Spain: Birding Andalusia in Fall
Spain Birding Tour: Birding Andalusia in Fall
The Straits of Gibraltar is a narrow piece of water connecting the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Mediterranean Sea in the east, and separating the Iberian Peninsula in the north from North Africa in the south. Andalusia is the huge region in southern Spain that sits adjacent to the straits and is one of the premier locations in Europe to witness the amazing fall (autumn) migration event, as birds nervously cross the sea between the two continents here. The fall migration of birds in the Northern Hemisphere is one of nature’s greatest spectacles, and our Andalusia in Fall tour, will bear witness to this.
Our tour will see us witness the spectacle of fall migration where we will see huge numbers of European raptors, like these Black Kites.
We will visit a range of habitats from vast coastal grasslands to the high peaks of the region. It is this range of habitats, and its geographical location at the bridge between two continents, which makes Andalusia such a fantastic place for birding. The fall migration, along with the spring migration (when we run our other Spain tour), are the ideal times to visit this bird-rich part of Spain and Europe. Our tour is designed to be flexible to maximize our chances of seeing the best of the bird migration, however we will plan to follow the itinerary below, while keeping the weather conditions in mind.
Spain’s bird list currently stands at 672 species (following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) v13.1 taxonomy as of July 2023), one of the highest single country lists in the Western Palearctic. The region of Andalusia actually accounts for an impressive 490 of these species. With such a range of birds on offer, we will maximize our chances of seeing as many as possible with a combination of expert guides, a comprehensive itinerary visiting the best places to go birding in Andalusia, and visiting at the best time of year. These all combine to make for a wonderful birdwatching holiday.
Griffon Vulture can be seen in the mountain areas in Andalusia.
We will begin our tour in the vast wetlands and saltpans on the east bank of the Guadalquivir River. This area is part of the wider Guadalquivir Marshes IBA (an Important Bird Area recognized by BirdLife International) and an enormously productive area. Here we will find a multitude of species, including multiple passerines, egrets, herons, gulls, terns, and around 20 species of shorebirds (waders). While in the area we will look for the colonies of introduced species such as Yellow-crowned Bishop and Black-headed Weaver, and head to Europe’s only breeding colony of Little Swift. After exploring this area, we will take a pelagic trip from Chipiona town where we will explore the productive coastline for migrating seabirds including Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Great Shearwater, and the Critically Endangered (BirdLife International) Balearic Shearwater.
We then head south to the Straits of Gibraltar to enjoy the best of the fall bird migration. We begin in the western straits and nearby Atlantic coast looking for shorebirds on the famous Los Lances beach, part of the wider Estrecho de Gibraltar IBA, where we also have a chance of the rare Audouin’s Gull. The pastures here are excellent for migrant passerines and it is here we can also witness the raptor migration at its best. At any moment, the skies can be full of raptors and storks, and the visible migration is a truly breathtaking experience. We will also visit nearby sites for the rare Mediterranean Chameleon plus the chance of the Critically Endangered (BirdLife International) Rüppell’s Vulture, a rare vagrant from Africa.
Great Shearwater may be seen on our pelagic trip.
Next, we move to the interior lands of the straits. This area is usually full of passerines, shorebirds, waterfowl, and raptors, and always has the chance of throwing up a surprise or two. The area is also a staging area for migrating birds and the number of birds here can be overwhelming. We will then move northwest along the Atlantic coast where we will once again search through large flocks of shorebirds. This area is also excellent for migrating passerines. Finally, we will look for the Endangered (BirdLife International) Northern Bald Ibis. This species has bred well since being reintroduced here.
Returning to the main straits for some seawatching, with the Riff Mountains of Northern Africa as a backdrop, offers the chance of observing migrating seabirds while overhead the raptor migration will continue. Another pelagic trip here will give us the opportunity to search for the many cetaceans that occur in the straits during fall, including the Critically Endangered (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources – IUCN) Straits of Gibraltar subpopulation of Killer Whale (Orca).
We then leave the straits behind and head inland to the vast forests and mountains of the interior. Here we will look for some fascinating specials of the area including White-rumped Swift, a rare and recent colonist from Africa. We then head towards the beautiful, picturesque, and very birdy mountain town of Ronda where we can also find herds of Iberian Wild Goat (Spanish Ibex). We will also enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Sierra Grazalema National Park and spend time here searching the area for its exciting birds.
White-rumped Swift is a recent colonist from Africa.
Sadly, we will have to leave the mountains behind and end our trip as we make our way towards the coastal city of Malaga for our flights home as this tour concludes.
If you cannot make the dates of this scheduled tour, please get in touch and we would be happy to help build a custom tour with dates to suit you.
Itinerary (11 days/10 nights)
Day 1. Arrival in Seville
You will be met at Seville San Pablo Airport by your Birding Ecotours tour leader and local Spanish bird guide. Once the group has arrived, we will meet at our hotel to discuss the trip itinerary and use the time to facilitate with anything the group may need, or just relax after your flight, before the trip starts. We will have a group ‘welcome meal’ in the evening.
Overnight: Hotel in Seville.
Day 2. Birding around Brazo del Este and Chipiona
The protected area of Brazo del Este, near the city of Seville, is a superb habitat for shorebirds and waterbirds, with large numbers of Northern Lapwing, Pied Avocet, Mallard and Northern Shoveler gathering here in fall. The area is also superb for passerines such as Eurasian Penduline Tit, Savi’s Warbler, and Great Reed Warbler. We also stand a chance of adding some elusive crakes to our list with Spotted Crake, Little Crake, and Baillon’s Crake all present here.
The wetlands here are home to Whiskered Terns.
As we proceed through the site, we will come across significant numbers of Western Swamphen, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, and Whiskered Tern, and many more species typical of this habitat, such as the vast flocks of Glossy Ibis which have now colonized the area and are present year-round. This is a particularly good site for migrants, and White Stork, Black Stork, European Turtle Dove, European Bee-eater, Whinchat, and Northern Wheatear are often found here during this period. We should also get some introduced species from Africa and Asia that have established themselves in the area such as Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Common Waxbill, and Red Avadavat.
While here, we will also visit the Port of Chipiona, home of great seafood. The town also holds the only European colony of Little Swift. While common on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea in Morocco this species is a real European mega rarity, and we will spend time watching the colony. The beach nearby can be excellent for shorebirds, gulls, and terns including rare species such as Lesser Crested Tern, although this species is typically more common in spring.
Day 3. Bonanza, Trebujena, and Montijo
Today we will explore the vast saltpans and habitats near the mouth of the Guadalquivir river. We will start at the Bonanza Saltpans. This expansive saltpan site is superb for shorebirds and we will spend some time here looking for a range of species including Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Pied Avocet, Eurasian Whimbrel, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Ruff, Common Redshank, and Dunlin.
The area is also excellent for two rare waterbirds, the Endangered (BirdLife International) White-headed Duck and the Critically Endangered (in Spain) Red-knobbed Coot (BirdLife International). The entire European population of the coot is found in Spain and even here it is incredibly rare. Greater Flamingo is a common species here as are Crested Lark, Sardinian Warbler, and Yellow-legged Gull.
A number of gull and tern species may be seen near the mouth of the Guadalquivir River, such as this Yellow-legged Gull.
The second site in the area will see us explore the habitats bordering the Guadalquivir River. Along the river we may get passing terns and gulls with Slender-billed Gull, Little Tern, and Caspian Tern all present here. The wetlands near the river are where we will search for two key species in the form of Marbled Duck (another very localized species in Europe) and the newly described Mediterranean Short-toed Lark (Formally Lesser Short-toed Lark), two species that are rare elsewhere in Spain. The area is also home to the striking Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin which can be present well into September.
The Guadalquivir area is a stronghold for the Critically Endangered (in Spain), Red-knobbed Coot.
Day 4. Pelagic trip from Chipiona and drive to Tarifa
Today we will take an exciting pelagic trip from Chipiona out into the Atlantic Ocean. This trip lasts around six hours and we will head out to around 10 nautical miles (~19 kilometers) offshore. The Gulf of Cadiz is a marine reserve, combined with the Straits of Gibraltar, and it is a species-rich area. On the pelagic we will look for seabirds with highlights including Balearic Shearwater, Cory’s Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Great Skua, Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua), Northern Gannet, and with luck, European Storm Petrel and Wilson’s Storm Petrel. We will have plenty of time to study these species and if conditions allow, we will get excellent photographic opportunities.
Once we have finished the pelagic, we will begin the two-hour drive down to the Straits of Gibraltar and our base at Tarifa. If time allows, we will explore the area around the town or take time to relax on the stunning Playa de los Lances’ beach.
