Wednesday 30 March 2016

Sierra Loja with John and Jenny

Tuesday 29 March

Not just Derek and Co out yesterday as a report received this morning indicates that John and Jenny Wainwright are back on their favourite mountain, the Sierra Loja in Granada Province.

The herd of Ibis (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Sierra Loja 29th March

A warm day 28C, but a chilly wind up the top 17C

As we started up into the Sierra Loja we saw Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings and House Sparrows.

We by-passed the hidden quarry track and made our way up to the tree-line, here we found Song Thrush, Chaffinches, Short-toed Treecreeper, Azure-winged Magpies, Serins and Wood Pigeon.
Up at the first cliff area we saw Black Wheatears, Rock Buntings, Jackdaws, Red-legged Partridges and a Blue Tit.   The second cliff area gave us Linnets, more Jackdaws, a Great Tit, Stonechats and Thekla Larks.

Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Moving up towards the big quarry we spotted more Red-legged Partridges, a Little Owl, two Southern Grey Shrikes, Chiffchaffs, two Hoopoes, Thekla Larks and a Spectacled Warbler.
From here nothing extra was seen until we got to the substation valley, where we had two Northern Wheatears, a Short-toed Lark and Black Redstart.  Just a small note, the old bare tree that was in several of my photos of various birds over the years has fallen.

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)

At the Charca del Negro we saw more Linnets, Goldfinches, Rock Sparrows and Black-eared Wheatear.  Heading along to the fossil cave area we saw  a Blue Rock Thrush, more Black-eared Wheatears, a Cuckoo was heard out to our right and in the meadow by the cottage we counted thirty Ibex, while along at the large cave we noted Chough, Crag Martins, a single Barn Swallow and two Lesser Kestrels.  Further along this track (at the climbing area), we saw more Crag Martins, a small flock of some forty Chough, Rock Buntings, Spotless Starlings, a Blue Rock Thrush and a Robin.
On the way down we called in at the Eagle Owl site but still no sign of it.

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Little Owl Athene noctua (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia (PHOTO: John Wainwright)

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

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Fuente de Piedra & Area with Derek and Barbara

Monday 28 March

Just had a report from friends Derek and Barbara Etherton about their marvellous day's birding along with Micky Smith and Luis Alberto Rodriguez; joined later at Fuente by Frank Hair.  By anyone's standards, 80 species in a day is very good going and this number also included a very rare sighting of a Lesser Flamingo at Fiente de Piedra (will they have a successful breeding season this year?) and at least six raptor species not to mention a Temminck's Stint along with three sub-species of the Yellow Wagtail.  What next you might ask.  Read Derek's report and judge for yourself.

Laguna Dulce and Fuente de Piedra

Monday morning we met up with Luis Alberto & Mick Smith for a days birding around Fuente.  The plan was to call into El Cruze at Ardales for breakfast, but would you believe it it was closed.  So we continued on our way noting the temperature drop from a healthy 12C at 0800hrs in AdlT to a chilly 3C in Campillos. Breakfasted and on our way by 0930hrs we took the lower back track across the fields and olive groves for our target birds, Montague Harriers.  Barely onto the mud track we found our first raptor of the day, a Buzzard and scanning around the ploughed fields we soon found Crested Lark, Spotless Starling, Meadow Pipit, Red-legged Partridge, Rock and Collared Doves.  We had gone but a kilometre when the first Montague's was seen low above the field to our left.  Driving to the edge we were fortunate enough to observe 2 pairs of birds in their display/courting mode.  This went on for several minutes until one pair landed on the ground and the other pair disappearing into the distance.  Buoyed by this early find we quickly became aware of many Calandra Lark, Yellow Wagtails [more about these later], Northern Wheatear, Linnet and Short-toed Lark in the fields whilst above them the first of the seasons [for us] of Gull-billed Terns flew and called.  Zitting Cisticolas vied for attention and Jackdaws were on the ruined buildings which also attracted Barn Swallows.  The lazy wing beats of a passing Marsh Harrier contrasted with the more elegant Montague's.
Corn Buntings Emberiza calandra (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
Time was passing quickly and having said to Frank Hair we would be at the visitor centre around 1130hrs we decided to press on knowing we would return on the higher track to find any missing birds.  Plenty of Woodchat Shrikes were on bushes as we drove in to Fuente on the recently graded back track.  Plenty of Shovellers, Mallards, Pochard, Coot and Black-headed Gulls were to the left and these were joined by Redshank, Common Sandpiper, a solo Snipe, a couple of Little Stint and a Ruff.  Knowing that Frankie was waiting for us we hurried along to meet him at the visitor centre and after the necessary we started to walk around the top part.  In the scrub trees we soon found Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and more Linnets whilst in the near distance by the wooden bridge more waders were noted.  Scoping these we soon found Water Pipit, Kentish and Little Ringed Plover, Avocet, Green Sandpiper and, of course, Moorhens.  Several Lesser Kestrel hawked for insects and a Common Kestrel hovered toward the rail station.

