Saturday, September 20, 2014

Migration Raptor-fest!

Just before dawn on Saturday morning Dave and I set off towards the straits of Gibraltar, just over an hour or so from Mijas using the toll roads.

El Algarrobo Bird Observatory
During the migration season there are two main crossing points in southern Europe for migrating raptors to reach their wintering grounds, western Turkey and the straits of Gibraltar. The straits offer the shortest crossing between Europe and Africa, only 16 kms at it's narrowest and so our destinations this morning were the two watch points at the El Algarrobo and Cazalla Bird Observatory's which overlook the straits.

Griffon Vulture
Booted Eagle
Shockingly blurred & cropped image of Ruppell's Vulture!
Immediately on arrival just after 9am the counting began, but to be honest I'd given up on Honey Buzzard when I reached the first fifty or so. From here on we'd stopped counting Booted Eagle and Short-toed Eagle too and just decided to enjoy the amazing spectacle.

Canon SX50 working overtime - White Stork
At one stage 30+ Black Stork came through in one hit and this along with various numbers of White Stork, Black Kite, Sparrowhawk, Common BuzzardGriffon Vulture and Egyptian Vulture kept us busy. Others of note both here and at Cazalla included a brace of Osprey and singles of Rรผppell's Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle, Lesser Kestrel and Marsh Harrier to add to the list! During our stay a constant passage of Swift, along with fourteen Yellow Wagtail and nine Bee-eater. A Common Redstart was also noted close to the observation point at Algarrobo but I'd be surprised if anyone noticed.

La Janda- Awash with resting White Storks!
In the late afternoon we moved further around the coast to visit an area called La Janda. Here the main crop is rice and it can be a great area for a whole assortment of species. Immediately after turning on to the track the birds begin to appear: Corn Bunting, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Stonechat but it doesn't prepare you for the shear numbers of White Stork, they are everywhere, a few Glossy Ibis mingled in! Make sure you check the ditches during any visit, we managed Green Sandpiper, Little Egret and near one of the sluices over 50 Cattle Egret. Even distant views of a Black-shouldered Kite were amazing, my first for this area as one drifted over the distant water sprinklers. A good few Spanish Sparrows in the trees as we drove around too are worth a mention.

A very inquisitive Stonechat
We stopped for a sandwich before the track leads you back onto the main road and here a very inquisitive Stonechat along with four Common Kestrel and a single Lesser Kestrel. A few Marsh Harrier around but another prize was just prior to coming off the dust track when a pair of Montagu's Harrier stole the show!

The attractive Bald Ibis
Finally, we took the opportunity to visit Montenmedio Golf Club, a few Pallid Swift around the greens but a great place to see Bald Ibis, our main reason for the visit and we ended the day with excellent views of the above photographed handsome chap!