Julian Sykes Wildlife Holidays

Andalucia - Autumn Migration

14th - 22nd Sept 2007

14th September :- First I met Harry & Val Cooper (there 3rd holiday with me this year!!!) at Alicante Airport in the morning, then drove round to the Santa Pola Salinas where we met up with Jan Beever & her husband Ken. This as the vanguard party for my Andalucian Adventure with Kim Blasco due to arrive later that day, unfortunately much later than amticipated.. With several hours to spare we started birdwatching the area, and at the salinas we soon found Grey Herons, Cattle & Little Egrets, Greater Flamingos, Great Crested Grebes, Turnstone, Black winged Stilt, Common Snipe, Caspian, Little, Whiskered & Sandwich Terns, Slender billed, Black headed & Yellow legged Gulls. Next we drove the short distance to the Playa de El Pinet & during lunch on the beach we had a Whimbrel & 4 Bar tailed Godwits fly south. At the El Pinet Reserve, we enjoyed views of 5 Knot, more Bar tailed Godwits, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, Avocets, 2 Ruff, Greenshank & Common Redshanks, Kentish Plovers, Sandwich Terns, Slender billed & Mediterranean Gulls. We returned to the Salinas & added Little Stint, Black tailed Godwits & Lesser Black backed Gulls to our already growing list of species. Our final destination before returning to the airport as the Clot de Galvany & this ensured another set of birds with Mallard, Common Pochard, Common Teal, Moorhen, Purple Gallinule, Coot, Turtle Doves, Green Woodpecker, Little Owl, Red rumped Swallow, Eurasian, Reed & Sardinian Warblers, Southern Grey Shrike, Greenfinch, Goldfinch & Linnet. Unfortunately the weather had taken a turn for the worse and Kim's flight was diverted to Almeria for an hours so by the time he got to Alicante we didn't have any chance of more birdwatching that day.

15th September :- Due to the flight delays the previous day we had to pick up the mini-bus before our final guest Paula joined us. We made our way south and just after Murcia headed inland. On the road near Casablanca we had our first good birds with adult and 1st winter Golden Eagles right overhead, plus 4 Black Wheatears, Red billed Choughs, 2 Griffon Vultures, Eurasian Kestrels, Linnets, Crested Larks, Crag & House Martins. The rest of the journey to Casa Rosa Blanca was quiet apart from a few Chaffinches, Sparrowhawk and Blue Tit. At Casa Rosa Blanca we settled in and had our lunch, during which we saw a single Short toed & 10+ Booted Eagles, Griffon Vultures and Jackdaws. After lunch, Mel kindly took us into the Sierra de Segura where we spent the rest of the day. Although fairly quiet birdwise, the scenery was breath-taking & we did see 30+ Azure winged Magpies, Pied Flycatchers, a Hobby, more Booted Eagles, Stonechat, Nuthatch, Coal, Great & Blue Tits, Mistle Thrushes, Woodlarks, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Rock Bunting, Northern Wheatears, Southern Grey Shrike, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Serin. We returned to the guesthouse very pleased with our first full day, unfortunately, everyone had gone to their rooms and as I chatted with Mel & Wendy an Eagle Owl flew over the house! (much to everyone else’s disgust!)

16th September :- An early start with Mel found us at the nearby disused fish farm which was now overgrown. During the hour that we were there we saw Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Rock Sparrows, Rock Buntings, Black Redstarts, Kestrel, Ravens, Red billed Choughs, Robins, Spotted & Pied Flycatchers, Serins, Chaffinches, Great & Blue Tits. The return journey then produced a Common Buzzard, Southern Grey Shrike and a small flock of Corn Buntings. After a hearty breakfast we loaded the van and set off for Tarifa, which was a long(ish) drive but puntuated with stops en-route for coffees & lunch and as we approached Malaga the raptors started to appear with Black Kites, Short toed & Booted Eagles all seen from the minibus. Just outside Algeciras we stopped off at the Algarrobo Raptor Watchpoint, which is only a few kilometres from our hotel for the next five nights. We stayed for a couple of hours and in that time we logged 70+ Honey Buzzards, 190+ Booted Eagles, 32 Short toed Eagles, 15 Black Kites, 17 Sparrowhawks, 2 Marsh Harriers, 4 Egyptian Vultures, Hobby, and Goshawk, but the highlight must have been the flock of 100+ Black Storks that flew past along with 108 Bee-eaters. This was a fantastic introduction to raptor watching at it's best and we had an anticipation for the following morning.

