From Cape Trafalgar to La Janda

From Cape Trafalgar to La Janda

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The Natural Park at Barbate which incorporates two different areas covering over 5,000 hectares is quite unique and diverse for wildlife.

This is a view of the pine forest of La Breña, taken from the summit of the Sierra de Retin. Cape Trafalgar is just around the corner and the cliff top walk from the port at Barbate to Los Caños de meca is a great way to spend the morning, especially now that the cooler weather is setting in. When I say cooler, it’s normally between 14 and 20 degrees centigrade.

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At the western edge of the Marismas, close to La Barca de Vejer are several paths and tracks that you can explore around the area. Winter rains can make it heavy going underfoot and at times in very wet winters it can become impassable.

One place on the road between Vejer and Barbate that’s worth a visit is the water run-off from the Vejer sewage works.

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During the winter months Cadiz province is an excellent place to catch up with Black Storks. A few can be found around the La Janda area and the eastern end of the Marismas close to the vast Military zone. This area in itself adjoins La Janda though you have to travel via the coastal road or the main N340 road that runs from Cadiz to Tarifa

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This last week has been very good birding both at La Janda the Masrismas at Barbate and down on Los Lances beach at Tarifa

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Quite a few juvenile Black Storks are still around la Janda and taking advantage of the rice harvest

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Most of the adult birds can be found on the Guadalquivir River areas between Sanlucar and Brazo del Este

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The rice harvest disturbs lots of mammals particularly voles which are one of the main food sources for the beautiful Black-winged Kite

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Lots of Black-winged Stilts were present this week at the Marismas with a host of other waders. Most of the birds are stopping off to feed before leaving Europe for the short hop across to Africa. Many waders do hang around all winter but this all depends on weather conditions and the availability of food.

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The arrival of Bluethroats both here and in Morocco is always a sign that the weather is changing in the north and these lovely usually arrive with us in September. They feed mostly on insects although do supplement their winter diet with berries and seeds.

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Booted Eagles have been the dominant visible raptor during this last week. There were significant numbers of Sparrowhawks passing along the cliffs at Barbate heading down The Strait and inland many Hen Harriers are here with Red Kites now migrating through. Rüppell’s Vultures a few Long-legged Buzzards are also still in the area. To date there’s been no sign of the Bateleur that cam in from Morocco in May

There have been a few reports of passing Pallid Harriers but as yet non have stayed for any length of time at La Janda. There’s plenty of time though for them to appear as well as the larger eagles that spend time down this way in winter.

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The whizzing noise of hundreds of Calandra Larks passing you by is an amazing sound to hear and of course an amazing sight to see.

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There are always a few of the ‘chunky’ Caspian Terns around at Barbate, Sancti Petri or over on the slat-pans at Bonanza

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Common Snipe landing at Barbate Marismas. These fast fliers are pretty difficult to photograph in flight!

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Swooping in to feed, Glossy Ibis also make an incredible wing noise and the suddenly drop down en masse at the marismas.

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The sheer numbers of Glossy Ibis provide a real riot of colour

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A Great Egret has been hanging around on the marismas for a few weeks now

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A stone’s throw away at La Janda, Green Sandpipers are in plentiful supply.

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Green Sandpiper reflections

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Lesser-crested Tern amongst Sandwich Terns at Los Lances. A few weeks ago there were four birds present, on had been ringed this year in Lybia

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Down at Los Lances, I haven’t managed to catch up with thejuvenileAmerican Golden Plover (above). Fog rolled in when I went down there early Wednesday and Thursday but had no luck.
This super photo was taken by my friend Yeray Seminario

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As usual for this time of the year there are lots of Marsh Harriers to be seen.

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Yesterday (Thursday) we spotted a high flying adult Bonelli’s Eagle over La Janda. You could make out that the bird had been feeding well as its crop was fully distended. It’s impossible to say if this was one of our local birds or a non-breeding bird on migration.

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Northern Bald Ibis are taking advantage of their winter feeding areas around Barbate. I took this close up shot to show the subtle and delicate iridescence of the neck mane that these rare birds have.

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A Northern Wheatear was flashing its wings as it searched for insects. I watched it for a while as it collected any insect that was startled and moved by this clever trick.

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Three different Ospreys were at Barbate last week and we saw another yesterday down at Los Lances

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Praying Mantis have been active both in our own garden and out in the surrounding countryside

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Stone Curlews are lovely creatures and there is a large flock of over fifty birds at Barbate this past week

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Stone Curlews

Stephen Daly

Stephen Daly

Stephen Daly, has been birding since he was eight years old in his native Scotland. After living in Germany and France he established Andalucian Guides the successful birding and wildlife tour company on The Strait of Gibraltar in Spain and has been living here since 2001. Photographing birds in flight is one passion and his photos can be found in many books, magazines and journals. Studying bird behaviour and bird migration are two other positive aspects of being based on one of the busiest migration routes on Earth.

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