Walking on to the viewpoint with the large tree we could see many Greater Flamingo and eventually found a solo Lesser Flamingo hiding amongst them.  A dozen Shelduck were feeding and close to them some smaller waders were busy.  Now if I had been by myself I would never have been able to I.D the Temminck's Stint that was amongst the Little Stints and Dunlin, however, LA and Frankie soon pointed out the subtle difference.  I was so pleased they were there.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola with Ruff Philomachus pugnax (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
Round to the hides and no sooner settled than loud kids with doting grandparents/mummies & daddies disturbed the peace, do they have no idea or am I just a grumpy old man?   Answers please to.........Anyway we managed to add a few more species including Red Crested Pochard, Gadwall, Purple Swamphen, Mediterranean Gull, Sardinian Warbler, Robin and Red-rumped Swallow.  We enjoyed the couple of Mongoose (Mongeese or Mongaggle [Google collective noun]) that Mick found, seemingly sunbathing with very watchful rabbits taking note!
A pair of playful Egyptian Mongoose Herpestes ichneumon (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)

Back to the viewpoint for refreshments and to our delight joining the Chiffchaffs in the big tree was a super Subalpine Warbler.  Love these little birds and this year there seems so many about, no complaints on that score. 

Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
Walking the bottom path we paid attention to the Yellow Wagtails [mentioned earlier] and noticed that in close proximity were flavissima [Britain], iberiae [Spain] and cinereocapilla [Italy].  Lovely to see all these little differences and I.D. them correctly.  Incidently, a remaining White Wagtail came to join them. Approaching the bridge more waders had appeared and our solitary Wood Sandpiper was now joined by four more.  The Ruff had moved over as had the Avocets and of course Black-winged Stilts were their usual loud self.  A couple of Grey Plover were further away and more and more Yellow Wagtails joined in the feeding group.
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava cinereocapilla of the Italian sub-species (PHOTO: Derek Etherton)
Whilst at the far end of the bridge we could hear a Little Owl call with another answering it, and it seemed to be coming from the car park area.  A quick scan showed nothing but a little later upon returning to the car Barbara scanned the big Holm Oak and found one tucked away deep in the branches but keeping a beady eye on all that past by.

I've missed off a couple of birds in correct order so I'll add Raven, Booted Eagles, Stonechat, Chaffinch and Serin and tell you that we clocked up an amazing 80 species during the time spent here.

A lovely day, smashing company, thank you all.

Derek Etherton

Great report of a wonderful day and I am sure that many of us would very much have liked to have been with you for the day.

