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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



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Red-throated Bee-eater

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

Friday, August 29, 2014

DAY TOUR - AUGUST 29TH 2014

MARCHENILLA TRACK - SAN ENRIQUE WOODS

Another very hot August day, we have been seeing temperatures in excess of 33C most days this week, I hope it cools down soon!

I met Gerry, my client for the day, outside the church just up from our house, it was 7:30am nice and cool and the sun was just coming up. We made the journey to the Marchenilla track in 20 minutes and we were soon listing lots of birdies.

some of the 100+ Common Starlings along the Marchenilla Track



Sardinian Warblers were everywhere in the hedgerows and verges and I have never seen so many Collared Doves, at least 50 were present! A Raven called from a pylon as we watched a large flock of starlings, I got them in the scope to show Gerry the Spotless variety found locally and bugger-me they were all Common Starlings!! Well they are very early winter migrants, what a surprise. Another surprise was the presence of a number of Spanish Sparrows, they usually turn up for the winter and are early too!

Gerry looking at his 'find' the Eurasian Hoopoe


Flocks of Goldfinches, Linnets, Serins, Greenfinches and a few Corn Buntings joined the sparrows feeding along the verges and on the track. But the star bird for Gerry was the Hoopoe, and he found it! The bird gave excellent views as it fed along the track and it was joined by a second one, how marvellous.

We enjoyed watching an adult Woodchat Shrike and a small flock of Thekla Larks, even more early migrants. A good number of Spotted Flycatchers were only outnumbered by the Common Stonechats sitting along the fence lines.
the lovely Spotted Flycatcher -one of about 20 seen this morning

As it warmed up a few Honey Buzzards began to appear from the woods, we counted a dozen or so and two more Ravens. Lots of House Martins, Barn Swallows and Common Swifts hawked insects and we found our first Montagu's Harrier quartering the fields on the hillside.

Then Gerry spotted a Short-toed Eagle sitting low on a small tree and more Honey Buzzards emerged from the wooded hillside.

By now it was getting warm so we walked back to the car for a drink of water before walking to the bridge over the river Hozgargante. From there we watched both species of starlings in the same tree, a Common Kingfisher and lots of finches coming to drink. Several Honey Buzzards flew out of the tree adjacent to the river giving us superb close views, more and more began to appear and at one stage there were 50+ in the sky. They were joined by half a dozen Black Kites, a couple of Booted Eagles and a Common Buzzard.

We then drove along the Marchenilla track and up over the hill where we stopped to look at Montagu's Harrier, Tawny Pipit and a Short-toed Eagle on a pylon, an adult Egyptian Vulture was nice to see too.

very poor attempt to capture Spotless and Common Starlings together

We drove to San Enrique Woods vis San Martin making one stop to look at a small number of Bee-eaters sitting on wires. The wood were were very quiet, we did see both Spotted and Pied Flycatcher, Great-spotted Woodpecker, a few Blue Tits and not much else. After eating our picnic lunch we walked through the woods to view the river Guadiaro where we saw: Little Egret, Grey Heron, Mallard, Great Cormorant, Great and Little Ringed Plover, Common Kingfisher and a few more Booted Eagles.

We drove back to Gaucin via San Roque where we saw a good number of White Storks still attending their nests as well as a few Cattle Egrets in the fields. Back along the Marchenilla track we saw another 3 Tawny Pipits and not much else, it was now 2pm and getting very warm. We drove straight back to Gaucin and called it a good day (or long-morning).

50 species wasn't a bad tally for our efforts.





Sunday, August 24, 2014

AUGUST 22ND 2014 - MORNING TOUR

MARCHENILLA TRACK

Today I took out 3 friends of friends who were staying in the village for a few days. They were not birders but had an interest in seeing them.

We met at 7:30am and drove the short distance to the track near San Pablo where we hoped to see some migrating raptors. The weather was glorious as ever,  a little breeze and wall to wall sunshine.

We spent a couple of hours walking just 500 meters because there were so many birds to look at!. Even Collared Doves fascinated my guests when they saw them in the scope for the first time, but it was the number of raptors that held our attention the most.



As early as 8:30am we saw small groups of Honey Buzzards lifting from the wooded hillsides, they circled on newly formed thermals and quickly gained incredible heights before drifting off towards the coast.

