer that gave all pictures an "orange" hue when reduced, the above is my first experiment using "Free Online Picture Resizer" to reduce the original converted jpgs from RAW by 75%. Early days yet but it would seem to make the pictures a little darker and lose some of the sharpness. More experimentation needed.
Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, Red-legged partridge, Pheasant, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Grey Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, GriffonVulture, Short-toed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted eagle, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Kestrel, Coot, Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Ruff, Redshank, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Alpine Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Blue-headed Wagtail, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sedge Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Southern grey Shrike, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.