21/06 : La Janda

Friday morning
Having awoken early and not feeling like doing anything constructive for the betterment of my fellow man, I thought it best to do something which would better the inner me. So I went birding. To be precise down to La Janda and after calling at the swift cave up behind Bolonia and wondering why I had bothered : = there was NOTHING, no swifts of any sort, nor martins, nor nothing except a rather brassed of looking Griffon Vulture, a male Chaffinch and 3 Green Woodpeckers, then a coffee to bolster my spirits, I was motoring gently down to the drainage canal on La Janda just before 10. And things started to look up.
Cattle Egret
The first decent bird, leaving aside half the European population of Stonechats, was a nice Short-toed Eagle sitting atop a pylon. A long, slow drive down the track revealed a few Bee-eaters and a couple of Collared Pratincoles, White Storks standing around and thinking deeply, a couple of immature Grey Herons, Cattle Egrets flying to and fro in  pairs and trios and some devious mission of their own. Down in the reeds that fringe the canal there were still 3 Great Reed Warblers with their swee-swee-chrr-chrr-honk-honk song (?) and few more of their smaller cousins, the Reed Warbler, still singing whilst the occasional Cetti's let loose a burst to advertise its presence. More surprising were the snippets of song from two widely separated Nightingales, rather late for them when they should have shut up at least three weeks since. About half way down the track I heard the pee-ooo of a Buzzard and finally located it over the sierra the far side of the N-340 and when 'scoped there was absolutely nothing to think that it was not a Common Buzzard and later an immature Marsh Harrier flopped its way south, the only harrier seen all day..
juvenile Cattle Egrets
There was a quite heavy human presence but the Ravens sitting on one of the irrigation booms didn't care. Actually, some of the rice paddies appear to be lieing fallow whilst the further northwest one gets the more there were flooded and with greater rice growth. In the flooded ones there were several immature Yellow-legged Gulls, plenty of Black-winged Stilts but I saw only 2 juvs., th eonly other waders being 2 Green Sandpipers. A pair of Gull-billed Terns were sitting on one of dikes, and I saw only 3 Glossy Ibises in the growing rice up at the end, although I am certain that that figure will be multiplied a hundredfold come September.
Once across the bridge on the long stretch towards the finca de Enmedio (Smelly Farm), there were lots and lots (a good quantitative analysis) of Cattle Egrets breeding again and hordes of young. There too I came upon at least 3 pairs of Glossy Ibis, although I am sure that Stephen Daly will tell me that actually there are at least 30! Along this stretch and over and past the farm I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers of the delicate Turtle Doves, the proper ones, not those brash interlopers, plus the bigger Wood Pigeons.
moulting 2nd year Booted Eagle
It was up towards the farm that I came across the first Black Kites of at least 15 that I saw during the rest of the morning. These are first summer birds, non-breeders in full wing moult and I have commented in other years that it's a wonder how some manage to keep in the air they are in such a tatty state with half a tail and missing half the primary flight feathers. In the same area there were also at least 11 Booted Eagles, all pale phase birds, and most in inner primary moult. More first summer birds? To add to these  a widely scattered stream of some 25+ Griffon Vultures circled their way across. 
moulting 2CY Bonelli's Eagle
I drove about a couple of kms. down the Benalup-Facinas track, pleasantly surprised by its good condition, but there was nothing of note that I hadn't seen before until I picked up very big distant raptor. I thought at first that from sheer size that it could well be another Short-toed Eagle but when it deigned to come somewhat nearer it was obviously not and I managed to get three distant shots of dubious quality, one of which is reproduced here. I thought that it was a 2nd calendar year Bonelli's Eagle, moulting in to its next plumage by the state of the tail and wings and after consulting with Ernest García, who knows more about raptor plumages than I do, we feel that it is probably the correct identification. Comments are welcome!
very prickly purple thistle
equally prickly yellow thistle

We are now into the thistle season and although I don't tend to put in photos of vegetation here, especially for all you braw wee laddies from north of the Border from Sassenachland, are photos of two of the best examples. The sharp-eyed amongst you will notice that I haven't got a clue as to what sort of thistles they are, so they've been rebaptised, although I doubt any sort of international acceptation of the names!

And that really was about it for the day with a total of no less than 44 species, rather surprising after the inauspicious start.

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