Global Big Day in Andalucia, 8 May 2021

In English by Javi Elorriaga

One more year, Birding The Strait has participated in the Global Big Day in Andalucia. This time, we planned a route in the province of Cadiz, from Doñana to the Strait of Gibraltar. We decided to skip the Grazalema mountains in order to reduce the mileage and increase the effective birding time. All in all, it proved to be a most enjoyable day of birding. Moreover, we established a new record of species for the Global Big Day in Andalucia.

This is the chronicle of our Global Big Day 2021:

Sunrise in Doñana

Before dawn we headed for the Guadalquivir river mouth. We made a stop to observe the Bald Ibises roosting peacefully at their breeding colony in Vejer de la Frontera. Next, with the first light of day, we had a most remarkable observation: a striking subadult Spanish Imperial Eagle. The observation was so good that we managed to read the code on the ring she was wearing (white RH). Later on, we learned that this bird was born in Doñana in 2018.

White-headed Duck in Doñana.
The White-headed Duck is one of the local specialities that we observed in Doñana

We spent the rest of the morning visiting several of the most strategic spots of the region. Here, we had much joy observing Marbled Teals, White-headed Ducks, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Red-knobbed Coots, Spectacled Warblers, Western Olivaceous Warblers, a varied array of waders and hundreds of Flamingos, to name but a few.

Greater Flamingos in Doñana. Yeray Seminario /Birding The Strait
Greater Flamingos in Doñana

However, the highlight came as a Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin singing right in front of us. Unexpectedly, we did not find a single Whiskered Tern, but something had to be left for the next time after all…

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin in Doñana. Photo by Guillermo Rodríguez.
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin photographed by Guillermo Rodríguez during the Global Big Day in Andalucia

Before moving forward, we made a mandatory visit to the Little Swift colony in Chipiona, truly lively this time of the year.

Noon in the countryside

During the central part of the day, we toured the countryside between Medina Sidonia and Benalup. Here the star was a male Little Bustard in full courtship display. The good weather made it easier for us to continue detecting common species at a good pace. Suddenly, we came across an impressive group of more than 300 Griffon Vultures feeding on a carrion. Without hesitation, we decided to take our time to enjoy the show, hoping to find a Rüppell´s Vulture which never showed up…

Little Bustard in Cadiz. Javi Elorriaga / Birding The Strait
Male Little Bustard in the countryside of Cadiz
Griffon Vulture. Javi Elorriaga / Birding The Strait
One out of the 300+ Griffon Vultures we saw around a carcass during the Global Big Day in Andalucia

Afternoon at Los Alcornocales

During the first half of the afternoon, we went birding to the Ojén Valley. Remarkably, this is one of the best-preserved forests in the Los Alcornocales Natural Park. Here, we soon detected Golden Oriole, Iberian Chiffchaff, Sparrowhawk and all the expected forest-dwelling species. Moreover, a continuous stream of European Honey Buzzards in active migration crossed the valley.

Iberian Chiffchaff. Yeray Seminario/Birding The Strait
Iberian Chiffchaff at Los Alcornocales Natural Park. Stock photo.

As we were about to leave the valley, we came across a family who had just had a bicycle accident. We helped them to get out of the valley in our car. This setback forced us to rethink the route. Thus, we decided to take it easy, skip the visit to the Tarifa area and move directly to La Janda.

Evening in La Janda

Once in La Janda, we spent the golden hour observing a group of six Montagu’s Harriers around their roost. At dusk, we easily spotlighted two Red-necked Nightjars. In addition, we also found two Barn Owls, two Tawny Owls and an impressive Eurasian Eagle-Owl that flew over our heads. Not bad at all!

Red-necked Nightjar in La Janda. Yeray Seminario / Birding The Strait
Red-necked Nightjar in La Janda

Shortly before 11 P.M. we reached Facinas where a Eurasian Scops Owl welcomed us with its call. At this point, we decided to call it a day. We had a Big Day indeed but still did not know the number of species that we had found. However, the three of us agreed we have had an outstanding day of birding!

Global Big Day in Andalucia Aftermath

Overall, we observed 151 species and completed 24 checklists on eBird. All this at a rather easy pace. Remarkably, this represents a new record of species seen by a single team in Andalusia during a Global Big Day.

This result is only another proof of the great diversity of habitats and birds that the province of Cadiz holds, which fills us with joy.

As usual, all the information generated during the Global Big Day is available in eBird. It is noteworthy that the ornithological information provided by eBird is widely used in scientific research and conservation projects all over the world.

In this link to our website you can read more about our commitment with citizen science and eBird.

Little Bittern. Yeray Seminario/Birding The Strait
The Little Bittern is an elusive species which we managed to find during the Global Big Day in Andalucia

Acknowledgements

From Birding The Strait, we want to thank Laura Rollán and Guillermo Rodríguez for being part of our team at the Global Big Day. No doubt, their company and expertise was decisive. Thank you friends!

