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THE PROGRAMME FOR SPRING 2017 IS NOW ON MY

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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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AUSTRALIA - HOLIDAY/RECCE TOUR - DAY 4 - SEPT 30TH - SYDNEY AREA

AM    -   WALK TO JUBILEE PARK, SYDNEY         PM      -  FLIGHT TO WAGGA WAGGA

We had a leisurely morning today, no birding, we took a walk to a local park called Jubilee where tree lined tracks and open grassy areas prevailed. A few Noisy Miners, Common Mynas, Australian Magpies and Rainbow Lorikeets flew around but not a lot else was seen.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

At 11:30 we returned to our accommodation and packed our cases in preparation for our flight to Wagga (pronounced Wogga).

Galah
We arrived in Wagga at 4:30pm and quickly picked up a hire car before driving the short distance to Lake Albert where our friends Andrew and Jane lived and were hosting us for the next two nights.

Australasian Pelican

Their house is fantastic and sits on a rise overlooking Lake Albert, we sat on the terrace in the late afternoon sunlight watching the water and the bird activity. Several Australasian Pelicans sat on a dead tree as did a number of Galah, my first sighting of these pink and grey beauties. We also saw Friarbirds also a new species as well as many common birds such as Magpies, Great Cormorants, Eurasian Coots and Black Swans.
 

 

 

Monday, September 29, 2014

AUSTRALIA - HOLIDAY/RECCE TOUR - DAY 3 - SEPT 29TH - SYDNEY AREA

SYDNEY HARBOUR - BOTANICAL GARDENS - HYDE PARK - BONDI BEACH TO CLOVELLY WALK - THE 'GAP' SOUTH POINT - WATSON BAY - CENTENNIAL PARK

This was not a birding day but we took my binoculars and Dawn's camera with us anyway.......just in case a birdie showed up anywhere.

the Powerful Owl roosting in the botanical gardens
 - the only owl I have seen with a narrow neck
W caught the bus into town and around the main shopping area before crossing Hyde Park and into the Botanical Gardens where we spent an hour or so looking at plants and some birds. Dawn was trying out her new camera and getting some good results.
Little Pied Cormorant  -  this tiny grebe-like beauty is nesting in the botanical gardens 


From there we caught a bus to Bondi Beach, it was crowded, you couldn't see much sand at all it was like Weymouth on a sunny August bank holiday. The surf-boards lay redundant on this calm morning leaving the hoards of blonde, tanned surfers with nothing better to do than to pose around on the beach, I wondered if any of them have ever read a book?  Despite all of this it was a hot sunny day and the colours were vibrant and tropical and the light was simply divine.


Australian White Ibis - seen in every park, garden and even litter bins

After eating a lovely lunch we set off on the coastal path heading south, our plan was to meet up with our friend Robyn a couple of hours down the coast. We saw many Superb Fairy Wrens, what a little beauty, also lots of Noisy Miners, Australian Raven, Magpies and a few New Holland Honeyeaters.

Long-billed Corella - hundreds were feeding in the park
very common in parks - Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
After a bit of a cock-up with directions which resulted in our walk being extended by a few km's (in 34C heat) we finally met up with Robyn.

a real beauty - Masked Plover



We then spent the rest of the afternoon visiting several lovely places along the southern shoreline which resulted in me adding a few new species to my 'Sydney' list. We finished at Centennial Park where large open grassland, lakes and parkland trees make up the habitat. We added Australasian Grebe, Black, Swan, White-eyed Duck (which is a carbon copy of Ferruginous Duck). Other new birds seen earlier included: Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike, Common Koel (a migrant cuckoo just returning from the north) and Variegated Fairy Wren. My favourite find was a small flock of Eastern Silvereyes, they looked stunning in the afternoon sunlight.
the gorgeous, aptly named Silvereye

We got back home at 6pm, well shot..........another early night I'm afraid, tomorrow we leave for the interior near Canberra.

