22/09 : Tarifa & La Janda

This is a brief and very late report of the trip Federico and myself made last Saturday down to the Strait and La Janda. Judging by reports from others, it seems that half of SEO-Málaga were down there but we managed to see none of them!
We started off at Cazalla (the observatory on the right side of the road leading down to Tarifa where the buildings are) and were there between 09 and 10.30 and which became overloaded with birders of shapes, sizes and nationalities. Lots to see, much of it very high and way out of photographic range but would havve been well within range of the Hubble telescope, including Sparrowhawks, which Federico did see well as they had the courtesy to come through at low level, the first few Marsh Harriers, high flying Honey Buzzards and many equally high flying Short-toed Eagles, a scattering of Booted Eagles as well as the only Griffon Vultures of the day and several Egyptian Vultures. In amidst all this lot, 4 Black Storks made an appearance.

At 10.30 we pushed off for breakfast before going to La Janda. Here we got stuck going down the trackk to the canal as six cowboys were carrying out a roundup of escaped cattle, which meant bringing out the whole damned herd, and as said cattle had damned great horns we cowards deemed it best to keep a very safe distance. This wasted half an hour, which was a shame as we could see raptors way over in the distance and there were several hundred White Storks sitting around waiting for the air to heat up, which it duly did and they staarted thermalling before setting off south.
La Janda was, as usual, interesting and turned up Calandra Larks and a few Yellow Wagtails determinedly flying south, but we were after bigger fry, namely birds of prey, and we were not to be disappointed.
The drive northwards alongside the canal gave us more Marsh Harriers, at least 9 according to my very incomplete notes and which included this old female which was showing grey in the wings and the poor photo shows what I mean, a  female Hen Harrier and both female and juv. Montagu's Harriers.
The rice is starting to ripen and another month will see it harvested, indeed, some looks as though it should be ready within a couple of weeks but the rain which is currently falkling both there and here may well put paid to that as it will mess up the moisture content.
A widely spaced flock of at least 20 Lesser Kestrels were feeding over the fields where harvesting of maize was taking place ad we saw a few Common Kestrels. A pair of Black-shouldered Kites flew over us but continued westwards on some unknown mission and were the only ones we saw all day. Short-toed Eagles and a few Honey Buzzards, including one incredibly black bird which perched on an electricity tower, flew southwards over us, often at great height, plus a couple of Common Buzzards.
A couple of Ravens flew away from us as we drove south, with more rptors which added a juv. Bonelli's Eagle to our list, seeing lots of the omni-present Stonechats but not a single Whinchat, but a couple of female/juv. type Northern Wheatears were seen.
We ate lunch going across the top by the smelly farm and saw nothing there but the slow and very hot drive southwards along the central track towards Facinas was reasonably productive and included 3 Alpine Swifts and a single Common Swift amongst the many Barn Swallows and House Martins.
We finished ioff the day by calling at the Cazalla watch point on the southern side of the road, seeing more Short-toed and Booted Eagles, yet another Sparrowhawk and excellent views of a Hobby as it shot over our heads.
All these raptors made, if my maths is right (now there's a hope!) a total of 15 species of raptors, which ain't bad by anyone's standards!

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