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Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Can't wait to get to Marrakech on Wednesday for some better weather!! Watch this space.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Picture taken from our lounge balcony yesterday
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
We drove down to the coast from Gaucin and travel along the coast road to Tarifa. We parked near Los lances Beach and walked to the hide which overlooks a couple of pools. It wasn't raining when we started out and we enjoyed watching Little & Cattle Egrets, Skylarks, Crested Larks, Meadow Pipits and Goldfinches. Once at the hide it began to rain and it got pretty bad, birds on the beach struggled with the wind and rain but we did find Audouin's Gull (15), Mediterranean Gull (1 - 1st winter), Sandwich Terns and a nice surprise a Caspian Tern.
Black Kites sitting in the rain
Waders included Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Little Stint and Kentish Plover. We also found a couple of Northern Wheatears, lots of Yellow Wagtails, a Sand Martin and my first Swifts of the season - both Pallid and Common Swifts flew over the hide. John located a nice Water Pipit and took several pictures of it before telling us!! Big mistake, no lollipop for him!
We got soaked! During a brief respite in the downpour we made our way back to car and drove to La Janda.
From the car we saw a good number of wet birds seen from along the central track at La Janda. Lots of Black Kites drifted over, a Short-toed Eagle showed in the distance, we also found about 100 Yellow Wagtails, 50+ White Wagtails, Green Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Marsh harrier and a couple more Water Pipits.
We also saw flock sof Linnets and Golfinches and a Cetti's Warbler out in the open. We found a Reed Bunting and 4 Purple Swamphens in the reeds in the large canal. Then we turned along the Benalup track and found Red-legged Partridge, Lesser Kestrel, Common Pheasant and White Stork.
The rain eventually drove us off and we set off for home. As we passed Palmones the rain had stopped so we pulled into the town and parked at the mouth of the river. It was windy and the tide was very high but we found another Med Gull (1st winter), several Sandwich Terns, a flock of some 50 Sanderling and a lovely 'pink' Slender-billed Gull. That ended our day tour - very wet but all enjoyed the birding when we had the chance.
Monday, March 7, 2011
After 12 nights and 10 birding days with us here in Gaucin, Chris and Penny finally went home today. We left the village at 7:30am and drove down to the coast on the way to Malaga. As we passed Crestellina we looked back to the village and saw a flock of 15 Common Cranes flying high up the Genal Valley, a Griffon Vultures circled over Crestellina and the ubiquitous Stonechat flew across the road.
Their last bird recorded with us was Monk Parakeet as a group flew over us as we neared the airport. The total we recorded reached 145 for the 10 days, a formidable total and one that is going to hard to beat in future winter tours.
Goodbye to Chris and Penny, thanks for your company, your tireless birding endeavour and we hope to see you again, either in Somerset when we visit or again here in sunny Spain.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
We drove down the hill to El Colmenar as the rain subsided into light showers but the light remained dull. At Colmenar near the power station above the river we sat in the car to watch my favourite dead tree!!! In the past we have seen many species here and today was also good. There was a Green Woodpecker sub species - Sharpei perched under a branch sheltering from the rain and ocassionally pecking at the tree trunk as if making a half hearted attempt at nest making. Then a small party of Hawfinches (5) landed in the top of the tree. Not a bad start but it go down hill from there. A walk/drive along the banks of the Guadiaro river produced nothing and then several stops in the vast woodland above Colmenar also produced nothing.
all pictures were taken yesterday by Penny and Chris except the siskin
Glossy Ibis - trebujena marshes - Penny
Hoopoe - Salinas de Santa Maria - Penny
Slender-billed Gulls - Salinas de Bonanza - Chris
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Having had a day off from birding yesterday when we went to Gibraltar - we were raring to go today for our ninth day out. The weather had taken a turn for the worst with overcast skies and a chill in the air. We decided to leave the mountains around Gaucin and headed to Jerez to look at a couple of saltpans and lagunas.
