Monday, 30 March 2015

With a little help from the guide

You go on holiday, you've done the research, a bag of reference books and optics is hauled onto the aircraft, then thrown into the hire car, and the satnav is plugged into the cigarlighter socket.

Likely habitats are picked from the paper maps sourced from Amazon, and then you realise that the Ibiza isn't going to get you there. The road has petered out into a rocky track.

 You take solace with the birds around you - your first greenfinch of the year,
and a little owl looks down too wisely.

Serins and corn buntings rattle all around....

.... and the odd Spanish Festoon flutters by.

 But it's OK - you have a plan (in fact printed sheets with lots of plans).  You have armed yourself with the marvellous Birding Cadiz guide, provided free online by John Cantelo from Canterbury and Alcala de los Gazules depending on the time of year.

He provides detailed information on all of the best sites in the area, with careful driving instructions and notes on the best ventas to visit, as well as comments on the birds to be seen. It was an invaluable addition to the holiday, and was recommended to a number of birders of various nationalities that we met on the way. 

For example, he takes you down a track from an obscure village, to a hillside that is a "reliable site for little bustard". Sure enough, you hear a raspberry from the middle of the hillside - something you've listened out for on the whole trip, without hearing. A few minutes later you see:

Wonderful - another daft chicken-sized bird, and well worth the suggested donation to the bird charity of your choice (SEO for us).

John's 120-odd pages also led us to La Janda (black-winged kite, spanish imperial eagle, night heron, larks, cranes, glossy ibis and even five purple gallinules).

We were guided behind Bolonia to a hide facing a crag with nesting griffon and Egyptian vultures, dwarfing the local ravens.

There should be a copy of the guide in the top drawer of every hotel bedside table in the area - we soon started to call it "the bible".

1 comment:

Alcalabirder said...

Thanks, Steve, for your very kind comments about my site guide. They really cheered me up as I sit here at my keyboard in the UK with a busted foot when I should really still be in Spain (for another two weeks!). I'm very pleased that the Little Bustard performed so well at the site near Benalup. It does seem an extraordinarily reliable site (in spring at least). Nice shot of the bird too. We had three there last week and I'm sure there are more in the area. I also found a fourth bird not far away. Odd you met a number of people using my notes - I rarely do so myself!