List of new birds seen today

1. Variegated Fairy Wren
2. Koel
3. Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike
4. Black Swan
5. Eastern Silvereye
6. Australasian Grebe
7. White-eyed Duck

 
 
 
 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

AUSTRALIA - HOLIDAY/RECCE TOUR - DAY 2 - SEPT 28TH - SYDNEY AREA

WARRIEWOOD WETLANDS - IRRAWONG RESERVE - CHILTERN TRACK, INGLESIDE  - LONG REEF HEADLAND - DEE WHY LAGOON

A fantastic day out birding in and around Sydney with Sarah our host and friends Robyn, Sylvia, Rob, Angus and Pip. We started at 8am and drove to Warriewood north of the city where a wooded area has a creek, ponds and a lovely boardwalk trail that leads onto a woodland reserve called Irrawong.
your having a Laugh Mr Kookaburra - taken by Dawn
Having seen lots of common species along the way we finally got a new species for me in the shape of a Brown Goshawk which drifted over the car as it circled above a wood.

At Warriewood birds were everywhere it took nearly an hour to walk about 100 meters, I saw my first fairy-wrens, there were four of them hoping around on the grass they were literally 'Superb' and a family of birds I have longed to see, job done! Even before we left the car park we saw two Pacific Bazas drift over, in fantastic light you see clearly see the heavy barring on the body.

The boardwalk at Warriewoods

Chestnut Teal taken by Dawn with her new TZ20 Panasonic
 

We also found White-browed  Scrubwren,, also Red-browed Finch, Eastern Yellow Robin, Red Wattlebird and Little Wattlebird, Laughing Kookaburra and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Rob got pretty excited we found Varied Sitella and a Grey Fantail was lovely to watch fly-catching.

An open area with ponds and reeds held a number of birds, we saw lots of Eurasian Coots, Grey Teal, the beautiful Chestnut Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Dusky Moorhen and plenty of Purple Swamphens.

we walked for another hour or so and tracked down several new species, Australian Brush-Turkeys would turn up anywhere along the trail, but it took us a long time to see the very vocal Whip Bird, these pretty birds have a very tropical-sounding loud call but often skulk away, we even saw one bathing. A Striated Thornbill showed well in some reeds and we had excellent views of Long-billed Corella and a single Eastern Rosella. Laughing Kookaburras could be heard every few minutes, what a great call, we found a pair excavating a nest hole in a tree.

Grey Teal
 
On the return walk we added a few more species, a Fan-tailed Cuckoo took some tracking down as did the Olive-backed Oriole seen by a few of the group, the Channel-billed Cuckoo called but failed to show. A lovely melodious song was delivered by the Golden Whistler and what a lovely bird too! 

From Warriewood we drove to the Chiltern Track which runs along the edge of the huge of the Ku-ring-gai National Park. It was quite quiet and very warm by now, our walk took down a valley on a wide fire-break track. We found several Honeyeaters of three species, New Holland, Yellow-faced and Lewin's, all three were cracking birds. We also tracked down a Spotted Pardalote in the canopy and we had a great sighting of a Square-tailed Kite which flew over us as we got back to the car. This locally rare species was even a tick for Rob who is a well accomplished Sydney birder.
Long-billed Corella
Next we drove back southward towards Sydney stopping at a headland called Long Reef. It was very windy by now and we had to seek shelter in order to scope the rocky outcrop and sandy area where lots of gulls, waders, terns and cormorants were either feeding or roosting. Sea-watching was superb, one of rhe best sessions I have ever had. Hundreds of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were joined by a few of the smaller Fluttering Shearwater and the odd Short-tailed Shearwater . Further out we saw many Australasian Gannets, Crested Terns and to my great delight albatrosses. We had good views of Buller's and even better views of Shy Albatross, fantastic, my first ever Albatrosses!
Crested Pigeon

