Thursday, 1 March 2012

Between Barbate and Tarifa, Cadiz Province.

Birding along the Atlantic Coast.

After a fairly good nights sleep (which was a surprise as I had been coughing most of the evening) Jayne and I headed out for a days Birding, Shopping and sightseeing, leaving Steve to carry out an urgent repair on his roof. We first stopped at the disused salt pans just South of Barbate where I got the scope out and started to scan through the waders present, they included a single Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluvialis squatarola), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Little Stint (Correlimos Menudo / Calidris minuta), Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), Kentish (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus) and Ringed Plovers (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) and Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba). Other species included Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Gaviota Somria / Larus fuscus), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Crested Lark (Cogujada Común / Galerida cristata) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata). We carried on down the coast and on to Traifa where we had a coffee before a much more pleasant that expected walk around the town. There were a lot of empty shops, most were closed down Surfing places but there were still loads open.
Later we headed back North and then turned off left to Bolonia and on up to Sierra de la Plata, on the run down into Bolonia I picked up another year tick a couple of very nice Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus) which were flying low hunting over the fields next to the road. On the climb up to the Sierra Jayne picked up a couple more BIG BIRDS as she calls them which turned out to be the birds of the trip for me, two fine adult Egyptian Vultures (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus) which circled the lower crags before departing over the main ridge. We continued on to the cave and parked at the view point, from here we saw several Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Blue Rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris). I walked a little way down the road where I met two Spanish birders, the first was from Algeciras and the girl (sorry I am useless with names) with him was from Extremadura, we had a chat about the local birds and about my visits to Extremadura before we departed for something to eat back down in Bolonia. After a very nice lunch we went back to the main road and headed to La Janda for a drive along the main canal and then cross country to Benalup. On the main canal and the surrounding fields birds were few and far between but Steve had already warned me that the rice paddies were dry (to stop the weeds growing) and that things were a bit quiet. We picked up a few of the resident Purple Swamp-hens (Calamón Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinula Chloropus), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocorax carbo), Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) and an absolutely cracking plumaged male Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) which flew along side us for a while.
We turned off the main track and headed out over the lower fields and then up on to the ridge on the far side passing through a small farm yard and then out into an area of wild Olives. On the way the commonest species were the male Pheasants (Faisán Vulgar / Phaisanus colchicus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Northern Lapwing, Common Stonechats and Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) but the best bird was a splendid sub adult Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) which was hunting low over the ridge before dropping swiftly down along one of the field edge drainage ditches try with out success to take one of the male Pheasants hiding there. Once we were past the farm we picked up two stunning Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) hovering over the breaks in the olives, another male Marsh Harrier and several distant Griffon Vultures which were soaring way off over the mountains. I then had a walk along the road and flushed a Short-eared Owl (Búho Campestre / Asio flammeus) and Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius) from a road side Olive trees; I did not get great views but two nice birds even so. Other birds included lots of Song Thrushes (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Robin (Petirrrojo / Erithacus rubecula), Mistle Thrush (Zorzal Charlo / Turdus viscivorus), Meadow Pipit (Bistita Común / Anthus pratensis), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
We then continued on down to the point where the road turns to tarmac heading for Benalup, I thought that this would miss out the rough roads back across La Janda but how wrong can you be, there were more potholes along the road than on any other I have found in Spain so far. On this slow twisting drive we did add a few more species including a single Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago) feeding in a road side puddle, 4 Eurasian Teal (Cerceta Común / Anas crecca) on a small pool not much bigger that the last puddle, singing Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Golden Plover (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenuela Común / Himantopus himantopus) and Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea).
We passed through the town of Benalup and headed back to Steve’s for the evening, where we chatted again over a few more beers. The only other birds recorded was a Tawny Owl (Cárabo Común / Strix aluco) which was heard but not seen. It was a very good job that Steve carried out the repairs on his roof as we had quite a storm in the night with some heavy rain, thunder and lightening.
Photographs from the top: Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago) and Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus).

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