Our pelagic trip will give us excellent views of seabirds like Balearic Shearwater (photo Ricky Owen).
Day 5. Los Lances, migration watchpoints, and Sierra de la Plata
After breakfast, we will visit the beautiful Los Lances beach near the town. This vast beach is popular with tourists but also an excellent spot to look for shorebirds, gulls, and terns such as the Vulnerable (BirdLife International) Audouin’s Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Kentish Plover, and Caspian Tern. The pastures around the beach are usually full of migrating passerines and it can often be hard to know where to look due to all the activity!
Some of the more numerous species here include Spotless Starling, European Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Tawny Pipit, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark, and the Iberian subspecies (iberiae) of Western Yellow Wagtail. Overhead we may see migrating raptors as they climb on thermals before drifting south, and over to Africa, an exciting prelude for what is to come on this tour.
From the beach we will head up into the Straits of Gibraltar proper to witness the spectacle of raptor migration at its best. By keeping in touch with our local raptor counter contacts we will be able to time our visits with the peak movements of raptors as they move through the area. This ploy should allow for excellent views of European Honey Buzzard, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Booted Eagle, Black Kite, Western Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Egyptian Vulture, and Eurasian Sparrowhawk. There is also the chance of bonus species such as Black-winged Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Rüppell’s Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, Bonelli’s Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Eurasian Hobby, and Eleonora’s Falcon, an impressive range of species.
We may see Black-winged Kite while watching migration at the Straits of Gibraltar.
During the afternoon, when the raptor migration tends to slow, we will visit the stunning coastline of Bolonia. This is one of the most stunning parts of the Straits of Gibraltar and gives great views across the sea to Africa. The beach and adjoining pine forest can be good for migrating passerines and shorebirds, but the real star here is the rare Mediterranean Chameleon, an incredible, small reptile.
The mountain behind the village, known as Sierra de la Plata, is home to a Griffon Vulture colony and, with luck, we may also find Common Kestrel, Egyptian Vulture, and the Critically Endangered (BirdLife International) Rüppell’s Vulture.
The Straits of Gibraltar has become home to the Critically Endangered Rüppell’s Vulture in recent years. This is still an incredibly rare bird in Europe, and worth searching for.
While exploring the mountain we will keep a look out for interesting passerines like Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, and Thekla’s Lark. It is also possible to find migrants here like Western Black-eared Wheatear, Whinchat, and Tree Pipit. Overhead the raptor spectacle may begin to build again as the day moves on and this is an excellent spot to watch from.
Day 6. La Janda, searching for Northern Bald Ibis, and Barbate Marshes
Today we will explore the vast former lake of La Janda. This area was once an internationally important lake and wetland but was drained during Spain’s period under the control of General Franco. Today, while not at the level it was formally, it is still a vitally important breeding and migration staging area for a range of species.
While exploring the area we will come across groups of passerines such as European Goldfinch and Spanish Sparrow, which may contain the rarer Eurasian Tree Sparrow. The agricultural areas can be full of White Stork, Little Egret, and Grey Heron, and these are often joined by the scarcer Black Stork, Glossy Ibis, and Eurasian Spoonbill. A large reed-lined canal is home to good numbers of Western Swamphen, and this abundance of life attracts several raptor species including Montagu’s Harrier, Western Marsh Harrier, Black-winged Kite, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, and Short-toed Snake Eagle. This is also one of the best places in Spain to find Bonelli’s Eagle and the Iberian endemic Spanish Imperial Eagle, a species that numbers under 1,000 individuals, but is slowly increasing.
From La Janda we will head northwest to the Barbate Marshes. This area has been transformed in recent years and is now home to good numbers of shorebirds like Black-winged Stilt, Sanderling, and Curlew Sandpiper. Gulls and terns from the nearby Atlantic Ocean often stop here to roost and the marshes are a good place to find Audouin’s Gull and Caspian Tern. The former saltpans here are also a good place to find Eurasian Stone-curlew and Greater Flamingo. This is also an excellent area for migrating passerines with the tamarisks here providing cover and food for species like Tawny Pipit, Greater Short-toed Lark, and Spectacled Warbler.
Barbate is also the best place to look for the Endangered (BirdLife International) Northern Bald Ibis. This strange-looking species was reintroduced to the area and has been a success in recent years with 90 birds present in 2017. We will spend time observing the interesting behavior of one of the world’s rarest birds, which really is a privilege to witness.
The Northern Bald Ibis is one of the world’s rarest birds and a real bonus species for visits to Andalusia. In fall they are found away from their breeding cliffs at the Barbate Marshes.
Day 7. Island of Tarifa, migration watchpoints, and whale watching
Today we will head to the island of Tarifa. This area is the southernmost tip of mainland Europe and a superb point for looking for passing seabirds. As we look out over the water, we will have the Mediterranean Sea to our left, the Atlantic Ocean to our right, and Africa just eight miles (14 kilometers) in front of us.
Access to the island is highly restricted, making a visit here an exclusive event. The island is home to a spectacular Yellow-legged Gull colony and seawatching from here will also give us the chance of Scopoli’s Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Great Skua, Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua), and Northern Gannet. Depending on how the raptor migration is looking we will remain flexible and may head to the migration watchpoints at any point during the morning.
While seawatching we may find the impressive-looking Parasitic Jaeger.
In the afternoon we will take our second pelagic of the tour out into the Straits of Gibraltar. This two-hour trip will be aimed at finding the resident and migratory cetaceans of the seas here. Resident species include Short-beaked Common Dolphin, Striped Dolphin, Common Bottlenose Dolphin, and Long-finned Pilot Whale. With luck we also might spot migratory species such as the giant Sperm Whale and Fin Whale, plus the Critically Endangered (IUCN) Straits of Gibraltar subpopulation of Killer Whale (Orca). It is sure to be an exciting trip out to sea, whatever we may find.
Day 8. Valle de Ojén, Barbate Reservoir, and migration watchpoints
Today we will visit Los Alcornocales Natural Park, sometimes known as the Mediterranean jungle. This vast cork oak forest is famous for supplying the world with cork for wine bottles for many hundreds of years, but it is also a fabulous spot for birding. The dense forest here holds good populations of resident Short-toed Treecreeper, Common Firecrest, Great Tit, Eurasian Blue Tit, Eurasian Jay, and Eurasian Nuthatch, while the more open areas are good spots for Thekla’s Lark, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodlark, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Dartford Warbler, and Sardinian Warbler.
The really cute and tiny Eurasian Blue Tit can be seen around Tarifa.
The forest is also popular with migrant passerines and our visit here is well timed to find Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Tawny Pipit, Common Redstart, Eurasian Blackcap, Woodchat Shrike, and Western Black-eared Wheatear. We will also visit the Barbate reservoir which has become a stronghold for White-rumped Swift. This African species is a recent colonist in Europe and still incredibly scarce. After lunch we will head to the Straits of Gibraltar for one last look at the raptor migration.
Day 9. Casares, Gaucin, and Ronda
Our tour takes a dramatic change in habitat today as we leave the Straits of Gibraltar and head into the mountains that straddle the border between Cádiz and Malaga provinces. The limestone escarpments here are a good place to watch large herds of Iberian Wild Goat (Spanish Ibex), with luck we may even come across an impressive adult male.
The mountains here are also dotted with “Pueblos Blancos” (classically white-painted villages of the local Spanish style) such as Casares, Gaucin, and Algatocin. These beautiful villages are tucked into mountain valleys and the whole area is as atmospheric as it is productive for wildlife. We will explore the habitats around these villages and enjoy species such as European Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Corn Bunting, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Coal Tit, Eurasian Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, Griffon Vulture, and Bonelli’s Eagle.
In the afternoon we will visit the beautiful town of Ronda, one of Spain’s most historical cities and an important settlement from as long ago as the Roman Empire. Ronda is built on top of a huge rock outcrop and those with a fear of heights may want to avoid getting too close to the barriers on the famous bridge that joins the two sides of the town. However, those that brace the bridge will be rewarded with excellent views of Eurasian Crag Martin, Alpine Swift, Red-billed Chough, Peregrine Falcon, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, and Common Kestrel. The parks in town can also be a good spot to find the elusive Hawfinch and Red (Common) Crossbill, and at this time of year, Black Redstart begin leaving their breeding grounds higher in the mountains to spend the winter at lower levels, such as in Ronda.
Day 10. Montejaque and Llanos de Libar
The final full day of the tour will see us visit the most breathtaking landscapes in the region. The Serrania de Ronda and Grazalema Natural Park are part of the stunning region and are full of birds and jaw-dropping scenery. We will visit several sites, making the most of the continued long daylight hours afforded to us in early September.
