Another bright and sunny day with temperatures in the upper 60s. As usual, Lesser Kestrels were in evidence first thing - awake and chattering as we left the house. Since we left early every morning and returned after dusk, we didn’t spend enough time watching these fabulous playful little falcons which can be very obliging here.
A short detour on our way to La Janda took in the Embalse de Barbate – no Spanish Imperial Eagles showed (for which this site can be excellent), but an Osprey flew over and 28 Common Cranes were found feeding in nearby fields. Unfortunately, at La Janda we found that most of the wetter fields here were well out of sight of the main track so relatively few waders (particularly the smaller ones) were seen; many Lapwings, 200+ Golden Plovers, 2 Green Sandpipers and 2 Snipe. However, a variety of herons and other larger “wading” birds were on show; many Cattle & Little Egrets, Great White Egret, both Black and White Stork, 150+ Common Cranes and 50+ Spoonbills. Raptors were not as numerous as hoped, but we still had 7 Griffon Vulture, c10 Black Kite, c20 Hen Harriers and numerous Marsh Harriers but, disappointingly, no Black-shouldered Kites. The apparent absence of Bluethroats from their usual haunts from Larks included Woodlarks (5), Crested Larks (of course!) and Calandra Larks.
So off we went to the beach road near Barbate where we failed to produce the hoped for Bald Ibis (again!) and none of us fancied a drive round the local golf courses (evidently a favoured retreat). However, the woods along the coastal road towards Canos were carpeted with Sawfly Orchids with the bonus of a couple of Sombre Bee Orchids and a fly-over Crossbill.
Our planned visit to Trafalgar was aborted as it was packed with wind surfers – we’d forgotten it was Saturday! From Vejer we drove along the Medina Sidonia road turning off left towards Los Naveros and then, after several kilometres, left to drive along a well marked track. Here we found at least 2 Black-shouldered Kites, 20 Buzzards and 2 Short-toed Eagles. Our only Barn Owl of the trip was fortuitously flushed from its roost here and soon thereafter we had a Quail calling. Here too was our first Hoopoe and only Common Starlings , amongst a flock of Spotless cousins, of the trip (but we didn’t look too hard!).
Getting back to Alcala in good time we decided to end the day by driving to the far end of the Molinos valley to take in the lovely walk into the hills there. The hoped for Iberian Chiffchaffs didn’t oblige, but the since the valley is right next to the village this seemed to be a good place to close the day. Although the bushes were alive with Blackcap (as they had been all day), the hoped for Iberian Chiffchaffs failed to show. However, a Blue Rock Thrush made up for the Chiffie’s oversight and if the usually large roost failed to come up to spec the sudden appearance of five Egyptian Vultures drifting high in the glorious sunset overcompensated for their relatives’ lack of cop-operation! A fitting close to a great day in the field.
See what I mean?