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

Friday 25 March 2016

Zapata, Malaga and the Rio Grande

24 March 2016

A dark, early start at 6.30 when picked up by Steve and Elena Powell so that we could meet up with Barbara and Derek Etherton for a morning visit to Zapata and, after a very tasty breakfast, on to the Rio Grande, despite the pubic holiday bringing out the picnickers to enjoy the morning sunshine at the latter.  If you add on the steep climb up a mountain side a few kilometres away to see the female Bonelli's Eagle sitting on her new nest along with both Blue Rock Thrush and a Jay followed by a small party of Long-tailed Tits as we walked down through the trees.  By the by the time we returned to the eastern Axarquia at about 2pm we had recorded a very encouraging 51 species.

Very distant Blue Rock Thrush Turdus solitarius

Arriving at Zapata we immediately had House Martins and Cattle Egrets and parking mid-stream watched a Little Ringed Plover happily working away at trying to break up a small worm before digesting along with both Common and Green Sandpipers.  Both Little Egret and Grey Heron along with Cormorants in the river itself with Yellow-legged Gulls overhead.  Having driven on across the weir we quickly added Sardinian Warbler before re-crossing the river to park up and explore the immediate area where we also picked up Goldfinch, Serin and Chiffchaff.  By now we also had Mallard, Gadwall, Moorhen and Coot on the water and a couple of Night Herons made their departure.

Little Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Chico Charadrius dubius
Moving in to stop at "Short-toed lark Corner" we added Robin, Crested Lark and Zitting Cisticola.  No Short-toed larks this morning but we did have a late Bluethroat.  The walk to the end of the track and back duly produced both Spotless Starling and many Collared Doves along with House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Greenfinches and Corn Bunting.  No sooner had we stopped to admire a Buzzard feeding on the ground in the far corner of a meadow on the other side of the arroyo than the resting Peregrine Falcon was pointed out by Derek.  Again, no shortage of Blackbirds and the occasional Cetti's Warbler.

Returning to the cars we had a Common Kestrel and Red-rumped Swallows overhead and then a Woodchat Shrike on the fence next to the car.  However, as we left the site Elena picked up the strange bird on a bush n the opposite side that looked like an overgrown Woodchat Shrike as I looked at all the ginger colouring whereas Elena had a better view of the larger shape, pale colouring and barring and we able to easily confirm the first Great Spotted Cuckoo of our summer.

Black-winged Stilts Ciguenuela Comun Hinantopus himantopus
A short drive to the golf course produced both a White Wagtail and amongst the Goldfinches and Serins drinking in a puddle immediately in front of the car on the track, a rather lovely male Siskin.

Male Blackcap Curruca Capirotada Sylvia atricapilla
The Rio Grande with flowing clean water and lots of bright green plants along its edges looked like a mini paradise in the morning sunshine; it really was beautiful and a pleasure to see.  The public having driven upstream the birds had moved down so we were very quickly looking at many Back-winged Stilts and Little Ringed Plovers.  An odd Green Sandpiper and then the first Greenshank only to be surpassed when we found a Wood Sandpiper.  A very large looking Snipe sat opposite us and a male Blackcap was moving around close to the car.  Also on the river itself a small number of Mallard.  A Jay crossed in front of us and above a large mix of House Martins and Common Swifts along with a passing Short-toed Eagle before a handful of Monk Parakeets put in a brief appearance.

Wood Sandpiper Andarrios Bastardo Tringa glareola
Many thanks to Derek and Barbara for reminding me about these two delightful sites and also introducing them to Steve and Elena.

Snipe Agachadiza Comun Gallinago gallinago

Birds seen:
Gadwall, Mallard, Cormorant, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Short-toed Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Buzzard, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Moorhen, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Snipe, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Monk Parakeet, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Swift, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, White Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Corn Bunting.

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

Torre del Mar with John and Jenny

Thursday 24 March

Whilst I was wandering around the Guadalhorthe, John and Jenny Wainwright were visiting my neck of the woods and calling in at both the Rio Velez and the neighbouring harbour at Caleta de Velez to see the, now, long-staying Franjklin's Gull.  As will be seen from John's report the bird is still present so, no doubt, many other local birders will be dropping in to see this American drop-in.

