WELCOME TO THE BLOG OF WINGSPAN BIRD TOURS



ALL NEWS, BIRD SIGHTINGS AND TOUR UPDATES WILL ALSO BE RECORDED ON MY WEB-SITE BLOG PAGES FOUND HERE


http://www.wingspanbirdtours.com/blog




FURTHER DETAILS OF FUTURE TRIPS CAN BE FOUND ON OUR MAIN WEBSITE:-



http://www.wingspanbirdtours.com/






FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT PARTICIPATED IN A WINGSPAN TOUR DURING 2016, THANK YOU FOR YOUR CUSTOM & YOUR COMPANY AND WE WISH YOU HEALTH AND HAPPINESS FOR 2017.

THE PROGRAMME FOR SPRING 2017 IS NOW ON MY

WEBSITE BUT HERE IS A PREVIEW



Jan 15th - 28th. - Sri Lanka. £1750

Feb 12th -27th - Costa Rica - full

Mar 20th - 30th Morocco - 10 nights. - £1190

April 5th - 12th - Andalucia migration tour. - £750 - 2 places

April 16th - 24th - Coto Donana & Extremadura - £950 - 2 places

April 29th - 6th May. - Lesvos - £875

May 8th - 15th - Portugal - full


May 13th - 21st Bulgaria - £850

May 23rd - 30th - Andalucia birds and butterflies - £750

May 31st - June 8th. - Extremadura and Sierra de Gredos - £950

June 12th - 20th - Pyrenees and Picos de Europa - £1050


FLIGHTS NOT INCLUDED IN THESE PRICES



BOOK NOW TO SECURE YOUR PLACE SEND AN E-MAIL TO:

E-mail: bobbuckler49@hotmail.com





















Red-throated Bee-eater

Red-throated Bee-eater
join us for a fantastic tour of The Gambia this November

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

PROPOSED NEW ROUTE FOR FUTURE WINGSPAN TOURS

Watch this super video of what is reputed to be the most dangerous footpath in the world!! It is due to be renovated and will be the new centre-piece of the launch of "THA LAKE DISTRICT OF ANDALUCIA".

Caminito del Rey


http://youtu.be/y1Nd1qtk1Go


A FULL REPORT OF THE FOOTPATH CAN BE READ BELOW


Caminito del Rey: My journey up adrenaline alley



January 13, 2011


EXCLUSIVE: By Anatoly Kurmanaev


CREEPING along the narrow exposed pathway hugging the El Chorro gorge I accidentally looked down through one of the glaring gaps in the concrete.
A river rumbled over 100 meters below me while a vulture, perhaps knowingly, circled overhead.
It was absolutely terrifying and for a couple of seconds I froze and thought there was no way I could go on.
But it would have been anything but easy to turn back.
I was already half way along Malaga’s infamous Caminito del Rey, the world’s most dangerous walkway and, what could soon be, Andalucia’s premier outdoor attraction.
Built in 1905 to connect two hydroelectric plants, the pathway has sadly fallen into serious disrepair.
Currently it is missing its handrails and in three sections the floor has actually caved in leaving just the metal frame.
It has been officially closed to the public since 1999 because of the safety concerns. In the last 10 years alone, six people have died on it and 30 people have been injured. But this has not stopped the path from remaining a rite of passage for any fun-loving Andalucian youth.
And those willing to brave the heights are certainly rewarded with one of the most beautiful walks in the world, as well as an incredible adrenaline rush to boot.
Most accidents have been caused by the recklessness of local daredevils not taking the correct precautions and the path is generally safe to cross with the right safety equipment and, above all, an experienced guide.
Indeed, on a good day the Caminito is full of adventure seekers as the El Chorro area is one of Europe’s top climbing destinations.
“The guards took off parts of the wooden planks hoping it would stop people walking through,” said my guide Martin Heywood, from Merseyside, 45, who has lived here for six years.

“What they didn’t count on was that most people here are climbers.”
But the hair-raising travail along the deteriorated concrete path, with its naked steel beams poking out above the abyss will soon become a thing of the past.

After nearly 20 years of promises, Malaga’s provincial government has finally allocated 8.3 million euros to restore the walk.

Work is set to begin any time soon and by 2016 the Caminito is expected to become a world-class outdoor attraction, with easy access for all.
Setting off from the village of El Chorro, visitors will be able to easily reach the pathway and then walk through the breathtaking gorge all the way to the beautiful Guadalhorce reservoir above.
The opening is expected to become a massive dynamo for the so-called ‘Lake District’ area of northern Malaga.
And is expected to see thousands of tourists arriving from around the world every week to rise to the challenge.
The Olive Press revealed exactly a year ago, that it had been added to the official government boletin as a key tourism project.
A strategy document seen by the paper, estimated that around 1000 people a day would pay three to five euros to travel along the path.

They will be carefully monitored by up to 100 employees with safety being of major importance.#

“There could even be special trains brought in from Madrid, just for the experience,” revealed a local hotelier.
The village of El Chorro itself is a peculiar outpost of several dozen houses perched between hydroelectric plants and imposing crags.

Little would tell an unsuspecting visitor that this hilly hamlet between Malaga and Antequera is a world-famous climbing hub.
One of the main focal points for foreign climbers is undoubtedly the Olive Branch B&B run by Surrey expats Gary and Melanie Burns.
On Boxing Day when I visited it, the B&B was packed with outdoor enthusiasts from around the world recovering from a large communal Christmas meal the night before.
Just bring a harness and chances are you’ll meet someone to climb with here
“We took over this inn in 2008, without realizing it was right at the foot of the Las Encantadas crag, one of the best climbing locations in the world,” said Gary.
After a late communal breakfast, lodgers head off for the crags.
“If the sun is out, it’s perfect conditions for a day of climbing. It’s never too cold around here,” said my guide Martin.
“The limestone rock here has plenty of nice holds and there are loads of pre-made routes,” he continued.
“You just need to bring a harness and chances are you’ll meet someone to climb with here. It’s a very friendly place.
“Whatever grade you climb doesn’t make it any more or less enjoyable.”
Londoners Matt and Tom Williams, who came to El Chorro for a Christmas holiday, agree.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Matt, 25. “The climbing community is very welcoming, even if you haven’t done much climbing. People are always trying to help you out.”