On the shore we found a large number of Red-necked Stints with Ruddy Turnstone, Pacific Golden Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler and many Pied, Little-black and Great Cormorants. The Silver Gulls roosted with Crested Terns and a single White-fronted Tern. Other species seen on this part of the trip were, White-headed Heron, Australian Pelican and a Nankeen Kestrel. On a nearby golf course we added Crested Pigeon and Masked Plover to the day list.
Australian Ravens

Lastly we visited Dee Why Lagoon a little further down the coast, this brackish lagoon held many Eurasian Coots but not much else, we saw a Willy Wagtail, a single Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and two superb White-cheeked Honeyeaters in the trees behind us. A flock of House Sparrows were remarkable only because they are supposed to be getting rare in Sydney.

That finished our superb day, we listed over 70 species, many of them lifers for me, we drove home in heavy Sunday beach-traffic, I dozed off a few times.....no I wasn't driving!
 
Australian Brush-turkey               
Pacific Black Duck                                 
Grey Teal                                                 
Chestnut Teal                                           
Wedge-tailed Shearwaters
Short-tailed Shearwater                      
Fluttering Shearwater                          
Shy Albatross (T. cauta)                       
Buller’s Albatross (D. bulleri)            
Australasian Gannet                             
Great Cormorant                                   
Little Black Cormorant                        
Pied Cormorant                                     
Little Pied Cormorant                           
Australian Pelican                                  
White-faced Heron                                 
Great Egret                                               
Pacific Bazza (Crested Hawk)           
Square-tailed Kite                                 
Brown Goshawk
Nankeen Kestrel (Australian Kestrel)                                                                                                  
Dusky Moorhen                                       
Purple Swamphen                                 
Eurasian Coot                                          
Grey-tailed Tattler                                  
Ruddy Turnstone                                    
Red-necked Stint                                     
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper                         
Pacific Golden Plover                            
Masked Lapwing                                    
Arctic Jaeger                                            
Silver Gull                                                 
Crested Tern                                            
White-fronted Tern                                
Spotted Turtle-dove                               
Crested Pigeon                                         
Long-billed Corella                                
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo                   
Rainbow Lorikeet                                  
Eastern Rosella                                       
Fan-tailed Cuckoo                                   
Channel-billed Cuckoo (calls)          
Laughing Kookaburra                         
Superb Fairy-wren (Superb Blue Wren)     
Spotted Pardalote                                   
White-browed Scrubwren                  
Brown Gerygone                                    
Brown Thornbill                                    
Little Wattlebird                                    
Red Wattlebird                                       
Noisy Miner                                             
Lewin’s Honeyeater                              
Yellow-faced Honeyeater                    
New Holland Honeyeater                    
White-cheeked Honeyeater                
Eastern Spinebill (calls/inflight)      
Eastern Yellow Robin                                    
Eastern Whipbird                                    
Varied Sittella (nominate race)       
Golden Whistler (M)                            
Willie Wagtail                                        
Grey Fantail                                            
Olive-backed Oriole (calls)                
Magpie-Lark (Peewee)                        
Australian Magpie  (nominate race tibicen)                        
Pied Currawong                                       
Australian Raven
(pair & fledgling)                                    
Red-browed Finch                                 
House (sparrow (small flock)              
Welcome swallow                                  
Common Starling                                   
Common Myna  (Indian Myna)                                           
 
 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

AUSTRALIA - HOLIDAY/RECCE TOUR - DAY 1 - SEPT 27TH - SYDNEY

 
SYDNEY HARBOUR - BOTANICAL GARDENS - MANLY BEACH

At last we finally arrived at Sydney after what seemed like a week on a plane! The only saving grace was a 2 hour break in Dubai where we listed Collared Dove and Common Myna.....both species were inside the airport terminal building.
 
