Cadiz Province, Andalucia 31 July to 7 August 2012

Cadiz Province, Andalucia, Spain

This report records the wildlife I saw whilst on my family holiday. I have visited the area many times and have stayed in Chipiona, Bolonia, Conil and Sanlucar before but always as part of a general birding or family holiday tour. We stayed at Sanlucar de Barrameda renting a comfortable apartment from a British couple which was handily situated in the centre of the old town. This was ideal for walking out for the tapas bars and restaurants, we are vegetarian and are used to seeking out the non-meat options from the menus but it has to be said if you do eat meat then Sanlucar de Barrameda offers some of the best seafood in Europe. We ate well, too well, more than we usually do but we had to try the options on offer. We explored various towns that we never did justice on previous visits and popped in to see some old favourites. Apart from the wildlife and food we enjoyed the Sherry, the lovely chilled Manzanilla produced in Sanlucar de Barrameda which is dominated by sherry bodegas. In fact from our roof terrace which has views across the town, River Guadalquivir, Bonanza salinas and the Coto Donana national park we could breathe in the sherry from the Solear bodega next door.

I went out most mornings early apart from two, a night of sherry, beer and cocktails with J Squire forced one lie-in and a rest on our last, travelling home day the other. Going out early was pleasant to avoid the heat of the day, the beach and swim in the sea which is a good place to be during this period. Also by the time the heat is rising my family are ready for the day. We made visits to local wetland sites, to Tarifa for an Orca trip, trip to Cadiz, Arcos de la Frontera, Chipiona, Vejer, Bolonia and Jimena. All the birding sites we visited save one are featured in the excellent Where to Watch Birds in Southern Spain by Paterson and Garcia.

31 July 2012 Flew from Bristol to Malaga with easyjet, all fine there, hire a car via Rentalcars who used Goldcar rental. There was a problem, a long wait to get the car of 1.5 hrs in a hot queue, 109 euro charge for a full tank of fuel which was more than you would pay at the pump (you bring back empty). This in mind I would rather use Avis and have no extras or wait. Got on the road and called in for tapas at a service area where Red-rumped Swallows floated about the car park. Another stop was at Sotogrande which was very hot, the sea was unusable thanks to a Jellyfish swarm and being the hottest part of the day, the birds were quiet, only Sardinian Warbler and the introduced Monk Parakeets seen, Bee Eaters were heard.

Another stop was made at the Laguna de Medina, I first came here over 20 years ago and saw my first White-headed Ducks. It has had a few problems in the intervening years, drying up for example but the introduction of Carp caused huge problems for the birds. Hopefully this will be sorted out, the lake was quiet compared to visits in times gone by. We did note Banded Groundlings, a male Ferruginous Duck plus juvenile Cetti’s Warblers, Nightingales, Montagu’s Harrier and more.

Banded Groundling Laguna de Medina MJMcGill
A confiding dragonfly which follows your movement to see what insects are disturbed. Often found at watering holes in Africa.

1 August 2012 Up and out early with JJS to explore the Bonanza salinas which was only 15 minutes away. So much going on, lots of activity with flocks of terns, waders etc. We checked out the Laguna de Tarelo and a small pool hidden in the greenhouses of Bonanza, afterwards we spent much of the day on the beach at Chipiona.

2 August 2012 Up early to go biridng at the Lagunas de Puerto Real. I have been a few times before but it was a new site for JJS. Laguna Salada held many Night Heron and Grey Herons a few Little Tern and around 60 Mallard. Not the teeming with life scene I have so enjoyed here before but I have sen it a dust bowl too. The scrub around the lake had Nightingale but for wetland birds we transferred to the nearby Laguna Chica, this was more like it with plenty of birds on the water. On the way back to Sanlucar we stopped for a coffee and sneaky look at at a small lagoon opposite the cafe. It is a site I discovered on a previous visit and sure enough still held plenty of birds most notably White-headed Ducks. It is between Rota and Costa Ballena but happens to be just inside the perimeter fence of the American military base, a plus for the birds I guess but not sure about using scopes in such an area. A short stop at Costa Ballena beach and at Chipiona followed before heading back to Sanlucar. We returned to the beach for the day in the surf. In the evening JJS, my wife and I went to the salinas until dark.

3 August 2012 All of us up early for 1.50 hour drive to Tarifa for the Killer Whale trip into the Straits of Gibraltar and to search off the coast of Morocco. We made a short stop at Bolonia for 45 minutes. The trip was around three hours leaving at 1100 and it was great. A tapas lunch  followed our return and then back to Sanlucar.

Orca gallery here

4 August 2012 Late start for all, visit to Rota beach before taking the catamaran to Cadiz for a day out, great tapas, the best of the week. Stunning place and must spend at least a couple of nights here sometime. We ate in tonight.

5 August 2012 JJS headed off in the early hours as he had to leave early to get back to the Isle of May. I got up and went to Bonanza salinas/Laguna Tarelo for a couple of hours. Part of the day exploring Sanlucar de Barrameda and the afternoon at one of the White Towns, this time Arcos de la Frontera.

6 August 2012  I got up early in the dark to search for Red-necked Nightjar in La Algaida woods, sunrise at La Algaida salinas and saltmarsh. Rest of the day at Costa Ballena on the beach and in the sea. Stayed in.

