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Jan 15th - 28th. - Sri Lanka. £1750

Feb 12th -27th - Costa Rica - full

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May 13th - 21st Bulgaria - £850

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Red-throated Bee-eater

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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

JULY 3OTH 2014 - DAY TOUR

CASARES BEACH - SAN ENRIQUE WOODS - SECADERO TRACK - RIO GENAL BELOW GAUCIN

Today I collected the Haigh family from the coast at Casares beach, they had a mixed bag of interest between them which included Will's fascination with bugs!

I left Gaucin at 6:45am and along the way down to the coast I counted 15 Black Kites, a Common Buzzard and a couple Griffon Vultures.

It was windy at the coast at first, also overcast, humid and very warm but as we moved inland the sky cleared the humidity eased off and it got hot.
the Haigh family - William Haigh on the left is looking for bugs


We drove along the coast towards Algeciras making a quick stop to look at a colony of Monk Parakeets, unfortunately no birds were home so we ended just looking at bunches of twigs in the eucalyptus trees.

At San Enrique Woods we fared a little better our first bird  in the scope was a Spotted Flycatcher, then as we moved into the woods we added Great Spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper, Bonelli's Warbler, Blue Tit, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. Another eight Black Kites flew over too.

the river Guadiaro - viewed from the San Enrique Woods

We viewed the Rio Guadiaro from the woods and enjoyed views of Common Kingfisher, Grey Heron, Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper and Yellow-legged Gull.

Moving onto Secadero we stopped a few times along the track to watch a number of interesting species, Will kept finding bugs, grasshoppers and wasp's nests, how nice. Meanwhile the rest of us, Richard, Ben and mother Phillipa found some nice birdies. Several Bee-eaters sat on the power cables as did Corn Buntings. There were Stonechats and a couple of Eurasian Hoopoes in the field and our first Woodchat Shrikes sat on the fence line.
White Stork at the river

A walk along the river on a raised bank produced a good number of birds, a pair of White Storks fed in the river as did a Grey Heron and up to Six Little Egrets. A Green Sandpiper fed nearby with Common Sandpiper and several Little Ringed Plovers. Many Goldfinches, Linnets and Corn Buntings were coming to drink and a Common Kingfisher whizzed by and perched upriver.

One of our main target species was the Olivaceous Warbler, we had several sightings of this light grey bird but nothing to write home about, however, in complete contrast the Sardinian Warbler was very obliging and showed very well. A few raptors appeared which included a Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, several Griffon Vultures and a distant Short-toed Eagle.

After a picnic stop further upriver where we had excellent close views of Booted Eagle and a sighting of many Bee-eaters on the power lines we drove to the bridge over the Rio Genal near Gaucin.

Our final walk was in the intense heat of the afternoon so we kept in the shelter of the trees. We found Grey Wagtail, Common Kingfisher, White Wagtail and not a lot more. Insect life sightings included several nice dragonflies and we saw a superb Swallowtail butterfly ovipositing on a fennel plant.
look very carefully and see the Swallowtail egg - its actual size is that of a pin-head
Lastly as we got back to the car we noticed many, many Griffon Vultures  diving to the ground on a nearby hillside, suddenly they all erupted and took to the air very close to is. It was a fantastic sight to see over 100 vultures in the sky just above us, a superb way to end the day's birding trip.
 
 
 

 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

JULY 2OTH 2014 - LAZY SUNDAY AFTERNOON AT THE RIVER

RIO GUADIARO NEAR ESTACION DE CORTES

weather; very warm and sunny, but a strong easterly was whipping its way up the valley.

We spent all afternoon at the river with friends John and Mary, just talking, reading and watching a few birdies. However a bit of excitement got me out of my deck chair in a flash when a swift with a white rump flew down to the river!!!!

Yes my first WHITE-RUMPED SWIFT of the year at this site, fantastic. The bird flew around for a while then it went very high up and was lost in the ether, poor John didn't know what hit him and found it very hard to find the bird.