Opera House
Sydney Skyline
We arrived at 05:15 at Sydney Airport and we passed through customs in no time, so by 6pm we were in!. It was just getting light and a beautiful clear morning heralded our arrival, we took a cab to our friends house in the suburbs noting Silver Gull, Kelp Gull, Australian White Ibis and lots of Rainbow Lorikeets along the way.

Masked Lapwing
The taxi dropped us off at 6:30am in a lovely tree lined street, strange bird calls came from all directions, we sat at a cafe watching the local birds whilst eating toast with coffee. Spotted Turtle Dove, Common Myna, Noisy Miner, Pied Currawong, Australian Magpie, Common Starling and again lots of Rainbow Lorikeets were all buzzing about in the trees.


Sulphur-crested Cockatoo -this one has a numbered
wing-tag (a local project monitoring their movements, roost sites etc)
After walking round to our friend Sarah's house we settled in and not long after we drove to Sydney Harbour where we spent the rest of the day. What a fantastic experience the whole area is beautiful, the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and 'Manhattan Style' skyline looked every bit as good as the brochure. Lots of green space and lovely walks are found along the harbour shoreline.
Botanical Gardens showing our friends Rob, Sarah and Sylvia
    We met with a birding friend of Sarah's, a guy called Robert, he took us straight into the Botanical Gardens to show us a large owl roosting high up in a tree. A Powerful Owl sat looking down at us in superb surroundings. Many trees and flowers were in full bloom, it was lovely warm spring morning and many birds were feeding on the flowering plants and trees. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos joined the hoards of Rainbow Lorikeets, we also saw many other species. Magpie Lark, Dusky Moorhen, the Masked Lapwing is a real beauty, Australian White Ibis, Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal and Australian Wood Duck was also a little beauty.

Magpie Lark

Over one of the ponds a number of Little Pied Cormorants were nesting, this 'grebe-like' bird is a real stunner, many sat on eggs but one or two had chicks,  a Little Black Cormorant sat with them.

the very common Silver Gull
Later we were left to our own devices so we decided to take a boat trip to Manly Beach, the view of the sights around Sydney were superb from the boat and Manley Beach was very crowded but had some beautiful spots. We added Darter, Pied Cormorant and Intermediate Egret to our first day list of the tour.

Harbour Bridge from the Quay

a view from Manly Island back towards Sydney Harbour]
 
At 4pm we were zonked out so we returned to Sarah's after a return boat trip and a bus ride from the city. It was a fabulous first day, I know I am going to really enjoy this trip, but for now it was a very early night and lots of sleep.

SPECIES LIST SO FAR

1. Silver Gull
2. Kelp Gull
3. Australian White Ibis
4. Rainbow Lorikeet
5. Common Myna
6. Noisy Miner
7. Spotted Turtle Dove
8. Pied Currawong
9. Powerful Owl
10. Australian Magpie
11. Australian Raven
12. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
13. Intermediate Egret
14. Little Black Cormorant
15. Little Pied Cormorant
16. Pied Cormorant
17. Darter
18. Welcome Swallow
19. Fairy Martin
20. Magpie Lark
21. Pacific Black Duck
22. Grey Teal
23. Australian Wood Duck
24. Dusky Moorhen
25. Masked Lapwing
26. Common Starling






Tuesday, September 16, 2014

TARIFA, SPAIN: 7 - DAY TOUR - AUTUMN MIGRATION - DAY 7 - 16TH SEPT 2014

TARIFA TOWN AND CAUSEWAY - TRAFICO  AND CAZALLA MIGRATION WATCH POINTS - LA JANDA

Our final day on this migration tour was full of spectacular sightings, some rarities and a host of migrating raptors.

How about this for a list of goodies:

COMMON BULBUL - SPANISH IMPERIAL EAGLE - BONELLI'S EAGLE - RUPELL'S VULTURE - BLACK WINGED KITE - EGYPTIAN VULTURE

The day started with high cloud, light winds but poor light, we set off from the hotel at 7:45am and headed straight to the centre of Tarifa. We parked near the beach and walked to the causeway that leads to Tarifa Island, there was a bit of a nip in the air and a cool breeze.

