16 September : Tarifa & La Janda

A late entry for reasons beyond my control. Briefly, Monday Federico and I went down to Tarifa and La Janda for the day, arriving at the Los Lances observatory before 09.00 and where stayed for about 30 minutes. It was cool and overcast and rather pleasant. The first bird of interest was a Black-eared Wheatear before weven got to the observatory. On the sea some Cory's Shearwaters were moving towards the Strait and there were also at least 4 Balearic Shearwaters, plus a plumage type 2 Gannet. There were lots of birders, almost more than there were birds with few each of Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and a single Bar-tailed Godwit. A single juvenile Flamingo, perhaps not overly fit, was rather out of place although therer were somewhere around 10 Grey Herons wandering around. A male Peregrine, intent on catching his breakfast charged through at very high speed and caused total panic amongst the Spotless Starlings and was seen again a few minutes later bent on creating more havoc.
We were on to La Janda about 10, after a much needed coffee , and thr route was down to the bridge, acroos and over the top by the fram (atypically unsmelly) and then down the central, and in parts rather uneven, track south towards Facinas.
The first part of the drainage canal has had its banks cleaned - more like a scorched earth policy and Great Reed and other warblers, plus the Purple Boghens (we saw one briefly) are going to have a bad time if they carry on cleaning it up like that and ruining habitat. White Storks there were in abundance and Little Egret not at all uncommon but remarkably few Grey Herons and in the beginning (sounds biblical, doesn't it?) a few Glossy Ibises, but more of them later. There were plenty of Corn Buntings around and we saw several small (ca.20 birds) of Greenfinches but there was one big flock of 100+ Goldfinches. There was one small group of 5 nervous European Turtle Doves - they had every reason to be nervous too with the odd bangs going on. Later, going down the centre track, we saw a single Northern Wheatear and that was about that, apart froma constant southerly trickly of Barn and Red-rumped Swallows.
It was not until we got up near the bridge over the drainage canal that things livened up, and boy did they do so as there were open areas in the rice paddies. There were at least 10 each of Ruff and Snipe, plus a Redshank and 2 Spoonbills were feeding in there. But pride of place must go the vast numbers of Glossy Ibises and the birdwatchers there were treated to an incredible spectacle as waves of them flighted in, ss the following sequence of photos shows. There were masses of 'em, we guesstimated probably in excess of 2.000.

Leaving the Glossy Ibises behind and turning to raptors, there were few raptors all day: Kestrels, 2 or 3 Black Kites, 3 Honey Buzzards although were were to see more later from the Strait mirador, 2 Booted Eagles and 2 more in the Strait on the way home, and 5 Griffon Vultures. Not even Marsh Harriers were around in numbers and we probably saw only 5 or 6, including one incredibly tatty male who looked as though he'd been spun dry with highly negative effects, plus a juvenile Montagu's Harrier, the only one of the day And that was about it. When we stopped at the mirador overlooking the Strait the wind had risen to at least force 4 from the W and a few birds, mostly Honey Buzzards (20+) were trying to get across but having a lack of success against the wind and most were sufficently intelligent to turn back before even getting half way, as did 2 Booted Eagles.
I didn't make notes about the number of species but it could have been higher although the spectacle of the Glossy Ibises made up for everything

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