Monday, 26 May 2014

Spain 10th-17th May

Day 1 Saturday 10th May.
Landed on Gibraltar Via Luton on Monarch Airways, I highly recommended them, very good flight on time everyone was friendly.
Anyway Landed and first birds we saw were Yellow Legged Gulls and Pallid Swifts and eventually a Common Swift.

Jeff our very good  host for the week arrived to meet us and took us to our car and excellent hotel room via a few birding spots.

Spanish Terrapin and Viperine Snake were in the ponds, Nightingale, Dartford Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Stonechats and Cettis all from around the Hotel. This was gonna be an awesome place to stop. Jeffs spot was in the heart of  La Alcaidesa, over looking ponds, the sea and scrubland.
Jeff left us to it and we just relaxed on the balcony listening to the Nightingales, watching Red Rumped Swallows, Little Grebe, Hobby, Serin, Spotted Flycatchers, Spotless Starlings and nesting White Wagtails.




Day 2
Jeff was to very kindly take us birding for the whole day. Starting at the Stork Factory a great place for watching White Storks at eye level but before this we spotted our first of many Bee eaters. At the Stork spot we got brilliant views of Red Rumped Swallow, Melodious Warbler and Swifts.

We moved onto the raptor Watchpoint above Tarifa but we didn't make it that far before spotting our first small group of Honey Buzzards, a target of mine for the week. 11 in total here, just love em.

Once at the watchpoint we had great views of Crested Lark, more Honey Buzzard (16), Booted Eagles and Short Toed Eagle, Then Jeff picked out 5 cracking looking Lesser Kestrels, Wow!
Clouded Yellow Butterflys were everywhere and nice Swallowtail too.

Moved onto the hides at Los Lances An area id been too before and another cracking spot with 5 Turtle Dove to start then Woodchat Shrikes, Melodious Warbler, Short toed lark and a lovely Tawny Pipit.

The Beach was full of people so the birds were spread out and few, but did manage to pick out Kentish Plover, Sanderling and a nice Curlew Sandpiper. Fiddler Crabs were everywhere. A Sandwich Tern was our last bird here.

Now it was onto La Janda a special place for all manor of birds, the track running along a canal type thing. Massive list of birds so the highlights being Short toed eagles Booted eagles Egyptian Vulture, Black Kites, Griffons, Turte Doves, a Spoonbill, Tawny Pipit, Corn Bunting and a distant flock of Collard Pratincoles.  A Grey Headed Wagtail  with a few Spanish wagtails was a bit of a surprise.



We came across the Egret Roost and quiet astonishing, massive numbers of Cattle Egrets with handfuls of Little Egret and even a couple of breeding Glossy Ibis.

Over the day we saw many more Glossy Ibis's (11, 4, 3) and  3 more Spoonbill in flight.
Moved through to steppes like habitat where Jeffs hearing was awesome picking out a calling Little Bustard a bird I didn't expect on this trip. We did manage to see it too. Jeff then picked up a Long Legged Buzzard or possible Hybrid? a very dark individual and subtly different to the Common Buzzard in the same area..
Picture of Long Legged Buzzard taken by Jeff. Thanks Jeff, click pic to Enlarge.

Little Bustard in centre (honest)

Moving on we spotted a Ring-tailed Montagu's Harrier and a stunning Spanish Sparrow. Little Owl showed nicely and a brief view of Common Whitethroat. A Northern Wheatear was a bit of a surprise.

On the way home a few more Honey Buzzard and sharp eyed Jeff pointed out 2 Alpine Swifts.
Back home we dropped Jeff off at home but not before scanning the sea picking out small groups of Balearic Shearwater and a CorysTawny Owl was calling locally as was another Little Owl.
What an amazing day and a great finish.

Time for Rach n I to go fend for ourselves now. Day 3 was to be a favourite of ours Rhonda. The drive up the mountain is spectacular and this brings the possibility of a good number of different species. Marble White Butterfly and the large 2 Tailed Pasha. Stopping at the many laybys to admire the scenery and listen for new birds produced lots of Crested Tit, Dartford, Warblers Spotted Flycatchers and a cracking Black Wheatear. Whinchat, Firecrests were here as was the stunning looking Rock Buntings.


Finally got to Rhonda and this time saw loads of birds, last time we were here we only saw Pigeons.
This time great views of Chough, Blue Rock Thrush, Alpine, Common and Palled Swift, Crag Martin. Then finally a couple of Adult Rock Sparrows.