17th September :- A pre-breakfast walk by Jan & Kim produced 2 Firecrests, Blackcaps, Cetti’s Warbler, 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Wren, Robin, Grey Wagtail, Chaffinch & Greenfinch. After breakfast we started the day at the Algarobbo Raptor Watchpoint where we were hoping for a repeat performance from the previous evening and we were not disappointed, so during the next four hours we logged 1260 Booted Eagles, 95 Short toed Eagles, a Ruppell's Vulture & several Griffon Vultures, 310 Honey Buzzards, 120 Black Kites, 3 Egyptian Vultures, 10 Sparrowhawks, 6 Black & 18 White Storks, 50+ Bee-eaters, and a Peregrine Falcon plus a walk around the area produced Short toed Treecreeper, Sardinian Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Cirl Buntings & Blackcaps. After a picnic lunch we drove to La Honda and a fantastic time was had by all. During the afternoon the highlight for most were the brilliant views of Black shouldered Kite, closely followed by a (1st winter) Spanish Imperial Eagle, a Marbled Duck and 100+ Glossy Ibis. A list of other birds seen included Little Grebe, Grey, Purple & Night Squacco Herons, Little & Cattle Egrets, 15 Spoonbill, 500+ White Storks, a Ruddy Shelduck, Shoveler, Common Teal, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Short toed & Booted Eagles, Sparrowhawk, Marsh & Montagu’s Harriers, Eurasian & Lesser Kestrels, Curlew, Green & Common Sandpiper, Black winged Stilts, Redshank & Greenshank. This rounded off a fantastic first full day on this fantastic coastline.

18th September :- An early start saw us at Bolonia Beach at first light hoping to see a White Rumped Swift. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful but were compensated by several Audouins Gulls, Little Stint, Kentish & Ringed Plover on the beach and Willow Warblers in the scrub. Next, we drove the short distance to the Sierra de la Plata where we found Griffon Vultures, Sparrowhawks, Green & Great Spotted Woodpeckers. After a good breakfast, we drove the short distance to the Trafico Raptor Watchpoint but the skies were clear, the calm conditions did not seem condusive to raptor migration, however, we did see Griffon Vultures, Sparrowhawks, Common Buzzard, Short toed & Booted Eagles. In the surrounding scrub areas we also found Garden & Sardinian Warblers, Stonechat, a few Spanish Yellow Wagtails and lovely juvenile Woodchat Shrike. Next we decided to visit Los Lances beach & spent a couple of hours looking over the beach where we found Knot, Bar tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed & Kentish Plovers, Audouins, Yellow legged & Black headed Gulls, Sandwich & Little Terns plus a couple of Northerrn Wheatears. It was time for lunch & probably the best decision of the week was made by eating it at Algarrobo. It was very quiet with raptors but Alpine Swifts were moving through in good numbers with at least 200 birds seen. Griffon Vultures were also moving and careful watching produced another Ruppell's Vulture, much to the delight of Kim, Val, Jan & Paula who had all missed the previous days bird. Then, 20 minutes later, Javier, (from the Migres Campaign), found an eagle high overhead and we confirmed it as a 3rd CY Bonelli’s Eagle, yet another fantastic find and our groups 20th species of raptor!. We then took a short break at our hotel and Paula was lucky enough to find a Garden Warbler from the balcony along with several Blackcaps. We later re-convened and again headed out to Los Lances beach. This time a walk amongst the salt marsh produced a Short toed & Crested Larks, Whinchat, Yellow Wagtails, Northern Wheatears, Corn Buntings, Goldfinches, House Sparrows & Zitting Cisticola’s. We again returned to the beach and in addition to earlier in the day we saw a Curlew Sandpiper, Turnstone, Common Redshank, and offshore several Cory’s Shearwaters and a couple of Gannets flew east, rounding off another

19th September :- After breakfast we went to Algarrobo Watchpoint where during the morning we logged Cattle Egrets, 15 Black Storks, a White Stork, 125 Honey Buzzards, 13 Black Kites, 3 Egyptian & Griffon Vultures, Marsh Harrier, 20+ Sparrowhawks, 2 Common Buzzards, 20+ Booted Eagles, 7 Lesser Kestrels, 3 Peregrine Falcons, Common Swifts, Hoopoe, Sand Martins, Grey Wagtail, Blue Rock Thrush, Melodious, Garden & Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Pied Flycatcher and Chaffinches. After lunch we then headed along the coast to the Barbate Lagoons. On route we had a very nice Short toed Eagle sitting on top of a pylon close to the road . At the salt marsh we checked the ponds & river where we found quite a few waders, gulls & terns including Cormorants, Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Marsh Harriers, Grey, Ringed & Kentish Plovers, Bar tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Common & Curlew Sandpipers, Turnstone, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Western Yellow legged, Lesser Black backed &Black headed Gulls, Sandwich Terns, Kingfishers, Yellow wagtails, Zitting Cisticolas, Whinchat, & Reed Bunting.

