I was lucky enough to get a cheap flight into Gibraltar on the Sunday evening and stopped with a friend in the very quiet village of Alcaidesa just a short distance from the rock. Luckily Jeffs a birder and had a great plan for the week.
The weeks Species list here
So it was an early start on the Monday, a trip to La Janda was in order, I new this was gonna be a good start to the week and it certainly was.
First bird of the trip was a Black Redstart just outside Jeffs property, we were to see a few hundred during the week.
I had a couple of target species for the week and here we had a good chance of one of them, the Black Shouldered Kite. I was very excited when we saw our first one, distant but good all the same. by the end of the day we had seen 4 different birds and the views got better and better until I was able to get some distant records shots.
Target species day 1 Bingo, tick.
Making our way along the La Janda track we managed 3 Bonnellies Eagles, not a species I thought id get so easy. Black and Red Kites were also seen in small numbers.
The day just kept getting better, we could hear Distant Cranes which is a species that we expected but in small numbers, for some reason the birds weren't moving on and so we managed to find an impressive 300 in one flock and a total of about 600 for the day.
Whilst watching the Cranes we looked up to this impressive spectacle, numbers like id never seen before, just incredible. 250 White Storks.
Spotless starlings are a stunning birds and this was a species in very good numbers along the La Janda. Surprising we saw 2 Red Rumped Swallows, first of the year as well as quite a few Swallows and the Sand, Crag and House Martin. Male and Female Cirl Bunting were a bonus.
Another common bird on site and every site we visited during the week were the Blackcap, ive never seen so many 1000+ 6-8 in every bush.
This was going to be the best day for number of species and I could go on and on although I will finish with a surprising Reed Warbler, 6 Spanish Sparrow, 2 not very showy Bluethroats, 30+ Spoonbills, 200 Glossy ibis a Great White Egret, Wood and Green Sandpipers, Black winged Stilt a nice Hen Harrier and a Short Toed Eagle.
An incredible start to the trip and a very bird filled day.
It was a chance to head up through the forests to Castellar de la Frontera Castle, a site Rach and I visited on our last trip for Lesser Kestrel and the history of the castle, so I was very excited to go back. Firstly though we visited the Stork Factory an incredible area for great views of White Storks on the nest, couldn't help but take loads of pictures.
We then made our way to the Los Borrios tip which used to be a good site for large numbers of Black Kite but not recently seems the Tip has practices that is stopping the birds visit anymore. We did however manage to see flocks of Black Kite on the way down the mountain, incredibly we had flocks of 300 and probably 1200 in the end moving in off the sea over the hills from Africa, again an incredible sight.
As well as the Kites we had our one and only Osprey and Booted Eagle of the trip.
We moved up the next mountain towards the forest where we were able to get out the car for a 3k walk through the trees looking for the Hawfinch, we did hear a few but never did get a proper look at one. Butterflies were on the wing here with a few Spanish Festoons and nice Monarch Butterflies.
Sighting of the day had to be a Great spotted woodpecker using a metal mast as a drumming post.
Other birds in the woods were Firecrest, Serins, Nuthatch, Jay, and a Short toed Tree Creeper.
We made it to the top and the fabulous Castellar de la Frontera Castle where the Crag Martins were showing superbly. A Couple of House Martins joined them.
We were hoping to see our first Lesser Kestrels of the trip and we weren't to be disappointed with at least 3 male birds, we think they arrived on site today, they never did land though. Jeffs eagle eyes spotted 4 Black Stork in the distance and the resident Blue Rock Thrush showed briefly.............
Other birds of note in the area were the Hoopoe, Griffon Vultures, Short Toed Eagle, Crested Lark, Raven, Spotless Starling and Yellow legged Gulls.
We finished the day back at La Alcaidesa and on the beach watching Gannets out to see. The winds had been strong over the last couple of weeks so the beach was strewn with drift wood which had attracted the Black Redstarts and Crested Lark, making for good photos.
We moved to the estuary where we spotted a really nice Adult Audouins gull with a ring on and also a Sandwich Tern and our first Med Gull.
Other birds here were Stonechat, Little Grebe and a few Black headed gulls mixed with the Yellow legged. A nice end to the day.
This was another target bird day on the Rock of Gibralter, a spectacular rock and a rock Rach n I reached the top by cable car.
Also Red Rumped Swallows, 2 Blue Rock Thrush 100+ Black Redstarts and a Great Skua out at sea. 3 Shags flew past with the Gannets and Sandwich Terns and 4 Peregrines were on the rock. Another Hoopoe didn't stay for pictures.
The Barbary Apes put on a good show for us as usual.
Walking down the Mediterranean steps was a really nice experience typical Spanish flora and fauna very steep and I finally managed a shot of the Spanish Festoon Butterfly.
Once we had covered the last of the rock bar the very last point on the Eastern side we finally found the Barbary Partridges, just the two and id almost given up, it was virtually our last scan, ill tell you what they are handsome looking birds.
After Tea and a wonderfully tasty home made cake at Jeffs mothers it was time to call it a day.
Great day and nice to be out of the car.
It was a day in and around Tarifa looking for a second life the Bulbul. I didn't really hold out much hope but again it was just nice to be out and about looking in new areas. We checked out the coast path right up until the new conservation centre which is where amazingly we caught a brief glimpse of a single Bulbul as it flew out of the trees on the left through the woodland and then out of site.
We moved towards the sea looking out towards Africa where we were able to observe Corys Shearwater and a couple more Great Skuas.
After this we headed for the dirt track near Los Lances, a great track for larks and one ive been to several times. Target here was the Calandra Lark, and we got to see a few, as well as Creasted larks, Corn Buntings and Black Redstarts. We had our biggest number of Griffons here with over 100 circling in the distance.
We finished the morning on Los Lances beach from the hide watching 30+ Audouins a few more Sandwich Tern, Ringed plover and a distant Kentish Plover.
We headed back to Alcaidesa for a walk through the woods, and on the way we found 6 Lesser Kestrels 4 Males and 2 Females, hunting by the road giving really nice scope views.
The woods proved a good move as we managed to find 12 Hawfinch and actually see them this time, well found jeff.
Great views of Firecrest were also had. Other birds of note were Hoopoe, Long tailed tit Iberian Chiffchaff in song and the Short toed Treecreeper.
I took a few other shots of various Species, Serin, Spotless Starlings, European Stonechat and Cattle Egret
Its the last day already, the week has flown by and what a week its been so today it was time to relax in the Hides Jeff has built a nice selection of common birds but good practice. House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Robin and lots of Sardinian Warblers, didn't manage a shot of the very close Hoopoe.
Time to chill out before my nightmare flight back, which was delayed by 5 hours ARGHHHH.
A few last shots of various other stuff we saw on our trip.
Dung Beetle sp
A massive thanks to Jeff for putting up with me for the week and showing me some excellent birds.