Lesser Short-toed Lark
Usually found in Steppe habitat in Iberia, these birds seem to thrive in the salt-flats around Donana and can be approachable from the car.

Short-toed Lark
A summer breeding visitor to Spain. These migratory tendencies cause them to regularly turn up in the UK where I have seen them on many Scilly Isles visits with groups. Another occasion I was c0-discoverer with JJ Squire as he located a skulking STL on Lundy one May. We also had a Woodchat the same day.

7 August 2012 Left Sanlucar at midday and made a stop at another of the White Towns, Vejer de la Frontera. Pleasant stroll around the town, castle and fortifications and a top salad lunch. Moved on the Bolonia to stroll around the roman ruins of Baelo Claudia. We have done this before but a new visitor centre an museum has been added. Spent a little time at a Mirador looking for raptors but the winds were Easterly and the hills misty near Tarifa. With time to spare we headed inland to explore the Moorish castle at Jimena de la Frontera before heading for a hot and sweaty and lacking in any moving air.. Malaga airport. Flight back home, excellent Easyjet staff and captain arriving back home in rain in the early hours.

Bird List

Shelduck- a fledged brood at Bonanza salinas on 1st.
Mallard-recorded at all the wetland sites.
Shoveler-seen at Bonanza salinas.
MARBLED DUCK-three on Laguna de Tarelo roosting on the island and one at the west end on 5th.

Pochard-a small flock on Laguna Chica.
FERRUGINOUS DUCK- a drake on Laguna de Medina on 31st.
WHITE-HEADED DUCK- a drake on Laguna de Tarelo on 1st and 5th, 5 females on Bonanza Pool 1st and 5th, 31 on Laguna Chica and 12 on a pool on Rota airbase on 3rd.
Red-legged Partridge-a covey seen on the chalky fields outside Sanlucar on 4th.
Black-necked Grebe-seen on Lagunas Tarelo and Chica.
Little Grebe-noted.
Cory’s Shearwater-c50 noted on Orca trip on 3rd.
Balearic Shearwater-a few noted on the Orca trip.
Gannet-a few seen on the Orca trip.
Night Heron-very common around Bonanza salinas and Laguna Chica.
Cattle Egret-common.
Little Egret-common in wetland areas and the coast.
Squacco Heron-seen in small numbers around Bonanza.
Grey Heron-noted
White Stork-seen at La Algaida, Bonanza, whilst travelling and flocks were migrating SE near Algeciras on 7th.
Black Stork- seen at Bonanza on 5th and La Algaida on 6th.
Glossy Ibis-seen at Bonanza on 1st.
Spoonbill-large flocks at Bonanza on all visits.
Greater Flamingo-large flocks on Bonanza and La Algaida salinas. Also from the car near Cadiz.
Griffon Vulture-small numbers noted but c50 birds were migrating with other raptors and storks near Los Barrios on 7th.
Osprey- one eating a fish at Bonanza on 5th.
Short-toed Eagle-seen around Los Barrios on 31st, Tarifa on 3rd and 7th.
Booted Eagle-seen around Tarifa, one over Sanlucar de Barrameda on 4th, a pair La Algaida woods and many whilst travelling.

Red Kite-one over Bonanza on 5th.
Black Kite-common.
Marsh Harrier-a few seen from the car.
Montagu’s Harrier-many noted from the car, seen well at Laguna de Medina 31st and Lagunas de Puerto Real on 2nd.
Common Buzzard-a few seen.
Lesser Kestrel-seen from the car a few times
Large falcon sp-one seen at Los Barrios.
Water Rail-one at La Algaida saltmarsh.
Coot-very few on lakes which have formerly held large numbers.
Purple Swamphen-one at Laguan Chica on 2nd.
Avocet-thousands around the salinas.
Black-winged Stilt-hundreds at the salinas and a few at Laguna Salada and Chica.
Little-ringed Plover-seen at the freshwater sites.
Ringed Plover- large high tide roost at La Algaida saltmarsh.
Kentish Plover-seen on the beaches at low tide and around the salinas.
Grey Plover-one at La Algaida salinas on 6th.
Dunlin-thousands around the salinas.
Curlew Sandpiper-thousands around the salinas.
Little Stint-perhaps 30 seen on 1st, 2nd and 5th and 6th around the salinas.
Green Sandpiper-a few around the salinas and channels.
Common Sandpiper-common in the tidal creeks of the Guadalquibir.
Redshank-commonn around the salinas.
Spotted Redshank-one at La Algaida saltmarsh on 6th.
Greenshank- a few seen around the salinas on every visit.
MARSH SANDPIPER- one feeding in a tidal pool at La Algaida on 6th.
Black-tailed Godwit-thousands on the salinas
Whimbrel-seen flying over on every beach visit and 30+ at high tide at Bonanza and La Algaida on 5th and 6th.
Ruff- a few noted around Bonanza.
Black-headed Gull-common at the salinas
Slender-billed Gull- common at the salinas.
Mediterranean Gull-seen around Cadiz harbour.
Yellow-legged Gull- very common around the coast and salinas.
Sandwich Tern-seen when on the beaches.

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