Our first stop was the laguna Medina just south of Jerez, it was quite windy but the sky had brightened a lot. We found good numbers of Red-crested Pochard on the lake and Great Crested Grebe, Common Pochard, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Coot and Moorhen. passerines included Zitting Cisticola, lots of Chiffchaff and many Blackcaps and Cetti's Warblers were in song.
The Salinas at Santa Maria were full of birds, a good flock of over 200 Common Shelduck was extraordinary for Spain, Greater Flamingo were also in counted in their hundreds. We also found an obliging Hoopoe, a superb Black Stork, Stone Curlew (3), Kentish Plover, Whimbrel, Redshank, Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone and plenty of Yellow-legged and L B B Gulls. On the way out of the pans we found a small flock of Spanish Sparrows and during the whole of our visit there many Black Kites flying over or perched in the surrounding fields.
We stopped to view the Rio Guadalquiver at Sanlucar where we found Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, grey Plover and Redshank.
At the salinas de Bonanza we had an incredible time watch many species at close quarters whilst we ate our lunch in the car. About 300 Slender-billed Gulls fed very close to the car and they were joined by Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Redshank (a single flock held 132), Greenshank, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Common Sandpiper and Dunlin. Other birds of note were Caspian Tern, Spoonbill, Red Kite and Kentish Plover.
a splendid Redshank in full summer plummge
Slender-billed Gulls - looking very pink after feeding in the salt pans
A brief stop at the laguna Tarela produced White-headed Duck, Common and Red-crested Pochard, Little and Cattle Egrets, Black-crowned Night Heron and another Red Kite. We then drove through the pine woods at Algaida hoping for an Azure-winged Magpie but only found Chaffinch and a few Tree Sparrows.
Our last birding stop was the marshes of Trebujena adjacent to the river. In the large open lagunas we found over 40 Marbled Duck, a great find for the trip list! There was also Red-crested Pochard, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Common Pochard, Ruff, bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Black Kite, Common Buzzard and more Avocets. One very good find was of a Little Gull which was seen feeding, tern like, with a flock of Black-headed Gulls over the laguna. #
We did note some very distant Glossy Ibis but it was hard to get very good views of them, however, as we departed the marshes we found another flock of 15 Glossy Ibis very close to the road, a lovely bird to finish off a great day in the field. It took nearly 2hrs to drive the 125 miles back to Gaucin, we arrived at 7pm, tired and hungry! Dawn had cooked us a delicious meal which was washed down with a nice red wine.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
The wind of the last few days had completed gone, but it was still very cold to start with. Some cloud appeared during the morning but it burnt off later giving us a beautiful, warm afternoon.
Paul from Gaucin joined us today, we set off at 8:30am and took the scenic route towards Los Barrios via Castellar and Jimena de la Frontera. We stopped at the land fill to look for Black Kites, we saw hundreds of them. They were perched everywhere, trees, hillsides, buildings and on rubbish! They were joined by hundreds of Griffon Vultures, cattle Egrets, Gulls and the odd White Stork - the smell was awful.
Leaving the aroma of the rubbish tip we drove passed Los Barrios and crossed into the Alcornacales Natural park and traveled the length of the Ojen valley looking for migrant raptors. Our search started well with 7 Short-toed Eagles flying over but from then on it proved to be very quiet. The bumpy track was 15 kilometers long and we saw only a handful of Griffon Vultures, a few Common Kestrels and a couple of Common Buzzards. Many passerines flew across the track as we progressed, Song Thrush, Robin, Sardinain Warbler, Black Redstart, Blackcap, Jay, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and we heard a Mistle Thrush singing.
Sand Crocus - taken by Penny Robinson
Next we parked near the beach at Los Lances - Tarifa. It was lovely and sunny with very little wind - not ideal for the surfing capitol of the world. The beach held a good flock of Audouin's Gull,
Yellow-legged Gulls, L B B Gulls, Black Headed Gulls, Sandwich Terns and a lone Caspian Tern. The Caspian Tern took off and dived for fish right in front of the hide we were using! Waders included over 50 Sanderling, Dunlin and a single Redshank. We also found Meadow Pipit, Crested Lark, Barn Swallows and a few House Martins.
