Thursday 25 June 2015

Sierra Loja with John and Jenny

Thursday 25 June 2015

It would appear that whilst we were driving back to the UK yesterday as part of the Channel fracas, albeit we were booked from Dunkirk to Dover so only had a long lorry queue to contend with which saw us miss our boat whilst actually watching it depart from about a couple of kms away, John and jenny Wainwright's birding scene was done to mechanical problems with the usually reliable car.  As can be seen from John's report all now seems to well and under control.  By the way, our farewell to Belgium was the delight of Jenny seeing a Hobby drift by the first-floor kitchen window, less than an hundred metres away.  The bird is often seen by Marieke in the field further back but this would appear to be the closest to the house recorded by her so well done (my) Jenny.

Back to John's report for yesterday where readers will note the large numbers of Hoopoes recorded along with an extremely large flock of Choughs, not to mention a range of warblers, all three wheatears and both Rock and Blue Rock Thrush.  Sounds like a great day for John and Jenny.

Sierra Loja:  Wednesday 24 June

A hottish day with a very nice ( and welcome) breeze

Hi there, after a very exacerbating fortnight whereupon the radiator and water pump went , we have finally managed to get up to our favourite area, the Sierra Loja.  After coffee we drove up the track to the left of the Guardia Civil barracks and as soon as we entered the tree line, a Spotted Flycatcher flew off a low branch and disappeared into the firs.  Lots of Serins about here as well as a few Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows.  Also here an Orphean Warbler was singing.

Juvenile Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
As we progressed under the autovia bridge the trees were full of Spotted Flycatchers but from here to the hidden quarry nothing bar a few Wood Pigeon were seen.  In and around the hidden quarry we saw Black Redstart, Bee-eaters, Jackdaws, Goldfinches but no sign of the Eagle Owl at its "local roost". Lots of House Martins about today as well as a few Crag Martins and Barn Swallows, while in the firs Serins were very vocal.

Little Owl Athene noctua (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
We moved on to the tree-line where in several stops we noticed Crossbills, Wood Pigeons, Great Tits, more Spotted Flycatchers, Azure-winged Magpies, a Greenfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper, two Rock Buntings and a Sparrowhawk.  Moving on to the cliff areas, three Black Wheatears were noted along with  a Northern Wheatear, Hoopoe, several Linnets and Goldfinches  Also a Rock Sparrow and as we pulled away from here a Wood Pigeon and a Sardinian Warbler were noted. 

Black Wheatears Oenanthe leucura (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
As we moved onto the flat area above the cliffs more Black Wheatears, a family of Thekla Larks and Stonechats were seen as well as Spotless Starlings, a Southern Grey Shrike and - our first of the day - Little Owl.  Down into the sub-station valley where another two Little Owls were noted along with lots more Black-eared-Wheatears, a couple of Blackbirds, Red-legged Partridges, Stonechats and a single Red-rumped Swallow.  In the bare tree a total of six Hoopoes were in constant flow in and out of the tree, along with a Woodchat Shrike and two more Blackbirds, and to the left of the tree a few dozen Chough were feeding in a cultivated area.  As we left the valley another Little Owl was spotted on the opposite side of the road.  Not much seen on the way to the Charca de Negra but as we pulled in at the lower pond, a Rock Thrush flew off the ground and onto a large bush opposite, and another one was spotted on the fence posts by the pond.  Lots of Linnets and Goldfinches, House Sparrows and Stonechats were seen as well as a single Greenfinch, a Black Redstart, two Crag Martins and one Barn Swallow.

Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
After a bite to eat we moved over to the fossil cave area where the predominant bird was the Rock Sparrow.  Also about were several more Black Wheatears, a few Chough and a Griffon Vulture graced the sky for at least two minutes, before it dropped out of sight.  Further along this track we found a female Spanish Ibex and her young  In a small hawthorn bush a Spectacled Warbler was spotted.  Above us more Crag Martins and a large number of House Martins.  A Mistle Thrush and a Blue Rock Thrush were spotted on the rock face with another three Hoopoes passing across the same face.

