Meeting some old friends at the Bird Fair and seeing some stunning Migration.
The first stop of the day was at the “International Bird Fair” at Tarifa, a short while later I was on my way to Bolonia and onwards to Sierra de la Plata. On the drive up I saw a single male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), good numbers of Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). As soon as I arrived at the sierra Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) were seen in flight around the crags, along with a couple of Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) which flew straight over the pines and out to sea. Up on the rocks more Griffons were loafing around, at least 3 Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) were chasing each other, Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) flew around the cliffs and over the woods. Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) were seen moving south along with good numbers of Sparrowhawks (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus), in all at least 75 birds were seen in the hour I was there. In the woods below the road I added Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Great Tit (Carbonero Común / Parus major) and in the air European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) hawked for insects. I had a short walk down the road and found a nice Blue Hawker and a very territorial Two-tailed Pasha (Charaxes jasius) which dive bombed me several time and eventually landed on my hat. On the drive back to the main road I stopped to check out a spiral of raptors heading out towards the sea, I was amazed to find a flock of 30+ Egyptian Vultures (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus) of all ages gaining height.
The next site was Playa de los Lances, I parked near the garage on the Cadiz to Tarifa road. I walked out on the board walk and picked up a large number of waders, terns and gulls off towards the sea. Most of the terns were Sandwich (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) but there was a single Common Tern (Charrán Común / Sterna Hirundo) was amongst them. This bird had a damaged wing but it still managed to fly off with the rest of the birds when a dog walker disturbed them. In a channel along the edge of the beach several Bar-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colipinta / Limosa lapponica) and 3 Red Knot (Correlimos Gordo / Calidris canutus) were feeding and out on the sand Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Little Ringed (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius) and Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) ran around. A flock of several hundred gulls were also out on the sand, the flock contained large numbers of Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) and Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) along with a few Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii). On and over the fields behind the beach I picked up a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egretta garzetta), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Northern Wheatear (Collalba Gris / Oenanthe oenanthe) and Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia).
The last stop of the day was at Cazalla Raptor watch point, a group of about 15 Spanish birders including a nice chap called Paco who gave me loads of info about what had gone on during the last week or twos passage. When I arrived the cloud cover was total but after about an hour it suddenly cleared and then what happened was fantastic. Birds just started to stream through, literally by the hundred. Groups of 50 or more Black Storks (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) and Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) came passed every few minutes making a change from the continuous flow of Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) and White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia). Lesser numbers of Egyptian Vultures (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus) 70+, Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) 90+, Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Honey Buzzard (Aberjero Europeo / Pernis apivorus), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) and Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulga / Falco tinnunculus). Then a large bird came up over the ridge, I pointed it out to Paco but was already sure it was an Immature Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti), the bird flew close by and then out towards the coast but turned back and then amazingly it was joined by a second bird. Just then Andy Patterson from Torremolinos arrived and made it up to get good views. I unfortunately then had to drag my self away from a fantastic birding spectacle and head back to La Linea.
Photographs from the top: Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), two Sandwich (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) and a single Common Tern (Charrán Común / Sterna Hirundo), Raptor watch point and Black Storks (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra).