Rule Number 1 of Bustard Club…

Don’t leave home without yer bins!

Rule No 2 of Bustard Club – Don’t leave home without yer bins!

There’s some other ones about not spilling alcohol, but that’s the main one, something I would have done well to note when we popped down the shops in Pelayo the other day.

Living and working at Huerta Grande eco-lodge, we find ourselves at the edge of Los Alcornacales natural park, so a quick stop at the pub on the way back from the grocer’s is enough to put you in the middle of some prime habitat.

While supping a well-earned Cruzcampo on the bar’s terrace, Simon soon picked up on a calling Yellow-browed Warbler in the Cork Oaks nearby!

Being in the doghouse for breaking Rules 1 & 2, it was left to me to settle the tab and run home for the camera, leaving Simon in hot pursuit!

Luckily this plucky little Phylloscopus was not going anywhere. It was in with a group of Firecrests and Crested Tits and seemed quite at home feeding in the trees so many miles from its normal wintering grounds and migratory route.

Yellow-browed Warblers (‘Mosquitero Bilistado’ in Spanish) occur here even less frequently than in the UK, with only 77 records being approved up until 2009 for mainland Spain and the Balearics.  On a par with North-west Europe, however, numbers have been on the up in recent years, with 70+ being recorded in November 2015 alone.

It is thought these are birds that have failed to re-find their traditional trajectory to South-east Asian wintering grounds after deviating west, and are wintering at an unknown location in Africa through a process of ‘parallel migration’

Apparently there are now some overwintering birds in mainland Spain after the largest Autumn influx ever recorded for the country in 2016.

Our Bilistado (now known as ‘Billy’) was indeed a scruffy little blighter, and we think there’s a good chance it was the same bird that we recorded here in October and November last year.

This means it had foregone a winter in Thailand to survive a winter in Andalusia! What a fighter! It can join our club anytime!


During the autumn and spring months it is clearly apparent that just about anything can turn up here at the bridge between continents from migrating raptors, storks and waders to eastern gems like this Yellow-browed Warbler.  Why not  join us on one of explorations to see what they all find so appealing?

Published by Simon Tonkin

'Here at the Inglorious Bustards, experiencing the powerful event of bird migration has led to a life-long fascination with avian migration and #FlywayBirding. It’s no accident that we have chosen our base to be here in the Straits of Gibraltar. Our location between Gibraltar and Tarifa puts us right at the epicentre of birding in the Straits and, from a migrating raptor’s point of view, we must surely also be at the centre of the world! We love not only to marvel at the birds passing but also to follow them on their migratory journey, and explore the whole range of fascinating and varied terrains they traverse each year. More than that though, we love to share our adventures with you!'

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