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Looking up at the Sierra Gordo viewpoint a huge flock of Choughs took off, I guess somewhere in the region of two to three hundred.  It was certainly one of the largest flocks I have seen here in the time I have been birding this area.

Onto the fir copse where another five Hoopoes were seen along with Mistle Thrushes, Woodchat Shrike, Goldfinches, Rock Sparrows and more Blackbirds.  And as we made our way down we managed to find two more Blue Rock Thrushes.

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
What a fabulous day's birding.  Now, in all the rushing about here will I get chance to visit Rutland Water and/or even Titchfield Haven when we arrive in the Southampton area?   "Watch this space" as they say.

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

Monday 22 June 2015

The raptor day!

Monday 22 June

After last night's excitement in the woods, today was very quiet and turned out to be one of three raptors following the early morning rain.  The sight of a lone female Kestrel crossing the neighbouring field was good, a very early Barn Owl as we took a (relatively!) short walk following an evening meal was better but, certainly, best of all was the juvenile Goshawk devouring its late morning breakfast.  As can be seen from the accompanying photograph, not so much a "bird's eye view" but rather more of a "bum's eye view!"

Rear end view of a juvenile Goshawk Accipiter gentilis

The longest day of the year

Sunday 21 June

Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus (from Internet)
For me it certainly was the longest day of the year with little more than six hours in bed - and that also being in two countries!  The first two and a half hours were spent at the wedding reception near Overath, about thirty kilometers east of Cologne, before finally getting to bed.  Then it was up and a late breakfast in sunny weather before starting our, now very wet most of the time, journey westwards to our dear friend Marieke in Wuustwezal, Belgium.

Following lots of chat and a lovely early dinner and the weather outside calm and almost clear (there had only been a slight drizzle very early in the day), Marieke and I set off for the nearby military fields where she undertakes her Goshawk and Honey Buzzard observations and studies to see if the Common Nighjars would put in an appearance.  We were not to be disappointed.

Leaving the car in the small parking area we crossed the road and set off about 200 metres down the track before taking to the heathered fields to find shelter near a group of large trees in order to watch the open space in front of us. Just on thirty minutes later at about 10.30 we had our first "churring" and a very brief glimpse of a fleeting Nighjar across the centre of the field.  All was then quiet until suddenly out of the blue, well not so much blue as it was by now a distinct grey colour, a silhouetted appeared from our right and passed immediately overhead and which we were immediately able to identify as a Woodcock doing its early evening rounds, probably visiting one of his many (?) concubines in the area.  So close and clear that had I taken my camera then most certainly I should have been able to get a reasonable shot.

Woodcock or Snipe?
Internet gathered shot of a Woodcock Scolopax rusticola
Thirty minutes after our first hearing, at about 11pm, we had more churring and wing-clapping along with a "queek, queek" which may well have been a territorial or love call, from another Nightjar to our left as we looked out into the field.  And then the bird was in view, arriving form our left and passing behind us quickly followed by a second individual.  That would have been great for most but barely ten minutes later both birds flew immediately in front of us at about two metres from the ground, swerved and turned behind us as if using us as a roundabout.  So close that the white wing flash was blinding and also seeming to illuminate some of the wing barring.

European nightjar - stock photo
Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus (from Internet as above)
What a sight!  And then it was back to Marieke's home arriving about 11.30 and managing to get to bed just before midnight.  Two beds in one day in two separate countries!  And what was Jenny doing whilst Marieke and I were up in the woods?   Sensibly, she decided to have an early night to catch up on the missing sleep but was then woken by a visit from two policemen making enquiries about a grey Corsa seen parked in the military car park in the nearby deserted woods.  "Do you live here?  No, I am only visiting.  Do you have a grey Corsa?  No, I think that it may be the owner's and she is up at the military with my husband looking for Goshawks - no, I mean Nightjars.  Oh, that's all right then."  What does this tell us about Belgian police?  They fluently speak and understand English, they know all about the local avifauna and they expect most guests to take their hostess up to the woods for the evening and leave their wives behind to guard the house!  Never let it be said that Belgium is a boring country.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Fieldfares in June