We also saw Common Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Common Kestrel and 3 Montagu's Harriers. Other birds of note were Hoopoe, Serin, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark, Stonechat and lots of Goldfinches, Linnets and House Sparrows. As we climbed to the top of the hill Mariella, one of guest became ill with dehydration so I quickly went back to the car and drove back up the hill with water to hand. Soon our patient was back up and running and we continued our journey in the car.
Eurasian Hoopoe

Further along the track we stopped to look at a Little Owl, a couple of Northern Wheatears, a single Whinchat, a Tawny Pipit and a low flying Short-toed Eagle. We also saw some distant Griffon Vultures and Black Kites, but it was a group of Bee-eaters sitting on the power lines that thrilled us all. Even though they are a little drab at this time of the year they still looked magnificent in the sunshine.
European Bee-eater

After a short stop at Jimena de la Frontera to look at more Bee-eaters we decided to drive back up to Gaucin as it was getting very hot and I didn't want any more casualties.
 
 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

AUGUST 21ST 2014 - MORNING BIRDING

ENCINAS BORRACHES

This was another morning trip out with my son James, he has a target of 100 species and we are up to 67 at the moment.

We set off at 7:30 am it was just getting light, there was a clear sky and a light westerly wind, perfect for our walk along the Encinas Borraches track.



Black-eared Wheatear
We had close views of Rock Sparrow along the way and we stopped once for a quick look near "Wheatear Wall" just passed the village of Atajate but not a lot turned up. We did find a nice male Rock Bunting and a few Linnets but nothing else.


Tree Grayling
Once on the track at Encinas Borraches we were surprised by the number of birds present, a large flock of Goldfinches held a few Linnets and a second flock consisted of my favourite Corn Buntings.
Family parties of Black-eared Wheatear flitted about in the scrub as did Woodchat Shrikes. But our first sighting was of a Woodlark which flew up from the track very near to the entrance gate, the bird landed not too far away and gave us good views.


The Hermit Butterfly

We struggled to find the 'resident' Shrike species, Southern Grey Shrike, but great views of Thekla Lark kept us busy for  while. Over the next 100 meters we watched more Rock Buntings, a Little Owl and we had distant sightings of Black Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush. James pulled out a pair of Red-legged Partridges and a dozen or so Griffon Vultures were perched high up on the isurrounding mountains.

juvenile Woodchat Shrike
We found a warbler flitting about in the broom bushes and it turned out to be one of our target birds the Spectacled Warbler another first for James.


Southern or Iberian Grey Shrike

We never ventured much further than the patch of heath and our efforts to see Dartford Warbler proved fruitless. We added a small flock of Chaffinches, Common Kestrel, Wood Pigeon, Bee-eater, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Common Swift and lots of Common Stonechats to our day list before we turned back and headed for the car.

Finally we found a Southern Grey Shrike sitting on top of a bush where it should be, nice bird to finish with.

We were back home by 11am and we helped the girls prepare a picnic lunch before setting off for a leisurely afternoon at the river. It was wonderful, we sat under our favourite tree and watched the world go by, whilst our grandson kept us busy all afternoon.

A few good sightings were made whilst at the river, many swifts were coming down to drink, we saw Common, Pallid and a few Alpine Swifts, there was many Wagtails on the shingle banks of both White and Grey species, as well as Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and a Common Kingfisher dashed by several times.

Other birds put in an appearance throughout the afternoon, Bee-eaters, Bonelli's Warbler, Chiffchaff sp. Short-toed Treecreeper, Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler, Cirl Bunting, Grey Heron, lots of Goldfinches and Linnets.

an amazing flock of Rock Sparrows came down to drink many times during the afternoon, they alighted on the power lines and we counted 156 Rock Sparrows a great sight indeed!



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

AUGUST 19TH 2014 - BIRDING MORNING.

RIO GENAL - SECADERO TRACK - SAN ENRIQUE WOODS - PALMONES

James my son is out with us for a week and so we must go out birding most days!

Today we left at 7:30am just as it was getting light, huge banks of misty clouds shrouded the mountain tops, there was a light breeze and the sun was just rising.

At the Rio Genal we could see that the water was barely flowing and soon it would stop altogether. We quickly located our first bards as a huge flock of finches fed in the weedy fields, Linnets, Goldfinches and Serins made up the majority of the flock but we also saw Greenfinch, Chaffinch and a number of Cirl Buntings.

 

 

A Hoopoe sat in a dead tree with Chiffchaff sp, Blackcap and Great Tit appearing nearby. Along the river we heard Cetti's Warbler several times before finally seeing one and we saw Common Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail and a few Sardinian Warblers.

