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Thursday 28 September 2017

Spain - Costa Mijas Coastline

September 5th

Following on from the Tarifa posting, I headed down to the Coast in glorious weather it has to be said, I had in mind Audouin’s’ Gulls, having seen them in previous visits to this coast line.

Being later in the day there was plenty of beach activity but eventually after perhaps ½ mile, I found what I was looking for, a flock of no less than 32 Audouin’s Gulls on a stretch of rocks.

Audouin's and Yellow Legged Gulls

I will confess to not having a great interest in Gulls but these are quite smart Gulls, like Med’s, additionally it’s a big rarity in the UK which makes it more interesting.

Present in various plumages, it was good also to see a juvenile, a newbie for me, also present were a number of Yellow Legged Gulls.

As you do I took a lot of shots of the various Gulls and then started to look round in earnest, it’s surprising what is in front of you on a busy beach albeit a rocky area.
Along with the 32 Audouin’s, there was also 6 Yellow Legged Gulls, 2 Common Sandpipers, 19 Sanderling and 8 Turnstone, a nice little mixture.

Overhead also produced a Booted Eagle, Red Rumped Swallow and a Pallid Swift.

I then decided to have a scan out to sea, blue sky and bright sunshine; I was not hoping for much (thinking of Canvey Point on a bright day) but was pleasantly surprised when an hour’s sea watching revealed the following.

Sandwich Tern – 5

Balearic Shearwater – 1

Cory’s Shearwater – 11

Little Tern – 1

All were moving right to left and some of the Cory’s were relatively close in, a fishing trawler was out there, he would have had incredible views as they were passing right next to him.
Not sure if Cory’s is locally common or usual to see them like this, but not a bird I see a lot off in the UK.
A couple of birds that I did have in mind as possibilities never materialized, these being Gull Billed Tern and Slender Billed Gull.

I suspect that not being tidal as we know it, early mornings at this time of year could well produce good movement on the Med coastline. Now plotting and planning for next year, also got to get out on a boat somehow to photograph those Cory’s Shearwater’s.

Cory's Shearwater's

All in all not a bad afternoon, the lure of some food on the walk back along the coast and a couple of San Miguel’s polished it off rather nicely. Adios

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Spain - Tarifa September 5th

El Algarrabo Watch point

Over the years Tarifa has always been high up on the list as a must visit place and recently, whilst staying with my Sister and Brother in law in their apartment at Costa Mijas near Malaga who kindly put me up, I finally had an opportunity to visit.

As you know I get my kicks from Raptors, having followed various websites and related news over the years, I knew it was a well known Bird of Prey passage way back into Africa, one of the best month’s being September.

I had arranged the trip with Luis from Birdaytrip having met him again at the Birdfair; the trip was planned for the Straits and La Janda.

He picked me up on the above date at 6.00am, by 7.40am we were in position at the watch point taking in a nice Spanish breakfast along the way.

The entrance track up is dodgy to say the least, solid rock and holes, unfortunately it proved to be our undoing, more on that later.
With my usual luck and timing it was rather grey, cloudy and hazy early on and remained so with a few brief sunny spells for the morning, however it didn’t stop them moving, there was also a good breeze.

Sun up - part of Gibraltar just starting to rear up on the left


Right from the start, just before 8.00am, flocks of Black Kites and Honey Buzzards were dropping out of the cloud layer over head in semi darkness, quite a surprise for me to see them moving this early. 

It meant to me that they must have roosted nearby in numbers ready to make the crossing, can’t see them being a nocturnal migrant?

Black Kites dropping out of the cloud layer early a.m

From 8.00am to 10.30am we watched a continuous passage overhead of various raptors and other birds despite not ideal weather, especially for photography. Bee Eaters were also arriving at first light announcing their presence by distant trilling, high up they were a bugger to pick up until they came lower.

My totals up to 10.30am were as follows-

Common Kestrel – 2

Bee Eater – 177

Griffon Vulture – 23

Honey Buzzard – 216

Short Toed Eagle – 3

Black Kite – 122

Raven – 3

Sparrowhawk – 11

Iberian Chiffchaff – 2 (picked out on call by Luis in scrub)

Egyptian Vulture – 10

Marsh Harrier – 2

Booted Eagle – 16

Black Stork – 4, very nice came in together

Pallid Swift – 4

Common Swift – 6

Not bad for a couple of hours, nothing really close but very enjoyable just the same, it was one of those places where you don’t know what you are going to see next, I loved it.


Booted Eagle

Big boy - Griffon Vulture

Honey Buzzard

Egyptian Vulture

Egyptian Vulture

Black Storks

Dark Morph Booted Eagle

With this in mind Luis said we should go to the next place where they will pass closer, additionally the weather was perking up for photography.

Unfortunately the track back down to the road attacked us, big bang, pulled up down the road with the engine light flashing, looked underneath and oil was pouring out, a hole in the sump.
An unfortunate end to the morning, especially for Luis and his car, but these things do happen, the motto of the story get a 4x4.

They came and towed the car away, impressive service, they were there in 25 minutes, we then got a cab back to Costa Mijas.

Window watching as you do from the Cab along the A7 produced no less than 31 White Storks, 4 Booted Eagles and 2 Short Toed Eagles hovering, quite a sight.

Arriving back early afternoon I then decided to head down on my little legs to the coast, more on that in the next post…..

Saturday 9 September 2017

Cooling Marshes

 August 31st

An early morning visit coinciding with high tide was made hoping to catch up with some Migrants, a stunning morning heralded a good visit.

The Little Owls were in there usual spot in the Barn, hope to get them a nest box for next year, despite a number of summer visits over the years, cannot recall seeing any young.

On arrival as the mist started to clear 50 Sand Martins, 40 Swallows and a Swift dropped out of the sky and started to hawk the fields, a good start.

From then on I started to pick up many more migrants, 32 Yellow Wagtails made up of various flocks crowding the cattle, 5 Whinchat on top of the reeds and then 4 Wheatears were present nearby.

The Breach itself held a good flock of Curlew numbering 129 birds, in addition there was also

2 Greenshanks

2 Green Sandpipers

94 Avocet

60 Black Tailed Godwit

Grey Plover

67 Dunlin

47 Ringed Plover

15 Redshank

To cap off a good visit I then had 3 Bearded Tits on the walk back with 2 Hobbies hawking Dragonflies over the fields.

Migrant Hawkers seemed to be everywhere, also saw 4 Clouded Yellows and good numbers of the commoner Butterflies.

It was worth the visit just for the sunrise.