Our first stop is the stunning mountain valley of Llanos de Libar. This valley is excellent all year round, with resident species like Black Wheatear, Rock Bunting, Rock Sparrow, Black Redstart, Iberian Grey Shrike, Little Owl, Red-billed Chough, Griffon Vulture, Bonelli’s Eagle, and Golden Eagle. There will also be signs of migration here as passerines move through the valley on their way to the coast and raptors like Black Kite, European Honey Buzzard, and Short-toed Snake Eagle migrate overhead.
White Wagtail is one of the many migrants will are likely to encounter on this birding tour.
A nearby area of agricultural land and woodland in the valley holds Woodlark, Hawfinch, Cirl Bunting, Common Chaffinch, White Wagtail, Common Linnet, Long-tailed Tit, Meadow Pipit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and Iberian Green Woodpecker.
We will also explore the area around the Cueva del Gato which is home to a large colony of Alpine Swift. Other common birds here include European Stonechat, Corn Bunting, European Serin, European Greenfinch, European Robin, Eurasian Crag Martin, Common House Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, and Common Blackbird. This is also a good area to find Cetti’s Warbler, White-throated Dipper, Common Kingfisher, and Grey Wagtail as the river rarely dries up, even during the hottest of summers.
The attractive European Robin is likely to seen on this tour.
Day 11. Drive to Malaga and departure
Sadly, today our tour comes to an end. Depending on the time of your flight, we may be able to explore Ronda once more to look for any species we may have missed around the town previously. We will then take the scenic mountain drive towards the coastal city of Malaga in time for your flight home in the late afternoon. At some point today we will also have to choose our ‘bird of the trip’ and your expert guides will be on hand to answer any queries with the trip list or species identification.
Overnight: Not included.
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes must use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.Download Itinerary
Spain: Birding Andalusia in Fall Trip Report
26 August – 5 September 2022
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Raptor migration was one of the highlights of this tour – this Short-toed Snake Eagle flew overhead near Tarifa.
Our 11-day tour of southern Spain began on the 26th of August 2022 in the ancient city of Seville and concluded on the 5th of September in Malaga. During the tour we visited many wonderful birding locations including Brazo del Este, Bonanza Saltpans, La Janda, Barbate Marshes, Migration Observatories in the Strait of Gibraltar, Sierra de la Plata, Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Grazalema Natural Park, and the charming town of Ronda. We also took a pelagic trip in the Gulf of Cadiz and a whale watching trip off Tarifa.
Our trip around the southern part of the country gave us a list of 184 species, all of them seen and most of them seen well. The list included some sought-after birds like Northern Bald Ibis, Marbled Duck, White-headed Duck, Balearic Shearwater, Audouin’s Gull, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Iberian Grey Shrike, Mediterranean Short-toed Lark, Iberian Chiffchaff, Black Wheatear, and Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin. We also saw 19 species of raptors, some of them in high or very high numbers. These included Egyptian Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, and Lanner Falcon. We also enjoyed species that are of interest to Western Palearctic listers because they are regionally localized, such as Black-winged Kite, Red-knobbed Coot, Laughing Dove and Little Swift. We had mixed feelings about finding Europe’s last individual Common Bulbul. We did love being in the range of some of Europe’s most gorgeous birds such as European Roller, European Bee-eater and Eurasian Hoopoe. The full species lists are at the end of this report.
This was a very enjoyable tour, with fantastic weather, many highlights, beautiful moments, and splendid birds!
One of the places we got to visit during the tour was the famous town of Ronda (photo Yeray Seminario).
Day 1, 26th August 2022. Arrival in Seville
This was the arrival day for the small group of tour participants. We went over the fundamentals of our trip during dinner at our hotel in Seville and answered any questions the participants had.
Day 2, 27th August 2022. Birding Brazo del Este, Los Palacios, and around Jerez
During our first day of birding, we visited some of the best bird-watching sites in Seville province: El Pantano and Brazo del Este. El Pantano was good for a general introduction to the birds of southern Spain. We had our first European Turtle Dove, Pallid Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe and European Bee-eater, for instance. However, the main reason for visiting this site was to look for Laughing Dove, a bird almost absent in Europe but that has been present here for the last few years. The presence of young birds accompanied by adults indicated breeding. After some short searching in the area, we had a fast view of a flying bird, and shortly afterwards we could see one more, perching briefly on a fence. Other nice birds in the area were Eurasian Penduline-Tit, Red-rumped Swallow, Western Bonelli’s Warbler and European Pied Flycatcher.
