Thursday, 20 April 2017

Bald-Headed Ibis in Spain

Back in, 2014 we made an excursion to try and find Bald-Headed Ibis at Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz province in Spain, with the focus on first trying to find some and then photograph these rare birds.

To reiterate what we said then, they are critically endangered, they are still found in Morocco and now Spain, following the Spanish re-introduction program They had also existed in Syria in small numbers, but the last years, have obviously been bad for the Syrian birds and as of now we still do not know their fate! 
This February we arrived once again at Vejer de la Frontera, it is here that the re-introduced birds have made their own roost and nest site. First released onto the cliffs near Barbate, after gull predation at the release site, they found this roost for themselves.
It appeared the Ibis were doing well, once again the weather was not great for us, these are the pictures we managed to take of them up on the cliff face.

All the birds carry multiple Identification rings.

In 2014 some of the birds had radio telemetry devices fitted on their backs, none were seen this year.

A bald-Headed Ibis returns to the roost, looking like a flying witch!

When a bird arrives back at the site, there seems to be an act of welcome or courtship!

At times quite a few birds arrived together, as they queued to enter the hollows in the cliff face, there seemed a familiar resemblance to the opening of the British Parliment, Black rod, cloaks, drivel and all that pageantry!

From the cliff face, they launch directly over the Cattle Egret colony below, it may be a coincidence but their original release site had been alongside an Egret colony also.

Press on the link http://roadrunnersmikelinda. to see the Cattle Egret colony.

Others find higher vantage points to watch over the proceedings below.

They appear to be doing well, there are now other areas across Cadiz province where they can be seen, along with a few in Portugal and a tagged bird from Vejar de la Frontera has turned up in Morocco. With other programs underway in Austria and Switzerland let us hope the bird that was once nicknamed the
'forest Raven'
will continue making good progress.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Tarifa beach, on the Costa de la Luz, Andalucia.

Playa de Los Lances or better known as Tarifa beach, this huge width of beach stretching some three kilometres along the Southernmost coast on the Costa de la Luz. Mainland Africa just across the strait of Gibraltar. Two rivers flow onto the beach, the Rio Jara and de la Vega, they both form shallow lagoons, a mecca for the hundreds of kiteboarders, for us they are of importance as a haven for the Wintering and migrating birds.

Sadly the weather was very hazy, Africa hardly visible.

Some areas of sand are deeply sculptured by the winds.

Water, birds, sand, kiteboarders and Tarifa town.

Tarifa beach has a wonderful light, making it a great place to search for overwintering and migrating birds.

Caspian Terns are one of the species to be found here.

A mighty Caspian Tern joins a resting group of the smaller Sandwich Terns. 

Although it is late Winter, a juvenile Caspian Tern seems to be asking the adult for food.

Small groups of Sandwich Terns come and go along the water's edge.

This is the shallow water of the Rio Jara.

A small flock of Grey Plovers join a resting Dunlin.

One of the Caspian Terns takes off to hunt fish in the lagoon.

Terns dive to catch their prey, it seems a near impossible task among all the kites and riggings!

Our bird is successful and we can see the fish, held in its beak.

Twisting and turning through the kites.

Now the Sandwich Terns are leaving to hunt.

They hunt over the sea, the kites are not such problem.

On the lagoon fringe, elegant Audouin's Gulls, some with their continuity rings showing.

A juvenile Audouins, showing a plumage of a second winter bird, it will soon be in its full adult plumage.

A third winter Yellow-legged gull.

Sanderlings were busy feeding and resting.

A huge flock of Sanderling pass in front of the Duna De Valdevaqueros, at the far end of the beach.

The memorable sight of Tarifa beach!
Birds and kites

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Stone Curlews, at the Fuente de Piedra, Andalucia.

It was mid-February, the weather had been beautiful in our region, in the Southwest of France
and time for us to get back on the road! The morning was hazy sun, and low mist, time for a quick picture and we were off on our travels.

Headed South for Spain and taking a very roundabout route to the Sierra Culebra and its Iberian Wolves, via Andalucia in the South and some of the best birding sites in Spain, which for us were some areas we had not visited on previous trips, into Portugal and then North.

South of Madrid we had made a night stop in the small town of Consuegra, with its hilltop Molinos,

Although the walk up to the windmills seemed tiresome after a long drive, we were effortlessly up there enjoying the sunset and what a view!

The following day we continued South into the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Andújar.

The park is home to around 100 Pardel Lynx, probably the last remaining viable population in the World, unfortunately, we had no luck, but we did surprise a small herd of Red Deer.

Walking around the North shore of the Embalse del Jandula we admired Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem and other wildflowers. 

A Spanish Imperial Eagle flies across the Peñón de la Cuna.

Small Copper butterflies were seen in the warm sun.

Lizards were also caught sunning themselves.

Our next stop, the Laguna de la Fuente de Piedra.

Earlier we had passed through the Province of Jaén, with its endless rows of olive trees, stretching to the horizon in all directions.

Monochrome light across the Fuente de Piedra, the weather had started to close in.

Huge numbers of Lesser Black-Backed and Black-Headed gulls over Winter here alongside several thousand Flamingos.

Stone Curlews are also present, it was great to catch this one flying in.

Once on the ground they just blend into the environment. This one keeping an eye on the Rabbit.

European pond Turtle.

A beautiful Male Sardinian Warbler.

With the Fuente de Piedra behind us, we went South passing through the Serrania de Ronda and its famous tourist town, our destination the Los Alcornocales, probably the largest Oak forest in the World. It is alluded to as the 'Mediterranean Jungle', its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean creates a high-humidity weather system.

Iris planifolia weeping with the damp mist, low cloud.

We spent a night in the charming town of Benarraba, before venturing deep into the 'Jungle'.

We followed small unmarked and sometimes unmade roads.

Sculptural Cork Oaks.

We left the forests and set our route for Tarifa with its beach and the Rio Jura and Africa just 15km    
across the Estrecho de Gibraltar.