08 January 2015 : La Janda

New Year so it was time for my first visit down to La Janda along with my old friend Ron, who I picked uop in Fuengirola and we were having a coffee at the bar in Tahivilla at 09.30 to get the caffeine into the bloodstream to prepare us for the day ahead. Unlike Dave & Co. of the Arboleas Group who saw 50 species, we only saw 41 but wait until you read that we saw! There was some real quality. The route was the usual one: turn in opposite the turn off to Barbate, go along the side of the canala, very slowly with lost if scanning, across the bridge and uo and past the Finca de Enmedio (also better known as the smelly farm), then some 6 kms down the central track towards Facina befire finally turning back, right after the bridge and thence out on to the N-340.
It was pretty cool and a bit too windy for my liking and most of the rice paddies on the left side of the canal track have not yet been ploughed over and are pretty wet. There were very few White Storks and all that I saw last November will now be decorating a variety of buildings throughout Spain. Theare were both Little and Cattle Egrets scattered around, including one mixed feeding flock of around 50 birds, and another with some 30 or so Grey Herons sitting like a flock of hunched Quasimodos totally fed-up with their earthly existence, while there were other more isolated birds. Of more interest was the numbers of Lapwings, we guesstimated around 1.000 birds in various flocks, whilst we saw a single Green Sandpiper, a little group of around 12 Snipe and a flock of around 20 Golden Plovers, finding one dead on the track which we think must have collided with the wires.
Having covered the canal we went along to the east and stopped by the sluice gates where things startedz to look even better.
Someone who shall remain nameless forgot to get his camera out of the car and set it and is still rueing it as a 1st year Bonelli's Eagle flew near and low but things got even more exciting as Ron spotted a large, rather distant (it was too far away to photograph even if the camera had been ready) and we got reasonable but brief views and a lot of looking at size and wing silhouette led us to the concusion that it was a 1st year Lesser Spotted Eagle, a species Ron had seen in Turskey years ago and which must count as bird of the day, if not the month.
From there the next stop was along the top road past the farm where we stopped, ticked off the two Little Owls which have their home up there but did see 4 isolated Griffon Vultures. The one who had forgotten it get his camera ready before was then looking the wrong way when Ron saw a female Hen Harrier cross the road. This was to be remedied later on when we went down the central track and had stunning views of an immaculate male Hen Harrier, the only problem being that it had too many black orimarues and we wished it had had fewer, which would have at least equalled the Lesser Spotted as bird of the day/month. A Kestrel, one of around 15 seen during the day, was not a great compensation but the surprise bird was an immature Black Stork!
But to return to the road over the top, there was a huge flock of Serins, estimated as between 100 and 150 birds with little yellow rumps flitting around, and when one looked carefully there were also goodly numbers of Meadow Pipits foraging in the grass. There were not big numbers of Chiffchaffs which ties in with Dave's report from Almería, and not even big numbers of Goldfinches.
From there it was time to start off back as I had a dental appointment later that afternoon and we came across a male Marsh Harrier, the only male amongst 9 seen during the day, but at last I managed tio get a photo or two of one which didn't just show a vanishing stern!
And that was just about it although there was still just one more good species for us to see, a Great White Egret (or whatever they're being called now). So, a very good day out to be changed later in the dentist's chair.

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