Beach, Pools, Salt pans, Lakes and Marshes and lots of birds.
Day Four with Abby Turner from New York, USA.
Over night I was kept awake for a while but by calling Eagle (Buho Real / Bubo bubo), Little (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and Tawny Owls (Cárabo Común / Strix aluco) so I did not mind too much. We got up, had breakfast and headed out to just in time to see masses of Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) leaving their near by roosts.
Once in the car we made our way to the disused Salt Pans just to the South of Barbate on the Atlantic coast and it was surprisingly cool. We pulled off the road on to what would become a car park a little later once the tide had dropped a tad more but instead of cars it held a much nicer group of Ringed (Chorlitejo Grande / Charadrius hiaticula) and Kentish Plovers (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Dunlins (Correlimos Común / Calidris alpina), a Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and several Little Egrets (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) which were stalking prey along the quickly emptying river. On the opposite side of the road in a couple of pools we added Grey Plover (Chorlito Gris / Pluviali squatarola), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) and Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus) to the wader list as well as Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus) and Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis). We moved up the road a short way and turned on to the track around the disused Salt Pans and scanned the water picking out Spoonbill (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia), Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Audouin's Gull (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba) and Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos). In the bushes and on posts along the margins we also had Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata) and Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra).
We retraced our way back to the road and set the satnav to take us up to the town of Chipiona via a golf course just to the south of Vejer where we looked for and found just a single Bald Ibis (Ibis Eremita / Geronticus eremita) which was feeding under some Oak trees on the side of the course with several Cattle Egrets and Jackdaws nearby and a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) which was sat in the sun on the grass.
We rejoined the main road going North and followed it past Jerez and out to Chipiona where we called at the well known site for the Little Swifts (Vencejo Moro / Apus affinis), with it being so late in the year I was not sure whether the birds would still be on site. We pulled up and almost immediately had 5 Swifts fly over us and with in a few minutes found that there were around 20 birds in the area and they gave us fantastic views. We checked the jetties in the harbour but only found Lesser Black-backed Gulls so we went to have a look at the beach pools. Unfortunately there were loads of fishermen on the pool walls so there were not many birds but we did see Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus), Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres) and more Audouin's Gulls.
We moved on slightly North to the three pools near to Bonanza but the one was rather green and slimy and birdless apart from one rather brave Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis) and a Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra).
On the opposite side of the road we checked the larger pool and boosted the list with Purple Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Common Pochard (Porrón Común / Aythya ferina), a brief Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) which we did just manage to get in the scope and then right below us a couple of Common Waxbills (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild).
Next we spent while checking out the generally quite Salt Pans at Bonanza but we did get good views of some new wader species including Avocet (Avoceta Común / Recurvirostra avosetta), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Black-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colinegra / Limosa limosa) and Ruff (Combatiente / Philomachus pugnax) as well as more Dunlin, a good sized flock of Whimbrel, Common Sandpipers, Grey Plover and several Sanderlings. Down near the pump house at the far end of the site we got good views of several Caspian Tern (Pagaza Piquiroja / Sterna caspia), a couple of Slender-billed Gulls (Gaviota Picofina / Larus genei), Greater Flamingo's, 8x Great White Egrets (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), Little Egrets and White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia). As we made our way back along the ditch which had a chainlink fence running along side it we had views of at least two Kingfishers, Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis).
We left the site and moved to the Algaida Pine woods where we parked and walked through a large crowd of Spanish school children to get to El Tarelo Pool but I was surprised to see how big the lake was so I went back for my scope and again made my way through the question asking Spanish Kids. It was surprising how many of the youngsters could speak English, I got the scope and by the time I had walked back through the kids again we were on first name terms. I reached the hide and set up the scope and we soon added White-headed Duck (Malvasia Cabeciblanca / Oxyura leucocephala) and a couple of Black-necked Grebes (Zampullín Cullinegro / Podiceps nigricollis) as well as Clouded Yellow (Colias Común / Colias corcea), Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope), Red-veined (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum).
By the time we returned to the car the bus loads of Children had gone and it was much quieter, we drove through the woods but saw little and then made our way along the banks of the Rio Guadalquivir. We checked the pools and canals where we saw many of the same species seen during the day along with a stunning male Hen Harrier.
We made our way out from the river and towards the nights hotel the Cortijo Los Naranjos near to the town of Las Cabezas de San Juan and what a hotel it was. We pulled up out side and I was convinced that we were at the wrong place as I had not paid a vast amount for the rooms and this place looked amazing from the out side. The inside was just as good, with our rooms set off a beautiful courtyard with benches and a good number of nice Orange trees. I will put some links here when I can find the email.
Photographs from the top: 2x Little Swifts (Vencejo Moro / Apus affinis), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), the pool near Bonanza, Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild), 2x Common Sandpiper (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos) and 2x Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis).