Please, find below the birdwatching and wildlife report from our tailor-made trip to Granada and Tarifa, in the Strait of Gibraltar.
Arriving on our previous days to the beautiful city of Granada, we met our guide Pau Lucio on October 8th when he picked us from our Hotel in Granada. We took the motorway and our first stop was in the farmland near Huetor-Tajar (second home of Pau).
We parked the car in an almond tree orchard and went for a stroll seeing a party of 3 Black-bellied sandgrouses following by another 6 birds. Groups of Skylarks and Lesser-short toed larks were flying around and a Little Owl was perched in a wall. The sun was warming up and our first raptors were soaring in the sky, a Short-toed Eagle and a Peregrin Falcon. A far distant Sparrowhawk and a group of 5 Black Storks were circle up in the sky! That was fantastic and we hadn’t arrived to Tarifa yet! As we were walking back to the car an Iberian Green Woodpecker flew from tree to tree.
After driving few minutes to the next place, a large raptor was soaring in the sky. Pau pulled over to see it better and it was an inm. Golden Eagle!! The 5 of us were delighted and lucky as according Pau there are very few pairs in the area. Ten minutes later, we were in a pool with some interesting dragonflies that we were interested in seeing. Once we arrived, a dark morph Booted Eagle was on view and a Green Sandpiper flew away with some Shovellers.
Regarding dragonflies, me managed to see a beautiful Violet dropwing, Epaulet Skimmer and the abundant Red-veined darter. In addition, we add few more dragonflies in a nearby river: Common darter, Blue emperor and Blue-tailed damselfly. Not far from there we got Common Blue damselfly and Orange-winged dropwing.
After having lunch in a bar, we drove to another point to add some new birds. Iberian magpies were cooperative as we witnessed a group of 10 chasing off a Common kestrel. In addition, Lapwings, Stonchat, Whinchat, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard and other song birds were also seeing. Around 1 h later, we drove back to our Hotel in Huétor-Tajar where we arrived on time to have dinner.
Pau picked us with a 4×4 (it came as a pleasant surprise!!). Very soon we were driving up hill to Loja mountains, seeing Red-billed Choughs and a Black Weathear perched on the cliff. Stonechat, Northern Weathear and Thekla Lark were seen on the top of the pile rocks. A low-level flying Marsh Harrier passed close to us, not a bird we expected to see in this environment! Pau pulled over to try to get better views but the bird was gone. However, Pau heard a Darford Warbler calling which he located very rapidly, nice views!
After that, we continued driving up the mountain until we were at the same level that the clouds, the weather was worsening, and the light was poor so we decided to turn around. Esther found a small silhouette on a rock which happen to be a Little Owl! Then from the car, while we were seeing a Common Kestrel hovering, a Merlin dived down showing its paws to the Kestrel! What a fantastic interaction!
Our last stop in Loja was in a pine forest just at the bottom where we saw Mistle Thrushes, Crossbills, a Coal Tit and a migrant a Pied Flycatcher. On the way back to the Hotel we turned off the motorway to visit another area where Pau had seen few Lesser Kestrels the previous days. These birds were mainly juveniles, birds which had not started to migrate. On the wire, we spotted 4 Lesser Kestrels and Bard Swallows, Sand and House Martins were still abundant.
We set off our trip to Tarifa at 9:00 to continue the birdwatching trip. One hour later we were in Antequera visiting a local reserve. The area is fantastic to get close views of Spanish Ibex and Griffon Vultures and that is what we did! We went for a stroll and added some more birds such as Black Redstar, Long-tailed Tit and the first wintering Ring Ouzel.
After lunch, we continued our journey to our hotel in Tarifa where we check-in the Hotel. Then, we went to Los Lances where we watched Yellow Wagtail, Sanderlings, Turnstone, Dunlins, Sandwich Terns, Audouin’s, Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls. Off shore, Cory’s Shearwaters and Gannets were migrating into the Med and Greenfinches were feeding on the dunes. Then before going back to the Hotel to have dinner, we went to a view point to look for late migrants and we managed to see a flock of Bee-eaters, 3 Short-toed Eagle, 4 Booted Eagles, 1 White Stork, 1 Hobby and lots of swallows and martins.
Today we went to visit the feeding grounds of the reintroduced Bald Ibises. We got cracking views of two of them which were looking for insects in the grass. Meanwhile everyone enjoyed taking photos of these fantastic birds, a group of 4 Black Kites and 1 Red Kite flew over us.
Crested Tits were also seeing in the nearby forest and Short-toed Treecreeper sung from the same area. Then, we drove to la Janda where we had our picnic seeing large flocks of Spotless Starlings, Glossy Ibises and Calandra Larks. Pau did very well finding a Black-shoulder Kite on a paddy field. As we drove along the track, Tree Sparrows, Corn Buntings, Cetti’s Warblers and finches hid in the bushes and White Storks fed on the ditches. John found a large bird of prey which turned to be a Spanish Imperial Eagle! Superb! Soon after this, we left to the port of Tarifa to embark in a boat to watch seabirds and whales. We managed to see, Long-finned Pilot Whales (fantastic close-up views!), Ocean Sunfish, Common Dolphin and Balearic Shearwaters.
After checking-out, we went to the mouth of the Palomones. This small area was packed with birds including 2 Ospreys, Wood and Common Sandpipers and both Redshanks. There was also Whiskered Terns and Slender-billed Gulls. After this break, we set off to Málaga airport but with memories not only of the fantastic wildlife we had all witnessed but also the culture and friendliness of all our hosts.
We hope you find this tailor-made birdwatching trip report to Granada and Tarifa useful. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.