Newsletter – September 2019



A typically sizzling July and August, with daily temperatures in the mid-thirties, saw me spending more time in my surrounding woodlands to do my birding. On average the woodlands tended to be 5/6 degrees lower and I also had the advantage of shade to protect my ever increasing bare patch atop my head.

It always catches me out, not sure why after birding for over 60 years, when some of our summer residents start to leave as early as mid-July. By the end of July my resident pair of Woodchat Shrike, together with their brood, had already made their way south and Bee Eater flocks, announcing their presence with their bubbling calls, were also headed towards Africa.

In early August the trend continued and over my garden and surrounding area Common Swift massed in their hundreds as they wheeled in thermals and hawked over open recently harvested cereal fields, where they were joined by large numbers of Lesser Kestrel. Whilst this migration provides exciting and unforgettable birding, I am always struck by a twinge of sadness as I know it will be a long winter’s wait for their return.

Writing about migration, can I remind members we have our dedicated Autumn Migration Field Meeting at Tarifa 21st September. It is always a special and well attended member’s event, so I hope as many of you as possible will attend.

Lastly my sincere thank you and appreciation to those many members who were able to attend our AGM at the Hotel Molino del Santo on 20th July.

Your committee were grateful for your continuing support and interest, the meeting went well and we received some great new ideas from members attending.

Good birding for September and October! 


Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis

Another successful breeding season was recorded in Andalucía for this species during 2019. As a species more often encountered in dry scrub and semi-desert habitat, perhaps climate change is having an effect. Great new bird to add to our list, before it was only noted as breeding in Africa, Middle East and Indian Subcontinent.

Field Meetings Update

Please note, some changes are being made to how you are notified about upcoming field meetings, the Forum will no longer be active, so you will receive an email advising you of the details for the next field meeting 1 month in advance, it will be very important for you to respond to these emails should you wish to attend. For further details see News Desk later in this edition of the Newsletter.

Ready for migration watch …


September 7th. International Vulture Awareness Day – Serranía de Ronda
September 21st.  Tarifa – Autumn Migration
October 19th. La Doñana
November 16th. Cordoba
December 15th. Christmas Lunch. Location to be determined.

Autumn Birding in Andalucía

Well autumn migration is here! It is a time when we come into our own and our region provides one of the greatest birding spectacles in Europe, soaring bird migration and the 2nd most important crossing point to Africa for birds departing from Europe. Not just the huge number of raptors and storks, but also smaller birds can be viewed as they approach and then cross over the Strait of Gibraltar. I think we all get very excited at this time of year, the chance to see raptors in huge numbers and very close is something even non-birders should witness at least once in their lifetime. If you can get down to the Tarifa area and the many viewing points for this spectacle, then it is worth spending time there, perhaps even staying for an overnight stay (don’t forget our affiliated member’s accommodation there are some superb place to stay and see migration overhead).
Whether or not La Janda is worthwhile to visit will depend on the rice harvest and amount of water held in the area, but the inlet at and around Barbate will certainly hold good numbers of migrant waders and smaller birds. Bolonia can also provide opportunities to see both Little and White-rumped Swift (see our logo), I normally venture down to the beach access area to the left at the T-junction, then view a small area of standing water in front of a wooden clad venta, it has been worthwhile in the past.
At this time of year it is always good to take a look at the various river outlets on the east coast, particularly Parque del Guadalhorce and the Rio Vélez for possible rarities and migrants. These areas, with a lack of water elsewhere can turn up good species of waders and small passerines.

News Desk – News and Views

Lots to look forward to with our September field meeting in Tarifa for migration and then our October meeting in the famous Doñana (see Field Meeting Update above). We are still researching possible ‘new’ venues for future field meetings and will be looking at a few sites in the province of Cordoba to see if it might be worthwhile for us to have a meeting there. For the latest news on the Society and birding here in our region keep an eye on our ‘News’ feature on the main menu bar of the website, see here.


Well this has been a long running saga. We are not just referring to our new design and revamp, but an even bigger problem has been with the now old website. Many of you will know there have been problems if you had attempted to open the main website and the forum, it continued to go down without any of us (including IT experts and main server technicians) knowing why. The problem started with the website going down once a week, then once a day, until the straw that broke the camel’s back, around every hour. It had been a nightmare for all of us involved. So the decision had to be made to take the website and forum offline. It was a difficult time for us, but we were full steam ahead with getting the new website up and running. Fortunately the hot weather in August made sitting in front of the computer, in the cool of indoors, bearable and Pieter Verheij has worked tirelessly in piecing the components together to bring our new website up to our own expectations and high standards. It has been a mammoth undertaking and we hope you will agree the new look has made the wait worthwhile? We still have one or two teething problems to sort out (membership signing in and new member joining facility), but by and large the site is now complete, so we hope you will take a look and give us some feedback. We are pleased with the new easier to navigate appearance and have also gone into the 21st century with adding most social media platforms.