OCTOBER 24TH . 9 - DAY TOUR (9)

Day 9 – TRUJILLO – SANTA MAGASCA ROAD – ARROYOCAMPO PARQUE NATURAL – EL PARDO (MADRID COUNTRY PARK) – MADRID AIRPORT –GAUCIN.

Our last day started with rain and then more rain and then a cold wind and rain. By 10am it started to clear and we saw a few birds. Arriving on the plains at 8:30am it was barely light enough to see but we tried. The usual birds were seen on the tracks and in the nearby grasslands: Lapwing, Great and Little Bustard, Calandra lark, Crested Lark, Skylark, Corn Bunting, Spanish Sparrow, Meadow Pipit, Southern Grey Shrike, Northern Wheatear and Stonechats. A few Red Kites sat on fence posts looking miserable in the cold wind and a few Griffon Vultures drifted over.


TOM AND JERRY - GETTING COLD AND WET LOOKING FOR THE MYTHICAL SANDGROUSE

It was just as we were watching over the last field before we departed for Madrid that we finally found SANDGROUSE. At last, after hours of searching we found a flock of some 40+ Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, they remained hunkered down but occasionally they would stand up and shake the rain from their feathers. A great relief too, as the my two comrades thought that sandgrouse were purely mythical birds!


THE RAIN BEGINNING TO ABATE AND THE SUN APPEARING OVER THE PLAINS

We set off towards Madrid and stopped at a favourite site of mine, the 3 Bridges over the Tajo. However, we didn’t get out of the car because of the rain. Such a shame, we did see Spanish Sparrow, Serin, Black Redstart and White Wagtail.

It was a nuclear power station that provided our next venue, the large embalse (man-made lake) that is used for cooling purposes is also a nature reserve with several observation hides. We spent an hour or so there but we couldn’t see many species either on the water or in the reed-beds. A Yellow Wagtail was a nice surprise found in with a flock of White Wagtails, we also Purple Swamphen (3), marsh Harrier, lots of Cormorants and Grey Herons.


A GREAT SPOT BY COLIN - WHO FOUND THIS WOODPECKER

Lastly we visited the huge park found on the north side of Madrid, called El Pardo. We arrived just after a rainstorm, which was very good for birding, as many species came out in the brief sunshine to feed and dry out. We added our last two species to the weekly list, Wren and Firecrest, two of the smallest birds of Europe, this was followed by a sighting of one of the biggest birds of Europe, the Spanish Imperial Eagle. Another (albeit the last) Wow was muttered by my sidekicks. A great find and in such close proximity to central Madrid. We also saw Chiffchaff, Monk Parakeet, Robin, Griffon Vulture, loads of Magpies and Wood Pigeons. Our very last stop found us on the open grass fields on top of a hill which overlooked the Spanish Capital, we looked for Green Woodpecker but only found more Magpies and a large mixed flock of Spotless and Common Starlings.

IT WASN'T ALL BAD - BUTTERFLIES CAME OUT EVENTUALLY TO BASK IN THE AFTERNOON SUNSHINE - BATH WHITE

We then drove to Madrid airport where I deposited my two trusty companions and then I set off for the 6 hour drive home, singing all the way and arriving at 11:30pm tired but happy that the week went so well.

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE BEWTEEN THESE TWO SPECIES OF STARLINGS

Sunday, October 23, 2011

OCTOBER 23RD . 9 - DAY TOUR (8)

DAY 8 - THE TRUJILLO PLAINS – SANTA MAGASCA – MONROY – RIO ALMONTE – TALAVAN NATURE RESERVE

Bird of the Day: GOLDEN EAGLE




A Great Bustard and a Little Bustard seen near Trujillo today at 5pm

Our last full day start cold, wet and overcast, what a change, my shorts are packed away for the winter! We started early and arrived on the open fields near Santa Magasca just after first light. A chilly wind kept our outside activity to a minimum, we scanned the fields from beside the van in the lee of the wind. We quickly found half a dozen Great Bustards and hundreds of Corn Buntings, Spanish Sparrows, Crested Larks, Skylarks and Calandra Larks. The fields were dotted with Lapwing and many flocks of Spotless Starlings, the odd Northern Wheatear joined the Stonechats along the fence lines. Southern Grey Shrikes were quite numerous too, we counted 10 in the first couple of hours. Now for the raptors, A few Common Buzzards sat on poles and posts whilst Red Kites drifted over us, we watched a couple of Common Kestrels before locating a male Merlin sitting low down on a rock, a good bird. Then we found an enormous raptor sitting on another rock, the bird was being mobbed by a couple of Common Magpies which looked tiny in comparison. It was a Golden Eagle, fantastic and our 5th Eagle of the Tour – before long it flew off and was lost behind a ridge, wow, that warmed us up.

We stopped at the bridge over the Rio Magasca on our wat to Talavan where we found a Kingfisher, Crag Martin, Green Sandpiper and Blackcap, three Hawfinches also flew over.

Next we visited the fairly new Reserve at Talavan, this consists of an artificial lake, an embalse, with reed-beds and a couple of hides. As soon as we got there we saw two Otters along a near bank, these normally shy creatures were very obliging and came very close. (see my film on Youtube). We also watched a very obliging Water Rail which fed just below us! Along the lake shoreline we could see Common Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Greenshank, Grey Heron, Little Egret and Little Grebe. We then drove round to the dam ‘end’ of the embalse and found quite few more species which included: Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, White Stork, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail, Mallard and Great Cormorant. As we left, we stopped to watch a couple of Hoopoes, some very close Thekla Larks and a Black Redstart all found on or near the track.

A couple of pics of the obliging Water Rail seen at Talavan







At the bridge over the Rio Almonte we spent some time looking for Black Wheatear and eventually one showed up, but we located Blue Rock Thrush, Blackcap, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Robin, Serin and several Griffon Vultures in the process.

Northern Wheatear - several were seen today


Back on the plains we drove towards Trujillo before turning off to Aldea de Obispo and it was along this road that we found our first Little Bustards, there were 22 of them and we also found 15 Great bustards in the same field.