Sunday 21 June

Not quite what you expect in Britain, a summer Fieldfare, never mind a June sighting.  On our way from Spain to the UK we saw relatively little in the north of Spain, other than our morning visit to the Ebro delta and, in some ways, the same could be said of France.  Yes, we had sightings on White Stork and both Red and Black Kites.  The occasional Wood Pigeon and Magpie reminded one of a journey from a British airport to home and, as expected, once north of the Pyrenees we saw regular sightings of both Crow and Rook along with Jackdaws to add to the corvid list for the year.
But it was our five day stay with friends in Overath, Germany (about 20km east of Cologne) that really produces some excitement.  Having already recorded both kites, as above, along with Common Buzzard I soon added numerous Crows and Rooks plus more Jackdaws in the towns .  Again, evenings especially brought sightings of Common Swift and Barn Swallow never mind a few House Sparrows and the everywhere Common Starling.  Even Collared Doves could be seen and heard with Wood Pigeons whenever we approached any sign of woodland – and this is a very much a wooded area!

Our reason for being here in the first place was to attend the wedding of the elder daughter of a school-day penfriend that we have maintained contact with for well over fifty years.  It turns out that in small village communities in this area it is the custom for the neighbours to decorate the marital home of the newly-weds to be.  So off we went up into the hills and the small village where the neighbours duly turned up carrying lengths of spruce along with white flowers, etc.  Having completed the decorations we all resorted to the garage where drink and hot dogs had been prepared and a most convivial time was had by all.

The happy couple to be outside their newly decorated entrance
But I was taking an interest on the large grassed area in front of the house.  Not just the feeding Blackbird that worked its way back and forth but the Fieldfare.  Trying to get a photograph with my little “Micky Mouse” camera jenny happened to mention that a second bird was also feeding less than ten feet away.  Both birds stayed all the time we were present, probably near to a couple of hours, so obviously plenty of insect/grub life near the surface.  How strange to see the birds feeding just like a pair of Blackbirds when we are so used to seeing Fieldfares feeding, in large flocks, on berries and fallen apples during the winter months.

Record shots of the local, feeding Fieldfares Turdus pilaris

Not content with the Fieldfares and the occasional passing of both Crow and Rook, we also had a Jay fly across the open land and proceed to feed in a close by tree.  One of the neighbours with a good grasp of English and some birding knowledge informed me that the Fieldfares are regular summer breeders but they disappear during the winter.  Yes, they are over in the UK or even thinking about a winter holiday down in Andalucia awaiting my return to the Sierra Loja!  Even more amusing, from his point of view, was the fact that the Jay had such a small name compared to its lengthy German equivalent, the “Eichelhäher.”

Friday 19 June 2015

Up and down the mountain with Derek and friends

Thursday 18 June

I might be in Germany on the first leg of my European wedding tour but it is still great to receive birding reports from friends and so keep in touch with what is happening back home (but still no sign of the house sale being completed).

The following from my friend Derek Etherton who seems to have had a very long day out with the boys!

Hi Bob....hope the journey is progressing well.  Jerry Laycock, Mick Smith, Luis Alberto and myself had a 'boys' day out today.  Meeting early at Plaza mayor we were at Loja by 0815hrs.  The Eagle Owl was showing for 2 minutes before deciding enough is enough!  By the time we reached the top, it's 1600mtrs here, it was trying to rain and the temperature was a 'balmy' 10c!  Felt more like zero with the wind chill factored in.   Brief glimpses of [Rufous-tailed] Rock Thrush for Mick and myself the others 'dipped'.  The cold weather, jeez it's Southern Spain in flaming June, made life difficult for both birds and some birders so after a good list, had Wryneck at the high copse, we descended.

