Sunday, 25 July 2010

Day 6 – Wednesday 2nd June – Chipiona – Algaida – Laguna de Tarelo – Mesa de Asta Marsh – Valdeinfierno

With views of Little Swift on Sunday having been poor (or for some non-existent) our next target was to look for the species at Chipiona beach which, according to the ‘Rare Birds in Spain’ webpage, is a regular site. After a 90 minute drive, we arrived at Chipiona in good time and were quickly rewarded with at least four Little Swift – all showing spectacularly well. To find White-rumped Swift on the 30th had been good, but these paddle-winged, stub-tailed acrobats really are something special. Not only are they a distinctive shape, but, unlike their trickier cousins, you can actually see their white ‘rumps’ from below! We even had time to enjoy a eye poppingly strong cup of coffee at a fisherman’s venta as we watched the birds! This was birding in style as befits the gentleman birder. Before moving on we had a short sea-watch from the lighthouse netting a few Gannets and a single, distant Cory’s Shearwater.

From Chipiona it was a short drive back to Algaida where we had some ‘unfinished business’, but, unfortunately, unfinished it remained as Azure-winged Magpies remained as elusive as ever. (JC has now visited this area several dozen times and been rewarded with a good view of this elusive bird but twice!) However, we were able to check out some sites not visited earlier in the week. Our first stop, ‘Miguel Martin’ pools (embanked pools on the Algaida road) afforded us incomparable views of 100+ Collared Pratincole. Always elegant in flight, at closer range they proved to be stridently raucous too! At Laguna Tarelo we had good views of the heronry which had breeding Spoonbill, Little & Cattle Egrets, Squacco and Night Heron. The woods themselves had plenty of elusive Tree Sparrowsthree Hoopoe, a few Spotted Flycatchers and many ‘yodelling’ Black Kite (the call being oddly reminiscent of a somewhat demented Curlew!). Reptilians also featured with many Spiny-footed Lizards and a single very large Montpellier Snake in the woods plus a second slimmer unidentified snake by Laguna Tarelo.

With our meagre total of waders still a matter of concern, we next explored the back roads (the unimaginatively named ‘Calle L’ & ‘Calle H’) of Algaida village to obtain alternative views of the Bonanza saltpans. This proved that you could indeed get a different angle on the saltpans from these roads, but we didn’t manage to add significantly to our haul of waders. However, an Osprey was a useful addition to our growing bird of prey list. Following the disappointment of finding no more waders, we next had a quick look at the ‘inner’ Trrbujena Marshes, but with the wetter areas all dried out we quickly quitted the place for Mesa de Asta marsh. Although having fewer than usual Gull-billed Tern (40 instead of 200-300), this superb little marsh still had a healthy amount of water and hence the birds to match. Avocet, Lapwing, Collared Pratincole, Black-winged Stilt and, at last, a ‘new’ wader, Black-tailed Godwit were all present. (If access could be improved this would doubtless be one of the best sites in the area, but even so with only distant views to be had it remains a must-visit site).

In the hope of boosting the tally of woodland/scrub species we then tried our luck at Valdeinfierno again. Here we had Great-spotted Woodpecker, Bonelli’s Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff and Sparrowhawk, but none of our targets. We closed the day with an evening meal on the terrace.

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