Thursday 03 March: Today I was lucky enough to join Chris and Penny on a Wingspanner day tour to La Janda, visiting Los Barrios land fill site, the Ojen Valley and Los Lances beach near Tarifa. It was a still day with varying amounts of cloud.
At the land fill site we saw many Black Kite, a lot of which were perched nearby in trees, and also lots of Griffon Vulture - see photo for an idea of the landscape! The first few hundred metres of the Ojen valley produced no less than 7 Short-toed Eagle and we imagined a day with the skies full of incoming migrants - but it was not be; despite the ideal weather conditions we only saw a few more groups of Black Kite over La Janda and that was it! Further into the valley we spotted a few Common Kestrel and a couple of Common Buzzard as well as Song Thrush, Robin, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Blackcap, Jay, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and we heard a Mistle Thrush singing.
We stopped at the reservoir hoping to find a Long-legged Buzzard or Osprey but only picked up Cattle Egret (see photo), some Mallard, Thekla Lark and a Green Sandpiper.
After exiting the valley we headed for the beach at Los Lances.
In amongst a few hundred gulls was a group of about a dozen Audouin's Gull (see rather poor photo of one, with it's head dipped, amongst the Black-headed Gulls - I left my glasses in the car and there was a heat haze!), also Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Sandwich Tern and a single Caspian Tern. Waders included over 50 Sanderling, some Dunlin and a single Redshank. We also saw Cattle Egret, Spotless Starling, Meadow Pipit, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow and a few House Martin.
We then drove on to La Janda - one of my favourite birding spots. We stopped just inside the area at the junction with the 'main' track and it wasn't long before we spotted a couple of hundred White Stork, at least 400 Common Crane, Marsh Harrier, a superb male Hen Harrier, lots of Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret and Calandra Lark. Most notable was a male Bluethroat that surprised us all by coming out into the open ditch and having a quick drink - better than the usual glimpse between reed stems of this famously shy species!
In one of the flooded rice fields, we estimated there were at least 200 Yellow Wagtail (Ibericae), 100 White Wagtail and a fair few Meadow Pipit and they were joined by several Water Pipit a couple which were in summer plummage. Other birds found in the fields included many Common Snipe, Spoonbill, Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Green Sandpiper (4) and a good sized flock of Corn Bunting. At one point almost everything took off in a hurry and we weren't surprised to see a Peregrine swoop across the field - as it gained height it even harrassed a couple of White Stork!
Next we stopped on the track to Benalup where we watched a hillside for sightings of raptors. First we found another Hen Harrier (a ringtail this time), male and female Marsh Harrier, lots of Griffon Vulture and several groups of Black Kite passing overhead. We also had distant views of Spanish Imperial Eagle there were 2 possibly 3 juveniles including two that were intent on chasing one another for several minutes.
As we began the drive home we stopped to look at Red-legged Partridge and spotted a large flock of Golden Plover flying high overhead. But to cap a great day's birding we saw a perched Black-winged Kite. It took off and began hovering not too far away and it was interesting to note the different hovering style when compared with Common Kestrel.
Thanks to Wingspanner for allowing me to join his tour and also for some of the text above!
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