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Tour Itinerary

 
 

 

 

 

Day 1

 

Arrival in Andalucia, transfer to the Hotel El Polomar de la Breña near Barbate where we will stay during the whole tour. Accommodation is in twin-bedded and single rooms at a comfortable medium grade hotel near Tarifa All rooms have private facilities and TV. There is also a swimming pool and the weather will be still warm enough to relax and swim after a day out in the field, so bring your costumes!
Lunches will usually be picnics or at a local restaurant. Transport by minibus. Walks during our tour are short and easy, interspersed with periods sitting watching and waiting for passing birds of prey.
Comfortable walking shoes, sunglasses and hat are recommended.

 

 

 
 

How to spend our birding days?

 
 

Watching the weather each day will determine where we travel to during the next days. We will pick the best vantage points and routes to take us the sites with most raptor migration activity.

 
 

As our location allows us quick access to many recognised vantage points we will optimise this to your best advantage as each day unfolds.

 
 

strait-punta-paloma-tarifa-One of the best and highest Miradors at Mirador del Estrecho (Viewpoints) overlooking the strait directly overlooking D'jebel Moussa on the Moroccan coast often described as the other half of the Pillars or gates of Hercules, Gibraltar rock being the northern "Pillar". Here flocks of Black Kites, endless parties of White Storks with the rarer Black Storks too, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures appear as tiny dots through our binoculars then mass in front of your eyes waiting for favourable winds to cross over to Morocco. Booted and Short-toed Eagles together with Montagu’s, Hen and Marsh Harriers, Sparrow Hawks and the quicker Hobby quite often join the stream of birds crossing to the African continent.

 

If the weather forces location changes we can quickly drive to the other *Miradors towards Algeciras and on the coast, to Guadalmesi or we can travel deeper within the Alcornocales forest (the largest natural cork-oak forest in the world!) towards the Mirador at Puerto de Ojen. There are numerous excellent vantage points we know of through years of experienced observation and careful study of this wonderful spectacle. We live on the Strait of Gibraltar - this is our home.

 
 

(* Miradors are usually stone built structures with some shade. They serve as look-out points, built by the local Nature Council and manned by volunteers from the MIGRES Foundation. These fixed locations are where annual surveys are carried out into raptor and Stork movements and their numbers. Records are collated and this builds a good picture of specific species population increase or decline).

 

 

long-legged-buzzard-0906-3-_001Our aim over the next six days will be to travel to the best observation points and explore the other range of habitats that are in the surrounding countryside. The beautiful and quiet Ojen Valley will be one of the other areas where we will likely see various species in the cork and Holm Oak forest fringes such as Griffon Vultures, the regular and rarer Rüppell's Vultures from Senegal, Northern Goshawks, Bonelli’s Eagles and the frequently seen Atlas Long-legged Buzzards (N. African ssp Cirtensis).
 
 

In 2006 the first breeding pair of Spanish Imperial Eagles successfully reared one chick near Barbate. This was the first time the globally threatened Spanish Imperial Eagle has bred in Cadiz province for 60 years!

 
 

As well as an ongoing Osprey reintroduction scheme (The first time they have bred on the Iberian Peninsular in 50 years!) there is also a colony of free-flying Northern Bald Ibis and we hope to show you all of these birds on the tour.

 
 

All around us in the open stretches of scrub and in the forest clearings we will see Greater and Lesser Short-toed Lark, Hawfinch, Jay, Little Owl as well as hosts of migrating Barn Swallow with Red-rumped Swallow and the faster flying Alpine Swift. White-rumped and Little Swift and Crag Martin can also be watched with regularity. The coastal strip also holds Ortolan Buntings and Blue Rock Thrush.

 
 

The evergreen cork-Oak forest often give us the chance to watch Crested and the darker, southern race of Long-tailed Tit, Stonechat, Whinchat, Common Redstarts, Black Redstart, Iberian Green Woodpecker (ssp. sharpei), the N. African race (numidus) of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wryneck and Short-toed Treecreeper. Bee-eaters too are a common sight and we should see these exotic looking birds gathering before crossing to Morocco.

 

black-shouldered-kite-aprilPassing through the ancient lagoon of La Janda, which was at one time, one of the largest freshwater lakes and marshlands in Europe, we will be able to see Marsh, Montagu's and later in the migration Hen Harrier, Lesser Kestrel (over 65 seen in one field!), Black shouldered Kite, (In 2008 we had nine birds in one field for two weeks! 2006 we counted 16 in one day!) Bonelli's Eagles as well as many Booted (the smallest European Eagle) and the powerful Short-toed Eagle together with Purple, Grey and Squacco Herons, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilts, Collared Pratincoles, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Kentish Plovers and Avocets.

 
 

In the rice field corners and ditches we can usually see lots of Green Sandpipers, Snipe, (We had 3 Pectoral Sandpipers as well as the other waders in 2006!) Fan-tailed Warblers, Yellow and Grey Wagtails, Hoopoes, Wheatears (in various northern forms) Tawny Pipits, Corn Buntings, Thekla, Calandra, Crested, Greater Short-toed and the delicate Lesser short-toed Lark as well as the ever present little and Cattle Egrets. This is also the winter home for thousands of Common Cranes that fly in later to take advantage of the mild wet climate that the flooded La Janda plain offers. Cranes normally arrive in late October/early November.

 
 

The Marismas (salt-pans and tidal estuary) and adjacent areas of farmland and military tracks leading to the coast hold Stone Curlews, Tawny Pipits, Black-eared Wheatears as well as Black-crowned Night Herons and Squacco Herons.

 

dotterel8Most years Dotterels are recorded at Barbate and at Tarifa.

 
 

Early autumn rains may have added to the depleted smaller lakes and ponds that often dry up during the long Andalucian summer. If this is the case we will explore some of them to look for Red-crested Pochard, Marbled Duck, Ferruginous Ducks, White-headed Ducks, Purple Swamphens, Black-necked Grebe and Great-crested Grebe. The surrounding areas can also produce anything at all from hungry, Gull-billed Terns and Greater Flamingoes, to Cetti’s Warblers, Bonelli's Warblers and many dispersing Subalpine Warblers and large numbers of migrating Pied and Spotted Flycatchers with a sprinkling of Woodchat Shrikes.(In 2007 we had a very late migrating Rufous Bush Robin! So, something special is always here to tempt us.)

 
 

On Los Lances beach that leads eastwards to Tarifa, we will look in this different coastal habitat for species that come down from the fringes of the nearby Alcornocales National Park and find themselves on the coast only 12Kms from Morocco. Here we expect to see on the beach itself large numbers of Yellow-legged Gull with good numbers of the rare Audouin’s Gull. Caspian, Sandwich and Little Tern and with luck, Lesser Crested Tern are also to be found amongst the roosting Gulls and waders include Redshanks, Greenshanks, Grey Plover, Turnstones, Sanderlings, Kentish Plover and Ringed Plover.

 
 

Scouring the Atlantic waves on the edge of the Strait can reveal Gannet, Cory's and Mediterranean Shearwater as well as more gulls and possibilities of spotting Orcas, Common and Striped Dolphins.

 


Day 7

 

Transfer to Airport. If we have time before airport check-in, we will stop en route to have a last look at Andalucia’s wealth of bird life during this fantastic migration time. Strait of Gibraltar

 

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