Sunday, 25 July 2010

Day 2 – Saturday 29th May – Alcalá de los Gazules – Laguna de Medina - Cantarranas Area – La Janda – Embalse de Barbate – Molinos Valley – Lomo del J

The drive up to Laguna de Medina was uneventful with relatively few birds in evidence. As expected the water level at the laguna was very high and, with no muddy margins, waders were again absent. Walking along the track we quickly saw Little Bittern, Purple Heron, White-headed Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Great Reed and Melodious Warblers. From the hide we had more ducks grebes and herons plus our only Penduline Tit of the trip. After some searching TL found two Crested Coot here amongst the hordes of Common Coot. Contrary to expectation, these birds were well out on the lake. Although fairly distant we had prolonged views of these two birds during which their various ID features could be assessed: the shape of the head, frontal shield and body, the thinner neck, bluish cast of the bill and the red-knobs (these being much less well marked on one bird).

From Laguna de Medina we went down to the Cantarranas area (via the Medina Sidonia-Vejer road). Not surprisingly, as we were searching at a less than optimal time of the day, none of the three target species (Black-shouldered Kite, Little Bustard and Stone-curlew) were seen. However, we did have more Lesser Kestrels, Booted Eagles, Hoopoe and Calandra Lark.

Cutting over to the Benalup road, we then explored the eastern edge of La Janda picking up Griffon Vulture and more of the raptors noted earlier. A slow drive round towards Embalse de Barbate proved something of a disappointment for this excellent area although we did see our only Cormorant of the trip on the embalse. As elsewhere it was striking just how wet it is this year with areas usually used as pasture, were well within the reservoir.

Back tracking past the village, we drove up the Molinos valley and walked the sendero into the hills where we had Iberian Chiffchaff, Sparrowhawk, Woodchat Shrike, Serin and the usual drifting Griffons (c50). After an evening snack at the service station we detoured on our way back to the house to have a quick look at the nearby Lomo de Judio – mainly to have a look at the exposed stonework of a Roman road here. Not wishing to upstaged by mere masonry, however ancient, a group of Bee-eaters put on a fine display here.

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