Steve Daly from Andalucian Guide but he was already working so it turned into a self guided day but with the knowlage I had got from Steve on a passed visit I had a good idea of where the birds were. Where I got the best deal I have ever had for breakfast, a large coffee and a decent toast with tomato for €2. After topping up the caffin levels I drove back out of Barbate and crossed the Rio Barbate and parked on the right near what looked like a sewage treatment works. I got here just as the sun was starting to come up and the Gulls were just starting to come in off the sea in there hundreds, most were Black-headed Gulls (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) but they were joined by many Lesser Black-backs (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michaellis). As the light improved I started to see formations of Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), the odd Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) along with a flight of 9 Spoonbills (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia). I then walked back towards the bridge and flushed a Water Pipit (Bisbita Alpino / Anthus spinoletta), a couple of Crested Larks (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). The pools on the landward side of the road were very quiet but I did see a single Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluviali squatarola) and a few Mallards (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos) but not a lot else. As I walked back towards the car a winter plumaged Caspian Tern (Pagaza Piquiroja / Sterna caspia) flew in from the sea and away out on to the marsh and while I was following this bird a massive raptor came up out of the marsh and dropped almost immediately back into cover. I would have liked a lot better view of the bird but thought that it was probably an immature Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) but not sure so I did not count it on the day list. I then moved down the road a short way and checked two larger pools on the landward side and a wet area on the beach, on the beach there were a good number of waders including Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) and a single Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos). On the two larger pools there were more Grey Plovers, Sanderlings, Mallards, Black-headed Gulls and Cattle Egrets these were seen along with a couple of Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), a single Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) and Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea). In the air several flights of Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo) came in off the sea and headed up river and there were good numbers of Crag Martins (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris). My next stop was a little further down the road amongst some small holdings where there were several groups of resting Cattle Egrets, a small group of 6 Northern Bald Ibis (Ibis Eremita / Geronticus eremita), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis) and a White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia) sat on the roof of one of the farm houses. I then found a track up behind the building where I had views out over some wetland pools, here there were at least 8 more Spoonbills, a couple of hundred Sanderling, a few Dunlin (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina) and quite a large flock of Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii).
I then dropped down the coast towards Zahara de los Atunes where there were hundreds of Crag Martins along the river so I thought it had to be worth a scan through them to see what other species were there and it payed off with a couple of House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and at least 6 Barn Swallows (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica). On the river there was a small group of 4 Audouin's Gulls and 20 or so Sandwich Terns (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis).
I then went inland to La Janda, as soon as I arrived 3 Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus) flew across the track and 2 Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) which were hunting over near by fields which made for a good start to a good visit. I then followed the main collector canal and soon had Purple Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Reed Bunting ( Escribano Palustre / Emberiza schoeniclus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis) on the day list. On the wet fields there were quite a few Cattle and Little Egrets, White Storks, Grey Herons along with hundreds of Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and a flock of around 100 Golden Plovers (Chorlito Dorado Europeo / Pluvialis apricaia). After a few Km I turned up the track towards Cortijo de la Mediana on the way several Pheasants (Faisán Vulgar /
Phaisanus colchicus) were out in the cereal crop fields on both sides of the track and just as the track started to go up towards the cortijo there was a nice Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) sat on the top of a pylon. I went through the farm and into the olive woods on the ridge adding another Booted Eagle on the way, amongst the trees a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) was making life difficult for the smaller birds including Blackcaps (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Black Redstarts (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros) and Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major). In the same area there was a Green Woodpecker (Pito Real / Picus viridis) calling, loads of Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and in the sky above the olives there was a flock of around 30 Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), a Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and during the half an hour I was watching in this area there were a couple of flocks of around 50 Common Cranes that passed over heading north. White Storks were also coming over the area in large numbers with some kettles holding a couple of hundred birds. I continued on along this track to the track between Benalup and Facinas, I headed towards the latter and soon had fabulous views of a cracking male Hen Harrier which came up off the side of the track and started to quarter the nearby fields. Further on I saw at least four more Black-winged Kites, another Black Kite, more Ravens, Griffon Vultures and two Little Owls (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which were sunning them selves on the top of some fence posts. I continued on along this track for around 6 KM before turning around and heading back towards the marshes on the way I added Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris) which seemed to be commoner than the Spotless along this route, Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita). I passed through the Olive woods again seeing another couple of female Hen Harriers, a Black-winged Kite and loads of Blackcaps which seemed to be oozing out of the roadside trees. I dropped back down onto the fields and then back out onto the track along the canal, almost straight away I added three new species to the list including an immature Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), a adult Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) and a Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) which was sat on the edge of the smaller ditch with a group of Grey Herons. Before I got back to the road Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Barn Swallow, House Martin and Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) were seen. During my visit to this cracking site I also saw a single teneral Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii), Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Small White (Artogeia rapae), Bath White (Blanqiverdosa / Pontia daplidice) and Large White (Pieris brassicae) and masses of the beautiful Paper White Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus).
I started to drive back towards Tarifa stopping at Los Lances beach on the way but it was full of kite surfers and boarders so there were just a few Sandwich Terns on the usual posts and a good number of Audouins Gulls roosting on the beach. The sea was breaking through the sand bar and where the waves were breaking into the pool there were a few Sanderlings and a dozen or so Kentish Plovers. I then made my way back to the hotel and Jayne and I went out for a very nice Chinese meal in the town.
Photographs from the top: Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus), Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Night Heron (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra), 2x Great White Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba), Wooden Fence in the Olive woods and Paper White Narcissus (Narcissus papyraceus).