La Janda

The idea to go yesterday was aborted when the car decided to play up by not pulling and belching out clouds of black smoke which meant aborting the planned trip to La Janda and instead taking the thing to the local Ford agency with thoughts of the turbo or cylinder head gasket having gone and a huge bill! In fact, a new plastic tube was put in and I was 80€ lighter, which is a hell of a lot less than a new turbo would have cost! Today was, therefore, a go situation (as mission control used to say at Houston) and I've been for a brief morning with Stephen on La Janda, seen 2 juv. Pallid Harriers and returned without any mishap and the car pulling like a train.

I arrived earlyish, by 10, and Stephen was awaiting me so we transferred to his vehicle. Up on to the canal bank and right in to no-man's-land into which he has permission to go. There were quite a lot of Cranes were around, both on the deck already (138 in one group) with at least 170 in the whole area as more flew in and others on the deck further on. I make no apologies for putting in photos of Cranes yet again as they really are superb birds.
There were plenty of Lapwings in the harvested rice fields and finches of several spp., including Chaffinches.
It was in this area too that we saw the first of several Marsh Harriers of which I didn't keep count but did include this rather splendid female but it was Pallid Harriers that we were after and we struck gold very quickly after going back on to the track alongside the rice fields and going north.
The first bird (below R) was sitting and pondering about the meaning of life, which I suppose must include plentiful vole supplies if you're a harrier. The second bird (L) - we actually had two in sight at the same time! -was also meditating, although rather more distant, but we could still see it well enough to see the facial and pattern to be sure of the identification.
However, in view of one or two recent comments about some putative records of Pallid Harriers in western Andalucía, note that Dick Forsman has warned of the possibility of hybrids with Hen Harriers. One must be aware and these links may help:...and here:
From thereone it was all down hill as we went along the track, seeing this juvenile Night Heron, a couple of Purple Boghens and later 2 Great White Egrets/Herons where we had seen one on Saturday, although Stephen tells me that they are now known only as White Egrets, and they certainly dwarf the Cattle Egrets in the photo here. Surprisingly, we saw only 1 Black-winged Kite and a single Buzzard, plus a few Kestrels. There were plenty of Chiffs and a single Willow Warbler, a bit late this bird, and quite a few White Wagtails. And thus, reluctantly it was time for home.

The car went like a bird - pity its best cruising speed is 135km/h, a speed which the little green men regard as illegal - was home for lunch by 14.30 and have since spent a couple of hours since lunch sorting out a few photos and listening to a highy recommendable digitally mastered version (in German) of The Merry Widow with Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Nicolai Gedda. The other cd in the set is a very nice version of The Land of Smiles. There, you see I'm not the uncultured birding version of Billy Connolly that you thought that I was. So, herewith the story of a super morning's birding along with my thanks to Stephen and to his lovely wife for letting him out!

PS: I am informed that there is a Black-winged Kite at the Guadalhorce and I have had both Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff in the garden since returning home.

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