Friday 21 January, La Janda and Los Lances beach, little or no wind, mostly sunny, warm: Wingspanner and I took a trip over to the La Janda area with a short stop at Los Lances beach near Tarifa on the way home. It was a cold start, just 2C as we passed Jimena de la Frontera, but as the day progressed it warmed up beautifully reaching a balmy 17C. A soon as we arrived at La Janda some good birds began to appear including Calandra Lark, Reed Bunting distant Common Crane and both Marsh Harrier and four female Hen Harrier. Continuing along the central track we saw Purple Swamp Hen (see photo) and fantastic views of a Short-eared Owl as it hunted no more than 10m from us. Here we also picked up a Peregrine mobbing a Black-winged Kite and here we also saw four Barn Swallow! A little further along we stopped to watch some Common Snipe in a rice field and were treated to a couple of superb male Bluethroat (see photo) and a Water Pipit whilst a second Black-winged Kite flew close by and stopped to rest on an electricity pylon as we picked up both Ringed and Little-ringed Plover in the field. As the temperature began to rise so did the raptors and it wasn't long before we had seen 3 Spanish Imperial Eagle, a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle and an unexpected adult Golden Eagle! With an immature Short-toed Eagle (normally expected to be wintering in Africa) and several Griffon Vulture Red Kite that Wingspanner saw it was an amazing hour or so. A spell watching along a creek towards the back of the fields produced a Little Owl and a male Penduline Tit. Other birds seen were Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, White Stork, Mallard, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Red-legged Partridge, Common Pheasant, Common Coot, Moorhen, Green Sandpiper, Lapwing, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Crested Lark, Skylark, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Robin, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Collared Dove, Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Stonechat, Black Redstart, Zitting Cisticola, Jackdaw, Raven and Corn Bunting.
Stopping by at Los Lances on the way home we added Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Dunlin, Sanderling, Grey Plover and Kentish Plover.
All-in-all a wonderful day's birding with a great species count of 73 but it was more about the quality of what we saw rather than the quantity.