Displaying P1000899.JPG
A hungry Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax with a meal bigger than its belly!  (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
Returning back down for a warming coffee and 14c we returned home via Laguna Dulce where it was a wonderful 24c; how things change so quickly.  Not an awful lot there so retuning to Malaga we went via Zapata to find this Night Heron struggling to eat its fish supper.  Took it a full 30 mins from when we arrived, goodness knows how long before it was struggling.  A juvenile was the other side of the bank watching in awe.  As we left we had good sightings of Short-toed Lark and the Tawny Pipit was still showing well.  (Luis Alberto was here early in the morning [first light] to watch the Red necked Nightjars.)  

Back to Plaza Major at 2030 hours, a long but very satisfying day with approximately 80 species.

Now that is what might be correctly called a great day's birding.  And I missed out!

Sunday 14 June 2015

Ebro Delta - First Visit

Sunday 14 June

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Up early, and when I say "early" I mean very early, and out of the hotel and on the road by 6am. (When was the last time you had breakfast delivered to your room at 5.30 am?)  With empty roads we arrived at the Ebro delta by just after 9 o'clock and had a very enjoyable three hours exploring some of the more well-known sites where we found the extensive rice paddies under water and the fresh green shoots standing at about 20cm.  A lovely, pleasant morning in calm conditions and quite sunny, which was a little bit of bad luck as we always seemed to be looking in to the sun when it came to taking photographs.  As an aside, having placed the dusty car in a private garage below our Egyptian-themed apartment last night it missed out on the heavy shower so was still "grubby" this morning. Then, guess what, we paid the extra 5 Euros for private underground parking in the locked garage rather than spend hours unpacking, left the car in its still dirty exterior condition and watched the rain absolutely poor down in a couple of very heavy storm showers.  What chance we might get the car wet tomorrow before we arrive in Germany?

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
As soon as we arrived in the delta we were greeted by the usual House Sparrows, Collared Doves, Blackbirds and Spotless Starlings but within minutes had added numerous Little Egrets, Grey Heron and the first of at least a handful of Squacco Herons along with the plentiful supply of Magpies.  Coots and Barn Swallows were in good numbers and then the terns started to appear.  Numerous Whiskered and a small number of Gull-billed Terns which we continued to see everywhere but, perhaps, the best sighting was the single Black Tern.  A single Moorhen took some time in exposing itself but once recorded they cropped up at very regular intervals.

Magpie Pica pica
Following a narrow track alongside a main water canal we stopped to admire the single Sedge Warbler and, on getting out of the car to check out the main laguna, found the first Great Crested Grebe and a Great Reed Warbler happily sang to us from a nearby reed. Opposite, the Whiskered Terns seemed to be building/strengthening their water-bound nests and Mallards came out to greet the sun and introduce their ducklings.  Next up, not only the first Purple Heron flying over but also a single Glossy Ibis.  Meanwhile, Jenny was busy listening to a couple of Golden Orioles on the opposite side of the water amongst the Eucalyptus trees.

Little Egret Egretta garzeta
As with the Moorhen, once we had seen our first Black-winged Stilt we were suddenly being plagued by these long-legged screamers as they tried to drive us away from their, presumably, breeding territory.  A trip to the southern Information centre and a look at the nearby water produced, in addition to many of the above, our first Shelduck, a small flock of Glossy Ibis and a number of Herring Gulls, albeit most of the gulls were of the Black-headed variety.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Returning in order that we could drive to the beach and look at the distant water we recorded both Crested Lark and Common Kestrel but little else other than more terns and a small flock of Flamingos.  On the other hand we did find a lone Great White Egret and there was a handful of Sanderling running up and down the beach and I almost forget to mention the trio of Redshank, a single Oystercatcher and the lone Collared Pratincole seen by Jenny.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo and at nest and in flight
Working our way north to cross the Ebro we stopped at a small reserve managed by SEO and came across not only good numbers of Tree Sparrows making use of the provided nest boxes but three pairs of Barn Swallows nesting in the large hide.  Below the hide, in addition to the Whiskered Terns we found breeding Common Terns, Moorhens, Little Grebe and more Mallards along with a pair of Shoveler. The paddy field opposite contained numerous Purple Swamphens along with a young Night Heron and a single Little Bittern.  Almost made me forget to look at the Grey Herons and Little Egrets!

Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
And that was just about it.  A lot of driving to cover much of the souther side of the Ebro delta and a final total of 41 species.  An interesting area and probably more productive in the winter months but I still prefer the combination of the Donana National Park and nearby Odiel Marshes.

Redshank Tringa totanus

Birds seen:
Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Flamingo, Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Sanderling, Redshank,Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Common Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Blackbird, Sedge Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Magpie, Golden Oriole, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow.

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

Thursday 11 June 2015

Laguna Dulce

Thursday 11 June

On the way home from a meeting in Campillos this morning I called in for a few minutes at the nearby Laguna Dulce.  Distinctly colder then the coast with very overcast skies and what appeared to be a threat of rain to follow.  However, it remained dry and then warmed up as I drove down to the coast.

Arriving at the water there was a good number of Flamingoes feeding close to the hide and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers flew of left as we approached.  Lots of resting Mallards, no in their winter eclipse plumage off to the right along with the odd Gadwall and a few Coots.  Also present a handful of Common Pochards on the main water and, to the far left, both Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes.

In front of the hide numerous House Sparrows darting about and, by way of change, a small flock of Corn Buntings.  Not many Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls and just the off Gull-billed Tern feeding near the hide along with a small number of Whiskered Terns at the back of the water.  A single Lesser Kestrel passed over to the right and then more calling from the nearby Reed Warblers including the occasional glimpse of an individual birder.  Just the one Barn Swallow seen over the water but a few Black-winged Stilts located hiding in the vegetation.

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Flamingo, Lesser Kestrel, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Barn Swallow, Reed Bunting, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting.

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

Zapata with Barbara & Derek Etherton

Thursday 11 June

hist some of us were on the road for well over an hour to attend a committee meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society,  Derek and Barbara Etherton were able to "pop down the road" to nearby Zapata on the Guadalhorce behind the airport.  Judging by the report, even earlier than I so definitely a case of the early bird and worm, etc!  Derek's report make interesting reading and what a send-off for Barbara; I have a feeling that she will find very few of these birds back in the UK.  Now all I have to do is get my act together so that we can all meet up when we return from pour respective visits to Blighty and look forward to Bonelli's Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Wallcreeper - well, perhaps not the last!

Up early with the lark, well Blackbird, to check out Zapata before Barbara departs for the UK tomorrow.  Down there by 0730hrs and the birds were very active.  A Little Egret, Night Heron and Purple Heron were all feeding in the pools below the weir, sadly soon to move as we disturbed them.  Other Night Herons were flying back from the Guadalhorce poligino feeding grounds and passing over us.  

Investigating the southern area first we had good views of the Tawny Pipit that has been hanging around the area.  Many Little Ringed Plovers were highly active, this being a natural nesting area for the species.  However, I do worry for them with the increased human activity at weekends and the horses and carriages at other times.  However they seem to flourish - who am I to judge! Crested Larks like this part, too, and in the nearby shrubbery Cetti's Warblers were calling, as usual.  By now we had had Night and Purple Heron, the Grey Heron came later, Little and Cattle Egret, just a Squacco Heron for the 6, but sadly not to be.  A Hoopoe flew through and Goldfinches and Greenfinches abounded.  

Displaying P1000737.JPG
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
Heading back north of the weir and walking where the river flows wide in the wet months, the small birds were many.  So many families, Yellow and White Wagtails feeding young as were Serins, House Sparrows, Linnets, Greenfinches and Cetti's warblers.  Common and Pallid Swift were feeding and drinking from the wide, still water area here as were Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, joined by a few House Martins.  Still a few Night Herons were flying over and a couple of Bee-eaters were busy breakfasting.  Coot and Moorhen had young close by and the previously mentioned Grey Heron was close to the motorway bridge. 

