So when the metcast, which had been showing force 4-6 easterlies in the Strait all week and with reports that the migrant raptors were piling up as they were too scared to cross, when the forecast for Saturday showed force 2 the consensus of opinion in the fororoa forum was that the flood gates of migration would open, with which I agreed.
Thus, I was ready to rock and roll at 06.45 and by the time I got to La Linea it was lowly overcast and by the time I was crossing by the mirador del Estrecho the clag was so low that it was impossible to even see the tops of the blades of the lowest wind mills which were whirling round merrily - force 2 winds be damned! Change plan as it would take hours for the clag to clear. Going down hill towards Tarifa theare were three totally disorientated flocks of Black Kites, in sum perhaps 700-800 birds, milling around, totally uncertain as to what to do.
After a quick coffee at San Jsoé del Valle I was going down towards the canal on La Janda at just on 9 with a pallid sunshine trying to burn off. There were thousands of finches, Goldfinches, lesser numbers of Linnets, plenty of House Sparrows and the biggest flock of Greenfinches I have ever seen - a guesstimated 500 birds! And a single Melodious Warbler. Lots of Barn Swallows and few House Martins were feeding low over the rice paddies and small flocks of Calandra Larks flew back and forth. There were flocks of Bee-eaters moving southewards high overhead, so high I saw few but heard them clearly.
It was windy enough to keep a flock of some 500 White Storks firmly anchored to terra firme whilst small numbers of Glossy Ibis flew back and forth - there were shooters but in spite of them I saw very good numbers of very nervous European Turtle Doves (the Collared Dove is now classed as a game bird in some communities - a bit late). I very distant plover may have been a Dotterel but heat haze and distance precluded a positive i/d.
The main objective on La Janda was raptors and I was not to be disappointed, there being so many Marsh Harriers, mostly juvs, with some adult females and a couple of immature males, that I gave up counting once past the 20 mark, and I must have seen over 30 on the circular tour as I went across tdhe top and back down the central track to Facinas. A couple of Green Sandpipers were flushed out of one of the paddies by a harrier, possibly the female Hen Harrier that I saw shortly after. It was along here too, accompanied by Cetti's Warbler having an hysterical attack that I saw the first of 4 Black-shouldered Kites, a most beautuful little raptor.
At about the same time I saw a melanistic Montagu's Harrier, the first of 4 for the day (the remainder being normal). These melanic birds are stunning and this one was a fantastic specimen, jet black with only a little barring in the axillaries and some more or less visible on the tail. There is a reasonable percentage of melanistic Montys in Galicia and this may well have been one of them. Another normal one, a female, sitting in a field had a wing tag, a rather dull orange one with a thickish black line through the centre and I shall try to find the provenance of that bird.
From there it was down to Cazalla, still windy, if anything more intense, Morocco was still invisible, and there were raptors everywhere, all totally indecisive, flying back and forth, going inland and obviously coming back for a second look. Counting accurately was impossible. There were also hordes of birders, both at the makeshift site on the south side of the road and at the new one, still unopened and illegally occupied by others - I wish the authorities (ie. Tarifa townhall who appear to be run by a bunch of procrastinators and/or incompetents) would get it opened up and stop blaming the Black Stork Group (Cigüeña Negra - COCN) people for their own incompetence. I have never seen so many birders there, it was quite frightening.
In the hour and a half I stayed there, there must have been some 20 Black Storks come down, and some daily totals, based on what I saw there and the relatively few raptors before are something on these lines : Black Kite - 1.400-1.500 birds; Short-toed Eagle - 150+; Booted Eagle - ca.30; Egyptian Vulture - ca.30; Honey Buzzard - 30+ (many were apparently very low and following the shoreline out of sight and this therefore a big under estimate); Marsh Harrier - 30+.
It was, overall, a very satisfying day's birding and I am sated until this coming weekend when I shall be at sea off Lanzarote, about which you will be able to read in the fullness of time. Perhaps I should tell the wife I'm going to be away ....