Eurasian Hoopoe, one of Europe’s most striking birds, was a pleasure to see.
Next, we visited Brazo del Este, a great birding location, which normally brings good numbers of species as well as abundance of each species. It didn’t disappoint! We had our first Greater Flamingo of the trip, together with a good variety of shorebirds: Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper among them. We were also happy to see some Collared Pratincole, as they are less predictable during this time of the year while they are on migration or preparing to head to Africa. Even more exciting was to find Marbled Teal, a species that is on the Critically Endangered bird list for Spain and is Near Threatened with extinction globally (Birdlife International). In total we spotted 15 birds, including some ducklings. With less than 100 pairs in the country, this was quite an amazing total.
Greater Flamingo was one of the birds we definitely had to see in southern Spain!
Other favorites included some of the introduced birds in the country, like Yellow-crowned Bishop, which, despite being a non-native bird, is appealing due to its spectacular bright black and yellow plumage. Other naturalized species here were Black-headed Weaver and Common Waxbill.
It’s worth mentioning that despite the high temperatures that were suffocating southern Europe during those days, and how hot this region can be, we had a soft breeze from the west that cooled the air and made our morning quite pleasant.
After our first intensive, bird-rich morning, we had a good lunch in a local restaurant before driving to Jerez where we would be staying for the following two nights. After some rest at the hotel, we visited some fields near Jerez with one main target, Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin. The end of August can be a difficult time to find these birds, as the young are already dispersing, and some individuals could have started their migration. Nevertheless, we made our attempt and succeeded! First, we heard one distant bird calling, and after some persistence got to see not one but two birds, an adult and a juvenile. We had some more birds here, including our first Woodchat Shrike and a good number of Red-legged Partridge.
Day 3, 28th August 2022. Chipiona and Sanlucar de Barrameda
In the early morning we visited Playa de Montijo, where we took a nice walk along the beach and across the shallows. This area was packed with shorebirds (waders), including Eurasian Oystercatcher, Kentish Plover, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, and many others. Also present were a good number of terns, including Little Tern, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Common Tern, and Sandwich Tern. Here we also had our first Slender-billed Gull of the day together with Mediterranean Gull. We then continued with a visit to Europe’s only Little Swift breeding colony. We enjoyed amazing views of these stunning birds while we refueled with some good coffee!
After this nice morning we headed north to the Lagunas de Camino Colorado. This proved fruitful with great views of White-headed Duck, more Marbled Teal, an unexpected Tufted Duck, Red-knobbed Coot, two Temminck’s Stint, and up to three Squacco Heron. All in all, a good stop. Next we headed to a nice picnic area where we saw our first Short-toed Treecreeper and some Black Kite flying overhead. Next, we went to the nearby Bonanza saltpans, where aside from some more shorebirds (waders), we had great views of Mediterranean Short-toed Lark, our main target at this site.
Later in the afternoon we visited some open fields in search of Spanish Imperial Eagle. We didn’t find any, but in exchange we got our first Short-toed Snake-Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier and Lesser Kestrel. Then it was time to call it a day and we headed to the hotel just in time to prepare for dinner and then rest for our next day.
A real highlight on this trip was visiting the only known colony of Little Swift in continental Europe.
Day 4, 29th August 2022. Pelagic trip in the Gulf of Cadiz and drive to Tarifa
Today was to be a truly special day. We started by joining a pelagic trip in the Gulf of Cadiz with ten other birders. It was not long before we had our first Arctic Skua (Parasitic Jaeger) and a few Balearic Shearwater, a species that is globally Critically Endangered (Birdlife International). Some other species seen on this trip were Great Skua, Audouin’s Gull, Black Tern, Cory’s Shearwater, Manx Shearwater (very uncommon in these waters) and Northern Gannet. Our six hours spent on the boat really flew by.
