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WEATHER: cloudy with hazy sunshine all day, Temp 25 -32C. Brisk breeze all day at the coast.

We made a great start to the day after our 7am breakfast. We drove to the entrance to Los Lances Beach as the day light grew brighter and within minutes we were watching birds. I think Cattle Egret, Eurasian Spoonbill, Spotless Starling, Collared Dove, House Sparrow and Corn Bunting went onto the list almost straight away quickly followed by Stonechat, Goldfinch and a flyover Yellow Wagtail.

Audouin's Gulls on the beach at Los Lances

From the boardwalk we scanned the pools and sandy areas of the beach where dozens of waders were feeding. We found Dunlin, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Ringed and Kentish Plovers and a little further away we saw a group of Red Knot.

A large group of gulls sat on the sand and included a few Audouin’s Gull as well as LBB Gulls and a few Black-headed Gulls. A little closer to the solitary hide we found Whimbrel, Green Sandpiper and a few Zitting Cisticolas and perched on some posts we saw Sandwich Terns and more Audouin’s Gulls.

Out at sea dozens of Cory’s Shearwaters skimmed the surface of the water, a few Gannets dived in and a pod of Dolphins swam along the shoreline. During all this time not a single bird of prey flew over us on migration. A single Glossy Ibis flew over whilst we were on the boardwalk near the hide.

Tawny Pipit on top of the WWII bunker

In the fields behind the beach we searched for Short-toed Lark but found only Corn Buntings, Goldfinches, Hoopoe, Yellow Wagtails, more Stonechats and Zitting Cisticolas. We walked further along the boardwalk towards Tarifa and stopped near the WWII bunker where we found three more Tawny Pipits, a Northern Wheatear and finally a Short-toed Lark.

As we made our way back we picked out a Peregrine Falcon sitting on a fence, another Hoopoe in flight and a European Roller sitting on a distant fence, wow! What a bird! The Roller flew off before long and we set off back to the bus. In the fields near the bus we searched for Calandra Lark but found more Corn Buntings and quite a large flock of Spanish Sparrows.

a view of Gibraltar from Algorobbo Raptor Watch-point

We made a quick stop at a supermarket on the edge of town and found our first Crested Lark in the car park, I can’t believe we have been in Spain for three days and only just recorded our first Crested Lark.

It took about 20 minutes to drive to Algorrobo Raptor Watch-Point, the track from the main road is in serious need of repair. Despite the poor track there were about 50 people watching the skies when we got there, but raptor passage was very slow.

We stayed for a couple of hours and also ate our lunch there, bird numbers fluctuated sometimes a large group would appear and other times only small numbers were visible. It was a poor passage day, most of the birds were extremely high as they past over, luckily it was cloudy so we could pick them out.

Honey Buzzards were the most common followed by Black Kites, then Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Sparrowhawk and Raven. We heard Montagu’s and Hen Harrier being called out but we never found either.

One amazing sighting was that of a Black Vulture, it came over a couple of times with a few Griffin Vultures, tat was my first Black Vulture in Andalucia!! A Ruppell’s Vulture was called out a little later but I think only a couple of people saw it.

The colourful Red-veined Darter

The sky was always busy with the passage of Martins, swallows and Swifts. We picked out Common, Pallid and Alpine Swifts and both Crag and House Martin. Many sizable flocks of Bee-eaters went over but we never saw a single Stork.

Mediterranean Skipper 

About 2pm we decided to leave, it was now getting quite hot and we all had neck-ache! A short drive back towards Tarifa found us as El Bujeo Natural Park where we enjoyed an hour or so looking for migrant passerines. We quickly found 4 or 5 Spotted Flycatchers, a few Stonechats, a single Bonelli’s Warbler, a couple of Willow Warblers and three Chiffchaff sp.

Monarch Butterfly seen in the Ojen Valley

A Pied Flycatcher eventually showed well for the group we also saw Hoopoe, Cirl Bunting, Goldfinches, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Blackbird and lots of House Sparrows.

After a very short stop at La Cazalla Raptor Watch-Point, where we saw a few Booted and Sort-toed Eagles I dropped most of the group back at the hotel, it was now 4pm and they had had enough birding for one day.

 Los Lances beach from the Cazalla Observatory

Three of us went out for another hour or so, we visited a scrub area in Ojen Valley. Along the way we saw 3 Common Kestrels and a bunch of Corn Buntings. During our walk along a dry stream we found more butterflies than birds! The magnificent Monarch Butterfly topped the bill but the Mediterranean Skipper came a close second. We also saw Large & Small Whites, Holly Blue, Meadow Brown, Small Copper and a few Blue-winged Grasshoppers.

A view from Cazalla across the Strait to Morocco

On our way back a flock 31 White Storks circled above the road, we stopped to photograph them and also a group of Bee-eaters sitting on the wires.

White Storks in the Ojen Valley

So we had great start to the day and petered out as time went by, a typical birding day in aa hot country.

We added 18 species to the list bringing our tally to 115.