A very warm and pleasant day.

Our journey via Alhama del Granada gave us Jackdaws,Collared Doves, Spotless Starlings, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, House Martins, Calandra and Crested Larks and a Common Kestrel, while the other side of the town gave us Buzzard, Azure-winged Magpies, Jays, a Woodchat Shrike, Wood Pigeon and a Great Tit.
On our arrival at Rio Velez we were welcomed by a Cetti´s Warbler, also here we saw Rock Doves, Blackbird, and a drake Mallard.  A couple of Moorhens were noted but most little birds were absent, probably due to the number of people walking through the reed beds, although we did get a fleeting view of a Great Reed Warbler, singing from the top of the reeds.
The hide area was desolate bar a few Serins and looking back up the estuary we found Little Egrets, Cormorant, Moorhens, Black-winged Stilts, Blue-headed Wagtails, Robin and House Sparrows.  Only one gull on the water and that was a Black-headed Gull which looked as if its wing was damaged, there were several shearwaters out further but too far to ID.  As we walked back to the car three male Blackcaps and two Goldfinches were noted.

Male Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
So onto the Caleta de Velez.  We turned off at the big Aldi down to the beach, then turned left and parked in the free (yes free) car park.  Walking across the road and there was a large flock of gulls which included - the now well photographed - Franklin´s Gull, a single Sandwich Tern, Mediterranean, Black-headed, Yellow-legged and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Little Egrets and a single Sanderling.

The Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan still at Valeta de Velez (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
From here we drove up and across the Tejeda range, our first stop being the main mirador and picnic area. Here the first bird seen and heard was the ubiquitous Nuthatch, followed by some good views of Crested Tits.  Also about were Chaffinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper, Robins, Rock Buntings, Great Tits, a few Serins and a dark-phased Red Squirrel.

Crested Tit Parus cristatus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Making our way over to the Pilas del Algaidas road we ventured back down to the old railway track and tunnel.  Lots of Chough and Crag Martins across the cliff face were noted, while in and around the base of the cliffs we spotted Wren, Black Wheatears (which were in a battle with two Blue Rock Thrushes).  In addition we saw Black Redstarts as well as Blackbird, House Martin and one Sand Martin and a Sardinian Warbler.
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis (PHOTO: John Wainwright)
On return to Salar, we logged more Barn Swallows, a Common Kestrel, Magpies, Mistle Thrushes, Calandra Larks and Corn Buntings.

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

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Fuerte Calaceite, Torrox Costa

Wednesday 23 March

A very pleasant couple of hours or so with David Jefferson and David Coulthard as we walked up to the Fuerte Calaceite above Torrox Costa.  Lovely and sunny but rather spoilt by the strong wind, even at 8.30 in the morning.  Meeting up we were also greeted by House Sparrows and a Red-rumped Swallow overhead and, no sooner had we left the cars, than we encountering Black Wheatears and Stonechats.  This area also provided both House Martin and Barn Swallow along with Blackbird, Goldfinch and Serin.  Ere long we had also added a pair of Linnets and the first of a few Sardinian Warblers.

Up on the top, overlooking the hollow below us and higher peaks to the front, we saw Crested Lark and the Ravens appeared as they bombed the passing Short-toed Eagle whilst a male Common Kestrel drifted by showing no interest whatever.  Below us both a Blue Rock Thrush and small flock of Greenfinches, mixed with both Serin and Goldfinch and, above, a handful of Common Swifts.  At this point Paul and his faithful dog Ellie continued on to the coast whilst David and I retraced out steps to our car, also observing a Chiffchaff and Meadow Pipit on the way.

Reaching the coast at Torrox Costa we parked the car and undertook a return walk up the Rio Torrox where we not only saw many more Barn Swallows, Serin, Goldfinch and Greenfinches but also added both a Subalpine Warbler and Blackcap to the latest Sylvia warbler sightings, yet more Sardinian Warblers.  Naturally, a handful of Monk Parakeets had to make their presence known as they noisily flew over our heads.

A very pleasant time culminating in coffee with David's wife, Ann at a cafe on the promenade.  What more could you ask for?

Birds seen:
Short-toed Eagle, Kestrel, Rock Dove, Monk Parakeet, Common Swift, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Raven, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet.

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

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Franklin's Gull almost on the doorstep

Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan
Tuesday 22 March

Just a ten minute walk along the front to Caleta de Zelez and I was greeted by what could almost be called a "Gull Fest."  nevermind the resting and wandering Yellow-legged Gulls which totalled almost a hundred, there were also at least fifty Black-headed Gulls in various stages of development along with, maybe, thirty Mediterranean Gulls and another thirty Audouin's Gulls for good measure.  However, the pièce de résistance was not the couple of 2nd winter Common (Mew) Gulls but the Franklin's Gull that has now been in residence for at least three weeks.  No doubt if I put my mind to it I could have scoped out into the turning approach to the harbour and also picked up Lesser Black-backed Gulls, there were certainly a few immatures among the Yellow-legged Gulls.

Mediterranean Gull Lanus melanocephalus and with Yellow-legged Gull Lanus michahellis (below)

But it was not only the gulls that were taking advantage of this sheltered roosting area.  Near the water's edge was a quintet of Sandwich Terns and above them a couple of Little Egrets and a single Black-winged Stilt.  Meanwhile, running around on the water's edge immediately ion front of me I counted twenty-seven Sanderling, most very much coming into summer plumage.  Shame I could not add both the White Stork and Grey heron that have been seen on this shore in previous months.

More shots of the Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan

Noise wise?  Generally very quiet save the occasional outburst as the gulls suddenly take to the water for a few minutes but, at the same time, there was that constant screaming of the marauding Monk Parakeets.

Birds seen:
Little Egret, Sanderling, Mediterranean Gull, Franklin's Gull, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Common Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich tern, Black-winged Stilt, Monk Parakeet.

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

3 Days in the Tarifa Area

Bottlenose Dolphins Turciops truncatus
Monday 21 March

Just back from three days birding in the Tarifa area and some wonderful birds seen with a finally tally of 105 species.  Great company, rain at night but no problem during the day either Saturday or Sunday and all sorts of bonuses including a number of Pilot Whales Globicephala melas and many Bottlenose Dolphins Turciops truncatus during the "Whale Watch" early Saturday afternoon which also produced both Balearic and Cory's Shearwaters, Gannet and a small flock of 15 Razorbills.

Having stayed overnight in Fuengirola following attendance at the local theatre to see a production of "Jesus Christ, Superstar", we were away early and met up with Barbara and Derek Etherton plus Steven and Elena Powell for breakfast just before reaching La Janda.  Glorious weather with clear, sunny skies as we headed off for a few hours at Barbate.  No sooner had we arrived, passing the very many Cattle Egrets, than a large flock of Bald Ibis passed over the cars and then we were looking at newly-arrived Collared Pratincoles not more than ten metres away.  What a way to start the morning!

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola
The tour round the water at back produced numerous Flamingos and Cormorants to the rear along with Great White Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron and a single Avocet whereas nearer to us we had many Black-winged Stilts and Redshanks along with Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Little Stint and Stone Curlews.  On the shore we had Crested Larks and Corn Buntings plus regular sightings of Blue-headed Wagtail, Linnet, Goldfinches and Meadow Pipits. Both Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls plus a single Audouin's Gull were to be seen along with a couple of Caspian  and a handful of Sandwich Terns.

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Then the warblers started to appear which produced a number of Subalpine along with ChiffchaffSardinian and at least one Spectacled Warbler.  A Yellow Wagtail of the British flavisima race passed over before the Hoopoe took off and a small number of Sky Larks were seen before we also encountered both Lesser Short-toed and Calandra Larks.  Whilst we expected to see the many Stonechats, it was certainly lovely to pick up a very close view of a Black-eared Wheatear and a few, also recently-arrived, Woodchat Shrikes.  But for me it was not the female Black Redstart but, rather, the most handsome male Common Redstart that put in appearance at the very far end of the track. Other sightings included a female Cirl Bunting and Green Sandpiper.