Other species of note:

Common Kingfisher (still feeding young), Little Ringed Plover, Cetti's Warbler, Olivaceous Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Rock Sparrow (a flock of about 20), Red-rumped Swallow, Paillid and Alpine Swifts, Bee-eaters, Golden Oriole (calling constantly), Short-toed Eagle (also calling), Booted Eagle, Griffon Vulture (30+) and lots of serins, finches and linnets. Blackcaps are still singing, crazy birds!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

THURSDAY JULY 17TH 2014 - DAY TOUR

GAUCIN TO MARCHENILLA TRACK - SAN MARTIN - SECADERO TRACK- RIO GUADIARO - RIO GENAL - CASARES - GAUCIN

Today I collected Peter from a holiday finca just outside the village in the GENAL Valley. It was just getting light at 7am as we met, I then drove back up to the village to collect Paul before driving down the Guadiaro valley towards Jimena de la Frontera.

one of the many SHORT-TOED EAGLES in a typical pose

We arrived at the Marchenilla track just as the sun was rising over the hills, it was a lovely still morning with some cloud cover. It wasn't long before we had a nice list of species in the bag. Many Sardinian Warblers flitted about in the hedgerows with Goldfinches, Serins, Linnets and Greenfinches in abundance. Woodchat Shrikes were everywhere, many juveniles showed well which was a nice testament to a good breeding season and the same could be said for Stonechats. A couple of Common Nightingales showed well too and we saw Common Whitethroat, Blackcap and Corn Bunting.

As we proceeded along the track we added Melodious Warbler, Tawny Pipit, Red-legged Partridges, Red-rumped Swallow, Bee-eater and several Short-toed Eagles were sitting on the pylons, one individual had remarkable white feathering, looking like a ghostly figure on a post. We also had several sightings of Little Owl which was nice.
distant  Red-legged Partridges

Then we found our main target species the Rumpus Bush Robin, in fact we saw two or three, one male burst into song a couple of times which was nice for Peter to hear. Walking back to the car we had our first surprise when Peter called out a Wryneck, the bird flew into a bush not too far away and showed very well, how nice.

Next we walked to the river Hozgargante where we stood on the bridge and quickly found our second target bird the Western Olivaceous Warbler (now called Isabelline Warbler in "Collin's" 2nd edition), we had excellent views of a family party and even heard one singing.

a bad record of the Olivaceous Warbler - such a nerve even putting this picture out!


From there we drove the entire length of the track into Marchenilla village and onto the main road to San Martin, we noted White Storks along the way and we made a quick stop to look at Lesser Kestrels near the railway bridge before driving through San Martin and onto the Secadero track.

Now we were alongside of the Rio Guadiaro where we made one long stop and found a nice selection of birds. Corn Buntings were also in abundance, many juveniles drinking at the river. We also found more Bee-eaters, Eurasian Hoopoe, White Wagtails, Little Ringed Plovers, Common Buzzard, Little Egret, Grey Heron and a nice flock of 10 White Storks. Raptors began to appear frequently we notes good numbers of Griffon Vultures, Booted Eagle and more Short-toed Eagles. An OSPREY was an excellent find, a very early migrant going south.
another record only shot - Little Owl

Our lunch stop was much further up the valley besides the Rio GENAL and it was there that we found one of Peter's most wanted birds, the Bonelli's Eagle. We found not one but three of these superb eagles, a family party, we presumed from Sierra Crestellina, fantastic. We added Common Kingfisher to the list and saw a large flock of Bee-eaters. After lunch we drove to the new information centre at CASARES. We used our tome there to look out for Egyptian Vultures without success, however we did see Common Raven, Common Swift  and Blue Rock Thrush.

Well that concluded our little excursion, we drove back up to Gaucin, dropping Peter at bhis finca and Paul in the village, I was home by 2pm as planned. A lovely day out with some super species on the list, must do it again sometime I am getting to like this birding lark, talking of larks we did see numerous Crested Larks that I forgot to mention!



 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

JULY 13TH 2014 - RIO GUADIARO

Dawn and I went down to our favourite Sunday-afternoon place under ash tree at the river Guadiaro near Estacion de Cortés.
THE VIEW FROM UNDER THE ASH TREE
It was baking hot with a nice breeze. Several birds were still in song:  Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler, Turtle Dove, Wryneck and even Bonelli's Warbler made a bit of an effort.


