25 December : La Janda

What better way to spend Christmas morning and the first part of the afternoon than birding? Leaving the madding crowds  and the knowledge that my daughter was going to feed me later. And she’d even offered with the bait of sticky toffee pudding. Not quite up to the Cartmel standard but damned good. So, as I’d awoken early (06.10) I was on the way and down at Tarifa by 08.30, having been delayed whilst emergency services dealt with some clown who’d crashed his/her car all on his/her own some 5 kms outside Tarifa. The car will never be the same again as the firemen were cutting off its roof and very probably the driver and any passengers won’t be the same either .
The birding was good too, with one of the first birds seen being a Long-legged Buzzard (busardo moro) type. In fact, there were good numbers of Common Buzzard (busardo común) with at least 10 seen during the morning. That said, apart from a similar number of Marsh Harriers (aguilucho lagunero), there was rather a dearth of raptors with only a few Kestrels  (cernicalo vulgar).
Spanish Sparrows
The track alongside the drainage canal was quite productive, the first rice fields having been drained and the ditch slightly muddy and into which my little monster paddled. There were a few Lapwings (avefrías) in these fields and a variety of finches, mostly Greenfinches (verderones),  Goldfinches (jilgueros) and House Sparrows (gorriones comunes). Theare were quite a few Linnets (pardillos) and overhead there were both Skylarks (alondra común) and Calandra Larks (calandrías), plus the welcome and rather surprising presence of a small flock of Spanish Sparrows (gorrión moruno), a species that I have ever seen only once before on La Janda.
Purple Boghens
Further along on the left side (moving N) there were still plenty of flooded paddies, although it appeared that they had been ploughed and possibly roughly harrowed, but there was a nice area of wáter. Apart from two flocks of Spoonbills (espátulas) numbering some 58 birds, 4 of which at least were carrying colour rings but too distant too read, I also counted 3 Green  Sandpipers (andarríos grandes) and 5 Greenshanks (archibebe claro). All this was quite modest stuff, nice and with decent views whilst on the east side of the drainage canal some 800 Cranes (grullas) fed peacefully with that lovely sound that they make whilst at rest.
Great White Egret/Heron
However, the birding level took a sudden upturn when 4 ducks flighted in and settled . A quick ‘scoping revealed them to be Marbled Teal/Duck (cerceta pardilla) (take your pick on the English name). Now that was a good bird to see.
There were the usual herons and egrets with Grey Heron (garza real) and both Little (garceta común) and Cattle (garcilla bueyera) and later a single Great White (garceta grande) flew in. A group of three Purple Boghens (calamones) showed quite well before flying off awkwardly. There were few Glossy Ibis (moritos), with a flock of some 50 in evidence. Apparently there are some 2.000 in the Brazo del Este área!
afflicted prickly pears
little hairy monster
From that point on there wasn’t really that much to see. Next to nothing going over the top past the smelly farm, nor down the first five km sor so of the central track towards Facinas.
It was interesting to note that the prickly pears or opuntia, from which the chumbos come, which have been so badly afflicted by some white plague over most of Andalucía are trying to start new growth. It will be interesting to see if these new shoots make it or also succumb to the plague. 
Whisky also enjoyed his day out having successively got muddy (meaning that I’ve got a lot of cleaning to do on the back seat covers), covered in burrs, flushed his first rabbit which didn’t play fair by diving into the thistle patch and finally going into a field where there were some bulls, neither of which, very fortunately, saw the other.
The last bird of the day, rather unexpected after getting some photos of a Kestrel (cernícalo vulgar), was a solitary Black Stork (cigüeña negra). Not a great day list with several spp. missing and for which I had hoped. But it was just nice to be out and the sticky toffee pudding lived up to expectations. 

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