Our journey back to Santa Clemente was via Monroy and Santa Magasca, we made many stops to look for the elusive Sandgrouse without luck, at one stage we saw a Peregrine which put up a flock of Calandra Larks that must have numbered well above 500.
A very poor picture of a Little Bustard - it was very windy in poor light and at distance


We did find more Great Bustards and a flock of 9 Little Bustards later on and despite not seeing the sandgrouse we were happy to see the thousands of other birds in huge flocks.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

OCTOBER 22ND . 9 - DAY TOUR (7)

DAY 7 - MONFRAGUE NATIONAL PARK

We spent the whole day in and around the park at Monfrague and had agreat time. We set off at 7:45am , in the car park we saw an Owl fly from a post, in the dark we thought it was a Little Owl, we drove the 60 kilometers to Monfrague without further sightings. It was overcast, a bit chilly and still quite dark when we arrived at the base of the Castillo de Monfrague.


SUN RISE WITH UNCERTAINTY?



ROCK BUNTING


It was amazing because as we arrived we noticed at least 100 Vultures had taken to the air and were circling above the road, we notched two Black Vultures in amongst the masses of Griffon Vultures. By the time we had climbed the steps to the castle it was light and we had logged Hawfinch, Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit and lots of Chaffinches. In the castle ‘grounds’ we found a superb male Rock Bunting showing very well and lots of Blackcaps, also Black Redstarts, Blue Rock Thrush and many Song Thrushes. But the star of the show had to be the WHITE RUMPED SWIFT that flew over and around us and even gave us a fly-pass in the strengthening sunlight, what a gem.

On the way back down we found several Griffon vultures perched, afew Crag martins and more Hawfinch sightings were had. At the Pena Falcon rock we watched more vultures, Black Redstarts, a Short-toed Treecreeper on the rock face? Better views of Blue Rock Thrush were had and Grey Herons were down by the water.



ABBOTT AND COSTELLO - IN COOL MORNING AIR AT CASTILLO DE MONFRAGUE JUST BEFORE SEEING THE MAGICAL WHITE RUMPED SWIFT

Next we stopped at the roadside just passed the main bridge to watch Griffon & Black Vultures at close range and whilst doing so we found a fantastic Bonelli’s Eagle as it drifted over the ridge another WOW! was let out by the lads!

The pine woods above the dam were disappointing but we did see Mistle Thrush , Azure-winged Magpies and several common species. The cork woods just passed the watch-point at Puertillo de Tietar provided our next venue. We quickly found Eurasian Nuthatch and then after some leg work and good detection we found another star bird, the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.


THE CORK OAK WOODLAND WHERE WE FOUND THE LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER

We took a tapas lunch at a roadside bar and then went back into the park for more birding. We spent from 2:30pm until 5pm revisiting many of the sites and added several birds to the list which included: Raven, Crested Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Red Kite, Common Crossbill and a Green Woodpecker was heard.

On the way back to Trujillo we stopped at a bridge which spanned the Rio Almonte where we found: Kingfisher, Rock Sparrow, Southern Grey Shrike, Crested Larke, Serin, Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Black Redstart and a little further down the road we saw a flock of 7 Red Kites.

Friday, October 21, 2011

OCTOBER 21ST . 9 - DAY TOUR (6)

DAY 6 - COTO DONANA TO EXTREMADURA – WITH VISITS TO MOHEDA ALTA NATURE RESERVE – MADRIGALEJO RICE FIELDS AND THE PUSEDO-STEPPE NEAR ZORITA

We ate breakfast at 7am and departed at 7:45am in the dark as usual. The trip went smoothly and uneventful as we passed through Sevilla and headed north to Merida. We stopped for a break near Merida and arrived at the Rice fields near Madrigalejo at 12 noon. Birds seen along the way included many Common Buzzards, Red Kites, Azure-winged Magpies, Cattle & Little Egrets, Grey Herons and a new bird for the trip Common Crane. In fact, at our first stop near Vegas Altas we saw hundreds of Cranes flying here and there in small flocks. Our visit to the rice fields near Madrigalejo was highlighted by great views of the Red Avadavat, we saw quite few and some were carrying nesting material whilst others carried food for chicks. We also had good views of Common Waxbill, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, large flocks of Spanish Sparrows, finches and egrets.




DON QUIXOTE AND SANCHO PANZA LOOKING OVER THE RICE FIELDS AT MADRIGALEJO


After taking a tapas lunch in the village we made a visit to the newly established nature reserve at Moheda Alta, the whole area is geared-up for the conservation of land to encourage Common Cranes. It seems to be working as we saw about 1000, a great sight of them all in the air at once was spectacular. We also found Greylag Geese, Shoveler, Gadwall and Lapwing.




RED AVADAVAT - MANY WERE SEEN BUT FEW WERE PHOTOGRAPHED - THE LITTLE BEGGERS WOULDN'T KEEP STILL!!!

Back at the rice fields we searched for Penduline Tit getting only brief glimpses of this elusive little begger, but we did see Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, many Chiffchaff, Waxbills (again), Skylarks, Robins, we also heard a Water Rail squealing ‘like a stuck-pig’ great expression!



HOOPOE


During the last leg of the journey we passed the wide open steppe-like countryside near Zorita where we saw a couple of Great Bustards quite close to the roadside, we also found a fairly large flock of Skylarks and Calandra Larks. Overhead a few Griffon Vultures drifted over and lots of Common Cranes called noisily as they passed.

SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE


Just before we entered the village where we are staying we stopped to walk along a quiet lane where we found both Mistle and Song Thrushes, Hoopoe, Southern Grey Shrike, Blackcaps, Black Redstart, Great Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Spotlees Starling, White Wagtail and Crested Lark.

We arrived at our Casa Rural in San Clemente at 5:30pm with time enough to rest before dinner. Only 4 new species were added today but tomorrow we are going to Monfrague National Park and hoping for more!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

OCTOBER 20TH . 9 - DAY TOUR (5)

DAY 5 - THE NORTHERN MARSHES – COREDOR DE VERDE – DEHESA ABAJO – THE RICE FIELDS OF ISLA MAYOR - JOSE VALVERDE CENTRE

Another super day of unbroken sunshine, mid 20’s temperature and a nice light breeze – Oh I could live here!!!

Top Birds - Male Hen Harrier (stonking good views) but also a superb Bluethroat, 3 Ruddy Shelduck (scarce visitors) and Yellow-crowned Bishop & Common Waxbill (novelty factor).

BIRDS! BIRDS! BIRDS! Everywhere we went today, the sky, fields and lakes were full of all kinds of birds, we logged nearly 90 species without raising a sweat!







