Monday 3 September 2018

Tarifa Area with John & Jenny Wainwright

Sunday 2 September

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Whilst we met up for less than an hour at the Cazalla raptor watch point on Saturday morning, John and Jenny Wainwright actually spent three days in the immediate vicinity.  Like us, they discovered how strong the local winds can be and when this happens most of the raptors seek shelter whilst awaiting a change in direction if the wind is presently off the sea.  Unlike Honey Buzzards which just seem to fly straight across and not even too bothered whether it is the shortest sea crossing or not as they head over to Africa.  Saturday was the meeting of the Andalucia Bird Society so a good impression presented re the problems and how those taking part made the most of the day.

Tarifa, 31 August:  Day 1
Winds exceeding 36kmph.
As Jenny and I travelled down the toll road to Tarifa, we were amazed at the sheer numbers of Common and Pallid Swifts that were about, apart from the Barn and Red-rumped Swallows here, but as we arrived at the viewpoint just prior to Tarifa itself, there were none whatsoever.  We did however log Booted Eagles, Black Kites and Griffon Vultures.  Hundreds of Egyptian Vultures (mainly juveniles), Short-toed Eagles, but by far numerous among the raptors were the Honey Buzzards.  A few Rock Doves and a Sardinian Warbler were the only other counts.
As the wind showed no sign of abating we went and obtained our bungalow at La Cordorniz, we waited to see if the wind died down at all but too no avail, so we finished for the day.

Egyptian Vuture Neophron percnopterus over Cazalla, Tarifa (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Tarifa, 1 September:  Day 2
Another very windy day, humid as well.
We met at Lidl´s car park at the stated hour and then up the hill to the viewing point.  Again, as of yesterday, the strong winds made the passage of birds here very difficult, if non-obtainable.
But, we did see some birds, that were simply going round the valleys, waiting for the opportunity to pick up that elusive thermal to Morocco.  Most of these were Egyptian Vultures with a few Griffon`s mixed in.  Also about were Honey Buzzards, Black Kites and a single Peregrine Falcon was logged off the coastal area.  A few Rock Doves and a couple of Short-toed Eagles completed the log-ins here.

We now split into groups with Frankie Hair, Myself and Jenny, Katerina, Ron and then last but not least Keith and Lindsay Pheasant moving off to the Hermitage Road towards Facinas.  A further eight members headed off to the east to try their luck in the Ojen Valley.  Just a small number of Short-toed Eagles, along with Stonechats, Blackbirds and Crested Larks.  We then moved on to La Janda, whereupon our arrival was greeted by Griffon Vulture and Short-toed Eagle, then a pair of Ravens were noted feeding among the stubble.  As we got to the embankment track a White Stork, a Glossy Ibis and a Crested Lark were put to flight.  Looking over the irrigation canal here we spotted more White Storks and Glossy Ibis, while on this side of the canal Goldfinches, House Sparrows were in good numbers.

As we progressed along the track a Squacco Heron was disturbed out of the reed bed, this was picked up by the back cars in the convoy.  All along this track we noted White Storks and Glossy Ibis feeding in the rice paddies interspersed with the odd arrival of Marsh Harriers (all female ). Zitting Cisticolas were here also, but only one Linnet was spotted.  Three Grey Herons were noted on a raised bank among the rice paddies as well as Little and Cattle Egrets, and a bit further down a Green Sandpiper was put up.

At the "Dam" turn off we split up again just leaving Frankie, myself and Jenny.  Just as they left a Black-winged Kite lifted off from the irrigation platforms, we did get better views on the way back. A Lesser Kestrel was spotted on a pylon arm and a kilometre further down a male Common Kestrel was seen coming into land in the centre of a pylon. Here just prior to the farm complex we parted company but not before seeing a Red-legged Partridge crossing one of the tracks.

On our way back to the main road we noted another two Marsh Harriers, Woodpigeons, White Storks, Glossy Ibis, Mallard, Green Sandpiper, and of course the Black-winged Kite.

On the trip back to Tarifa and the hotel we logged more Honey Buzzards and Black Kites, lots of hirundines along this road now, including Barn Swallows and House Martins.
Tarifa, Barbate & Viewpoint, 2 September: Day 3
Another very hot, sultry and blustery day.
We decided to stay an extra day at our hotel, so we started off for Tahivilla, and on the way picked up 3 male Montagu´s Harriers before we called in at the Apollo X1 for breakfast.  Then we moved onto the Barbate marshes.  The wind was quite moderate until we reached the marshes, but the big surprise was that all the pools were full. 
Still, undeterred, we moved down the track some distance, and looking out onto one of the islands we spotted eleven Stone Curlews.  Also about here were Little Terns, Black Kites, Lesser Black-backed, Yellow-legged and Auduoin´s Gulls.   Moving the scope onto another island I counted at least four hundred and seventy Ringed, Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers, mixed in with Little Stints, Dunlins and some beautifully plumaged Grey Plovers.  Lots of Little Egrets in the ponds and Cattle Egrets following the cattle which were feeding amongst the thistles alongside the track.  

Three Grey Plovers Pluvialis squatarola at Barbate (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
As we moved off yet again we put up three Short-toed Larks and two Hoopoes.  A juvenile Woodchat Shrike was perched on a fence post, while behind it a small number of Black-headed Gulls rose off the water.  Two small groups of Greater Flamingos were logged as was a single Spoonbill and a flock of Sanderlings were feeding close by.  Barn and Red-rumped Swallows were about as were House Martins and as we drove back to the main road along the track parallel to the road we noted Crested Larks, House Sparrows and Stonechats.

We then drove back to Tarifa to the new viewing point (I can never remember its name).  The wind had picked up by now and as the last couple of days was hard work - one bloke did lose his scope.  But we did see here hundreds of White Storks, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Egyptian and Griffon Vultures, Bee-eaters and I believe thousands of Black Kites.  I did managed to rescue a European Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) as it was being blown all over the watching area, that's my good deed for the day.

European Praying Mantis Mantis religiosa (PHOTO: Jenny Wainwright)
Back to the hotel now to get these reports over to Bob and a few beers as well!!!!

Many thanks John and it certainly sounds that like us, you found more wind than birds.  But those birds seen were great sightings, especially the high Honey Buzzards and the relatively close Egyptian Vultures.

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