Sunday 2 September 2018

Tarifa and the Autumn Raptor Migration

Friday 31 August

Having left home early and driven to the west of Malaga, we joined our friends Derek and Barbara Etherton for a couple of days down in the Tarifa area to enjoy the autumn raptor migration.  Having already picked up Blackbird and a Black Kite before arriving at the Cazalla view point above Tarifa it was more than a little disappointing to be greeted by a strong wind out of the south-east pushing everything back.  But you can't keep a strong Egyptian Vulture down and we were delighted to be given some great views of a score or more as they endeavoured to to try and rise high enough to make the crossing over to Africa before easing down once again into the shelter of the neighbouring valleys.  Also present a few Honey Buzzards, we saw may be a total of about a score,  before we gave up and headed off to La Janda where we were joined by Gerry and Barbara Laycock who had also come down for the week-end.

But first a short stop at Los Lances beach to check out the sands and any signs of resting gulls and waders.  What a change  since my last visit.  The boardwalk has now been repaired along with the lower sections of the hide itself.  However, although we might have found some shelter from the wind it was quite an experience sitting/standing inside a rocking structure!  First up, apart from the many Barn Swallows, was a Zitting Cisticola and then a good old scope and sweep of the beach area with the tide well and truly out.  On the other hand, great to see that, at last, something has been done to prevent the scores of wind surfers from making use of the protected nature area with the "planting" of very many strong poles; should also be good for roosting gulls and terns at high tides.

Juvenile Little Ringed Plover Chorlitejo Chico Charadrius dubius
Sanderlings and a couple of Whimbrel to the right and a single Cattle Egret to the left.  In front a trio of Audouin's Gulls and then we found the handful of sandwich Terns.  Whilst the Barn Swallows continued to fly around us and the hide rocked from side to side, we also able to pick out Curlew Sandpiper, Ringed and Kentish Plover and making our way to the hide itself a Short-toed Lark.

Little Egret Garceta Comun Egretta garzetta
Then it was off to La Janda and within minutes we were seeing the first of many White Stork and regular sightings of Little Egret.  A Crested Lark on the track and a handful of Linnets flew over in front of us.  Both Marsh and Montagu's Harriers were out quartering the meadows and there must have been a couple of score or more of Glossy Ibis - and we were to see many, many more as we drove the track thorough to Benalup.  A very distant Griffon Vulture before we found a Spoonbill at the back of a rice field and our first of two Grey Herons.

Spoonbill Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia with a Black-winged Stilt Ciguenuela Comun Himantopus himantopus

Alongside the canal a plentiful supply of Goldfinches then a very large, mixed flock of House and Spanish Sparrows with the males of the latter showing very well indeed.  Having stopped just after crossing the canal we got our first decent view of the active Hobby and with minutes we seemed to have a prolonged sighting of a hunting Black-shouldered KiteTurtle Dove, Coot and Mallard were soon added and both Derek and Barbara saw the rapid disappearance of a local Kingfisher, very soon after the Egyptian Mongoose had crossed the track in front of us.  Lots of Wood Pigeon and Cattle Egret about.

A few of the many Glossy Ibis Morito Comun Plegadis falcinellus feeding in the rice.  But whose the stranger?
The secret Ruff Combatiente Philomachus pugnax
Other interesting birds recorded on site were Raven followed by Green Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt and a Ruff in one of the far rivers beyond the "smelly farm" where we also added Collared Dove, Stonechat, Kestrel and an Iberian sub-species of Yellow Wagtail. Even a juvenile Woodchat Shrike hanging on to the wire in the still strong breeze.  Before arriving and staying at the local Hostal Arcos we also managed to add Jackdaw, Red-rumped Swallow and Spotless Starling.  A most enjoyable day.

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike Alcaudon Comun Lanius senator gripping tight in the strong breeze
Birds seen:
Mallard, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Honey Buzzard, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Kestrel, Hobby, Coot, Black-winged Stilt,Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Whimbrel, Green Sandpiper, Audouin's Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Blue-headed Wagtail, Stonechat, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Woodchat Shrike, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Goldfinch, Linnet.

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

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