After much discussion and soul searching we made the final decision to no longer offer the forum as an online source of contact. We experienced so many problems in maintenance of security with the forum, that we felt obliged to finally bite the bullet and remove it. The single most used part of the forum was our calendar dates for field meetings, other segments were very rarely used. The new website has a dedicated field meeting space, where members can view details, dates and get further information for each field meeting. Members can now complete an attendance form (found at the bottom of each field meeting description) and forward it with any related comments, this will be essential for our field officer to be aware of your intention to join any particular meeting. We will also list field meetings 12 months in advance on page 3 of our quarterly magazine, plus we will continue to email you 1 month in advance of each field meeting. Let us know if you have any suggestions on how we can make this work any better.


As many of you know, Bob is retiring from Membership Secretary at the end of the year. So far our efforts to find anyone willing to undertake this role for January 2020 has been unsuccessful. Our time spent on the new website has given us an opportunity to make the administration of membership less onerous for any successor to Bob. The new membership management system will take care of enrolment, renewals and give us up to the minute information for such things as our magazine mailing lists etc. So can we appeal to our membership for a volunteer to take-up the position of Membership Secretary? Please consider it and get in touch via the Society’s email thank you.

Committee News

Following our AGM, held at the Hotel Molino del Santo on July 20th, we can confirm the election of the following officers:
President – Peter Jones
Chairman – John Brooks
Treasurer – Janet Dixon
Secretary – Jacki Gittins
Membership Secretary – Robert Wright
Webmaster – Pieter Verheij
Conservation Officer – Alvaro Perez
Field Meetings Officer – Frank Hair

In addition to the election of officers for the Society, we thought to give you a better insight into how some responsibilities of the Committee is apportioned through working groups. All the administration is handled by our volunteers and some members are coopted to assist with various tasks faced with the successful running of the Society. These groups are overseen by the Committee and final decisions are always sanctioned or not by Committee during their meetings throughout the year.

Conservation working group: Peter Jones and Alvaro Perez
Website and Internet working group: Steffen Breedijk, Pieter Verheij, José Barrera, Peter Jones
Social Media working group: Peter Jones and Brenda Jones
Field Meetings working group: Alvaro Perez, Frank Hair, Peter Jones
Advertising working group: John Brooks, Pieter Verheij, Janet Dixon
Magazine working group: Pieter Verheij, Peter Jones
Legal and data protection group: Committee, Jacki Gittins

Looking Ahead

Latest summaries and reviews have been received from our 2 main conservation projects, Saving the Montagu’s Harrier and Water for Life are encouraging, we will have our reports on these in the October edition of our magazine. We are looking at supporting a 3rd project and will be able to report on this in the next newsletter and also in the next magazine. We think it is exciting times to be a member of ABS

Juvenile Montegu’s Harriers saved thanks to ABS Conservation Projects

Our October field meeting will be held in the National Park Doñana and should be a great birding day and social occasion for members, be sure sure to check the meeting details on our new website and if you want to attend it is important to register on the meeting details page.
On occasions we are asked if our approved wildlife guides would consider doing a private member’s day, a paid for private tour. The new website might be able to facilitate this possibility and we are currently looking how we might be able to set this up, but of course much will depend on the interest from both members and our approved guides. Perhaps let us know if this could be of interest.

A Welcome Addition to our Approved Wildlife Guides

Antonio Pestana joins our guides and is already well known by our membership. His main area of interest is the Province of Cordoba. The Province of Cordoba presents a remarkable landscape, housing a good representation of our most unique and threatened fauna. The variety of habitats and with many of them well preserved, make possible the coexistence of such species as Iberian Lynx, Iberian Wolf and Spanish Imperial Eagle. Antonio knows the area well and provides guiding days that cover all aspects of fauna and flora, plus catering for photographers with a number of dedicated photography hides. For further information of this wonderful province, Antonio had written an article that appeared in the Spring edition of ‘Birds of Andalucía’ and will also appear in our autumn edition with a very special article on the project of captive breeding and release of Barn Owl.

A nice group of members attending our Field Meeting in Sierra Magina

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