Sunday, September 15, 2019

πŸ“– Trip Report Spain Part1~ Autumn Migration

TRIP REPORT Part 1: Sunday 8th September ~ Tuesday 10th September ~ A 5-day, short break to observe autumn bird migration in Southern Spain, staying at my friend's villa in Mijas. The weather, for the most part, was sunny and clear with cloud building on Thursday/Friday to produce nearby thunderstorms, although I wasn't affected. Temperature range 24C ~ 30C

☀️28C Monday 9th September 2019 ~ ALPUJATA MIGRATION WATCHPOINT (Mirador de las Águilas) A raptor migration watchpoint, named by Paco Rios of SEO-Malaga, who uncovered its potential. The site has recently been recognised and developed as a watchpoint by the local authority. Site Location: HERE

One of three Rock Buntings from the track leading to the watchpoint. 
On arrival at the site, just a 30-minute drive from the villa we took the short track which leads up to the observation point. The track itself was quite productive with Chaffinch, Serin & (3) Rock Buntings ground-feeding, one of which was displaced to a nearby dead tree as we passed.

Trektellen report for our visit ~ Although Blas's spelling of my name needs a bit of practice!
We spent a few hours with Blas & Paco the site coordinators and although the conditions for visual migration were not ideal we had a reasonable morning, the results of which are above. The stand out count for me was the (24) Sparrowhawk, quite surprising how many do in fact migrate through the southern region of Spain.

Greenshank at Gudalhorce enjoying the evening sunshine
In the late afternoon, I took a drive down to Guadalhorce near Malaga airport (Site Details HERE) where I spent an hour at the Laguna Grande Hide. Due to the suns position at this time of day, this is a perfect vantage point. I was happy to see that with little rains recently, unlike the current torrential rains & flooding just further up the coast, the lagoon is at a perfect level, with plenty of scrape for waders.

Juvenile Kentish Plover at Guadalhorce
From the hide a half-dozen Greenshank, (30+) Black-winged Stilts, which nest here along with various counts of predominantly juvenile Little-ringed, Ringed & Kentish Plover, all of which also breed in a protected area of the site. A brace of Whimbrel along with (11) Sanderling, (2) Turnstone, (2) Avocet, (5) Dunlin and a single Curlew Sandpiper. CommonGreen & Wood Sandpiper were also present, plus (13) Greater Flamingo roosting.

Whimbrel on the Laguna Grande ~ Guadalhorce
Full visit list:

Lagoon & Scrape:
Shelduck, Mallard, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Coot, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little-ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank, Whimbrel, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kingfisher.

Bee-Eater* on passage
Overhead & Passage:
Booted Eagle, Osprey, Kestrel, Common Swift, (1)Pallid Swift, Bee-Eater*, Sand Martin, (2)Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-Rumped Swallow, House Martin, Yellow Wagtail sp. 

Other Areas:
Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, Eurasian Starling, House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Serin

⛅️26C Tuesday 10th September 2019 ~ A drive down to Tarifa visiting the migration watchpoints at Cazalla and Mirador del Estrecho, then on to La Janda.

Huge passage of Black Kites over Tarifa
Arrived at the Cazalla Watchpoint shortly before 10am with a strong 30kts WSWesterly blowing, pretty chilly too by comparison at around 18C. It was apparent straight away that there was a very strong Black Kite passage underway with large groups passing low down towards Tarifa. Conditions with the stiff breeze were challenging and passage was particularly slow so we only spent around a half-hour here noting: (3) Griffon Vulture, (1) Egyptian Vulture, (5) Booted Eagle, (2) Short-toed Eagle, (11) Honey Buzzard, (2) Marsh Harrier(2) Sparrowhawk & (11) Bee-Eaters.

Close-up Black Kite at Mirador del Estrecho
At Mirador del Estrecho the Black Kite passage continued at pace but with no further raptor additions to the species list from those at Cazalla we didn't stay long. However, while here sudden loud twittering calls directly overhead was identified as a large group of some 30+ Alpine Swift which passed through 'swiftly' at height, with not even time enough for a record shot!

Black Storks noted on route to La Janda
The drive to La Janda (Previous Site Visits & Details HERE) took around 40-minutes and on the route more vismig was noted with a group of (9) Black Storks heading south-west. Immediately after departing the main N-340 turn at Zahara onto the dirt track which runs the perimeter of the area, we stopped for a while to watch a group of Cattle Egret, at least (3) Stonechat posed on the nearby fences while here.
Cattle Egret among the cattle  shortly after turning onto the dirt track

Griffon Vulture ~ A steady trickle over La Janda during our stay
We paused for our packed lunch alongside the 'Canal Principal' scanning the area from the top of the track which affords a good panorama of the old lake bed. As is the norm there were plenty of White Storks in the surrounding fields, which for the first time since I've been visiting had been planted with Cotton. A distant Montagu's Harrier through the heat haze and overhead a constant trickle of Griffon Vultures.

Northern Banded Groundling ~ A recent colonist from Africa
A number of Northern Banded Groundling were flitting around, plus a Clouded Yellow butterfly but sadly my search goes on for my first Zeller's Skipper butterfly, which was only re-discovered in this area in 2011. After lunch a walk alongside the canal ditches produced (3) Green Sandpiper and a Common Sandpiper. The Cotton plants had also attracted a couple of Cirl Buntings and within the crop gaps, Crested Larks and I inadvertently flushed a single Stone Curlew.

Zitting Cisticola ~ Fantail Warbler
Over the next few hours and before re-entering the main N-320 some 5 miles later we stopped at various points to check out the ditches, fences, rice fields and irrigation towers. The ditches only produced several more Green Sandpipers and the arid areas and bushes alongside the track more Crested Larks, plus Yellow Wagtail, Fantail Warbler, Woodchat Shrike and some huge populations of House Sparrows, with a number of Spanish Sparrows.

Short-toed Eagle
At one time I did try to sneak up on a Black-Winged Kite perched on the pylons but was sadly left with a poor record shot as it departed! (2) Short-toed Eagle, (3) Marsh Harrier, (5) Booted Eagle (2) Montagu's Harrier, (4) Honey Buzzard, (3) Egyptian Vulture and (2) Eagle sp. all noted before departing.

**Disappointingly the open water, an area of rice field left cleared during my last few visits which produced many Waders, Ibis and Spoonbill have been fully utilised this year so there was no open water to speak of!

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