Still only 0900hrs, we followed the track to skirt the reeded ditch.  Here Reed Warblers were in full flow and an additional Red-rumped Swallow's nest was noted under the concrete landing light structure [these birds must love bridge builders!].  Plenty of previously seen birds were active in the reeds but a single Red-legged Partridge viewed us from the rocks on the right hand side.  Collared Dove and Spotless Starlings were many but by now it was 1000hrs and desayuno time!  Using the local venta, cafe & pitufo for 2 euros, [last of the big spenders], we sat outside 'serenaded' by nesting Barn Swallows just above us.

Now that's what I call a great way to start the day.  Safe journey Barbara and see you both sometime in mid-July.

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

Wednesday 10 June 2015

High in the Sierra Tejeda

Wednesday 10 June

Just received a fascinating report from Marcus and Liz Rootes who live in Competa and enjoy walking in the high sierras.

The Sierra Tejeda.

We started at 1400 mts, walking through a pine forest, already Chaffinch and Robin are singing, two young Sardinian Warblers are seen and then, arriving in the open, a firebreak, Great,Coal and Crested Tits, a Crag Martin, Jay,and Black Redstart are noted.

Ascending slowly, two White Wagtails are following some young ponies gleaning insects at 1600 Metres !

As a group of 10 Ibex are making their way across a ridge, 17 Red-billed Choughs appear. A few Woodlarks are singing as we make our way to 1800 Mts.  A Booted Eagle soars overhead, a single Black-eared Wheatear and Red-legged Partridge are seen.

Arriving at 'La mesa' 3 juvenile Woodchats, a single Northern Wheatear and Whitethroat are noted.  Amongst the sparse, thick bushes, several more pairs of Whitethroat and some very noisy Subalpine Warblers are seen.  Stonechats, Linnets,and Thekla Larks are common up here.  

Coming down again,a Blackbird appears and another Northern Wheatear with two juveniles.  In this vicinity, Rock Thrush and Tawny Pipit are sometimes noted - but not today !

Marcus and Liz Rootes
Wednesday 10 June

And so the show goes on with another new birding day for John and Jenny Wainwright.

Tarifa 10 June  Day 3:  Barbate area
Another warm day with a lovely breeze to keep the temperatures down.
As we exited the hotel site we saw Blackbirds, Collared Doves, Cattle Egrets, Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows. Turning right along the N340 we were soon at our turn off point at Zahara de las Atunes.

Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
At the village of La Zarzuela we spotted a Little Owl sitting on the wires adjacent to a telegraph pole, lots of Cattle Egrets in the fields hereabouts as well.  As we neared Zahara the Army were out in force with huge field guns deployed on the right hand side of the road - but never heard being fired.  We turned off prior to the Rio Barbate into the marismas here, as we accessed the rough track to the right of the marismas, there were several juvenile Collared Pratincoles - sitting on the track itself - waiting for the parents to feed them, which in time they did. 

Juvenile Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola (above) with adult below (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Moving on after feed time we parked up at the earliest area we could.  Here there were masses of Collared Pratincoles - flying, feeding and nesting, a few Kentish Plovers here as well as good numbers of Short-toed Larks. Scoping the marismas we found Grey Herons in company with Great White Egrets and Spoonbills, as well as Stone Curlews, Little Terns, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Little Egrets and Black-winged Stilts.  A sudden take-off of Collared Pratincoles made a Short-toed Eagle change course and on a fence post a Calandra Lark started singing.

Great White Egret Egretta alba (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

Moving along to Vejer (A314) - to where the Bald Ibis nest sites are we found at least twenty five (including several juveniles) in-situ.  On speaking to the warden there he informed us that the colony itself was now numbering at least eighty individuals as of date - a great success story!   Also here were Raven, Jackdaws and a large Cattle Egret colony at the back of the car park.

Bald Ibis Geroniticus eremita at nest (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

From here we drove round to the Barbate pinewoods - where we had a bite to eat - and at the same time we noted Greenfinches, Goldfinches, House Sparrows, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers - then a walk around in the shady pines, where we found Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Sardinian Warblers, Blackcaps, Crossbills, Chaffinches,a Common Redstart, Short-toed Treecreepers, Great Tit and Coal Tit.