Finally, we also want to thank Excopesa Natura for making Zeiss binoculars and telescopes available to us. Undoubtedly, the use of this top-of-the-range lenses has contributed significantly to the success and enjoyment of the day.

Birding The Strait
Javi, guide in Birding The Strait, during the Global Big Day

We are really looking forward the next Global Big Day in October!

Bird List

This is the complete list of birds observed during the #GlobalBigDay on May 8, 2021 by the Birding The Strait team:

  1. Common Nightingale
  2. Little Owl
  3. Common Pheasant
  4. Northern Bald Ibis
  5. White Stork
  6. Common Linnet
  7. Melodious Warbler
  8. Zitting Cisticola
  9. Crested Lark
  10. Common Magpie
  11. Black Kite
  12. Spanish Eagle
  13. Short-toed Eagle
  14. Gull-billed Tern
  15. Common Woodpigeon
  16. Rock Dove
  17. Mallard
  18. European Greenfinch
  19. Spanish Sparrow
  20. Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin
  21. Spotted Flycatcher
  22. Spotless Starling
  23. Sardinian Warbler
  24. Red-rumped Swallow
  25. Barn Swallow
  26. Thekla’s Lark
  27. Woodchat Shrike
  28. Glossy Ibis
  29. Pallid Swift
  30. Common Swift
  31. Corn Bunting
  32. European Goldfinch
  33. Lesser Short-toed Lark
  34. Calandra Lark
  35. Greater Short-toed Lark
  36. Common Kestrel
  37. Lesser Kestrel
  38. Black-winged Kite
  39. Eurasian Spoonbill
  40. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  41. Squacco Heron
  42. Cattle Egret
  43. Little Egret
  44. Grey Heron
  45. Black Tern
  46. Yellow-legged Gull
  47. Collared Pratincole
  48. Northern Lapwing
  49. Grey Plover
  50. Pin-tailed Sandgrouse
  51. Collared Dove
  52. Common Shelduck
  53. Little Tern
  54. Common Redshank
  55. Pied Avocet
  56. Black-winged Stilt
  57. Eurasian Coot
  58. Common Moorhen
  59. Greater Flamingo
  60. Common Pochard
  61. Red-crested Pochard
  62. Marbled Duck
  63. European Serin
  64. Western Yellow Wagtail
  65. European Stonechat
  66. Spectacled Warbler
  67. Cetti’s Warbler
  68. Savi’s Warbler
  69. Great Reed Warbler
  70. Eurasian Reed Warbler
  71. Sedge Warbler
  72. Common Raven
  73. European Bee-eater
  74. Common Buzzard
  75. Red Kite
  76. Booted Eagle
  77. Great White Egret
  78. Black-headed Gull
  79. Slender-billed Gull
  80. Wood Sandpiper
  81. Green Sandpiper
  82. Common Sandpiper
  83. Little Stint
  84. Dunlin
  85. Curlew Sandpiper
  86. Red Knot
  87. Black-tailed Godwit
  88. Little Ringed Plover
  89. Common Ringed Plover
  90. Kentish Plover
  91. Western Swamphen
  92. Little Grebe
  93. Gadwall
  94. Eurasian Blackbird
  95. Short-toed Treecreeper
  96. Dartford Warbler
  97. Great Tit
  98. Osprey
  99. Ruddy Turnstone
  100. Black-necked Grebe
  101. Great Crested Grebe
  102. White-headed Duck
  103. House Sparrow
  104. Common Waxbill
  105. Black-headed Weaver
  106. Common House Martin
  107. Western Olivaceous Warbler
  108. Purple Heron
  109. Little Bittern
  110. Red-knobbed Coot
  111. Eurasian Hoopoe
  112. Sandwich Tern
  113. Common Tern
  114. Sanderling
  115. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  116. Audouin’s Gull
  117. Little Swift
  118. Bar-tailed Godwit
  119. Western Marsh Harrier
  120. Griffon Vulture
  121. Little Bustard
  122. Red-legged Partridge
  123. Eurasian Jackdaw
  124. Tawny Pipit
  125. Great Cormorant
  126. Egyptian Goose
  127. Cirl Bunting
  128. Rock Bunting
  129. Common Chaffinch
  130. Western Bonelli’s Warbler
  131. Eurasian Blue Tit
  132. European Robin
  133. Eurasian Wren
  134. Eurasian Nuthatch
  135. Common Firecrest
  136. Eurasian Blackcap
  137. Long-tailed Tit
  138. Iberian Chiffchaff
  139. Willow Warbler
  140. Crested Tit
  141. Eurasian Jay
  142. Eurasian Golden Oriole
  143. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  144. Eurasian Sparrowhawk
  145. European Honey-buzzard
  146. Montagu’s Harrier
  147. Tawny Owl
  148. Eurasian Eagle Owl
  149. Barn Owl
  150. Red-necked Nightjar
  151. Eurasian Scops Owl