Although Covid restrictions have meant I have not been out the Alcala since the outbreak started, I've been busy for the last week updating and revising my notes on birding sites in Cadiz Province. Having started with no intention other than revising details of E-bird links, I ended up adding an entirely new site (Pinar del Rey), revising the account for the Casares area (M 1), many minor corrections and drawing up a checklist for the area's regular birds.
My New Year's resolution for 2022 was to start using E-bird to record what I see on my walks around Canterbury (my home town in the UK). My good intentions to upload my sighting in Spain have been more observed in their breach than anything but I will certainly use the system when I (hopefully) get out to Spain this year. The most striking thing I discovered in browsing E-bird is just how much its use has grown in Cadiz since I first added details back in 2018 and revised them again in 2019. The one example for which I have comparative figures must serve for all; in 2018 Cabo Roche (NW 4) listed 14 checklists noted 106 species, by 2019 this had risen to 183 checklists and 179 species and now (Feb 2022) stands at 387 checklists documenting 196 species! The number of observers involved and checklists now submitted is remarkable. As I write it stands at c111,000 individual checklists from over 2,100 observers covering 526 sites for Cadiz Province (for the current figures see https://ebird.org/region/ES-AN-CD/activity?yr=all&m=). As the map below indicates, this is a rapidly developing and increasingly comprehensive guide to the birds and birding sites in the area (and across the world). The strengths and weaknesses of the resource are well illustrated by the map below. The increase in observers is welcome but there remains a strong bias towards coastal areas and seasonal bias to migration periods (not obvious from the map). That said, the number of lists submitted for popular areas now means that it is possible to generate useful checklists and seasonal bar graphs (the latter are also helpful for similar less often watched habitats)
An additional benefit of E-bird about which I was entirely unaware until my good friend and E-bird enthusiast Brendan Ryan explained it to me is the system of Rare Bird Alerts based on checklists sent in to E-bird. For the UK this is updated on an hourly basis (although lists may be uploaded hours after the sighting) but for Cadiz it's daily. This may not be ideal but it's a lot better than nothing!
So whilst I've been scandalously remiss, I strongly urge birders to use E-bird to log their sightings not only because it helps fellow birders to pin-point good sites/bird sighting but also because it's a useful tool for conservation.
I have always been reluctant to add sites I've never visited which is why I've not previously covered the well-known site of Pinar del Rey. I've still not been there (see above) but the relatively good coverage on E-bird (see ebird.org/hotspot/L13518344) has persuaded me to add it. I've not shown the senderos (footpaths) in the area on this map as there seem to be so many routes that it was impossible to decide which to add but instead I direct people to Wikiloc for a list of walking routes (see The Best Trails in San Roque, Andalusia (Spain) | Wikiloc). I have also added, speculatively, two other areas nearby. The first is the open rolling pastures north of Santa Anna (d) which I've only viewed via 'Streetview' when I've been impressed by the habitat's potential for attracting passing harriers and birds such as Tawny Pipit. The rocky maquis of the Sierra del Arca also looks interesting. This route could also provide a more scenic route to Pinar del Rey from Sotogrande and Alcaidesa. I've driven past the narrow road off the A 2100 signposted to Complejo de Educacion & Ambiental la Alcadeisa several times but never had the time to explore the area but added it since there are a number of checklists from "Monte Publico" (see https://ebird.org/hotspot/L13428205), which appears to be along this route, to suggest it's worth exploring.
My revision of the account of the Casares area (M 1) largely involved adding details of a nearby area, the Junta de Dos Rios (g), since with 165 checklists (featuring a creditable 167 species including some rare/scarce birds) on E-bird it was hard to ignore (see - Junta de Los Rios, Málaga County, AN, ES - eBird Hotspot). Despite being in Malaga Province, Junta de Dos Rios is most easily reached by car from Cadiz Province via Los Angeles (Estacion de Jimena de la Frontera) & San Martin del Tesorillo. However, the existence of a track off the A 377 (c 1.5 km south of the A 7150 to Casares) by which you may be able to drive c6 km down to the Rio Genal (check locally) persuaded me to cover the area under "Casares". There also seem to be footpaths c5 km down to the Rio Guadario (see, for example, https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/casares-79476130). I've (briefly) visited the Junta de Dos Rios a couple of times and found it to be a very pleasant spot with a shallow wide bushy-lined river with dotted with shingle banks. It seems to be a well watched spot which has turned up elusive species like Olivaceous Warbler, Black Vulture, Rock Sparrow and even a single record of Lesser Spotted Eagle. In summer at least the river seems to be fordable (I'd only risk it on foot or by a 4x4) as a small chapel (Ermita de la Virgen del Rosario del Campo) is a destination for a religious pilgrimage from Casares. This peaceful chapel should also be accessible by car by turning off the CA 8200 by the Venta La Fuente and following tracks roughly parallel with the Rio Guadario.
Based on submitted checklists there are 375 species currently recorded on E-bird from Cadiz Province. An additional 30 species (at least) not listed by E-bird have been recorded from the province bringing the total up to 405. A few more (<10?) have been recorded only from Gibraltar (which has a longer history of intensive birdwatching/ringing) all of which could potentially turn up in Cadiz Province too. Using this information, I have amused myself by drawing up a checklist (with space to record sightings over two weeks) of just under 300 species that can be regularly found in the province during a year (plus a handful of species found in Seville/Malaga but elusive in Cadiz). If any visitors would like a copy to record the species they see on a trip please contact me.
About me ...
Hi I'm John Cantelo. I've been birding seriously since the 1960s when I met up with some like minded folks (all of us are still birding!) at Taunton's School in Southampton. I have lived in Kent , where I taught History and Sociology, since the late 1970s. In that time I've served on the committees of both my local RSPB group and the county ornithological society (KOS). I have also worked as a part-time field teacher for the RSPB at Dungeness. Having retired I now spend as much time as possible in Alcala de los Gazules in SW Spain. When I'm not birding I edit books for the Crossbill Guides series.