Several waders were on the beach, a small flock of Sanderling dashed about, small numbers of Ringed Plovers fed methodically and three Redshanks sat around not doing much. A couple Ruddy Turnstones flew in and all around us the sky was full of Sandwich Terns, Little Terns, Yellow-legged Gulls, Black-headed Gulls and a single Audouin's sat on a rock.

Looking further afield we scanned the horizons for passing sea birds, a few Cory's Shearwaters glided passed and a  skua (probably a Pomerine) was seen by me only.

As we were in Tarifa we decided to try to see the  Bulbuls again, this African species has established itself here in Tarifa and breeds nowhere else in Europe, so it was worth a try to see it. This time we were lucky, after about five minutes of looking we located them by following their loud call, smashing!

Common Bubul finally found

calling loudly



Next we drove to the Migration watch point just outside of town on the coast, the cloud had lifted and the light was very good now. Our stay was very pleasant we found Tawny Pipit, Whimbrel and Stonechats on the grassy slopes and we saw several Northern Gannets out to sea. Another new bird for the trip list was Baleaeric Shearwater but they were distant and not all of the group were able to see them in the scope.

a second bird appeared and it looked like it started to kiss the first bird?

Migrating raptors were few and far between, we did see Honey Buzzards passing over very high up and much lower we watched Common Buzzard, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and a Sparrowhawk. A couple of distant Bee-eaters fed in a valley nearer to town.

From Trafico we drove to the Mirador de Estrecho for a quick (expensive) coffee and then turned back to go to Cazalla watch Point. We spent an enjoyable hour or so watch small groups of raptors circling, they gained terrific height before zooming across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco. The most numerous by far were Booted and Short-toed Eagles but we saw Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Lesser Kestrel, Red Kite (just one), Black Kite, Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture and a RUPELL'S VULTURES made two appearances, nice one. A thick band of cloud had gathered above us and the breeze had increased so we decided to leave.

comical Chris, praying for a Black-winged Kite perhaps?

From Cazalla we drove towards La Janda and stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch, it rained most of the time during lunch but eased off as we left for La Janda. Once there we parked on the central track and scanned the fields for larks as Calandra Larks was missing from our list. It remained so but we saw Corn Bunting, Crested Lark, Linnets, Goldfinches, Spanish Sparrows, all in huge numbers. White Storks we everywhere, Little and Cattle Egrets likewise and the numbers of Harriers was quite remarkable, they were seen on all directions, both Montagu's and Marsh, we even saw a melanistic Montagu's Harrier.

Further along the central track the farmers were ploughing, this attracted hundreds of egret, Jackdaws and Glossy Ibis and to our great delight about 40-50 Lesser Kestrels were feeding over the same fields, this was an incredible sight.

The next hour was great birding we parked on the track to Benalup and scanned for raptors, soon we were rewarded with views of a juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle, what a great bird. We then found two Black-winged Kites perched up and over then half an hour we had sighting of two Bonelli's Eagles, an adult and a juvenile and two juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagles, both species were often seen together with the Bonelli's diving at the bigger birds.

The sky was often full of Wood Pigeons, hundreds of them, also Jackdaws, Cattle Egret and flock of Spanish Sparrows, an Osprey also flew over us.

It was now late afternoon so we headed off La Janda but before we reach the main road we stopped to watch a Purple Heron, our last new bird of the trip! On the way back to the hotel we made a last attempt at finding Calandra Lark without success.

Well the birding was over we called the log after dinner and recalled  our week of Migration watch. The trip total finished at 163 species plus two others heard, the Cetti's Warbler and a Tawny Owl (which is calling as I write this at 6am). Most people had a favourite bird, Red-necked Nightjar got two votes, Black-winged Kite got one, Woodchat Shrike another, the Lesser Kestrel spectacle got a couple others were undecided.