For the rest of the afternoon we had a fabulous time at La Janda. This bird rich area lived up to its expectations and supplied some great sightings. We parked at the start of the central track and ate our picnic lunch which was interrupted many times by bird sightings. During this time we found a couple of hundred White Storks, 4-500 Common Cranes, Marsh Harrier, a superb male Hen Harrier, lots of Grey Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets. But the star bird had to be the male Bluethroat that showed very well for a brief spell in the ditch right next to us.
We drove along the central track stopping at a couple of flooded rice fields, one field was covered in wagtails a conservative estimate was 200 Yellow Wagtails (Ibericae), 100 White Wagtails, there was also a good number of Meadow Pipits and they were joined by several Water Pipits a couple which were in summer plummage. Other birds found in these two fields included many Common Snipe, Spoonbill, Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Green Sandpiper (4) and a good sized flock of Corn Buntings.
Our next stop was on the track to Benalup where we watched a hillside for sightings of raptors. First we found another Hen Harrier ( a ringtail this time), Marsh Harrier, lots of Griffon Vultures and Black Kites. We also had several sightings of Spanish Imperial Eagle there were 2 possibly 3 juveniles. Two were in view at the same time and interacted by soaring and chasing one another, that was great.
One the return drive we stopped to look at Red-legged Partridge, a large flock of Golden Plover flying high overhead and a perched Black-winged Kite. This bird took off and began hovering not too far away, it then moved around a field hovering in many places looking for prey. A great bird to finish off a lovely day filled with good sightings and large numbers of birds - La Janda truly is a place for birds.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
What a cold day! Although we had bright sunshine in a cloudless sky it was very cold!!! Christine and John joined us for their second day out, we collected them on the outskirts of the village and set off north towards Ronda. We stopped twice in the mountains where we found Rock Sparrow, Linnets, Red-legged Partridge, Red-billed Chough, Blue Rock Thrush and a Great Tit. At the open valley where the Encinas Borraches trail bewgins we found several Thekla Larks and had great views of a Southern grey Shrike.
We then stopped just passed the Teba Gorge to scan the mountains for eagles. There were many Jackdaws and Red-billed Chough and we did find a distant Bonelli's Eagle perched high up on the rock face. The bird refused to budge so we had to make do with a half-a-bird sighting. Passerines found there included Hawfinch, Sardinian Warbler and a few Blackcaps were singing from the scrub.
At Laguna Dulce we drove around the back of the pool to search the flat, open fields for larks, plovers and Little Bustards. As we entered the open fields we saw Crested larks, Red-legged Partridges and Meadow Pipits, but we also found a huge flock of Common Cranes, they took off as we drove along the track, at least 200 birds, a great sight. Further down the track we scanned the fields finding many Calandra Larks, Corn Buntings, Stonechats and thousands of hirundines were hawking over the lake. On our way back to the car we saw a Raven and a Bonelli's Eagle flying high above us we also picked out Common Pochard and Black-necked Grebe on the water.
At the hide on the south side of the laguna we sat and ate our picnic lunch in nice sunshine sheltered from the cold breeze. From there we watched Lapwing, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Greater Flamingo, White-headed Duck (45), Red-crested Pochard and a nice surprise: Tufted Duck (3). In the scrub along the edge of the laguna we watched Chiffchaff, Goldfinch and House Sparrows.
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the Laguna Fuente de Piedras where, apart from seeing 10,000 Greater Flamingos we had a great time watching several species of wader. there were many Avocets, a flock of some 20+ Ruff, also Kentish Plover (6), Redshank (1), Common Snipe (5), Black-tailed Godwit (3 in summer plummage), Black-winged Stilt, Dunlin (5), Little Stint (22) and lots of Lapwing. We also saw a couple of Common Buzzards, Marsh Harrier and Common Kestrel.
On the return journey we stopped to look for more Bonelli's Eagle, but failed to find one. The long drive back was uneventful but we were content with a good day out around the lagunas.