10 October : La Janda

Ok, I know this is late in getting out but what with preparing for work done in the apartment which has meant emptying wardrobe and drawers (how the devil does one accumulate so much?) and taking the car in for a service (a full morning out but very efficient at the Suzuki agency), plus proof reading a book for a friend (very time consuming and an interesting read as far as I've got) and learning of the death of another (not exactly the sort of thing that makes one do backward somesaults of joy), time has conspired against me so here goes with the account of last Saturday's trip down to La Janda.
First, it appears that the observatory at Cazalla (that's the one on your right just before heading down towards Tarifa) has been closed with heavy machinery in there.
Also, the road westwards from the mirador del Estrecho westwards has got worse and unless something very expensive is done to remedy incipient slips with drops of up to 2 cms in the road surface and the seaward side, I reckon that if there is heavy rain there could well be some major land slips which will make going down there a major task.  
I took the usual route: off the N-340 opposite the turn-off for Zahara de los Aunes, down to the drainage canal and alongside that before turning right over the bridge, up to the farm and past it, down to the track that runs southwards to eventually come out near Facinas. The harvesting of the cotton is still going on and the rice paddies are also being drained with the harvesting there also started. This meant that the American crayfish were coming off the drying paddies and for the first time my little dachshund met one, which had him rather bemused and fascinated.
Birding was good, with the White Storks (cigüeñas blancas) coming in and there were possibly as many as 1.500, although this is a very crude estimate, but few Glossy Ibises (moritos). At leasst 4 Green Sandpipers (andarríos grande) flushed out of the rice fields, but all that is jumping ahead somewhat as there was the usual male Stonechat (tarabilla común) awaitng me as I started off down the track.
However nice the Stonechat, I was really hoping for some halfway decent raptor watching and really did quite well, with no less than 13 species.
As expected, the most numerous was Marsh Harrier (aguilucho lagunero), with at least 10 females and juveniles and a couple of nice males, although as my counting was not particularly accurate that number is almost certainly on the low side. Along the canal bank track there were very good views of a Black-shouldered Kite (elanio común) which was using its incredible sight to spot what one must presume were voles, and at one point it parachuted down, wings held aloft but missed the target. Later, down the central track, another, less shy, bird gave good views.

 I had distant views of a distant subadult Bonelli's Eagle (aguila perdicera) and it was along there that I also saw two Hobbies (alcotán), one giving excellent views of this lovely, long winged falcon, as it shot southwards at high speed.
A very distant flock of Griffon Vultures (buitre leonado) was guesstimated at ca. 100 birds and later another group of 50 was briefly visible, these now starting to build up as the juveniles and some immatures start their annual migration and it will be quite possible to see biggish movements of these along the sierras if Andalucía, whilst almost certainly some, exhausted, will land in the most improbable places, often in villages and cities, occasionally on a motorway, and the police and/or guardia civil will be called out to remove it, a task I'm certain that many will not relish. A single juvenile Egyptian Vulture (alimoche) has been around La Janda for a while and it made a brief appearance to help boost the total.
Both species of Kestrel (cernicalo vulgar y cernicalo primilla) were seen and there were also several Common Buzzards (busardo), a pair of which hold a territory up at the NW corner. It was nice to see the first Hen Harrier (aguilucho pálido) (a juvenile) and later on, a superb male which really was the icing on the cake.
There was a southerly movement of Barn Swallows (golondrina común) all day, not massive numbers but a constant trickle and presumably feeding over the rice paddies as they went, and also a few Sand Martins (avión zapador). I must admit that I paid little attention to passerines but the white rumps of Northern Wheatears (collalba gris) are virtually unmissable and I saw at least 5, one of these very probably of the larger and more strongly coloured Greenland race, plus a flock of some 50 or so Yellow Wagtails (lavandera boyera) amongst the many flocks of sparrows and finches, including Linnets (pardillos).
However, the bird of the day was a distant, big, dark lump sitting in a field which I mentally marked down as a juv. Marsh Harrier (aguilucho lagunero), or until it took wing when it was definitely not a Marsh Harrier. It was too big by far, too broad in the wing with at least 6 primary 'fingers', a basically dark grey-brown with a new moon shaped, off-white, rump. It sat on an irrigation boom at around 400m range whilst I 'scoped it, pondered as to what it was, cursed the basic lack of any really outstanding features, and took a description over the next 20 minutes or so, during which time it took off and did a circle, thus revealing a dark underwing. Eventually it took off and vanished over the hillside. And I was still none the wiser as to what it was as I don't carry a field guide with me but did take two pages of field notes, although I was thinking in terms of adult Lesser Spotted Eagle (águila moteada), an age group I have never seen.
Later that afternoon, once home I consulted with the various guides, including Dick Forsman's, and discarded the adult Lesser Spotted in favour of adult Spotted Eagle (águila clanga) on the basis of darkness of plumage and what it didn't show. Time and the Spanish Rarities Committee will tell.

1 comentario:

Alcalabirder dijo...

What Liz wants to know is, birds be blowed, have you got a photo of your dachshund preferably being bemused by the crayfish? If not when are you going to get one? That sounded more like a demand than a request to me ...... Regards, John Cantelo