Another day around Tarifa, peak migration is practically over but a few good migrant sightings were made today...........
GAUCIN - PARQUE MONTE DEL BUJEO - TARIFA (CAZALLA WATCH-POINT) - LA JANDA - BENALUP TRACK - BARBATE MARSHES
I collected Jane near Casares at 8am, Jane is a regular client and likes photography as well as birding. It was a clear morning with a light westerly wind, but as soon as as we got to the coast it clouded over. We drove through Algeciras then as we passed over the Puerto de Bujeo we pulled into the 'country park' in hope of seeing some migrants. However, it was not to be the case, a few Common Stonechats, Garden Warblers, Serins, Blackcaps, House Sparrows and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk was all we got. We did find a nice colony of Monarch Butterflies with many individuals on the wing, large clumps of the non-native Asclepias curassavica, Tropical Milkweed, was the reason for the large population of Monarchs.
The Monarch Butterfly 'milking' the Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)
A brief stop at the Cazalla Raptor watch-point produced zilch! The thick low cloud prevented raptor watching, just a few Griffon Vultures drifted about.
La Janda was much better we had a lovely time there with an impressive list of raptors, we spent most of our time watching from the central track. Both Montagu's and Marsh Harriers were seen in good numbers, White Storks numbered in their hundreds and a single Black Stork circled on high with two more seen on the marsh.
a STORK blockade? Just 45 of over a couple of thousand at La Janda
Large flocks of Spanish Sparrows joined Corn Buntings, Eurasian Linnets, Yellow Wagtails, Zitting Cisticolas and thousands of Goldfinches feeding in fields of millet, rice and sunflower. We found a single Turtle Dove, Common Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel (3) and small numbers of Glossy Ibis, whilst all the time Little & Cattle Egrets and Grey Herons flew about the rice fields.
We saw a mixed flock of hundreds of Sand Martins and House Martins, with Barn Swallows and higher up Alpine Swifts criss-crossed the leaden sky. At the end of the central track we paused to scan for raptors with great success, first a Peregrine Falcon was found on a pylon and just 5 meters from it sat a Black-winged Kite! Then I picked up a very smaller raptor chasing Corn Buntings, it was a Merlin, wow, my first of the autumn!
GLOSSY IBIS seen along the Benalup Track
Our time on the Benalup track was spent watching a huge flock of Glossy Ibis, with a couple of Black-winged Stilts and a Green Sandpiper. Over 500 White Storks were nearby and more were in the sky.
The clouds cleared as we left La Janda and drove to Barbate, it is amazing really, that last Saturday Barbate Marshes held thousands of waders and today it was difficult to find any. After some considerable searching we came up with the following list: Common Redshank (1), Kentish Plover (2), Ringed Plover (30+), Black-winged Stilt (5), Stone Curlew (1), Eurasian Spoonbill (23), Great White Egret (1), Great Cormorant (2), Greater Flamingo (100+), Glossy Ibis (33), Audouin's Gull (50+) with uncounted Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
We also spent some time looking for passerine migrants in the small copse planted around the pools, we came up with one Willow Warbler!
Our drive back to Gaucin was very pleasant, the afternoon light was just stunning, no wonder so many artist flock here to paint these wonderful landscapes. The view across to Morocco was the clearest I have ever seen it, fantastic.