Other birds on show were; Little-ringed Plover, Common Kingfisher, both Grey and White Wagtails, Pallid Swift, Crag Martin, Woodchat Shrike, Short-toed Treecreeper, Corn Bunting, Red-rumped Swallow, Booted Eagle and lots of common finches and Sparrows.



LITTLE RINGED PLOVER

SAGE SKIPPER - ABOVE AND BELOW


SOUTHERN GATEKEEPER

 

WOODCHAT SHRIKE

BATH WHITE

WHITE FEATHERLEG

Sunday, July 6, 2014

JULY 6TH 2014 - RIO GUADIARO

This was just a quick outing for a couple of hours during the middle of the day. It was quite blustery with a chilly wind and a lot of cloud cover, totally atypical of July in Andalucia.

I only stayed our for a couple of hours and despite the wind I listed the following species at one of my favourite places along the Rio Guadiaro near Estacion de Cortés.

RED-VEINED DARTER


The best bird seen was a WRYNECK, this bird called several times before showing itself on the bare branches of a tree on the opposite bank.
 

record shot of the WRYNECK

On the river a few family parties of White Wagtails fed on shingle banks as did at least 8 Little Ringed Plovers, a single Grey Wagtail and a couple of Common Kingfishers also turned up.

In the hedgerows a few Blackcaps were still singing but Cetti's Warbler and Common Nightingale were noticeably silent.

Raptors overhead included Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Griffon Vultures and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk.

Other species seen were: Serin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, European Bee-eaters, Pallid Swift, Woodchat Shrike and Common Stonechats.

Friday, July 4, 2014

JULY 3RD 2014 - DAY OUT TO CUEVA DE GATO

 
It seems a long time ago since I was up before 7am but it has only been 12 days since the tour of the Picos and Pyrenees finished when we were up everyday before 7am - how time flies!

Today I was joined by Paul from the village and American John who lives a short distance along the Ronda road. We left the village at 7am just as it was getting light heading up country towards the Rio Guadiaro.

Today we were heading for the village of Benaojan some 25km away, we were following up reports of a pair of DIPPERS (WHITE-THROATED- Cinclus Cinclus) that were breeding not too far from Benaojan near the Cuevas de Gato (cat's cave) where the river Gaduera flows from the spectacular cave into a pool and flows down to join the Rio Guadiaro.

HOUSE MARTIN

CRAG MARTIN


We parked at the train station at Benaojan and walked to the river, from the first bridge we found both Grey and White Wagtails, also Blackcap (still singing) and lots of Goldfinches. The walk to the cave took us along a track which followed the river giving us good views of the water and rocks. We heard and then saw several Golden Orioles in the tall poplars along the far bank and many House Martins and Barn Swallows were dashing about.

MEADOW BROWN

As we approached the cave we realised that a host of repair men we using chain saws and strimmers, making a racket and consequently not many birds were near the cave entrance. However we stuck around for ta while and got good views of Crag Martins and Alpine swifts as they went back and forth into the caves to their nests. A Grey Wagtail also gave excellent views as it came back and forth to its nest with food.
if you look carefully you can see the Olivaceous Warbler on the nest

Walking back down to the river Guadiaro we stopped to watch a pair of SOUTHERN WATER VOLES (Arvicola sapidus) feeding along the bank and then we found a pair of Olivaceous Warblers, located by hearing the male in song. We watched them for a while and discovered that they we adding the finishing touches to a nest, the female often sitting in it to try it for size and comfort.

This the distance that we saw the dipper from




WHITE-THROATED DIPPER
After that bit of excitement we set off back towards the car, we had missed our target species but enjoyed our time there. One last look at a section of the river produced our bird, there feeding in the middle of the river was a WHITE-THROATED DIPPER, at last, this bird was missing from my Andalucia list these past five years and now I had it, wonderful! We all went home happy after taking numerous long-distant shots of the bird.