Spanish Birding: Day 3
With a lot of ground to cover, we headed south pretty smartish on Sunday. It wasn't long though, before the temptation to stop kicked in, when an old ruined building complete with nesting storks was spotted.
White Stork, Spain, 22.05.05 | © Will Bowell
The Laguna da Medina was the first official stop of the trip down south, for Crested Coot. Not the most inspiring tick of the trip that was for sure, but still good to get under the belt and the bird and insect life around the lagoon made up for the lack of it on the lagoon itself.
Great Reed Warblers were croaking everywhere, and would come out and show extremely well, but unfortunately I didn't get any shots of them. Reed, Sedge and Cetti's were also noted. A Nightingale showed briefly, and a couple of Stonechats were sat on the fence. A pair of Little-ringed Plovers were the only ones we saw during the trip.
As we continued our journey south, swirls of Griffon Vultures we saw soaring over the hillsides near Medina Sidona were hugely impressive. Eventually we reached the coast and arrived at Tarifa for a quick stop which produced a few Cory's Shearwaters in the Med and a Lesser Kestrel was knocking about the castle towers. Meanwhile, Yellow-legged Gulls were good for photos.
Yellow-legged Gull, Tarifa, Spain, 22.05.05 | © Will Bowell
Heading inland a bit, we found a massive mixed flock of House and Spanish Sparrows on our way to Santuraio de Nuesta Señora de la Luz. Here, we also got fabulous views of male and female Montagu's Harrier on a nest change over. This was meant to be one of our prime birding spots, unfortunately it was also a favoured area for the locals and strong winds blasting across the valley made staying longer than it took to consume an ice cream pointless, so we continued our way along the valley making regular stops.
Woodchat Shrike, Spain, 22.05.05 | © Will Bowell
Black-eared Wheatears and Woodchats were regular along the CAP2213 road and one of our stops produced a Monarch Butterfly for two of the group. But the ultra highlight for myself, came when at one stop a Swift sp circled over and suddenly dipped down revealing a white arse! In fact there were two of them- White-rumped Swifts! Pure magic and luck since we had been told they hadn't turned up yet at the publicised, regular breeding sites!
White-rumped Swift, Spain, 22.05.05 | © Will Bowell
Above is a poor record shot of one of the birds, with some terrible glare from on the sun, but at least you can see the white on the head and white rim to the secondaries!
Since these were one of the targets of the trip we watched them for a good long while. They mixed freely with the flock of Common and Pallid Swifts, but would every now and again break away from the flock, occasionally with a Pallid hanger-on. They're jizz was completely different to the Pallids and Commons; White rumpeds seem slimmer and more slender. Superb things!
Other birds on show here included a confiding Tawny Pipit and a hovering Short-toed Eagle.
The Ojen Valley was pretty productive with several Thekla Larks were feeding in a field with a Tawny Pipit. More Black-eared Wheatears aligned the roadside fences here, joined briefly by a smart male Serin.
Our final stop of the day was for Swifts, but alas, just as we were warned, non were in. A couple of Griffons and Lesser Kestrels were sat on the cliff though and some singing male Blue Rock Thrushes were equally welcome sights.
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