A better day weather wise and bird wise with a lifer for the guide.
Day three with Abby Turner from New York, USA.
I picked Abby up from the Cortijo de Tajar and we drove down the motorways via Malaga to the seawatch hide below the lighthouse at El Faro Fuengirola where we walked along the coastal path. On the rocks we had good views of Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Kentish Plover (Chorlitejo Patinegro / Charadrius alexandrinus), Whimbrel (Zarapito Trinador / Numenius phaeopus), Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) and out to sea there were Yellow-legged (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Lesser Black-backed (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus), Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus), Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) and Audouin's Gulls (Gaviota de Audouin / Larus audouinii), Sandwich Tern (Charrán Patinegro / Sterna sandvicensis) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo). In the same area we also saw White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). At the far end of the walk I got some nice shots of a Black-headed Gull sat next to a Med which made a nice pic.
We continued on along the coast using the toll roads and then through Algeciras to the view point just short of Tarifa called Cazalla but there were a good number of work men there and the gates were closed to birders but we managed to park in the gate way where we watched a large gathering of Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) circling before heading out to sea, in the same area we had Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).
After a short while we dropped down into Tarifa town looking for but not seeing the rare Garden Bulbul (Bulbul Naranjero / Pycnonotus barbatus). As we searched for these birds we recorded Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Black Redstart, Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Yellow-legged Gulls and a single Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica) which disappeared out of view before Abby got on it. We had a short walk down by the Island but we only saw several Sandwich Terns.
We drove a short way up the coast to Los Lances beach where we walked out to the hide along the boardwalk seeing Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulg aris), Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis) and Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis). Out at the hide we scanned the water and soon found Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Little Egret, more Yellow-legged, Lesser Black-backed, Black-headed and Audouin's Gulls, and around 100 more Sandwich Terns. I scanned through the Terns and was very pleased to find two Lesser-crested Terns (Charrán Bengalés / Thalasseus bengalensis) which were a Spanish lifer for both Abby and myself. We watched thes birds for a while before walking back to the car and then heading to the Apollo X1 bar for some lunch and the onwards to La Janda.
We made our way in via the track opposite the turning to Zahara de los Atunes and followed it down to the canal, on the way we saw Zitting Cisticola, Common Stonechat, House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), the first of a good many Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala) and most amazing to me were the number of Zeller's Skippers (Borbo borbonica) seen which numbered around 20 insect and Red-veined Darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) which must have numbered in there hundreds. Along the main ditch we saw Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), 3x Green Sandpipers (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), a good sized flock of Common Crane (Grulla Común / Grus grus), Pheasant (Faisán Vulgar / Phaisanus colchicus), some distant Spoonbills (Espátula Común / Platalea leucorodia) which were sat amongst a group of drying Great Cormorants and just before we turned right on to the track to the farm we saw three Great White Egrets (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba) in amongst lots of White Storks and Little Egrets. We stopped on the bridge and scanned the reed beds looking for one of the many Penduline Tits (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) we had been hearing all along the canal, very soon we had a couple calling and then a male bird sat up on to of a reed head and gave us nice views in the scope. We drove on and up towards the farm adding Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), a cracking Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) which gave us a nice display back along the ditches, a female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and several more Pheasants. Once we were past the farm and amongst the wild olive trees we had cracking views of a Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) sat on a roadside wire fence, one adult and two immature Bonelli's Eagles (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and lots of Common Chiffchaffs (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita).
At the far end of the road we turned right and drove the track towards Facinas and soon picked up a nice male Hen Harrier but we did not get anything else until we turned around and stopped to chat to a couple of British birders, Peter Ellis and his wife Sharon. While we were talking we had a male Merlin (Esmerejón / Falco columbarius) do a flyby.
We continued back along the road and instead of retracing our tracks back through the Olives we continued on up to Benalup and made a stop at a flooded field where we flushed an immature Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea) from the roadside and then had a few Northern Lapwings (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) fly over and as it went dusk we were treated to a mass arrival of Marsh Harriers to go in to a nearby reed bed to roost.
From here we made our way around to Vejer to the El Paso hotel on the road down to Tarifa,
Photographs from the top: Mediterranean (Gaviota Cabecinegra / Larus melanocephalus) and Black-headed (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus) side by side, Ruddy Turnstone (Vuelvepiedras Común / Arenaria interpres), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), 2x Lesser-crested Terns (Charrán Bengalés / Thalasseus bengalensis), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus), immature Bonelli's Eagles (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus), Abby looking at the Mandrake plants, Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua) and a view of the Facinas track area.