Sunday, 22 July 2018

La Janda and Barbate

Saturday 21 July

Back in Spain for a couple of weeks and Jenny feeling much better and ready for a day out so we were able to drive down to Tarifa for the day and join the monthly meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society.  A long journey and, on arriving in the area, with a Collared Pratincole crossing the road immediately in front of us as drove along the N340 near the coast beyond Tarifa, a lot of morning mist but the chance to see many friendly faces  and company for Jenny - plus the chance to to just rest in the car when the going got too hot so very many thanks to Ricky and Sonia Owen who took us in their car rather than use our Citroen C4.  

Female Montagu's Harrier Aguilucho Cenizo Circus pygargus
We all met up at the Apolo XI restaurant in Tahivilla to the west of Tarifa for a later than 10 o'clock start with the morning concentrating on showing us the breeding sites of the local Montagu's Harriers and hearing all about the work being undertaken to both monitor and support these lovely raptors.  The two dozen present heard how 1300 birds were rescued last year, a mixture of saving eggs and deserted and/or endangered youngsters as a result of early harvesting destroying nesting sites, whereas this year the total was nought; yes zero, none, zilch!  A mixture of a later harvest, investment in renting fields to protect suitable habitats, the birds seem to prefer to nest in wild-sown oats, so good news all round, especially as the scheme is being replicated in others parts of Andalucia and, indeed, Spain as a whole.  Meanwhile, whilst awaiting the group, John went to fill up with diesel - next door to the hotel - a Night Heron flew over, followed by several Barn Swallows.

Male Montagu's Harrier Aguilucho Cenizo Circus pygargus
We headed out through the village of Tahivilla to an area where we were given a speech, but no Monties!! although we did see Linnets, Stonechats, House Sparrows and Crested Lark.  Our first stop was at a site very close to the meeting point where we found Linnets feeding on the road and Stonechats on the fences along with Crested Lark, House Sparrow and Spotless Starling.  At this point I should mention that my friend John Wainwright has just sent me an emailed report of the day so I will also try and include his observations as I go along, as above, in blue.

We then went off in convoy to another area, passing both Cattle and Little Egrets on the way and, for some of us, the occasional Corn Bunting, where we saw several Montagu´s Harriers, mostly juveniles, a good number of White Storks were spotted in the distance, while above us Common and Pallid Swifts were logged and Bee-eaters were spotted, albeit sporadically. Then came two Griffon Vultures being harassed by a Common Kestrel and later on two Booted Eagles and a female Marsh Harrier was noted.

Moving on around the tracks we stopped, and another oratory given, here we saw more Montagu´s Harriers, also two Roe Deer before we moved on again which can only be described as "Stonechat Alley" as every fifty yards a Stonechat or two or three were seen sitting on the barbed wire fences.

We stopped again to see a herd of Red Deer stags, while here we also saw Crested Larks, Goldfinches, Zitting Cisticola, Common and Pallid Swifts Also seen were a number of Calandra Larks.

Stonechat Tarabilla Comun Saxicola torquatus

We then joined up with that terrible road/track leading to Benalup, along this road/track we saw Common Coot, Little and Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis and a Grey Heron. As we drove out of Benalup two more Griffon Vultures and a Booted Eagle were noted and a tad further down a track the group split up, some to picnic at Barbate and some to Menu del Dia.  Meanwhile, along with the many Black-winged Stilts in a flooded rice field, Derek Etherton identified a couple of Black-tailed Godwits and a Green Sandpiper made a hasty retreat.  We even had a couple of Mallards.  The arrival of a male Spanish Sparrow to perch in an electricity pylon was an added bonus and a male Blackbird flew off into the nearby trees watched by a couple or more White Storks. More Barn Swallows and Collared Doves as we approached the turn up in to the village of Benalup.

The nine of us who split to picnic at Barbate arrived at a very pretty spot in a pine area. Here as we sat down to lunch, House Martins, Collared Doves and House Sparrows were about as were Coal Tits (unseen) and Spotless Starlings.

A short stop under the bridge to check out the waders produced none but loads of Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls along with a handful of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A Cormorant flew left to right across the water and we made our way on to the back of the river to check out the area around the new fishing ponds.  Here, as John reports, ..we then headed for the Barbate Marshes .. we picked up Kentish Plover and Grey Plover, Redshanks, Curlew Sandpipers, Stone Curlews, two Whiskered Terns and at least three Little Terns.  Also seen were Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Little and Cattle Egrets, Crested Larks and Corn Bunting

Curlew Sandpiper Correlimos Zarapitin Calidris ferruginea

A long, hot day overall and not as productive as we hoped, still that´s birding!!  But for me, the chance to meet up with many special friends, give Jenny the chance of a day out and meet with friends she has not been able to see for many a month.  Lots of great company, which more than made up for the restricted number of species recorded, and all in beautiful hot, sunny weather before starting out on the long return journey where we opted for the added expense by taking the toll road.

Birds seen:
Mallard, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Heron, White Stork, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Bee-eater, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Coal Tit, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.

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

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