15/03 : Bolonia and La Janda

An early start, getting up at 05.15 is not my style nowadays, but I met Ron in Fuengirola on time and we were below the cave and cliff face at Bolonia by 08.45. Boy, was it cold and we saw only Crag Martins going in and out of the cave and a few Griffon Vultures, then a stream of some 100+ Black Kites came over in a long, straggling stream whilst a superb male Blue Rock Thrush flaunted itself and a Wren sang from hiding. Then we heard a Yaffle (Green Woodpecker to you) and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming somewhere in the eucalyptus trees, which they aren't supposed to haunt but do. The male Peregrine appeared, flew around gently, spotted something below and went into a wings closed free fall at about mach 5 and we never saw it again. A Short-toed Eagle came and went, as did a single Sparrowhawk. All of this appeared to augur well for the day. To hell with all that 'Beware the Ides of March' stuff!

By now it was 0930 and we decided that coffee was needed but not before I showed Ron the nest site of the Egyptian Vultures, their owners standing around until one, possibly the male, took off and returned with a large stick for the nest whilst his mate had waddled round the back out of sight. We now have irrefutable eveidence that Egyptian Vultures have no idea of the size of a stick when compared with their wingspan as the stupid bird must have brushed end of stick against a large, immobvable object (the cliff face) and dropped it. We hadn't gone on much further before we came across a Common Buzzard sitting on a telegraph post. Unlike most, it did not take flight and disappear for ever but flopped along a few metres to perch on the wire and thus afforded these photos.

After a coffee and a sticky thing (rather nice) at the San José del Valle bar it was on to La Janda, entering by the track down to the drainage canal. And from then on it was all go and eclipsed the already good omens by far. The first stop was just around the corner and scan, scan and scan again. Lapwings, a few White Storks, lots of little things in the fields and some bigger things, these including Calandra and Short-toed Larks as well as a moving flock of some 20 Yellow Wagtails which included both flava and flavissima males - both little beauties. Also, rather surorisingly, a pair of Mistle Thrushes added something different to the alrready great selection.
Somewhere in the distance a Greenshank called a couple of times but we never saw it, nor any other wader. La Janda is stone dry now and unless there is any rain there'll be no rice unless there is sufficient water in the canals. It was whilst we were there that a Purple Heron flopped in and stood there eyeing us suspiciously and occasional Marsh Harrriers - it was the day of the males - made their presence. And then our attention was taken by two rather distant largish plover type birds, observation of which not being helped by heat haze. However, eventually, by the simple process of noting what we could see and elimination of other species, especially Golden and Sociable Plovers, and with the help of 125 or so years of experience between us (honest! aren't we ancient?) we concluded that they were 2 Dotterels - a most welcome observation and best of the day for me.

From there we went slowly along the canal, stopping to laugh at a Purple Boghen wrestling not very successfully with a thick reed stem which must have been a reed stem. It is possible to see the size of the the reed by its left foot in the photo. We managed to get across the bridge and then up and past the smelly farm and a lunch stop. There had been multiple stops to watch raptors, most of them Black Kites but more Marsh Harriers, and narrowly missing a suicidal Hoopoe. From there we went down to the turn for the track to facinas and went down as far as the deer farm, adding more raptors (of which more in a minute) species such as Blackcap,this Stonechat which chose the most difficult spot to perch without doing itself permanent damage, 2 Song Thrushes, Linnets, Goldfinches and Greenfinches, not to mention Serins, Zitting Cisticolas and a single Magpie as well as a few Ravens.

We finished off by returning to the N-340, flushing a flock of ca.60 Lesser Short-toed Larks on the way and then spending half an hour at the mirador del Estrecho for more raptors, many still struggling in in spite of the wind which had risien to at least force 5, and these birds are also included in the raptor list below.
But it was a raptor day without a doubt, much to the delight of Ron and I wasn't displeased myself. So, something I don't often do, a list of the raptors seen, and in list order too!), some of which have already been mentioned: Añadir imagenBlack-shouldered Kite (1), Black Kite (500-600), Egyptian Vulture (3), Griffon Vulture (90+), Black Vulture (an exceedingly tattered 2CY bird, reckoned by Ron to be the bird of the day for him, as the photo shows), Short-toed Eagle (8+), Marsh Harrier (7+ of which only 2 were female/imms.), Hen Harrier (1 male), Sparrowhawk (ca.4), Common Buzzard (3), Booted Eagle (ca.8), Lesser Kestrel (10+), Kestrel (several) and Peregrine (1 male).

N = 14 species of raptors within a grand total of what I make to be 57 species, a jolly good total and fabulous day's birding with some great views which left us both tired but exceedingly happy.

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