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What a great day we had today, the weather was awful (as expected) but we saw over 90 species including a lot of sought-after target species. Raptor migration was virtually zero due to heavy rain, low cloud, thunder and lightening. This bad weather lasted until midday although most the storm had passed over before breakfast. At 4am we had a single lightening flash right above us, followed by the loudest thunderclap I have ever heard.

The rain eased around 8:30am when we were parked in the municipal car park in Tarifa. We were there to look for Common Bulbul ( a recent addition to the Spanish breeding list), it didn’t us take too long before we spotted one of these noisy characters. We also bagged Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Spotless Starling and a couple of Booted Eagles flying very high along with a large bunch of Bee-eaters.

Common Bulbul - taken b y Chris Perry in Tarifa

Driving round towards to Observatory called El Trafico we stopped at a track for a walk, the rain had stopped by then. Camino Vecinal leads you back into Tarifa, we followed it for about a kilometer. It was quiet to begin with, but we soon caught up with some nice species. Both Marsh and Montagu’s Harriers flew over us and several Sardinian Warblers were seen. Then we found a beautiful male Golden Oriole feeding in a fig tree, this bird showed incredibly well and stayed in the open for 30 minutes or so!

Two shots of the very showy male Golden Oriole

The Oriole was joined by a small number of Garden Warblers in the fig tree and we also saw a Woodchat Shrike, a Spotted Flycatcher, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and a Cattle Egret from the same spot.

A Cattle Egret doing what Cattle Egrets do!

From the track we set off for Barbate Marshes, missing out the Observatory at El Trafico because of the low cloud and poor visibility. It was a good decision because the further we moved from Tarifa, the better the weather became.

The tracks around Barbate Marshes were extremely muddy after the heavy rain but we managed to find places to stand and watch the large open water lagoons and the muddy margins. The area was packed with birds, we noted about 35 species, with Stone Curlew, Audouin’s Gull, Eurasian Spoonbills, Greater Flamingos and many species of waders being our best finds.

Spoonbill with a bunch of Audouin's Gulls

In the bushes and scrub around the marsh we found Marsh Harrier, Stone Curlews with a Whimbrel?, Greater Short-toed Larks, Crested Larks, Northern Wheatear, Bonelli’s Warbler, Willow Warbler, Eurasian Chiffchaff and many Stonechats.

From the bridge near Barbate Centre we scanned the tidal mudflats along the Rio Barbate, there we added several more species including 4 Tern species, (Caspian, Sandwich, Common and Little), also Curlew, Curlew Sandpiper, Osprey, Slender-billed and Mediterranean Gulls, Greenshank, Cormorant and much more.


an adult winter plumage Mediterranean Gull

We spent sometime near the entrance to the Montenmedio Golf Complex, we searched a quarry for species finding only Jackdaws, but we accidentally ‘kicked-up’ a Red-necked Nightjar (twice). A swirling mass of some several hundred Jackdaws caught our attention and whilst watching them we found a flock of 20+ Bald Ibis, wow! Our main target bird in the bag.

Driving onto the golf complex we added Pied Flycatcher to the trip list and found several more Bald Ibis on the greens and the roof of the club house.

one of the many Blad Ibis we saw today

Driving back towards our hotel we saw another flock of Bald Ibis feeding in some earth-works and then we saw a flock of Glossy Ibis in a roadside pool! Both species within five minutes of one another.

Lastly we stopped off at La Janda and venture a very short distance onto the western track, we had a great time there, the sky had cleared and bright sunshine prevailed. We added a few more new species to the list: Green Sandpiper and Purple Heron. I can’t believe we had to wait until the end of day 3 to see WHITE STORKS! A flock of 17 circled on the last remaining thermals over a nearby hill. We also saw Common Sandpiper, Woodchat Shrike (our first adult), Zitting Cisticola, Crested Lark and Corn Bunting (what a great bird to finish off the day).

the west track onto La Janda

We got back to the hotel and found Serins in the field adjacent to the hotel garden and Pallid Swifts flying over the hotel, a nice ending to the day.