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After a nice few weeks summer break I began my autumn 'shift' with a day trip to Tarifa, La Janda and Barbate

I met Penny from Casares and her two German birding guests, Barbara and Matthias, at 8am just outside of Casares. We all loaded up into one car and set off for Tarifa, taking the A7 Autovia. We clocked up several species along the way including: Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, White Stork and Black Kite.

L to R:  Barbara, Penny and Matthias

At Tarifa it was very windy with a strong easterly blasting the coastal area, this caused a backlog of migrating kites and eagles, in one valley we noted about 200 birds of prey, most of which were Black Kites. It was deemed too windy to visit the beach-hide at Playa los Lances, so we drove to La Janda. We saw a couple of Marsh Harriers quartering the fields and dozens of Cattle Egrets following the cattle around as we approached La Janda.

The wind wasn't so bad at La Janda, our first stop produced a lot of sightings and we had a very enjoyable hour or two as we made our way along the raised central track. Harriers were very prominent, there was always two or three in the air over the rice fields. We saw a dozen or so of two species in the first 30 minutes, they were Marsh and Montagu's Harriers, including a male melanistic (lMelanism is a development of the dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin or its appendages and is the opposite of albinism) Montagu's Harrier which was almost entirely black!

there are Greater Flamingos, Eurasian Spoonbill and several wader species in this picture

Glossy Ibis, Cattle and Little Egrets, White Storks and flocks of Linnets, Goldfinches and Corn Buntings were ever present whilst one flooded rice field held a great variety of wader species with Greater Flamingos, White Storts and Eurasian Spoonbills. Waders present were: Wood, Green and Common Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilt, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Common Snipe, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Northern Lapwing, Little Stint, a single Collared Pratincole and several Yellow Wagtails. Duck species were represented by a single Mallard and a female Red-crested Pochard.

red legs, pink Flamingos

Further along the track we stopped to watch Grey Herons, Common Kingfisher, Spanish Sparrows, Common Kestrel and many more Glossy Ibis. A few Black Kites circled overhead whilst we drank coffee and ate slices of Penny's sponge cake. 

Greater Flamingos taken by Penny Hale

Our next main stop was to look for the biggy of the day, Red-necked Nightjar. Matthias is a big lister with over 6,800 on his world list, but he needed the nightjar! We stopped at the usual roost site, I led the way followed by Matthias and Barbara and then Penny. It was Barbara, third in line, who found the first bird, I had walked past it, it was an excellent sighting, so well hidden. We went on to see another 3 birds, Matthias was well made up.

Red-necked Nightjar

Further birding along the track towards Benalup produced Red-legged Partridge, Booted Eagle, Woodchat Shrike, Common Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Eurasian Jackdaw and more Green Sandpipers.

a grounded Turtle Dove - we thought it was quite ill

We left La Janda around 2pm and drove to Barbate Marshes which were covered in gulls, Greater Flamingos and Eurasian Spoonbills. We listed Audouin's (200+), Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a little later we found a dozen or so Stone Curlews.

Front to back:  Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Yellow-legged Gull

We stopped at Mirador de Estrecho on the way home, we ate ice-cream (white magnum) and drank coffee as we looked over the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco. A few Griffon Vultures drifted over but there was no raptor migration going on. We made it back to Casares by 6pm, it had been a lovely day out which rekindled my enthusiasm for the forthcoming migration tours.