One our way back to the car we stopped to watched a Common Buzzard on the ground, ot eating something dead whilst a couple of Hoopoes walked around it, a small flock of Cirl Buntings were mobbing the buzzard and a Spotted Flycatcher sat on the fence!

Along the Secadero track we enjoyed a good hour's birding seeing many Bee-eaters, Crested Larks, Stonechats,  Subalpine and Melodious Warblers, Woodchat Shrikes, Barn Swallows, Red-rumped Swallows, House Martin and a single Crag Martin. The Rio Genal disappeared underground but the Rio Guadiaro still held a good flow of water. We found another Common Kingfisher, Little Egret, Green Sandpiper (4), Little Ringed Plovers and flocks of Corn Buntings coming to drink.


Raptors started to appear with BONELLI'S EAGLE topping the bill, also Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Griffon Vulture and another Common Buzzard. Countless Bee-eaters were string along the telephone wires with Turtle Doves, Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves. We found more Blackcaps and Sardinian Warblers on the scrub.

San Enrique Woods produced very little it was quite quiet there, we did list Great Tit, Blue Tit, Eurasian Jay, Bonelli's Warbler, Short-toed Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher  but not much else. From the woods we viewed the Rio Guadiario and saw a couple of Common Sandpipers and a pair of Mallards.

Lastly we made a quick stop to look at the salt marsh at Palmones, it was a little windy there, the tide was high and tourist we sitting on the sand-bar where the birds usually sit! However we did see, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Blacked, Mediterranean and Yellow-legged Gulls, Sandwich Terns and Zitting Cisticola.

On the way back home we passed many White Storks on their nests and we logged our first Black Kites, we were disappointed not to see any raptor migration passage.

Monday, August 18, 2014

AUGUST 18TH 2014 - GAUCIN

MIGRATION OVER GAUCIN

Things are warming up here as far as migration is concerned;

the following were seen over the house today on the eastern side of the village:

7:30am   - 40+  Bee-eaters over
10am   -  another 10 flew over
5pm    -  17 Honey Buzzards -  my first for the autumn
5:30pm  - small flock of Bee-eaters (heard not seen)
6pm - single Booted Eagle

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

GAMBIA - NOVEMBER 14TH - 28TH 2014

THE GAMBIA
 
THERE ARE STILL A FEW PLACES
LEFT FOR THIS TRIP
 
HERE IS A SAMPLE OF WHAT YOU WILL SEE
 
SPOT THE DELIBERATE MISTAKE
 
AND CLAIM YOUR 5% DISCOUNT FOR THIS TRIP
 
 
 
ABYSSINIAN ROLLER

AFRICAN GREEN PIGEON

AFRICAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER

BEARDLESS BARBET

BEAUTIFUL SUNBIRD

BLUE-BREASTED KINGFISHER

BRONZE MANNIKIN

CHESTNUT-BACKED SPARROW-LARK

EGYPTIAN PLOVER

FOUR-BANDED SANDGROUSE


VIEW AT TENDABA CAMP RO THE RIVER

BROWN BABBLER

ACREA SP.

GUINEAFOWL BUTTERFLY


CUT-THROAT  (FINCH)




E-MAIL NOW TO BOOK YOUR PLACE AND SEE THESE BIRDS FOR REAL
 
 
 
 
discount only applies to the Gambia Tour 2014 and is available to the first correct answer only.





Sunday, August 10, 2014

SUNDAY AUGUST 10TH 2014 - YEOVIL, SOMERSET

GARDEN TICK

Yes I'm back in sunny Somerset for a short while and it has rained everyday since I got back! I thought that the UK was having a summer this year??

Anyway, I am waiting for my new passport to arrive so that I can get back to the sunshine.
At our flat near Yeovil we have a small  garden that overlooks a meadow and it attracts a few birds, I glanced out of the window this afternoon and low and behold there was a male COMMON REDSTART sitting on my bench in the middle of the lawn.

Wow what a stunner and a superb 'garden tick' , of course I tried to photograph the little beauty but a Robin was having none of it and chased the Redstart off. Over the next hour or so the bird came back 3 more times but was very flighty, then the rain came down even harder and the bird disappeared

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

AUGUST 1ST 2014 - DAY TOUR

CASARES BEACH TO CASARES VILLAGE - PINAR DEL REY WOODS - MARCHENILLA TRACK - SAN ENRIQUE WOODS - SOTO GRANDE

I collected father and son Richard and Will Haigh from their Apartment near Casares beach, they had been out with me a couple of days ago with two other members of their family. Will was keen to seen some butterflies, moths and bugs and Richard was happy to go along with that.






