Tuesday 12 December 2017

La Janda, Cadiz Province.

A day amongst winter Raptors and a few other bits and bobs.

The sun just starting to warm things up, none to late. It was piggin freezing.
I left the hotel in La Linea at about 07:45 and headed along the coastal motorway and then North past Los Barrios, on the way I started the day list with Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) out side the hotel, a dozen or so White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia) which were on lamp posts and nest on pylons, Yellow-legged Gulls (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis) were every where as usual, White Wagtails (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba) all over the place, Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea) flying over a roadside lake, a Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) sat on one of the telegraph post once and just before I dropped down to La Janda area I had a Sparrowhawk (Gavilán Común / Accipiter nisus) whizz along the hedgerow towards me.
Watching two Black-winged Kites.
In amongst the more open Oaks I had a group of 7 or so Red Deers (Ciervo común / Cervus elaphus) running though the fields.
I turned on to the track into the La Janda area and parked about 100m into the site and the first bird that came into sight just as the sun peeped over the horizon to my left was a quite unexpected Squacco Heron (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides) followed by Little Egret (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Siskin (Lúgano / Carduelis spinus) x3, Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis) and a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) which came in and flushed out two Black-winged Kites (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus) from a row of dead trees.
Common Crane (Grulla Común / Grus grus) just after sun rise.
A short distance further along the track I added Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Meadow Pipit (Bisbita Pratense / Anthus pratensis), a Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) which was sat in a tree waiting for it warm up, male and female Common Stonechats (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula).
Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
I again stopped a little further along the track and scanned some more open water, through the scope I sorted Greater Flamingo (Flamenco Común / Phoenicopterus roseus), Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia), Green Sandpiper (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus), Black-winged Stilt (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus), Sanderling (Correlimos Tridáctilo / Calidris alba), Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), Bar-tailed Godwit (Aguja Colipinta / Limosa lapponica), Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus), Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Northern Shoveler (Pato Cuchara / Anas clypeata), Black-headed Gull (Gaviota Riedora / Larus ridibundus), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), a stunning female Hen Harrier (Aguilucho Pálido / Circus cyaneus) which was hunting low over wet stubble fields and a group of 11 Common Crane (Grulla Común / Grus grus) which came flying from the south calling loudly as they passed over, a stunning sight and sound where ever you my be.
Common Cranes (Grulla Común / Grus grus) later in the day.
On a corner a little further on which was slightly higher than the surroundings and gave me good views over the area I spent another hour scanning and adding Greenfinch (Verderón Común / Carduelis chloris), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Common Chiffchaff (Mosquitero Común / Phylloscopus collybita), Snipe (Agachadiza Común / Gallinago gallinago), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Common Starling (Estornino Pinto / Sturnus vulgaris) and Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus) as well as a couple of Clouded Yellows (Colias corcea) and a single Small White (Pieris rapae).
Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus).
I turned off the Benalup road and headed over to the main part of the La Janda area going through the wild olive fields and after passing through the farm I was soon up on the main Canal, on the way I saw lots of Rabbits (Conejo / Oryctolagus cuniculus), a good number of Song Thrushes (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos) flashing across in front of the car between the wild olives, a couple of Pheasants (Faisán Vulgar / Phaisanus colchicus) which flew from the farm and down on to the lower fields, 2x Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax), 20+ Western Cattle Egrets (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis), Woodpigeons (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), lots of Collared Doves (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto) and down on the lower fields a small flock of Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra).
Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus).
Once I was up on the bank on the far side of the Canal I immediately saw a large Eagle which was being mobbed by several Corvids, it was either a Great Spotted (Águila Moteada / Aquila clanga) or Lesser Spotted Eagles (Águila Pomerana / Aquila pomarina) but it was distant and I could not be sure which.
I drove South along the Canal and soon bumped into friends Penny Hale and Bob Buckler who were watching a nice Bluethroat (Pechiazul / Luscinia svecica) which they put me on to and I returned the favour with an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) which was sat on a water boom. We watched this adult which eventually dropped down on to the field nearby and was joined by an immature bird. Whilst I was with them we also saw Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis) and Lesser Black-backed Gull (Gaviota Sombria / Larus fuscus).
Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus).
I said bye (for the first time) to Penny and Bob and drove back North and all the way out to the main road where I scanned the trees looking for the Eagle I had seen earlier but I could not find it, however before I got back to the Canal crossing I had found Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia), Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), Little Ringed Plover (Chorlitejo Chico / Charadrius dubius), 15+ Brambling (Pinzón Real / Fringilla montifringilla) mixed in with House Sparrows on wet stubble fields and in the deeper water at the far end of the Canal a winter plumaged Little Grebe (Zampullín Común / Tachybaptus ruficollis).
Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus).
I crossed back to the road out to Benalup on the way adding Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) before I met another birder from the UK (Sorry I can not remember your name) who had been seeing some good birds just before the drop down off the cross track and whilst I was talking to him we saw a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and several distant soaring Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus).
We dropped down to the road to Benalup and made a couple of stops seeing the female Hen Harrier again along with many of the species I had seen earlier. As we were at the second stop a Black-winged Kite came towards us and started to hunt over one of the roadside fields before catching a small rodent and landing just along the road on a dead pad of Prickly Pear Cactus and eating it allowing me to get some distant shots. Penny and Bob had arrived behind me and were taking some shots as well.
I again said goodbye to everyone and started to leave the area but just as I got around the corned something caught my eye as it took off from the ground so I stopped the car and grabbed the scope and was soon watching a Spotted Eagle which continued on flying around the field. After messaging with a few people about the birds seen at the site recently this bird was one of the two Lesser Spotted Eagles (Águila Pomerana / Aquila pomarina) that have been in the area for a while (Thanks Javi and Ricky for the help with this one). 
Black-winged Kite (Elanio Común / Elanus caeruleus).
After watching the bird for a while I drove back to see if any of the others were still there and I found Penny and Bob who I took back to the spot but after half an hour the bird did not return but we did see an immature Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) hanging in the growing breeze above the nearby ridge.
For the third time I said goodbye to Penny and Bob and I headed back to La Linea where I met Jayne back at the hotel, later we went out for a really nice meal at the La Luna beach bar near the nautical club house.

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