PINKY AND PERKY AT LUNCH IN THE RICE FIELDS AND BELOW AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE NATIONAL PARK



We set off at 7:45am in the dark (again) heading north passing through El Rocio and then east across to Villamonrique before turning onto the tracks leading to the Coredor de Verde. Our first birds were Greenfinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Hoopoe and a brief view of Black-winged Kite, one flew off a pylon and disappeared round the bend in the track. We drove a little further and walked another track to relocate the bird, we had great views of it hovering & gliding whilst hunting. Another bird joined it and after some interaction they both flew off, a Sparrowhawk flew across the trees whilst we were looking for the Kites.

The launga de Quema was full of wildfowl, many Coots to search through but no luck with the Red-knobbed variety. Also Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall, Red-crested & Common Pochard, all 3 Grebes of the region, Kingfisher and Grey Heron.

Another Laguna, (Zorita), provided: Great White Egret (2), Green Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilts, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail and 3 more Hoopoes.

We by-passed the large man-made lake at Dehesa de Abajo so that we could search the small ponds and lagunas at the nearby gravel pits, however most of them were dried up but we did find some water where we located Common Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, White Stork, Night Heron, Glossy Ibis & lots of ducks.

Back at Dehesa de Abajo we scanned the large lake for an hour or so and what a great time, There must have been 5000 birds on it! We saw Black-winged Stilt (1500+), Greater Flamingo (500+), Cormorant (200+), Avocet (100+), Shoveler (500+), Mallard (500+), Grebs (3 species 100+), Spoonbill (50+), Grey Heron (100+) - add to that Gadwall, Teal, Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Coot, Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Night Heron (20+), Glossy Ibis (200+)…plus Kingfisher, Sand Martin (200+), White Storks (50+).. the list goes on and on!



RARITY VALUE - RUDDY SHELDUCKS (4 IN TOTAL WERE SEEN)

From our raised position on the road we could look behind us over the vast expanse of rice fields where we could see birds everywhere, several flocks of Glossy Ibis numbered in their hundreds each flock that is, Gulls, Egrets, Storks and many Marsh Harriers were also drifting over.


NIGHT HERON (juvenile)

We ate lunch beside two recently flooded rice fields and we sat right next to a rice harvester machine. In the channels and gullies surrounding the rice fields we found a very obliging Squacco Heron, some Common Waxbills, Yellow-crowned Bishops and a single Bluethroat, we also saw several Green Sandpipers, Zitting Cisticolas, Goldfinches and Spanish Sparrows. Raptors became more obvious in the hazy sky, Booted Eagle, Peregrine Falcon (perched on a pylon), Common Kestrel, Red Kite and Common Buzzard were seen.

The afternoon was spent driving along the tracks to the Valverde Centre, passing the very dry and arid fields which held huge crops of Cotton but many were recently ploughed. Along the way we logged several Common Buzzards, lots of Lesser Kestrels, a small flock of Black Storks (7), countless Stonechats, a Common Redstart, two Black Redstarts and a Red Kite. We stopped to look over one ploughed field after we had seen a small group of Northern Wheatears fly into it. What a good move! Within minute we had located a flock of some 200 Calandra Larks, 50+ Skylarks and the icing on the cake, 100+ Lesser Short-toed Larks, Wow!

As we approached the Valverde centre we put up a male HEN HARRIER, what a fantastic sight and to add to the spectacle a male MARSH HARRIER joined it as it circled above us, two great birds in superb plumage and fantastic light. A nearby laguna held quite a lot of water and had attracted many Spoonbills, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Common Coots, Grey Heron & Purple Swamphens. The tracks around the Valverde centre held many Northern Wheatears, White Wagtails, Stonechats but not much else.

After a coffee stop we headed back along a different route hoping to find an Eagle or two, instead we found a lot more Lesser Kestrels, a herd of Fallow Deer and more distant Flamingos. We arrived back at the hotel at 5:30pm, a long day but a very enjoyable last day in the area.

FALLOW DEER - JUST OUT OF THE MIRE!







Tomorrow we are heading north into Extremadura, carrying forward a list in excess of 140 with at least 20 more target species to find, watch this space!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

OCTOBER 19TH . 9 - DAY TOUR (4)

DAY 4 - LAGUNA PRIMERA DE LOS PALOS – PARAJE NTURAL DE MARISMAS DE O’DIEL – LAGUNA DEL PORTIL – RIO PEIDRAS EL ROMPIDO


STAR BIRD OF THE DAY - BLUETHROAT

BRIGHT sunshine throughout with nice temperatures with a nice cooling breeze. We set off in the dark towards Huelva and stopped at the lagunas del Palos just before the city. With a backdrop of a large oil refinery this superb nature reserve looks so out of place, however over the years I have recroded many species there, including Re-knobbed Coot. We couldn’t find the Coot but we watched many other wildfowl, we added Wigeon, and Pintail to our list.


THE GRUESOME TWOSOME ON THE HEATH AT EL ROMPIDO





At the Marismas de O’diel we first stopped at the laguna Calatillo where the Coot had bred for the last few years, again we dipped but there many birds wading or floating in the water. Waders included our first Turnstone, but also Black-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling and a single Curlew Sandpiper. The other species included Greater Flamingo, Pintail, Shovler, Teal, Gadwall, Common Pochard and Mallard.

FLAMINGOS IN THE MIST




DUCKS AT FIRST LIGHT




GREAT WHITE EGRET

We then spent the next couple of hours drive down towards the lighthouse on this superb salt marsh, we passed ancient salt pans, open dry scrub, stone pine woodlands and lagre expnses of marshes with open brackish water. Species present we in their thousands, we found White Stork, Great White Egret (2), Little Egret, Cattle egret, Eurasian Spoonbill (50+), Oystercathcer, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew (32), Knot, Redshank, Grrensahnk, Spotted Redshank, Grey plover, Little Stint and many of the other waders already listed. A few Common & Sandwich Terns sat amongst the Audouin’s, Lesser Black-backed and Yellow=legged Gulls.

On the dry marsh we added Crested Lark, Northern Wheatear, Stonechat and a single Hoopoe to the tally.