Overall the raptor migration was a bit disappointing, we never saw the expected numbers, no mass migration, this was because the winds were light westerly, ideal conditions for crossing so we never saw a build-up of birds they simply crossed at will.

For me it was another great week, superb birding, a lovely group of people, smashing weather and a superb tally of species which included several rarities and unusual sightings.




 

 

 

 

Monday, September 15, 2014

TARIFA, SPAIN: 7 - DAY TOUR - AUTUMN MIGRATION - DAY 6 - 15TH SEPT 2014

RIO GENAL (NEAR GAUCIN) - SERRANIA SE RONDA (ENCINAS BORRACHES TRACK) - RONDA - SIERRA DE LAS NIEVES

Another early start and a long drive to start the day. We headed into the mountains to try to see a different set of species, we had perfect weather, clear sky little wind and a nice temperature.

Our first stop was at the Rio Genal found just below Gaucin, the river is almost dry but still has a small flow. It was quite quiet, we logged Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Serin and Chaffinch, all feeding in a field of wild flowers. Then we found a nice male Cirl Bunting which was singing,  a White Wagtail and both Grey Wagtail and Green Sandpiper along the river. A Cetti's Warbler called  a few times and we saw Sparrowhawk and Short-toed Eagle before moving on.

After a quick coffee stop in Gaucin we continued our journey towards Ronda making a stop just passed Atajate where from the roadside we listed Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush and Linnet.

on the Encinas Borraches track
We spent an hour at the Encinas Borraches track watching some nice species:
Woodchat Shrike, Northern, Black and Black-eared Wheatear, Crested and Thekla Larks, lots of Stonechats and a single Whinchat. A Short-toed Eagle sat high up on the rock pinnacles looking magnificent in rhe superb light, A good of Griffon Vultures circled over the distant ridge.
Woodchat Shrike

From there we drove into Ronda and spent an hour taking lunch and walking around the famous bridge taking in rhe fabulous view trying not to bump into the hoards of tourists.


Common Redstart

The whole afternoon was spent in the beautiful Sierra de las Nieves natural park, I really love the rugged scenery, rhe contrasting open rocky areas, the pine forests and the young oak woodlands.

Woodlark

Our first stop was at the entrance recreational area where open woodland surrounds a picnic site, we found a few Common Redstarts there, also a flock of eight Woodlarks and a couple of Eurasian Chiffchaffs, a small party of Dartford Warblers, also a Jay and a Common Whitethroat.

From there we drove the short distance to a water trough where a number of species were coming to bathe or drink, we listed: Willow Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Pied Flycatcher, Rock Bunting, Blue Tit, Great Tit,  a Chaffinch and another Jay.

We made two more stops after crawling along a bumpy track, the first was in an open valley where some cultivated fields, a section of heathland and some wide roadside margins had many juniper bushes. The butterflies found here were superb, many Cardinal Fritillary fed on the junipers with Sage Skippers, Cleopatras, Silver-studded Blues, Clouded Yellows and the occasional Bathe White, a Queen of Spain Fritillary was a nice find.

Queen-of-Spain Fritillary by Tony Moore
Cardinal Fritillary - Tony Moore
 
The birds seen there were quite nice too, several Black Wheatears were noted, another couple of Rock Buntings, some Linnets, Goldfinches and another Dartford Warbler. A Spectacled Warbler gave us rhe run around and we never got great views of it in the end.


Chris at rhe ready waiting for the Spectacled Warbler
with Tony poised and Mike retiring from the chase
 

Finally we stopped near a stream where mature pines, cedars and spruces grew, we had a terrific time with fabulous sightings of Firecrest, there were several around us and one or two came very close. Crested Tit and Coal Tit also showed well, the cameras were clicking again, at one stage it sounded like the paparazzi outside a court house at a celebrity trail!
Firecrest - Tony Moore
All too soon we had to leave, it was along drive back to Tarifa, we added Grey Wagtail and a Mistle Thrush.