Catacola conversa

We met up at 7am just as it was getting light and by the time we arrived in Casares village it was fully light. We drove to Penny and  John's finca which is situated just outside of the village Casares. Penny had set up a couple of moth traps and we were hoping for a good selection of species.

It was quite blustery when we got there so not a great deal was on show but Will showed a good interest in the 'mothing' procedure and we did see a few very colourful species.

Rhinoceros Beetles - smaller male has the larger horn

After looking at moths we sat on the terrace drinking some of Penny's exquisite coffee whilst watching hoards of Swifts flying over, obviously migrating south. We counted over 500 in a short time, most where Common Swifts but a few Alpine Swifts were with them. We also noted Raven, Red-billed Chough, Booted Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel and Blue Rock Thrush, a couple of Spotted Flycatchers flitted in and out of the bushes just below the terrace.

We left John and Penny and drove to Pinar del Rey to look for some birds but it was extremely quiet, we only saw Jay, Chaffinch and Blue Tit.

The Marchenilla track was much better, we ent a couple of hours watching a good variety of species on show including some superb Short-toed Eagles, Bee-eaters, Melodious Warblers and the prized bird the RUFOUS BUSH ROBIN. This bird is nationally rare and has breed along this track again this year, it gave us a great show.
RUFOUS BUSH ROBIN - poor record shot
From there we made a brief visit to San Enrique Woods looking for Monarch Butterflies without success and then moving on to Soto Grande where we also dipped on the butterfly.

It was now mid-afternoon and getting very hot so we called it a day and drove back to Casares Beach where I left Richard and Will.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

JULY 31ST 2014 - DAY TOUR

ENCINAS DE BORRACHAS -  CUEVA DE GATO

I was up nice and early for this trip, I had to be in Ronda at 7am to collect my day-tour group of birders. Bernard, Penny, Ali and John were staying in the quirky 'Enfrente Arte' Hotel a superb place to stay when visiting Ronda. Bernard and the rest of the gang had been out with me last year for a similar day out.

L TO R: BERNARD, ALI, JOHN AMD PENNY

We met right on time and set off for the short drive to the Encinas Borrachas track some 12km away. It was a clear morning with a chilly breeze which was quite noticeable as we got out of the car to start our walk.


BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR
The first sighting was of a Southern (Iberian) Grey Shrike, at least 3 birds were on show, a family party which indicates that this species has bred there once again. Next came a small flock of Thekla Larks, they wouldn't keep still at first but we nailed them down in the end, not literally!

VIEW AT THE START OF THE EMCINAS BORRACHAS TRACK


A Little Owl watched us from the rocky slopes and we found several juvenile Black-eared Wheatears, the air was alive with the twittering Goldfinches and Linnets and a small flock of Spotless Starlings were calling from a pylon. We found huge numbers of tiny Natterjack Toads, they breed here every year in the man-made pools nearby which were drying up fast.

As the sun got up the air warmed and more birds began to appear, on the high cliff ledges we saw Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush and Common Kestrel.

THEKLA LARK - TRYING TO BE COY?


We walked further along the track onto the heath where Common Stonechats were common and we got glimpses of Dartford Warbler and great views of a number of Woodchat Shrikes. As we moved into the oak woods we began to hear and see many Bonelli's Warblers and the occasional Subalpine Warbler.

JUV. WOODCHAT SHRIKE

Our return journey produced more of the above with addition of Spectacled Warbler, Eurasian Hoopoe, Griffon Vulture and lots of Corn Buntings. Several butterflies were now on the wing with Bath White, Berger's Clouded Yellow, Tree Grayling and Dusky Heath showing well for us.

DUSKY HEATH

TREE GRAYING
We left the track after a wonderful 3-hour walk but we were in need of caffeine so we stopped along the way to our next venue. A quick coffee in Jimera de Libar woke us all up in time for a short birding stop at the very scenic beauty spot at Cueva de Gato (cat's cave).  It was now very hot and our walking was over for the day.
BLUE POOL AT THE CUEVA DE GATO
 

The torquoise-coloured water gushes out from the cave and forms a most picturesque pool, we sat and ate our picnic there, how lovely was that?

A short walk to and from the pool produced sightings of Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Barn Swallow, Crag Martin, Serin and Sardinian Warbler.
COPPER DEMOISELLE
I then took my lovely clients back to Ronda and their 'alternative art' hotel, after a quick tour of the quirky rooms and a small cold beer I was on my way back to Gaucin at 2pm.