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator (above) and Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans (below)
Leaving Barbate and with more Bald Ibis sightings, we made our way back to Huerta Grande, midway between Tarifa and Algeciras so that we could prepare the stand for the Andalucia Bird Society at the annual Estrecho Nature Fair.  Whilst on site we also added Robin, Blue Tit and Blackbird along with the first Griffon Vultures,Short-toed Eagle and Sparrowhawk to add to the Common Kestrel previously seen.  Both Pallid and Common Swift were seen overhead and as we departed we had a noisy calling Cetti's Warbler followed by at least four Firecrests in the trees immediately above us.  A very good way to end the day with about 70 birds recorded.

Part of the re-introduced and free-breeding Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita flock
Following the heavy overnight rain and knowing that we had to be at the Tarifa port to catch our "Whale Watching" boat by 12.15, we decided upon a return visit to Barbate and were joined by visiting ABS members from Canada, Giselle D'Entremont and Judy O'Brien.  Again, both the Bald Ibis and Collared Pratincoles were waiting for us and as we made our way along the back track we continued to find both Black-eared Wheatear and Subalpine Warblers.  However, on the way to Barbate a very short call in at a known site near Zaharra produced both a Little Swift and a number of Barn Swallows before we saw overhead a Sparrowhawk and an Osprey.

A newly-arrived Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica
Back at Barbate we had a Stone Curlew but also this time Spoonbills.  A Red-legged Partridge was a new sighting along with both Serin and a single Willow Warbler.  Waders included Sanderling, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and Ringed and Kentish Plover.  More Crested and Calandra Larks along with both White and Blue-headed Wagtails whilst the Woodchat Shrikes began to increase in number.  Still the ever-present Flamingos, Heron, Cormorant and Great White Egret along with just the odd Little Egret and a Buzzard made a brief appearance over the far hills.

Pilot Whale Globicephala melas (above) and Bottlenose Dolphins Turciops truncatus (below)

Back at Tarifa the sun was now open with mainly blue skies as our boat made its way out of the harbour and into the very choppy seas for its long journey into Moroccan waters to find the whales and dolphins.  Plenty of both Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls about and early Balearic Shearwater promised well, especially as it was soon followed by a couple of Gannets.  However, it was to be Cory's Shearwaters that put in the closest appearance and a couple of Spanish birders on the boat even managed to find a few Storm Petrels way out in the Straits.  Having enjoyed close sightings of a number of basking Pilot Whales and a many Bottlenose Doplhins close to the boat, we had a flock of 15 Razorbills flashing low over the water, indeed some speculated at first that they might well have been Puffins, before we eventually headed back to port.

Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedes skimming the choppy seas

Now bright and much warmer so a few hours at La Janda seemed the obvious choice before returning to our hotel for dinner.  A very good selection of birds during the next couple of hours or so including very many Linnets and Goldfnches along with Stonechats, Crested Larks, Corn Buntings and Serin.  No shortage of Cattle Egret and the occasional Little Egret and Heron until we hit the large pool half-way down the canal track where we found very many Spoonbills and White Storks along with Black-winged Stilt and Redshank,  A couple of Green Sandpipers had already been seen and we also managed before leaving this area to return home both Moorhen and a Purple Swamphen and, surprisingly I thought, a score or so of Mallard.

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra (above) and Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis (below)

The first Marsh Harrier was seen plus a distant Black-shouldered Kite and then a  few, distant Griffon Vultures.  Next up the first Montagu's Harrier of the afternoon plus both Raven and Jackdaw before we turned up towards the smelly farm and picked up Northern Wheatear followed by a number of Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges.  It was also in this area that we had both Zitting Cisticiola and Cetti's Warbler followed by a couple of Spanish Sparrows.

Female Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus basking in the evening sunset
However, it was the fence and tree-lined area just beyond the farm that really produced the goods.  Every bush on the right seemed to contain a Woodchat Shrike making the area look like some kind of cotton plantation and the pair of Little Owls were found near their "usual" set of stones.  Griffon Vultures and Black Kites above followed by a lone Bonneli's Eagle before a quartet of Montagu's Harriers appeared on the scene closely followed by a few feeding Lesser Kestrels to join the previously seen Common Kestrel.  One of the female Montagu's Harriers spent considerable time of the ground trying to digest its prey whilst a Stone Curlew disappeared left behind it.  Our first Bee-eaters of the year as a small number passed low behind us and, finally, a Booted Eagle passed over and then it was the turn of both Pallid and Common Swifts to put in an appearance.

Feeding and hunting female Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus

We thought we had seen everything as we started on our return journey until what, at first, had seemed like a female Common Kestrel on the fence turned out to be a female Common Cuckoo.  This was a Cuckoo that refused to depart the scene, merely moving on a post every time that we drove slowly along the road with cameras out of all windows!  What with a couple of Black-eared Wheatears in the neighbouring field we had had a very profitable hour on site.

A recently-arrived female Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus basking in the evening sunshine and refusing to fly away!

No sooner had I remarked to Jenny as we regained the main road back towards Tarifa that we had not seen a Glossy Ibis all week-end than, you guessed it, an individual flew across the  road in front of us, turned and flew back as if to deliberately correct the omission!  So back to the hotel with another day totalling in excess of 70 birds.

A most handsome male Stonechat Saxicola torquatus
More rain overnight but clear by the time we booked out of the hotel at 9 o'clock leaving behind the Cattle Egrets and House Sparrows to visit the coast line in the area of El Camillo to the east of Tarifa in the hope of freshly-arrived summer migrants.  Straight away both Crested Larks and Stonechats and then, once again, many more Subalpine Warblers.  A particular area of bushes produced many Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Linnets and Serins plus Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff and a Cetti's Warbler.  On the other hand, perhaps the best sighting was that of a newly-arrived Whitethroat that was very determined to get his feather-work back into shipshape condition.  More Woodchat Shrikes along with Blackbirds and Spotless Starlings and then on to the mirador where we picked up a pair of Little Owls, both Black and Black-eared Wheatears plus Black Redstart.

Female Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melancocephala (above) and Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis (below)

Above us a flock of 40 Black Storks passed over the sea and inland whilst below a good number of mainly Yellow-legged but also some Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a couple of feeding Sandwich Terns.  the rock shore held up to a dozen or more Turnstones and a Common Sandpiper.  Also seen at least a couple of Whimbrel.  Driving along the lower track near the cliff face we also had Hoopoe, Meadow Pipit, more Subalpine Warblers and Stonechats followed by a very close sighting of a magnificent Osprey.

The flight of the Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Finally, it was back up to the higher ground where we were able to watch the arriving numbers of both Black Kites and Griffon Vultures along with a closely-packed flock of about 200 White Storks.  Both Common and Lesser Kestrel were seen as were Common Swift, House Martin, Barn and a Red-rumped Swallow.

The arrival of the Griffon Vultures Gyps fulvus

Here, towards 2pm, we all finally said our good-byes and made our separate ways home with Jenny and I calling in once more at Huerta Grande to check all had ended happily and successfully at the nature Fair.  A most enjoyable birding experience with very many special memories.

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator; such a beautiful bird to welcome back for the summer

Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Cory's Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Gannet, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Bald Ibis, Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, GriffonVulture, Short-toed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Bonneli's Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Razorbill, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Little Owl, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Little Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Spectacled Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Firecrest, Blue Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting.

Little Owl Athene noctua on guard at the nest hole
Always a few Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa to be seen at La Janda
Hundreds of White Storks  Ciconia ciconia arriving from Africa

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