 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

TARIFA, SPAIN: 7 - DAY TOUR - AUTUMN MIGRATION - DAY 5 - 14TH SEPT 2014

 
LOS LANCES BEACH - TARIFA TOWN - RAPTOR WATCH POINTS;  CAZALLA, TRAFICO AND ALGORROBO - BOLONIA AND SIERRA DE LA PLATA

ANOTHER GREAT FIND FOR THE TRIP LIST:    RUPPELL'S VULTURE


the second of two Ruppell's Vulture seen at Algorrobo - photo taken by Tony Moore
We had a slow and relaxing day today after the 'Bonanza' of yesterday, it was overcast in the Tarifa area with very low cloud throughout the morning. This hampered our birding somewhat and kind of put a damper on the morning.

A pre-breakfast walk found us on the Los Lances Beach at 8am. It was very quiet, we listed only Yellow-legged, Lesser Black-backed and Black Headed Gulls and  a single Oystercatcher, there was a couple of Sandwich Terns sitting on a buoy.

After breakfast we drove into Tarifa to a spot where the COMMON BULBUL had been seen recently, this common African species has been breeding in the area for a couple of years now. we couldn't hear or see them so we walked along a track to look for other birds. A flock of some 20 Bee-eaters was nice to see and a few raptors went over us, Black Kite, Honey Buzzard, Booted Eagle and a Montagu's Harrier. We found Spotted Flycatcher, Common Whitethroat and  I saw a Wryneck but the others only heard it calling.
distant Bee-eaters

The rest of the  morning was spent visiting some of the raptor watch points found between Tarfia and Agleciras, on the Tarifa side there were more birds but sightings were marred by windy conditions and low cloud. At Algorrobo on the east side of the Tarifa hills it was cloudless with little wind but far fewer raptors were going over. However this is where we saw the Ruppell's Vultures, two of them!
Alpine Swift - this picture taken by Tony Moore
We also had excellent views of many Alpine Swifts as they whizzes all around us. We ate lunch there before setting off to Bolonia. Our mornings listing included: Alpine, Pallid and Common Swifts, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Griffon, Egyptian  & Ruppell's Vultures, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Black Kite, Common and Honey Buzzards. A Whinchat was anice find at rhe Mirador se Estrecho.
a young Griffon Vulture at the neat site near Bolinia


Threat of rhe afternoon was spent at Bolonia, where we sat at the foot of the Sierra de la Plata hoping to see White-rumped Swift. We had a lovely couple of hours sitting in the afternoon sunshine, there was a nice breeze and rhe view was outstanding.
the view of Bolinia from Sierra de la Plata

a digi-scoped view from the same place as above of the Roman ruins - Baelo Claudia

same again but of Tarifa Island with the Rif Mountains of Morocco behind


 We saw Spotted Flycatcher, Black-eared Wheatear, Northern Wheatear and Common Stonechat on rhe way and Blue Rock Thrush, Short-toed Eagle perched near the top. Griffon Vultures provided the entertainment with their comings and goings on rhe cliff face and a trickle of raptors drifted over the limestone pinnacles. There were lots of swift sightings of three species but not the White-rumped variety.

We left the Bolonia area at 5:30pm and set off for the hotel. Another nice evening was spent on rhe terrace at dinner, we were joined by Moorish Gecko and European Tree Frog, how nice!


 
 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

TARIFA, SPAIN: 7 - DAY TOUR - AUTUMN MIGRATION - DAY 4 - 13TH SEPT 2014


SANLUCAR (RIO GUADALQUIVER) - BONANZA SALT PANS - PJNAR DE ALGAIDA - TREBUJENA SALT MARSH - CHIPIONA SEA FRONT

A cracking day today with some top birds, super weather and great venues.