We returned home the same way down the mountain and picked up another Black Wheatear a lovely Black Eared Wheatear, Woodlark, Theckla Lark, Raven and a nice female Black Redstart, also another Whinchat and a few Griffons.

It was a great trip down with much the same species. Great day in the mountains.

Day 4
Had another day around the Tarifa area starting at the Raptor viewpoint again, stunning views of Booted Eagle, Short toed Eagle, Black Kites and Honey Buzzards all at head height, the wind had really picked up now so the camera stayed in its bag. Moved on to Verjer to see the stunning ok ugly Bald Ibis, always great to see at such close quarters. The Cattle Egrets were stunning also.

Returned via Bolonia, stopped at the estuary and watched 3 Spoonbill, Kentish Plover, Ringed plover and ALOT of Fiddler Crabs.

Got to the turn off to La Janda when I saw my bird of the trip..... Rufous Bush Chat!!!!! as we were driving along I saw it fly up and fan its tail before dropping into an orchard. Stopped turned car around and watched it fly past us and out of sight! Waited another hour but it didn't return. Bee Eaters were everywhere here as well as a couple of Woodchat Shrike and our first Hoopoe, calling only though.
Had a quick run up La Janda again but nothing different except a Griffon Vulture sat in bush's along the busy main road. Oh Nearly forgot Great Reed Warbler in the reeds was a new bird for trip.


A really really good day if not a bit breezy ;-)

Day 5
Today was to be Rachel's day, sort of heading up to Castillo de la Frontera but I knew of a great Lesser Kestrel Spot. We did get great views of the Lesser Kestrels and great views of Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, Vultures and Eagles. It was Rachel's favourite place in Spain with a little craft village within the castle grounds.

After our fill of all these great birds we moved onto castillo jimena de la frontera but had a look for Rufous Buschat close by first but no luck. Too Windy and too much quarry traffic today.
Had a really great day.

Day 6
The windy weather continued but as we were having a non birding day on Gibraltar it didn't really matter too much. So no birds seen but Monarch Butterfly, Wall Lizards, Hummingbird Hawk moths and the lovable Barbary Apes.


After returning to the villa mid afternoon Jeff took me up the hill to see some local specialities. What an awesome area the Alcaidesa area is. Firstly we found a couple of Hawfinch, more Bee eaters, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bonelli's Warblers, Spot fly and Crested Tit. Then jeff showed me the nest of the amazing Bonelli's Eagle with 2 young. The adults brought in food whilst we were there and the young were looking very healthy.  Awesome!.

We made our way back down the mountain and managed to find my first Purse Web/Funnel Spiders and Mediterranean/Yellow Scorpion, full of eggs too.

Further down we finally got Cirl Bunting and a Wild Sheep called a Mouflon. Then my 3rd Lifer of the trip White Rumped Swift probably 4-6 birds awesome!!!!! More Iberian Chiffchaff in song and 10 Honey Buzzards. Finally Short Toed Eagle showed well.
Day 7

And our last day in Spain boooo. Had a free day birding and travelling around La Janda again, starting at the hides of Los Lances where our first adult Audouins Gull of the trip was present. It was still amazingly windy but the Kentish Plovers showed well enough for me to get a few shots.



Moved onto Bolonia looking for Rufous Bushchat but still windy and so no luck again, really wanted a picture. Anyway took the La Janda road all the way along, first bird was a Purple Gallinule, and then the usual suspects including Gadwall new for the trip and Black winged stilt.



Did find a very late male Hen Harrier, when I picked this bird up I presumed it would be a Monties but it was too bulky and heavy and on closer inspection no black in the wing so Hen Harrier it was, stunning.
Todays target was supposed to be the Black Shoulderd Kite, but we gave up on this and started to head home. No sooner had we given up when I spotted one flying along the field right next to us but quickly headed away and out of sight, but wow what a bird and what a great finish to the day. Bingo!!!

Day 8
And so time for home, our villas House Martins had been hatched a few days now and so had the White Wagtails but a downer for the trip was the Common Kestrels who found the Wagtail nest and 3 Kestrels took all the young and devoured them in front of us. What a pity.

Anyway what an awesome trip again, Total Species 128 list here, and a big thanks to Jeff and Antonio for the Villa, the help and the meals cheers boys seya next year :-)