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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

1000's of raptors over Tarifa, Spain

Over 600 Short-toed Eagle came in off just east of Tarifa

  At 10.30 a flock of 35 Black Kite arrived in a SE breeze at the north end of Tarifa Beach. However, I had no idea that over 1100 Black Kite would pass over head in the next two hours! I observed them in the shade from the burning sun as they headed inland. The only other birds that I saw also coming in were 13 Griffon Vulture, 40+White Stork and a male sparrowhawk.

Looking from the far north of Tarifa Beach towards Tarifa where I had over 1100 Black Kite this morning!

Over 40 White stork came in off the sea

One of the 13 Griffon Vulture

The sea can cause problems for raptors crossing The Strait, but also wind turbines can be a danger if they fly too close like this Sparrowhawk

  When the kites had dried up, I decided to go and get some grub, but when I drove into Tarifa, there were Short-toed Eagles coming in off the sea. A quick sandwich from the shop and on to coastal track east of the town. I scanned further east and could see kites and eagles streaming in and drove a mile further down road. I climbed a hill and from here I was at eye level as they hit the land. Thirty minutes later, some 500 Black Kite, 250 Short-toed Eagle, 7 Black Stork, 3 Booted Eagle and a single Egyptian Vulture had gone through. A lot of them were almost at arms length away as they looked into my eyes as they passed. I was off the beaten track, but somehow, two German birders came across me and we all started scanning the mass of raptors arriving across The Strait. They told me that just a mile west from where we were now, down road, in an hour they had, 4 Egyptian Vulture, 8 Black stork, 200+Short-toed Eagle and 100's of Black Kite. It was obvious that the birds had all stopped after an hour, but a scan to the west saw 100's still coming in. We drove towards where they were and continued counting. In less than an hour, a constant stream of over 1000 Black Kites had moved through and with them a male Marsh Harrier. Also 250+STE, 2 Lesser Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, and 3 more Egyptian Vulture! By 19.00, there were still strangles coming in, but I was tired and we all decided to call it a day.
  We also met some local English birders and they told us that this was a quiet day. A quiet day!? It was good enough for me.

Today's totals from 10.30-19.00 not including what the German birders observed

4000+Black Kite                
600 Short-toed Eagle
4 Egyptian Vulture
13 Griffon vulture
9 Booted Eagle
1 Marsh Harrier
2 Sparrowhawk
3 Lesser Kestrel
40+White Stork
7 Black stork
STE just arriving with Morocco in the distants

You could almost touch the STE as they passed by. These are three different individuals 

The sky was crowded with Black Kite with over 1000 moving  through in less than an hour!

Morocco in the background

When the kites did arrive they passed by at very close range

Clouds of Black Kites

This male Marsh Harrier. above the kite. came in with the 1000's of Black Kite

Less than 10 Booted Eagle were seen.

3 Lesser Kestrel arrived with the kites including this male. Before I came to Spain, the only Lesser Kestrel that I had seen was the one that I found on Scilly. A few years later, someone claimed they found it a month before me. I'll let you make your own minds up on that one.

Crested Lark

Listening to this today. Justin DeYarmond Edison Vernon (born April 30, 1981) is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer. He is best known as the primary songwriter and frontman of indie folk band Bon Iver. Vernon is also a member of the bandsVolcano Choir, The Shouting Matches and Gayngs.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

La Janda, Tarifa

I only saw handful of Short-toad Eagle today

 After yesterday, I was almost tempted to go and observe the raptors coming in off the sea from Morocco again. However, I drove past Tarifa and a 15 minute drive north found me at La Janda. As soon as I turned on to the dirt track I came across a group of birders scanning the fields. This was my opportunity to find out what I could see in the area. I was told that 2 Pallid Harrier wintered, including a male and could be still hanging around! They were hoping to see Crane and Great-spotted Cuckoo. The latter species I needed and the Cranes, I have only seen 11 in Norfolk '91 and a single at Baggy Moor, Salop, May '95. For there help I found them a Black-shouldered Kite. I continued driving and started scanning from the car. First birds of interest were 8 spoonbill, White Storks, 3 Greenshank, 15 Green sandpiper and a lot of Snipe in paddy fields. Marsh Harrier were all over the shop and a scan in the sky produced a distant Crane, followed by a Black Stork. I've only seen two of the latter species, both on Scilly, So I was really pleased to see this one, although it was spiraling higher and higher until it was a dot. The Crane flew off high east, but a scan to the west and there were 120+ Crane! They were a long ways off, but you could hear them calling. As I approached Benalop-casas Viegas, close to the road were a mixed flock of Spanish and House Sparrow. The Hampshire male a few years back was the only one that I've seen, so this was a bonus. While watching the sparrows, I could hear a Little-ringed Plover and watched it fly off high NE. The next field held 20+Glossey Ibis, 3 marsh Harrier, more Green Sandpiper and a new one for me, 6 corking Iberian Wagtail.

One of the tracks at La Janda

Spoonbill in the paddy fields

Using the car, this STE was very approachable

Very good numbers of Marsh Harrier

Cattle Egret

White Stork were already nesting in Benalop-casas Viegas

Part of the flock of 120+Crane

Looking from La Janda towardsVeger la Frontera

I had something to eat at the town of Benalop and high above town were Griffon Vulture while lower down, good numbers of Swallow, a few House Martin, 1 Sand Martin and 2 Red-rumped Swallow. I back-tracked along the same road I came on, but turned off towards Facinas. There were large numbers of Blackcap in srub bordering the road and above me I could see that Black Kites were moving through in singles with up to 150 birds going north. No doubt just come in off from Morocco. As the road ahead opened up I could hear Calandra Lark and found pairs in the fields nearby. These larks wouldn't let me get near them and later on I had a flock of 60 birds fly low across in front of me. A stunning Black-shouldered Kite was on a post at the side of the road, but soon flew off into the sun. To finish the day, just past Facinas, 2 pale phase Booted Eagle flew over NE from just arriving from across The Strait. Although I didn't get the harrier or cuckoo, it turned out to be a cracking day!

Flushed this Hoopoe from the side of the road. It showed a lot better than the two birds I had on Gibraltar a few days ago

This Black-shouldered Kite showed well, but flew into the sun.

The only Great-white egret that I've seen on the whole trip so far

Well over 100 Calandra Lark were feeding in fields bordering the track

Both Corn Bunting and Stonechat were all over the shop 

Benalop-casas Viegas

Rounding up the cows on horse back at Benalop

Looking from Direccion La Pena towards Tarifa
Been listening to these guys today. The Wooden Sky are a Canadian indie rock band based in TorontoOntario. They formed in 2003 as Friday Morning's Regret, but changed their name in 2007.[1] In 2014 the band left their former record label to start their own Chelsea Records, an artist driven label that at present has released only the bands latest effort 'Let's Be Ready'.