Bolonia and La Janda (Cádiz)

27/06. This morning a very early start as Bob Wright and myself were heading for Bolonia with the aim of seeing both the Little and White-rumped Swifts and then going on to La Janda before it got too hot. Out of the pit by 04.45, much to the surprise of the dog, who was fast asleep, and unbeknownst to herself was coming with us and considered that she should have been left asleep until I produced a dog chew.

I met Bob on time at 06.00 just as the first fainlt light of day was showing in the east and just before 08.00 we were on station in front of the cave in the cliff face up behind Bolonia. On the way we saw the only Honey Buzzard of the trip and also a tremendously obliging Little Owl which posed beautifully at about 7m from the car, the only problem being that the cameras were in the trunk of the car and getting them out would have flushed it.
So, we watched the cave, although heaven knows for what as nothing, but nothing, went in or out. There was no swift of any damned species anywhere to be seen. There were 6 adult Griffon Vultures on the cliff and a juvenile at the nest, one of the adults bearing a yellow wing tag 9C2 (hopefully news of where that came from soon). We heard a distant Green Woodpecker and the dog was thoroughly enjoying herself and getting more and more excited - spaniels are like that - until a fox ran across in front of us and Luna showed what a wimp she really is by thinking that really it might be a good idea to go back to the car!

After nearly an hour there was no sign of any swifts on the blasted planet so down we decided to go down to the bar at the turn-off from the N-340 for breakfast. On the way down we were rewarded with brief, but very good, views of an adult Egyptian Vulture which wasprobably the best raptor of the day. So, after a much needed coffee and some solid sustenance, thence on to La Janda, enjoying a lightning glance of a female Montagu's Harrier swoop down just in front of us and grab a car strike kill by the road side before entering by the track down to the canal. The first part of the canal track was a write-off as a Biggles wanabe was flying his crop sprayer over the rice paddies and we didn't fancy a dose of anything toxic. A single Pratincole flew past and turned out to be the only one of the day. The paddies were pretty sterile, the odd White Stork, a few Little Egrets and lot of Cattle Egrets, 4 Glossy Ibises and a total of 3 immature Grey Herons, as well as Kestrels and a single female Marsh Harrier.

We tried the track back to the N-340, hoping to find juv. Pratincoles which had been seen sitting on that section of track yesterday, but they sure as hell weren't today, although there were a couple of Gull-billed Terns, rather unusual, and a 5 Audouin's Gulls (4 adults and a 1st summer bird) as well as a few Black-winged Stilts, much fewer than last year altogether.

So we back-tracked towards Benalup going across the top by what has got to be the smelliest cattle set-up in Europe. If it was mine I would be ashamed to let people see / smell it and when its wet and horrible I often wonder what the state of the hooves must be.

The long straight stretch just after going over the bridge over the canal is always good for European Turtle Doves and today was no exception and some showed themselves off beautifully. What a difference to those vulgar interlopers the Collared Doves.

We drove a few hundred meters back down the central track, I valued my car to try any more, parked and then walked a few hundred meters southwards. This proved to be quite productive, with at least a dozen or more Griffon Vultures, a couple of Booted Eagles, a buzzard sp. which may have been a Long-legged, it was an odd-looking bird at any rate. B
ut most interesting was the number of Black Kites. We must have seen at least 30, most of which were drifting south and all were in an incredibly lamentable plumage state, with primaries and secondaries missing, as well as tail feathers. I am insufficiently knowledgeable (I really know sod all) about the timing of their moults and even though Black Kites move south early after breeding, these seem very early and I wonder if they were 1st summer birds. No doubt somebody will tell me and I shall publish their reply unless they want to send it as a comment.

Oh yes, nearly forgot, we also had a split second view of a mongoose. By this time it was hot and after a brief stop at the mirador del Estrecho, just east of Tarifa, we set off back for home. A goodly day and we had seen 10 species of raptors if one counts the Little Owl and Bob reckoned that we had seen some 45 species. Not bad for the time of year and a short day's birding. I enjoyed it, Bob did and so, I think, did Luna as she is fast asleep in a cool spot.

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