20th September :- The weather had changed today with a levante blowing and overcast conditions. We tried a pre-breakfast walk but it was fairly unproductive due to the weather. After breakfast I changed my original plans and headed to the Rio Palmeros and it’s adjacent salt marsh. We parked in Palmeros and scanned the area quickly seeing White Storks, Grey Herons, Marsh Harrier, Little Egrets and a Kingfisher. Kim then saw a large bird on the ground which was our target, an Osprey. We watched as it flew around and sat on a pylon before disappearing out of view. I saw what looked like an Oystercatcher at the river mouth so we headed down there, within a short time we had found some good birds with Sandwich, Common & Little Terns, Mediterranean Gulls, Ruff, Whimbrel, Bar tailed Godwit and Curlew Sandpiper. Birds were coming & going & after a quick scan I found what we had hoped for – 2 Lesser Crested Terns (adult & juvenile) sitting amongst the other Terns. This great find inspired us to continue watching as more waders, gulls & terns were arriving all the time. It was lunchtime, however, so we sadly had to leave and drove the short distance to the Algarrobo Watchpoint. As we organised our lunch, one of the Migres volunteers alerted us to an interesting buteo and after some debate we agreed it was a Steppe Buzzard (Buteo vulpinas), a very rare bird in Spain. The rest of the time we spent here we saw Hobby, 9 Lesser Kestrels, Sparrowhawk, Honey Buzzard, Booted Eagles, Egyptian & Griffon Vultures. Since it was fairly quiet, we left & drove to La Janda but here was also fairly quiet although we did see a Black shouldered Kite, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harriers, Lesser & Eurasian Kestrels, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills, Coots, Green Sandpipers, Black winged Stilts, Yellow Wagtail, Turtle Dove and Kim was lucky to see a Quail flushed from the side of the road. We returned to our hotel very satisfied with another excellent day

21st September :- This morning we were leaving the Meson de Sancho and while we loaded the mini-bus 100+ Black Kites passed overhead. The weather, however, was awful and the drive east to Almeria was punctuated with some incredible deluges. Paula was leaving us today so we met her brother at Motril and said our ‘goodbyes’ to this lovely lady. After lunch we continued to our first destination- Las Norias Lagoon. As we scanned we found White headed Ducks, Red crested Pochard, Gadwall, Mallard, Cormorants, Great Crested, Black necked & Little Grebes. Jan picked up a few Black Terns then one with a pure white rump got my immediate interest. Checking the other features we confirmed it was a 1st winter White winged Black Tern, yet another great find and our eighth species of tern. We continued watching and found Little Stints, Ringed Plovers, Little & Cattle Egrets, Grey Herons, Common Sandpipers, Coot, a few Little and a single Whiskered Tern, making all three marsh terns at this one site. Next we drove the short distance to Las Roquetas Salinas where we found Greater Flamingos, Common & Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Grey Plovers, Knot, Curlews, Black winged Stilt, Ringed & Kentish Plovers, Little Stints, Dunlin, Lesser Black backed & Audouins Gulls. Unfortunately, the harsh weather beat us and we had to leave prematurely so we headed for Cabo de Gata. At the Salinas we stopped and watched from the hide out of the rain, and here we again found many waders of much the same species.

22nd September :- The severe weather of the previous day had disappeared north so a pre-breakfast visit to the salinas was rewarded with again plenty of waders including Black & Bar tailed Godwits, Knot, Greenshank, Common Redshank, Grey, Ringed & Kentish Plovers, Avocets, Black winged Stilts, Curlew sandpipers, Little Stints, Dunlin, Sanderlings, Greater Flamingos, Grey Herons, Yellow legged, Lesser Black backed, Slender billed & Black headed Gulls, Sandwich Terns, and over the scrubland we saw Northern Wheatears, Thekla & Crested Larks, Yellow Wagtails, Spectacled & Sardinian Warblers, Southern Grey Shrikes, and a Spotted Flycatcher. Unfortunately I flushed a Tawny Pipit that flew over calling but I was away from the rest of the group and they failed to see it, and a brief search was also unsuccessful. After breakfast we left this area and due to the weather we decided to head north to Alicante so there would be no mishaps with anyone's flights. Near Alicante we encountered heavy rain so our final destination was El Pinet were we logged a few birds including 10+ Mediterranean & Slender billed Gulls, Bar tailed Godwits, Curlew Sandpipers, Avocets, Black winged Stilts, Kentish & Ringed Plovers.


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