Next we made a short trip to the lauguna found at the roadside just outside of El Portil. A good amount of water held many birds, no new species but we searched for Ferruginous Duck and whilst doing so added Red-crested Pochard , Black-necked and Great Crested Grebe to the day list. We ate a lovly tapas lunch sitting in the sunshine before making the short drive to El Rompido.

On the semi-marsh alongside the Rio Piedras we searched for Bluethroat, we found at least 4 individuals, three of them were first winter specimens whilst the fourth was a nice adult male showing nice colours. During our spell on the marshland we also saw Southern Grey Shrike, Whinchat, Darford Warbler, lots of Sardinian Warblers, a Blackcap and a couple of Chiffchaffs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

OCTOBER 18TH . 9 - DAY TOUR (3)

DAY 3 – COTO DONANA – MATALACANAS CLIFFS - ACEBUCHE VISITOR’S CENTRE – EL ROCIO (LAGUNA MADRE DE LA MARISMAS) – LA ROCINA

TOP BIRD - WRYNECK

Another superb day in Donana. We ate breakfast at 7:30am and left the hotel at 8:30am reaching the cliffs at Matalascanas within 10 minutes. There was a chill to the air so fleeces were the order of the day but it was bright and clear. Out to sea not a lot was happening, a Gannets flew by as did two groups of Audouin’s Gulls and a Sandwich Tern. On the beach we saw many Lesser Black-beck Gulls and Yellow Legged Gulls and small flocks of Sanderling.



BILL AND BEN LOOKING OVER THE LAGUNA AT EL ROCIO

At Acebuche we stopped to watch a Hoopoe (the first of 8 birds) along the entrance drive and then we spent sometime in the car park watching the antics of the Azure-winged Magpies and tried to get decent photographs. From the hides we could see that the water level was extremely low and much of the laguna had dried up, however, we did some interesting birds. A Water Rail showed very well as did Common Snipe, Purple Swamphen and Spoonbill. We also great views of Dartford Warbler as a pair flitted from tree to tree. A Kingfisher was superb in the morning light and other species included Shoveler, Marsh Harrier, Teal and Little Grebe.

Back at the car park you wouldn’t believe it, we had just finished watching a Male Dartford Warbler when we noticed a WRYNECK sitting just above our van!! How incredible, we followed the bird as it searched for food on the trunks of the pine trees and eventually it flew off – what a show stopper!







The laguna at El Rocio was virtually dry but we drove through the town to the new visitors centre and scoped from there. Greater Flamingos were joined by Lapwing, Golden Plover, Greylag Geese, White and Yellow Wagtails, Little and Cattle Egrets and we also found two Great White Egrets. We ate lunch in the town before driving the short distance to La Rocina, we took the woodland walk to the Palacio de Acebron before visiting the hides. During the walk we didn’t see many species but we enjoyed the walk. Birds seen Eurasian Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Common Redstart and we heard both Great Spotted Woodpecker and Eurasian Nuthatch.


AFRICAN GRASS BLUE

From the hides and along the boardwalk we added Pied Flycatcher, Mistle Thrush and we heard a Cetti’s Warbler singing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

OCTOBER 17TH . 9 - DAY TOUR (2)




DAY 2 - LAGUNA DE MDEINA – SALINAS DE BONANZA – LAGUNA TARELO – MARISMAS DE TREBUJENA

Top bird – SPANISH IMPERIAL EAGLE



We had a great day today – it was transfer day we left Gaucin for the long journey to Matalascanas in Coto Donana.

After an early breakfast we set off at 8;30am and drove down to the coast before turning inland towards Jerez. We saw several good species along the way including White Stork, many attending their nests near Castellar, Griffon Vultures, agood flock of 30 something over the hill in the Alcornacales Cork Oak Forest.






TWEEDLE-DEE & TWEEDLE DUM - LOOKING AT THE WADERS AT SANLUCAR (NICE WEATHER)


At Laguna de Medina we spent a nice hour walking to hide and watching many grebes and ducks. In the filed behind the reserve we found the usual Black-winged Kites, Red-legged Partridges and to our great delight we had very good views of Stone Curlew.

From the hide we listed the three grebes, Shoveler, White-headed Duck and not a lot else. We heard Penduline Tit several times but didn’t get any views, Iberian Chiffchaff, Common Chiffchaff showed well and Cetti’s Warblers were very vocal. Along the track we noted up to 5 Egyptian Mongoose and below us from the hide we saw another 2 very close.

We stopped in Sanlucar to eat our lunch whilst looking over the river Guadalquiver, the tide was low, but rising. Many waders were feeding on the exposed mudflats: Dunlin, Sanderling, Common Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Curlew Sandpiper were joined by Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Sandwich Terns and Grey Heron.

On the salt pans it was business as usual with a huge number of birds present: namely Greater Flamingo, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Knot, hundreds of Redshank but also Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover. Special sightings included: & Black Storks (7) on the thermals, two Opsreys, Two Red Kites showing superbly, and a couple of Caspian Terns.




WHAT THE HELL IS THAT - ANSWERS ON A POST-CARD PLEASE




















HERE IS A CLUE?



AHA! - NOW WE KNOW - IT'S BOB AFTER A NIGHT ON THE TILES!!! LOL.


At laguna Tarelo most of our time was spent looking for Marbled Duck, which we eventually found as we were leaving (5), but whilst doing so we found Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested and Common Pochard, Black-necked Grebe, Night Heron, White-headed Duck and many common waterfowl. Along the fence-line we found a very obliging Chameleon and a couple of large Preying Mantis.

Lastly we drove through the Algaida Pinewoods without stopping but we did spend sometime looking over the large lagunas at the Trebujena Marshes. This where we found a BIRD OF THE DAY – SPANISH IMPERIAL EAGLE. The bird flew up over the launga and circled right above us before drifting off eastward, wow what a sight, terrific!






We drove up through Sevilla and on towards Huelva before turning south and into Coto Donana. We passed El Rocio, noting that the laguna was almost dried up, and down to Matalascanas. Along the way we saw lots of Azure-winged Magpies and several Eurasian Magpies.