Stone Curlews Burhinus oedionemus (PHOTO: John Wainwright) 

Back to base for a few bevvies and a search for tomorrow's ( Day 4 ) destination - possibly the Ojen Valley area.

Another great day so roll on tomorrow!

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

Tarifa: Day 2 with John & Jenny

More from John and Jenny down in the Tarifa area.

Interesting array of birds but not a Purple Swamphen to be seen. 

Tarifa 9 June: Day 2 La Janda

A warmish start but overcast later.

As I started to pack the car with the picnic, it started to rain, but thankfully it didn´t last very long although it did rain later on in the day.  As we turned off the main road onto the track, we saw Corn Buntings, House sparrows, Collared Doves and Spotless Starlings.  I pulled over to let a horse box go past and two Rollers flew up onto the wires, then four Bee-eaters and behind in the distance a Raven flew past.

Turtle Dove Streptopella turtur (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Plenty of Zitting Cisticolas about as well as Cattle Egrets and Stonechats.  Moving up to the raised embankment we found Serins, Goldfinches, Greenfinches and a few Crested Larks.  Over the fields to our right a good number of Collared Pratincoles, and Yellow-legged Gulls as well as a few White Storks, while in the reed beds Great Reed Warblers and Cettis Warblers were singing their hearts out.  Mallard and their ducklings were about in the canals, as were Moorhens and a very fast Kingfisher.  Flocks of Jackdaws swirled about the field, above us and on the track to our front, while out of the weedy tracksides Serins, Goldfinches, Linnets and Greenfinches  moved forward never letting us get too close to them.
Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis at nest (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

On our left the rice paddies were beginning to appear and on these we found huge numbers of Glossy ibis, a few white Storks, Gull-billed Terns, Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls, Black-winged Stilts, a single Grey Heron (the only one seen throughout the day), and further along in other paddyfields a Grey Wagtail and then several Yellow Wagtails(iberiae) with juveniles. and two Little Ringed Plovers, and above them two Common Kestrels were hovering.  Here we turned right across the bridge and headed for the presa (dam), where we saw Turtle Doves, heard more Bee-eaters, then more Goldfinches and Jackdaws, and in the trees - covering the small stream - there were hundreds upon hundreds of Cattle Egrets (on nests with their young), a few Glossy Ibis and one Little Egret. Nightingales could be heard, but only just, over the noise from the egret colony, and leaving the colony behind Cetti´s Warblers were the next bird heard.  A cock Pheasant strutted out from the right hand side of the track, saw us and scampered across to the left disappearing in the thick undergrowth.  More Turtle Doves were seen here and down by the next bridge as were Spanish Sparrows, a female Marsh Harrier and another two Pheasants.

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
So over the second bridge - and heading towards the farm - a perched Buzzard was noted as was our only Black-shouldered Kite of the day.  At the farm itself, we saw more Turtle Doves and Spotless Starlings, and after passing through, a Booted Eagle was seen being harassed by a Common Kestrel.  The field to our right had been ploughed over and the trees all neatly trimmed - but not a bird to be seen.  The fields to our right were not a lot more productive although we did get a few Red-legged Partridges and watched the farmer himself trying to get two fighting bullocks from one field to another by throwing stones at them - he must have succeeded as they were 
gone on the way back.

Joining the inner road from Fascinas towards Benalup we found a small party of Spoonbills, a couple of squabbling Moorhens, Red-rumped Swallows, a Coot, more Glossy Ibis, then a Black Kite sailed over us, as did two very high Griffon Vultures and three White Storks and a Short-toed Eagle.

Spoonbills Platulaea leucorodia  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Tracing our route back nothing other than what we had already seen, but as we turned right to gain the main road again a Squacco Heron and a Calandra Lark were noted.

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides  (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Having an early day today - even though we had been out seven hours, but some good, different birds for the trip ticklist.  I believe it is Zahara and Barbate tomorrow, so plenty of insect repellent.

What a fabulous day; can't wait to read the next instalment.

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

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 for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.