21 April : La Janda

Keeping this blog going is becoming more and more difficult and more and more behind. This is brief entry of the trip Ron and myself - his last before returning to Blighty - is only a a week late. In the week since then I have had a Bonelli's Warbler in the garden, but that has been all. So here goes.
We did the normal tour, along by the drainage canal, across the top and part of the distance down the Benalup-Facinas track, although noit so much as before as the rain (remember, that wet stuff?) and the track has been broken up rather by heavy agricultural vehicles and trucks.
The longest stretch is alongside the canal with many stops to look and scan. It was useful in that we picked up Cetti's, Reed and Great Reed Warbler plus some superb views of a little Whitethroat, an archtypal bird of mature hedgerows and may blossom when I was young and starting my birding career. We had decent views of a Common Buzzard which waited to be photographed instead of giving a nice rump view, plus a female Montagu's Harrier, the first of the two we saw during the day.
There were still 13 Spooonbills on the floodwater some halfway down, two of them wearing colour rings but too distant to see clearly. Surprisingly, there were no waders in what looked to be good habitat, only a bundle of Black-winged Stilts, along with a few Shovelers and some few Grey Herons and 2 Purple Herons, one of which gave superb views. There were plenty of Cattle Egrets and suprising numbers of Glossy Ibises, the cause of which became apparent when we had crossed the bridge.
In the trees which run alongside the stretch of road to the sluice gates there were large numbers of Cattle Egrets (Ron reckoned at least 400 putative pairs) in a series of focal points where they were building nests, with one or two apparently already sitting and one pair  doing what normal pairs do in spring. In adddition there were several pairs of Glossy Ibises, no guesstimates available, but one or two gave excellent views as they engaged in nest construction.

 There was little to be seen going across the top, although we did see some 20 Black Kites, I suspect these being late arriving immatures. There and going down the Facinas track turned up 2 immature female-type Marsh Harriers, a single Booted Eagle, 40+ Griffon Vultures and a single Hobby (of which there have been records than normal this past week in the Strait area).
As the track was rather muddy and uneven in parts, I decided that we make for Bolonia and go up to the Cueva del Moro. the cave where the Little and White.rumped Swifts were once regular but which now appear to be there no more, possibly due to disturbance. There was little joy apart from a young Griffon Vulture at the usual nest site and we had good views of a male Blue Rock Thrush, always a nice bird to see. I heard a distant Green Woodpecker and we saw another Hobby. On the way back down I was telling Ron that once, years ago but never since, we (I was with Federico) had seen a male Cirl Bunting when something small flew down and sat in the road in front of the car. I stopped. Binocs focussed and there it was. A male Cirl Bunting!
A good day and Ron very satisfied.

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