We checked in at 6pm and enjoyed a lovely meal at 8, our count for the day was 77 species with 3 heard but not seen, which included Balearic Shearwater, Common Tern and many Lesser Black-backed Gulls seen from our hotel balconies as we looked out to see from the 5th

Sunday, October 16, 2011

OCTOBER 16TH . 9 - DAY TOUR (1)

DAY 1 - DESEMBOCADURA DE GUADALHORCE - SIERRA DE LAS NIEVES - ENCINAS DE BORRACHAS TRACK



THE LIKELY LADS - PETER AND COLIN

After collecting Colin from Malaga Airport we joined Peter(whom I had dropped off earlier )at the superb Reserve at the mouth of the Guadalhorce. Despite a great number of people milling around; cycling, swimming, jogging and sun-bathing there was a good number of species on show.We spent a couple of hour strolling around the tracks and trails in lovely warm sunshine, noting many specis including: Kingfisher, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinain Warbler, White Headed Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Mediterranean Gull, Booted Eagle, Opsrey (2), Golden Plover (my first for the Autumn), Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Greenshank and a single Greater Flamingo. Out to sea a number of Gannets were diving for fish whilst several Monk Parakeets flashed noisily overhead.

GOLDEN PLOVER SEEN ON THE LAGUNA GRANDE - GUADALHORCE (SHOWN BELOW)



We ate our picnic lunch before setting off for Ronda which took an hour to get there. We stopped at the nature reserve at Sierra de las Nieves and a short walk produced Jay, Griffon Vulture(6), White Wagtail Woodlark and large numbers of Black Redstarts,at least 20 were in a small area near the car park.

A VIEW FROM THE ENTRANCE INTO THE SIERRA DE LAS NIEVES RESERVE

Our last walk of the afternoon was just south of Ronda on the Algeciras road, the Encinas Borrachas track. It was a little breezy but still nice to be out and quite a few birds were flitting around the pool. We quickly found Corn Bunting, Stonechat, Thekla Lark, Goldfinch, Linnet and Serin. Then Peter walked near the pool and put up a Green Sandpiper and we found a Southern Grey Shrike, A Rock Sparrow, Northern Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush and another Black Redstart.


It was now 5pm and time to head off to our home at Gaucin, we made a very brief stop at a mirador but didn't add any new speciesto our list.After an hours rest we tucked into a lovely dinner produced by wifey Dawn,yum, yum (and the food wasn't bad either).

Saturday, October 15, 2011

LIMESTICKS & MIST NETS - WATCH THIS VIDEO

This is part of the series of posts Poaching in Cyprus FAQ

What are limesticks and mist nets?


Songbirds are trapped (and later killed) for the illegal ambelopoulia through the use of limesticks and mist nets. Most trapping takes place in the South, and especially the Southeast, of the island during the Autumn migration, although the trappers are also out during the Spring migration, when their cull is especially harmful since it occurs before the birds have had a chance to breed. Some trapping also takes place in the mountains. The most notorious regions are, paradoxically, also the most popular tourist areas: from Paralimni and Protaras on the east coast, to Ayia Napa on the south. Here, few migrants survive the trapping: the nets and lime-sticks are everywhere, including within the Cape Greco National Park, along nature trails, and even in the grounds of hotels.

WATCH THIS VIDEO AND BE APPALLED


CYPRUS - THE KILLING GOES ON!!!

October 13, 2011 - Disastrously, the number of birds killed on limesticks and in mist nets in Cyprus this autumn is increasing sharply, reaching over 860,000 by October 9th…and it is still growing.


The rising death toll from this illegal and ecologically damaging activity is being tracked by BirdLife Cyprus’s field team and published on the BirdLife Cyprus website, in a bid to raise awareness about this growing problem. An on-line petition calls for immediate action from the responsible Cypriot Ministers.The toll is estimated on the basis of field data from BirdLife’s ongoing field monitoring of trapping activity with mist nets and limesticks, part of a systematic surveillance programme. This latest estimate – 866,905 birds- represents the number of birds killed between Thursday 1st September and Sunday 9th October 2011. The trappers are after Blackcaps and other songbirds, which will end up as illegal, and expensive, ambelopoulia delicacies served up in law-breaking restaurants, allowing the trappers to make huge profits. The first estimate for the autumn 2011 season, posted on September 12th, was for almost 90,000 birds, but trapping has gained pace since then. The estimate will be updated every Monday until the end of October. So far- and many thanks to all the people who have supported our campaign so far – almost 10,000 people have signed. “The trapping is out of control this autumn – we are witnessing a slaughter on a massive scale. The non-selective nature of nets and limesticks means that not just blackcaps and other warblers, but also nightjars, owls, shrikes, flycatchers and dozens of other species are being taken. Please help us put pressure on the authorities to re-double enforcement efforts and target the law-breaking restaurants serving ambelopoulia”, said Martin Hellicar, Campaigns Manager of BirdLife Cyprus. If you have not already signed the petition please do and please spread the word.

This article was written by BirdLife.Cyprus - who has written 2 posts on BirdLife Community. BirdLife comprises more than 100 conservation organisations working together to promote sustainable living as a means to conserve biodiversity.

BirdLife Cyprus is a BirdLife Partner Designate.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

OCTOBER 12TH - SOME PHOTOS FROM SEPT TOURS

Kevin and Pat banks were with me in September for a few days and Kevin was showing off with his new camera, here are some of the results.


RUPPELL'S VULTURE WITH A GRIFFON VULTURE - COMPARE SIZE AND UNDERWING MARKINGS ESPECIALLY THE WHITE 'BAR' SEEN ON THE RUPPELL'S WHICH CAN ALSO APPEAR ON THE GRIFFON BUT IT IS MUCH MORE BROWN IN COLOUR.

A BETTER VIEW OF THE RUPPELL'S VULTURE - WELL DONE KEVIN THIS BIRD WAS MOVING FAST ALL THE TIME. TAKEN AT CAZALLA RAPTOR WATCH POINT, TARIFA




A DISTANT BLACK STORK - ONE OF OVER 70 BIRDS SEEN THAT MORNING OVER THE CAZALLA RAPTOR WATCH POINT -TARIFA



SHORT-TOED EAGLE - TAKEN THE SAME MORNING AT CAZALLA


WE SAW A FLOCK OF SOME 50 ALPINE SWIFT CIRCLING ABOVE US IN THE OJEN VALLEY NEAR TARIFA - KEVIN CAPTURED THIS ONE SUPERBLY


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OCTOBER 11TH - CIRL BUNTINGS IN THE UK

This summer has seen a dramatic increase in the Cornish cirl bunting (Emberiza cirlus) population, with record numbers of chicks being born in the county.

Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus) Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus) Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)

This enigmatic farmland bird used to range across Cornwall, but disappeared in the early nineties. Now, thanks to an ambitious reintroduction project, it has been returned to one of its past haunts and the population is growing.

The project draws on expertise from the RSPB, the National Trust, Paignton Zoo, Natural England and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), and has been running since 2006. Chicks are moved under license from healthy cirl bunting populations in Devon and reared and released in South Cornwall.

After breeding was first recorded in 2007, the population has been slowly increasing, but this summer has seen a big increase in the number of pairs breeding, and the number of young leaving nests is the highest ever for the project. Not only that, but the birds are expanding their range.

The RSPB’s Project Officer, Nick Tomalin, thinks that this is down to the availability of suitable habitat; ‘We always knew that the local habitat was good, but the farming community has been very supportive of the project, and many farmers have managed parts of their land to benefit cirl buntings and other farmland birds. ‘In many cases, cirls have moved into areas where this work has occurred, and it’s great to see these farmers rewarded for all their efforts’.

Ian Carter, Natural England’s ornithologist added; “Reintroducing a small bird like the cirl bunting is a huge and complex task - involving supportive landowners, experts who have hand-reared the birds and scientists who monitor their progress. We’re encouraged that the birds we’ve released have reared significant numbers of young, many of which we hope will reach adulthood and then go on to breed. The future of this rare songster looks brighter than it has for many years.”

Natural England and the RSPB have worked closely with landowners in the release area to set up Higher Level Stewardship agreements which have been invaluable in helping to ensure that released cirl buntings can find sufficient food and breeding sites in the wild. This scheme, funded by Defra and the European Union, pays farmers to manage their land in an environmentally friendly way, tailored to the needs of local wildlife.

Janet Lister, National Trust Nature Conservation Advisor said “It’s great to see numbers of the cirl buntings growing in South Cornwall. The National Trust is pleased to have been able to support this project both at the donor end in South Devon and where the new population has been established in Cornwall. We are really grateful for the help our tenant farmers have provided”. Paignton Zoo Curator of Birds Jo Gregson said:

“Paignton Zoo is keen to support conservation projects all over the world, but working with British birds is always very special for us.”

The cirl buntings have also been living up to their old name, the ‘Village Bunting’, by nesting in suburban gardens and feeding around the village edges. Many of the local residents have been delighted to find such a rare species making visits to their gardens and food supplies.

The burgeoning population will continue to be monitored throughout the winter, and with such strong support from the local community, both landowners and residents, conservationists believe these birds have a bright future ahead.

This article was written by the The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), a charity registered in England and Wales no 207076, in Scotland no SC037654.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

OCTOBER 9TH - DAY TOUR

TARIFA - RAPTOR WATCH POINTS - ALGOROBBO & CAZALLA - ZAHARA TO BARBATE - BARBATE MARSHES - OJEN VALLEY

Mike and Annie are stay for a few nights here in Gaucin and Mike had alist of two birds he most wanted to see! Easy you might say - just two sepcies! Well the two species were Rupell's Vulture and Bald Ibis only two of Spain's rarest birds....thats all.

We did in fact find two of Spains rarest birds but not the two on Mike's List


We set off at 8am in the dark and headed straight down to Tarifa, our first stop was the viewing station at Algorobbo. It was windy, dull and pretty well overcast, chilly too. Not the best conditions for watching soaring vultures. As soon as we got out of the car a Long-legged Buzzard drifted right over the top of us - what a fantastic start, the bird stayed in view for a couple of minutes before drifting off. Wow, follow that. Well we couldn't of course....but we did see up to 60 Griffon Vultres (most of them very distant in bad light), we also saw lots of Booted Eagles, several Short-toed Eagles, a single Hobby, Peregine Falcon, Common Kestrel, at least 3 Sparrowhawks and a Black Kite.

At Cazalla watch point we were alone and it was even windier so we didn't stay long. From there we saw more Griffon Vultures (50+), Booted and Short-toed Eagles and Black Kites.

Next we drove to Zahara de los Atuns on the coast. We search the coastal strip for the Blad Ibis in the areas where I had seen them before, but we had no luck. We drove the new reserve near Barbate which forms part of the Marismas de Barbate complex. Many waders were present including: Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Ringed & Kentish Plovers, Greenshank, Greater Flamingo, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, a small falcon flew across the new scrapes in the distant and it looked very much like another Hobby!

At the north-west end of the marismas de Barbate (near Vejer) we walked along the track near several pools where we found: Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail, Redshank and lots of Black-winged Stilts.

We then spent the next 2 hours travelling a circular route looking for the elusive
Bald Ibis, we even tried a local Golf Course to no avail.

After giving up on the Ibis, we made a brief stop at a raptor watch-point on the road to Bolonia without success and we ended up at another Raptor watch-point near the Pena Ridge. Within 10 minutes we located a Rupell's Vulture (juv, it drifted along the ridge in very good light with four Griffons. RESULT! The bird stayed in view for a few minutes before drifting off. We hung around for a few more minutes before setting off for home, it was 5:30pm a long day.......just for one bird!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

OCTOBER 5TH - DAY TOUR

TARIFA RAPTOR WATCH POINT (CAZALLA) - LOS LANCES BEACH - LA JANDA

This was Jill and Noel's last days birding with me and I let them control the pace and direction of the day - which meant several coffee stops and a long lunch - hey, ho you can't bird all the time.

We set off early in order to get to tarifa around 9am so that we could watch the start of the raptor migration. However when we got to Cazalla watch point quite a strong, cool, breeze had developed. We watched for an hour and enjoyed seeing many birds pass over. A flock of some 15 Black Storks got us off the mark then a trickle of Black Kites, Booted Eagles, Sparrowhawks, Short Toed Eagles and Griffon Vultures passed by. Due to the nature and direction of the winds the birds were not passing directly over us and it was difficult holding your bins up in the winds.

We were driven away by the cool temperature and made a brief visit to Los Lances beach, where we found Audouin's Gull, Sandwich Terns, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls in good numbers. A large flock of Sanderling and a few Ringed, Kentish Plovers and Dunlin dotted the beach.

On the grass meadows behind the beach we found Northern Wheatear and a small flock of brightly coloured Yellow Wagtails and all the time a trickle of Short-toed and Booted Eagles passed overhead.

