Saturday, 14 April 2018

A casual trip report- Southern Spain, Cadiz Province, April 2018

Back from a lovely week in Southern Spain, staying on the edge of delightful small town Prado del Rey in Cadiz Province. We flew with EasyJe, hired a car (essential) with Europcar, and stayed in the charming Casa Rural La Jaima, further details here: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/VacationRentalReview-g608975-d5441033-LA_JAIMA_casa_rural-Prado_del_Rey_Sierra_de_Grazalema_Natural_Park_Province_of_Cadiz_A.html

At this point, I would like to thank John Cantelo for providing me with a PDF of his latest guide to Birding Cadiz Province. John was extremely helpful and is the go-to guy for any questions about birding in this region.

I intend to add a few photos, but currently the camera charger is out of view......

With this being a family holiday with no intention to travel too far (and alpine walking a challenge for a 1 year old) I spent a lot of time birding from the doorstep. Olive groves, scrub and lightly grazed hillsides made for a beautiful outlook and were home to a range of bird species. Serin, Corn Bunting, Linnet and Goldfinch were the regulars of the 33 species encountered. On warm days, Raptor watching was superb. A maximum count of 80 Griffon Vultures latched onto thermals and soared high above the villa. Booted Eagle was regular overhead, and singles of Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle and Lesser Kestrel all made it onto the house list. Bee Eater were often bubbling away overhead, and Sardinian Warbler was a common bird. The song of Nightingale was a constant companion, although typically I never laid eyes on one the whole week through. Wryneck (locally scarce), Woodchat Shrike, Spotless Starling, Melodious Warbler and Iberian Green Woodpecker were just some of the local highlights. What a pleasure it was to breakfast, then take a gentle stroll around the site and pick up these species and more. As the days passed, more was revealed- a Cattle Egret commute in the evening clocked in around 8pm, the maximum count being 64 heading north. 2 Pallid Swift passed through on the 6th, and on the final day a female Pied Flycatcher turned up on passage. Whilst I enjoyed this side of the locality, Rose enjoyed seeing the Donkey, Horse, Sheep and Chickens that were all a part of the small holding here. The location was safe, rustic and our hosts were excellent. I cannot recommend this enough as a base to bird from- but beware you may end up staying put, viewing large kettles of Raptors with the mountains as a backdrop, beer in hand.

We visited El Bosque twice, enjoying excellent tapas at La Duende and some good birds in and around the botanical gardens, well signposted to the north of the small centre. Western Bonelli's Warbler and Iberian Chiffchaff were easy here, the Bonelli's in particular a real treat to watch fly catching, zipping about in the pines. Other common species here included Crested Tit, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Nightingale and Woodchat Shrike. Although my Butterfly list for the trip was a little disappointing, I did see the wonderful Spanish Festoon.

Alpine birding was more challenging with family in tow, but the driving was great and the climb from El Bosque to Grazalema and beyond is not to be missed. There are various places to stop and walk if you wish, and the best spot we found was west of Grazalema at El Torreon. Here, a pair of displaying Short-toed Eagle (including the male hovering) was just immense. Bonelli's Eagle and Griffon Vulture were also observed well, and a flock of 13 Bee Eater passed through. A little further on, I came across a singing Alpine Accentor, and a Cleopatra Butterfly. I am sure Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and Black-eared Wheatear are do-able with more time in the area.

So, in conclusion- a little hard to return home! 13 avian lifers, and 2 new Butterflies. The wealth of birds on our doorstep was just a pleasure to be around, and is in stark contrast to the number of species encountered in open countryside here in the UK. I enjoyed seeing species that rarely make landfall in the UK, and therefore feel more prepared if I should be lucky enough to encounter any of the above on the coast in October.

However, it is time to walk the trails and tracks across the marshes and footpaths here once again and although dreary at the moment I am looking forward to Spring arriving in northern Europe having seen the effect in the med. 2 Swallow were seen on wires yesterday, the first for the year on the patch. Before leaving for Spain, I went to see the Felthorpe Redpoll massive (2 Arctic in there for me, but I am sure everyone has had enough of reading about Redpoll ID and my two-pence-worth is not worth that!) and lucked in with 4 Spoonbill seen across the river at Buckenham. With warmer weather forecast this next week, what about an Alpine Swift on the patch?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the plug for my notes. As always it was a pleasure to have been of assitance. Be warned, though, that the area is addictive! John

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