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18 Sep

Birding tour to the Strait of Gibraltar

September 14th-18th

 

Day 1. Málaga airport-Tarifa (Birding tour to the Strait of Gibraltar)

Birding tour to the Strait of GibraltarIt is a beautiful morning in Málaga airport. Pau is waiting for the arriving of the group from Bristol airport.

After greetings, we set off towards the Strait of Gibraltar for birding in the most important migratory bottleneck in West Europe. As we are getting close to Tarifa, we see the Rock of Gibraltar on our side and the Djebel Musa on the African side. Our first stop is in route, in Palmones river mouth where a Lesser Crested Tern was spotted few days before. This vagrant is recorded every autumn in the region.  It takes just few minutes to get this beautiful tern in the scope. It stands out in a mix group of Sandwich and Little Terns. Along the muddy shores, we see different waders: Dunlins, Sandernings, Redshanks and Kentish Plover. In addition, there are 4 different species of gulls, including Mediterranean Gulls, Audouin’s and Slender-billed Gulls. On the back of the main lagoon a group of Greater Flamingos rest along egrets and herons.

We continued our journey towards the accommodation to enjoy our first Spanish dinner.

 

Day 2. Western Doñana (Birding tour to the Strait of Gibraltar)

Birding tour to the Strait of GibraltarWe have a long day planned and indeed it is! We have an early breakfast at the hotel and set off to the West part of Doñana Natural Park. The first stop of the day is for Bald Ibis, which a sighting of 24 birds feeding along Jackdaw. It is great to see how well they are doing after the reintroduction!  After enjoying these weird-looking birds, we make a detour to see Stone Curlew in Barbate. We continue our journey stopping for the Little Swift, with a colony of about 20 pairs. Then, we get to a pond to see White-headed Ducks. While we have lunch in the surroundings of the pond, we get an Iberian Green Woodpecker flying over the woods. The rest of the day is spent in Bonanza saltpans. We scan the reeds in detail and we get good views of Western Purple Swamp-hen, Squacco Heron and Little Bittern. Regarding waterfowl, we find swimming around Red-crested Pochard and a Marbled Teal among others species.

On the saltpans, we see three different species of terns: Gull-billed, Black and Caspian Tern. Furthermore, there are both species of Godwits, Little Stints, Turnstone and other waders.

Finally, we make a stop in the surroundings for Lesser-short toed Lark. As we wait them to show up, we see flying over our first Osprey. It is time to hit the road back to the hotel after a long but a successful birding day in the Strait of Gibraltar.

 

Day 3. Viewpoints and forest (Birding tour to the Strait of Gibraltar)

Birding tour to the Strait of GibraltarIn our third day of this exciting birding tour to the Strait of Gibraltar we start the day watching the migration from a viewpoint. During the morning we add Lesser Kestrel, numerous Sparrowhawks and Bee-eaters, which are one of the favorite birds. Then, suddenly the sky is covered by a flock of 120 Black Storks!!! What an amazing and unusual sighting!! As the wind speed up again, we set off to the forest west of Tarifa. Here, sheltered from the wind, there are numerous passerines waiting for the right conditions to migrate. A female Redstart moves from the busses to the Umbrella pines, and in the branches there are Garden Warblers and both flycatchers: Pied and Spotted. In a Pistacia bush there are different warblers feeding on berries which turn out to be Sardenian Warbler and Bonelli’s Warbler.

After lunch, we drive towards la Janda, to look for new species. White Storks, Glossy Ibises and Egrets feed on the farmland. We continue driving along the track to find Tree and Spanish sparrows, Yellow wagtail and over 30 Turtle doves. We are very pleased to see so many Turtle Doves together, sadly an unusual sighting nowadays.  The day finishes with a stunning pair of Spanish Imperial Eagle perched on a Pilon.

 

Day 4. Whale watching (Birding tour to the Strait of Gibraltar)

Birding tour to the Strait of GibraltarAfter breakfast we drive for few minutes to our first watchpoint. Winds play an important role in the migration, so depending of the wind direction we will choose a location. Soon, we watch our first raptors of the day: Booted Eagles, Black Kites, Short-toed Eagles and Honey Buzzard. The wind makes them fly a bit higher but the number of raptors is just amazing! We enjoy watching the interaction between birds. Raptors are mobbed by a Peregrine Falcon which ends up diving after a group of feral pigeons. Other interesting raptors include Egyptian Vultures, Bonelli’s Eagle and a Montagu’s Harrier.

As the weather has improved today, we decide to take the boat trip hoping to add seabirds and whales. As we wait to jump on the boat, we get a group of Pallid Swifts flying around. Once we are few miles away from Tarifa, we get a single Storm Petrel. About half an hour later, we see a group of 6 Pilot whales swimming right besides us. A fantastic sight! Later, we see a group of Cory’s Shearwaters. We also see two species of dolphins: Common Dolphin and Bottlenose Dolphin

After lunch, we look for birds among the cork oak forest.  Here we get Short-toed treecreeper, Crested Tit, Jay, Firecrest, Subalpine Warbler and other forest birds. On the way back we get two “extra” raptors, a fast flying Hobby and a Goshawk. Later we drive back to our accommodation.

 

Day 5 Tarifa-Málaga airport (Birding tour to the Strait of Gibraltar)

Today is our last day of the tour and we make the most of the few hours left before heading to Malaga airport. We go back to la Janda and this time we do get Black-shoulder Kite and few more waders:  Common Snipe, Wood and Green Sandpiper.

All in all, it has been a successful birding trip with a great diversity of species, including good number of raptors. Thanks everyone for joining this trip.

 

BIRD LIST

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

 

OTHER WILDLIFE

  1. Common Dolphin
  2. Bottlenose Dolphin
  3. Long-finned Pilot-Whale
  4. Sunfish
  5. Iberian Bluetail
  6. Lesser Emperor
  7. Red-veined Darter
  8. Banded Groundling
  9. Common Swallowtail
  10. Meadow brown