After a coffee stop we made it to La Janda where the wind persisted and made it better to stay in the car and bird-watch than to try to get out. A couple of large flocks of Spanish Sparrows fed in the rice fields and a couple of Whinchats sat on the fence lines. We saw 400+ Glossy Ibis and nearly 1000 White Stroks in the fields with hundreds of Cattle and Little Egrets. Several Marsh Harriers quartered the fields and a single female Montagu's Harrier came very close to the car.

We spent a fair amount of time looking for large raptors on the road to Benalup but it really was too windy. So we set off for Tarifa and took a late lunch in a nice restaurant on the quayside, mixed sea-food platter went down very well, thank you Jill and Noel.

Well that was the end of our birding for the week, we amassed a respectable 151 species with highlight being the Eagle Owl found by Jill on the 4th.

OCT 4TH - DAY TOUR

LAGUNA MEDINA - SALINAS DE PUERTO MARIA - SALINAS DE BONANZA - LAGUNA TARELO



Another long and hot day, we set off at 7am in the dark and drove to the coast at Manilva where we collected Rosie and Mike who were joining us for the day. We set off in a two car convoy and made good time in reaching Laguna Medina by 9am.



It was a very still and bright morning, just perfect, the surface of the laguna was like a sheet of glass, not a ripple. we quickly identified White-headed Duck, Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Gadwall, Shoveler and the usual 3 grebe species, Great-crested, Black-necked and Little.



In the scrub and reed-beds we found several Cetti's Warblers, Blackcaps, Garden Warblers, Common Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers. A couple of 'coveys' of Red-legged Partridges were found in the ploughed fields along with several Northern Wheatears and a Whinchat.



In the distance we watched up to 3 Black-winged Kites, a family party, perched and hunting over the olive groves. From the hide we had a few, all but brief, views of Penduline Tit, an adult female bird.


Moving on, we drove to the Salinas de Puerto maria where we finally caught up with a number of



Stone Curlew. We also found lots of White Storks, Little & Cattle Egrets, more Northern Wheatears and Whinchats.



We stopped briefly at the Rio Guadalquiver at Sanlucar and searched for a wader that was missing from the weekly list, a Turnstone, which was duly found along with, Bar-tailed Godwit, Kentish Plover, Whimbrel, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Red Kite, Booted Eagle and lots of gulls.



We by-passed the Salinas de Bonanza in favour of driving directly to the Laguna Tarelo where one of Mike's target birds, the Marbled Duck was to found. Within minutes of parking the vehicles we had located up to 9 birds, a great relief to Mike! We also found the usual array of ducks and also Night Heron, Purple Swamphen, Red-crested Pochard (2 eclipsed males) and along the hedgerow Rosie founs 2 Chameleons as well as a very large Preying Mantis.






The two Chameleons - I wonder why they are different colours?? Answers on a postcard please.




Our last couple of hours was spent on the Salinas de Bonanza looking at many species of waders, herons, flamingos, storks, and gulls. One particular 'pan' was covered in birds with over 20 species to views and in perfect afternoon light, it was a joy to behold. The birds of note were: Black Stork (2), Osprey, Greater Flamingo (500+), Black-tailed Godwit (50+), Grey Plover, Little Stint, Cyrlew Sandpiper, Greenshank, Caspian Tern, Common Tern (a good bird for October) and hundreds of Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling, Redshank, Avocet, Black-winged Stilts.





Click on this video link to watch the Flamingos at Salinas de Bonanza.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

OCTOBER 2ND & 3RD - DAY TOURS

OCTOBER 2ND - PICNIC DOWN BY THE RIVER AT ESTACION GUADIARO

We had a lie-in today and set out in the early afternoon for a picnic in the sunshine down at the river Guadiaro. Unfortunately, most of the village decided to do the same, in fact a fiesta was going on and we were surrounded by a marching band and a procession later in the afternoon.

However, despite the loud disco-style music and the numerous comings and goings, we found quite a few species and we enjoyed our picnic.

Highlights were: Kingfisher, some really colourful Grey Wagtails, also White Wagtail, Red-rumped Swallows, Cirl Buntings, Serins, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers. Overhead we saw Griffon vultures, Short-toed Eagles and A Sparrowhawk.

Once the marching band had passed we set off for home, a little earlier than anticipated.

October 3rd - day Tour in two parts:

Part 1: Early morning trip to El Colmenar


We arrived at 8am just as it was getting light to look for Hawfinches. There were six of them in the 'dead' tree as we got out of the car. Up to 10 were counted over the hour, giving us great views, we also found Great Spotted Woodpecker, Spotless Starling, Chaffinches, Blackcaps and Garden Warblers.

Part 2: Ronda via Montejaque

The second part of this DAY TOUR consisted of an afternoon trip to Ronda. We intended to stop off for some birding along the way then take in some sights of Ronda and finish off with a meal overlooking the panoramic gorge as it got dark.

The first stop was on a track just above Montejaque at about 3pm. It was still quite hot but with a cooling breeze. We disturbed a small herd of Spanish Ibex as we pulled to a stop on the track. Then over the next hour we watched Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Griffon Vultures and not much else.

The real excitement came as stopped in the gorge where the 'dam that doesn't work' is found. Jill immediately found a roosting Eagle Owl. Oh! The cheek of it!! Finding an Eagle Owl on my patch, whilst I was with her! Well that didn't go down well, but I did let her and Noel see it through my scope, Dawn was with us too and she got to see it as well.



Although the Owl was distant - the sunlight was good and we had reasonable views in the scope. However taking a photograph was another story.

A better record shot of the Owl found by my guest Jill - in my defence I never visit this site late in the afternoon and the Owl must only come into view during that period!!! Otherwise I would have found it years ago!!!


Other birds of note were: Crag martin, Rock Dove, Raven, Sardinian Warbler and Rock Sparrow.

In Ronda we enjoyed a quiet walk around, a visit to the Bull Ring and some great views over the gorge in fading sunlight.

We perched ourselves on the terrace of one of the hotels and watched the seeting sun whilst watching up to 50 Red-billed chough coming in to roost. Crag Martins, House Martins and a flock of some 30 Alpine Swifts did the same. A lovely ending to a beautiful afternoon in sunny Spain.







Jill, Noel and Dawn looking for..........Bob