Wednesday, April 25, 2018

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ SPAIN 2018 ~ La Janda

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ☁️20C Wednesday 25th April 2018 ~ On my final full day of this short visit to Spain a trip along the coast to the Straights of Gibraltar and then on to La Janda. A huge agricultural area in southern CΓ‘diz province that was once one of the biggest lakes and wetlands in Europe. Sadly, a process of drainage started in the middle of the 19th century and completed in the late 1960s, destroyed this wetland paradise that was once on a par with DoΓ±ana in terms of ecological importance. The weather for the best part of this visit has not been what I'm used to in Southern Spain, with severe thunderstorms and laden skies, today was no exception, with low cloud over the hills.

After a brief stop at the Cazalla Bird Observatory in Tarifa for coffee, which although deserted at this time of year will be full to capacity come the autumn migration we continued on along the N340, leaving the road and onto the dirt track at the Zahara turn. However, when leaving Cazalla we were taken completely by surprise when three Roller suddenly passed across the access road in front of us!

One of the many White Storks around La Janda
Once on the dirt track at La Janda, we took a slow drive along towards the canal stopping to enjoy close up views of Stonechat and Corn Bunting, plentiful here. Across the ploughed fields to our left several White Stork and both Cattle and Little Egret, mostly following a couple of tractors which were working today.

Griffon Vulture
At the left turn along the canal, we paused for lunch and got the scope out for a good scan. A distant Marsh Harrier, several Griffon Vultures passing overhead, along with a single Black Kite, three Red-legged Partridge, Zitting Cisticola (Fantail Warbler) and several Crested Larks before we moved on.

Night Heron along the canal ditches
By the time we reached the open water next to the rice fields, we'd stopped on numerous occasions recording Night Heron along the ditches, Bee-eater passing through, Woodchat Shrike and a distant Montagu's Harrier. The open water, usually full of Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill and various waders was a disappointment, entirely due to the JCB that was excavating the ditches, utterly crap timing!

Notwithstanding, we spent a good 45-minutes here and despite the disruption did rather well. Towards the back of the pool waders included Ruff, Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Greenshank. There was eight Glossy Ibis in total along with two Spoonbill and a single Greater Flamingo. Overhead passed three Collared Pratincole, two Gull-billed Tern, four Red-rumped Swallow and perched on one the electricity pylons a Booted Eagle. Not a bad haul considering!

This Cattle Egret was not impressed as we passed gingerly by! 
Just as we crossed the canal to take the track down to the sluices, brakes on and out of the car as a Bonelli's Eagle passed overhead. From here it was a slow drive down to the sluices, mainly due to the 200 or so Cattle Egrets which were nesting right alongside the roadside and canal ditch. Trying to avoid them as they flew out along the track was a definite skill but we gingerly continued on without incident.

Melodious Warbler
Turtle Dove
Stopping at the sluices for a while a Nightingale was singing, only two today, plus a Turtle Dove and then I managed to track down a singing Melodious Warbler, which led me a merry dance before I finally got any sort of an image. Calls of a common Quail resonated, no chance of finding him but we did manage to see the calling Lesser Short-toed Lark as it flew by. The only further highlight on the way back to the main road was a distant Black-winged Kite perched on one of the many mobile irrigation towers.

White Stork over La Janda