NAPTON ON THE HILL WEATHER

Friday, September 23, 2016

Birding Spain ~ La Janda

After the spectacle of my raptor watch and a delicious packed lunch I moved further along the N340, leaving the road at the Zahara turn. In fact I'd only just rounded the bend on the track down to the canal when the first of many Stonechat popped up onto the fence.

Stonechat ~ One on every fence it seemed today
In the distance I could already see the hoards of White Stork along the channels, plus a distant Marsh Harrier and when I got out of the car to check out a flock of Storks circling above I noticed several Alpine Swifts and one or two Common Swift in among them. The ploughed fields held Crested Lark and when I stopped to investigate the first channel along the rice fields a Great Egret was found, in fact my first here.

Juvenile Montagu's Harrier
I lingered for a short while after reaching the canal turn to search a huge House Sparrow flock for Spanish Sparrow but dipped. That said I did manage at least one later in the day within the hundreds of House Sparrow that reside here. I spent a while on the canal bridge, a Kingfisher, Cetti's Warbler, a dozen Linnets and even more Goldfinch for company but a large raptor caught the eye, a ringtail Harrier. I watched for a while and took a few records shots and I'm happy with my conclusion of juvenile Montagu's Harrier, a nice start to the visit!

Another shot of Monty's
Following the canal and not getting out of second gear I paused a number of times, recording both Cattle and Little Egret and of course every channel held dozens of White Stork and one or two Grey Heron. Four more Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle and several Common Kestrel until after a while a large exposed expanse of water within the rice paddies delivered a real treat. Well over 150 Glossy Ibis within and after a good search Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Black-winged Stilt.

Huge number of Glossy Ibis
Another stop at the large sluice gate, a great place for roosting Cattle Egret and a brief walk down to some more open water. Not wanting to get too close to spook anything, there was at least thirty Spoonbill on the pool and even more Glossy Ibis before I turned back to the car, where a Woodchat Shrike made a brief appearance.

White Stork ~ A favourite of La Janda
As I turned across the large irrigation ditch I paused under a shaded area for a while to take stock. In the immediate locality a single Bee-eater and hundreds of Woodpigeons in the air and getting out of the car to stretch the legs I spooked a Short-toed Eagle from the pylons. From here I drove down towards Benalup checking out the fields which can hold Little Bustard but I dipped once more, never had one here!

Short-toed Eagle ~ Spooked while stretching the legs!
Another pause before turning back and checking out several areas as I returned recording: Sand Martin, Alpine Swift, House Martin, Common Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Corn Bunting, Zitting Cisticola and Common Buzzard.

This woeful record shot of a Black-winged Kite does at least give the impression of how this bird is so unmistakable when seen in flight!
I did in fact save the best till last and this while checking out the irrigation superstructures. A Black-winged Kite in flight, this unmistakable bird, the size of a Hobby is one of only three I've seen here during my visits, what a wonderful way to end to the day!