LITTLE SWIFT and MARBLED DUCK topped the list but BLUETHROAT and WHITE HEADED DUCK came a close second.

Just look at these superb pictures of the swift taken by TONY MOORE one of our group.




LITTLE SWIFT
We set off at 7:45am and drove to Sanlucar with a couple of very brief stops along the way but nothing to report from them.

Just outside of Sanlucar we stopped to view the river Guadalquiver from the roadside and as we were only a couple of kilometers from the river mouth this section is tidal. The tide was out and lots of birds were feeding on the exposed river banks, in fact thousands of birds could be seen upriver in the distance.
the ever present Greater Flamingo
We quickly listed Dunlin, Kentish and Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Grey Plover and Ruddy Turnstone. Lots of Little Egrets, Grey Herons and few raptors flew over, namely Black Kite, Booted Eagle and Montagu's Harrier, an Osprey sat on a post in the distance.

Next we drove onto the Bonanaza Salt Pans, one of my favourite places and always a great place for waders. The forst pans were empty of birds but soon we found lots. We had great views of Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint, in fact one each of all three fed very close to the bus. Then we hit large flocks of Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilts, Greater Flamingo, Slender-billed Gulls, Redshanks, Greenshanks and many more Dunlin, Curlew Sandpipers, Sanderling and Little Stint.
Marbled Duck

Our second stop produced a few passerines too, Whinchat, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Yellow Wagtail and Zitting Cisticola. More waders were seen near the river in flooded salt marsh, Ruff joined hundreds of Black-winged Stilts, Greenshanks, Common and Green Sandpipers, Redshanks, Ringed Plovers and the three most common waders Dunlin, Cirlew Sandpiper and Little Stint.

Finally we parked by a pump house and scanned the open lagoons and salt pans from a little higher, our views were extended from this vantage point and more birds went on the list. We added Little Tern, Caspian Tern, Common Shelduck, Black-necked Grebe and an Osprey was fishing nearby which caused quite a splash!

A Bluethroat was seen by some of the group and a Booted Eagle stole the catch of the Osprey and sat nearby to eat it.
at the Bonanza Salt Pans
We then drove round to a small laguna near the woods of Algaida and although we were pestered by flies we had a great hour listing a lot of goodies. Eleven MARBLED DUCK were the star birds but we enjoyed, White-headed Duck, Common and Red-crested Pochard, Shoveler, Eurasian Teal, Little Grebe and lots of egrets. A few Night Herons sat in the bushes and a small flock of Common Waxbills flitted about in the reeds.

there are 7 species here can you find: Marbled Duck, Shoveler,
 Red-crested Pochard, Little Grebe, Mallard, Black-winged Stilt and Ringed Plover

From our position we could view a section of the Bonanza Salts and we listed Great White Egret, Great-crested Grebe, Common Shelduck and a pair of Ravens flew over. We also noted a Pied Flycatcher very close to the bus just before we left.
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Pied Flycatcher

Our picnic lunch was eaten at 2pm in the Alagida pine woods, we were blighted by flies so lunch was over quickly. The drive through the woods only produced views of 5 Red Kites and a couple of Short-toed Eagles.

Out on the Trebujena Salt Marsh birds were few and far between, we added Crested Lark and Common Kingfisher and although plenty of birds were seen in the open lagoons we only added Eurasian Spoonbill to our list. Near the end of 'run' along the marshes a couple of pools held good numbers of egrets and a few waders, we found our only Squacco Heron there.

unknown Caterpillars
Following a coffee stop in the centre of Trebujena we drove to Chipiona some 20 minutes away, parking near the port at the seafront we walked to the beach and scanned the skies. We were looking for Little Swift, a small colony of these African birds had been established in a building at the port. We had a wonderful time watching first, the odd one or two, then up to six flew just a few meters above our heads, amazing.

Well we finished on that high note and drove back to Tarifa arriving at 6:30pm, it had been a long day but very successful, 84 species seen.