|The very snake-like Purple Heron Garza Imperial Ardea purpurea|
We arrived well ahead of schedule, found that the sun was behind us and at least three Bald Ibis nests; at least two occupied. Lots of pictures taken as the female occasional raised her head and had a general shuffle about and then, as if on cue, in flew the male and posed quite perfectly a little to one side, so offering even more photo opportunities. Also on the cliff face were a collection of Rock Doves, Jackdaws and House Sparrows to give a little variety to the scene. At this point, I have to say that, aesthetically, the Bald Ibis has to be one of the ugliest birds in Europe and, dare I say, I do not really fancy either sex finding a partner of a different species to create some sort of hybrid monster! Still , no doubt, their mothers loved them!!!
|Female Bald Ibis Ibis Eremita Geronticus eremita on nest|
|And in flies hubby, the male Bald Ibis Ibis Eremita Geronticus eremita (above and below)|
So, with plenty of time to spare, we set off back towards Tarifa so that we could spend a few hours wandering the tracks of La Janda. Unfortunately, the wind began to pick up slightly so confounding the forecast which implied a calm morning and stronger winds in the afternoon. Never mind the scores and more of Cattle Egrets, nor the Spotless Starlings or Blackbirds, the stars in the newly-flooded rice fields were the Glossy Ibis. Found initially in two main flocks, our counts produced a total well in excess of 150 individuals. And so the day continued as we seemed to find two species of each class; two egrets, two buzzards, two storks, two game birds, two kestrels, two swifts, etc., etc.
Driving back along the canal bank in the opposite direction to usual, we had lots of Corn Buntings and a good number of Red-legged Partridges. Similarly, Goldfinches and Serins were seen and the, on retracing our route so that we could travel up past the "smelly farm", we had first a very welcome trio of Purple Heron followed a little later by both a single Spoonbill and an immature Cormorant. At about this point we had our next raptor, a rather handsome male Lesser Kestrel. So, over the canal bridge and up towards the farm where, on the way, we picked up our first Black Kite of the day resting on a barren field. The river itself held both Mallards and the occasional Moorhen plus a solitary Little Grebe and a small number of Barn Swallows feeding over the water. The avenue of trees across the bridge produced scores of Cattle Egrets plus a couple of Turtle Doves to add to the Wood Pigeons.
|One happy Corn Bunting Triguero Emberiza calandra|
Taking the central track, presumably recently graded, we mad our way towards Facinas and out of La Janda but not before recording a couple of Woodchat Shrikes, Stonechats and, at last, a most handsome male Montagu's Harrier. Also, well concealed in ditch, our only Little Egret of the day.
|What a plump Red-legged Partridge Perdiz Roja Alectoris rufa !|
So, with lots of spare time we headed over to Bolonia to try and find our rare swifts; all other target birds having been successfully noted. Straight up to the gated cave where the swifts normally nest and what a treat in store. No swifts but a terrific raptor passage in addition to the resident Griffon Vultures and Common Kestrels. During our hour or so at the mirador we must have counted hundreds, certainly over three hundred, Honey Buzzards passing over, including some which seemed of a very definite dark morph. Also present with these birds were a number of Black Kites and at least one more Short-toed Eagle. A special treat was to see a single Black Stork making its way north having seen many of its cousins, the White Stork, in and around the La Janda area. We had a Cuckoo constantly calling below, a single Blue Rock Thrush on the cliff face and even at least one Alpine Swift amongst the more plentiful Common Swifts. What more could we ask for? We did not find the Egyptian Vulture on its traditional nest site but a couple of Crag Martins did put in an appearance.
|One of over 300+ Honey Buzzards Abejero Europeo Pernis apivorus seen at Bolonia, Cadiz Province|
What a great day's birding with a final tally of just over 50 species as we headed back to Malaga and our respective homes. And approaching Rio Gordo I had a Jay across the road and a small flock of Linnets as I drove up the track to Casa Collado!
Birds seen:Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Bald Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Kestrel, Moorhen, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Bee-eater, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Nightingale, Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Jackdaw, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Corn Bunting.
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.