Following the pelagic we had one of the best meals of the trip, consisting of a fantastic paella and fresh fish. We then went back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and started driving to Tarifa. We had time to stop on the way and try for White-rumped Swift. We spent a bit of time at a strategic location in the Cork Forest of the Los Alcornocales Natural Park but alas the swift didn’t show. However, we did bag ourselves a stunning European Roller which perched on a wire for us to see comfortably with the scope. European Roller can be very unpredictable on migration, so this was a nice addition to our list. We also enjoyed our first Alpine Swift of the trip as well as some European Honey-Buzzard, Griffon Vulture, and Booted Eagle. After this brief, but productive stop we continued to our hotel near Tarifa where we would stay for the next four days.
We enjoyed great views of the Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater during our pelagic trip in the Gulf of Cadiz (photo Yeray Seminario).
Day 5, 30th August 2022. Los Lances, Migration Observatory and Sierra de la Plata
Our first day in Tarifa started with a bang. After breakfast we observed hundreds of Black Kite sitting on the ground and in nearby trees. These birds had spent the night roosting here and were waiting for the heat of the day to build which would allow them to cross to Africa. This amazing roosting spot was less than ten minutes from our hotel and made for a great way to start the day. The first European Bee-eater were also calling insistently on their way south.
Next we decided to take a walk through Los Lances Nature Reserve. Here, good numbers of shorebirds (waders) roamed the coastal lagoon, mostly Dunlin and Sanderling. We also had the first sign of active migration, with a few European Honey-buzzard, Short-toed Snake-Eagle and Eurasian Sparrowhawk flying low above the beach, and more passing European Bee-eater too.
We had several flocks of White Stork flying overhead (photo by tour participant Barbara Coll).
Our final bird here was the diminutive Greater Short-toed Lark, which gave great scope views. We decided it was time to head to one of the migration observatories, the prime location for amazing views of the Strait and the Moroccan coast on the other side.
It was a phenomenal experience with more than a thousand White Stork, hundreds of Short-toed Snake-Eagle, Black Kite and Booted Eagle, dozens of European Honey-Buzzard, and about twenty Egyptian Vulture, among other birds. They put on quite the show as they flew above us. Not only raptors were seen here, but nice passerines like Western Black-eared Wheatear and Tawny Pipit were also seen well. Moreover, while watching raptors flying above the Strait, a blow was seen out in the open waters: a Sperm Whale! The shape and direction of the blow was unmistakable, as well as the absence of a dorsal fin but a hump instead. These two hours were some of the best of the whole trip and things didn’t stop there. After this excellent migration session, we headed to a nearby restaurant for lunch, and a silhouette sitting on a power pylon caught our attention. Initially thought to be a Peregrine Falcon, good scope views gave us the clear features of a Lanner Falcon, a rare bird in Spain! Even though Lanner Falcon are occasionally glimpsed near Tarifa, having them sitting in one spot is an unlikely event.
After lunch we went to another striking area, Sierra de la Plata. Our first target here was Thekla’s Lark and we saw four almost immediately, spending some time comparing its features to the more commonly seen Crested Lark. We then continued to the low mountains, where we had close views of Griffon Vulture, including an adult feeding a juvenile, and some other migrating raptors like Osprey, Western Marsh Harrier, and Montagu’s Harrier.
Here we also heard our first Iberian Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker plus a stunning male Blue Rock Thrush was our first of the trip. However, we had to work a bit harder to see Dartford Warblerand with a bit of persistence we got to see them well, although briefly. It had been another great day and we started to head back to our hotel where we had time to freshen up before dinner.
Day 6, 31st August 2022. La Janda and Barbate marshes
Today we would dedicate our time to explore the famous area of La Janda and the Barbate Marshes. We started the morning in one of the easternmost sections of La Janda, which can be particularly good for raptors. Here we found several roosting European Honey-buzzard, a couple of Short-toed Snake-Eagle plus both Western Marsh Harrier and Montagu’s Harrier. Some new birds for us consisted of Calandra Lark and a nice late observation of Common Nightingale (a species which is difficult to see in late August). A bit further along the track we looked for Spanish Imperial Eagle and, just as we were about to leave, a juvenile showed up and could be seen flying both with binoculars and the scope. Shortly after that, an immature Bonelli’s Eagle was seen, although briefly. We then ended the morning with a roosting Red-necked Nightjar.
We got to see up to 15 Northern Bald Ibis while they were feeding in a field near the coast – a great opportunity to see this rare bird (photo by tour participant Barbara Coll).
After a nice lunch we drove west in search of Northern Bald Ibis. These big birds can be a bit difficult to find out of the breeding season as they move throughout an extensive area. Indeed, we drove for quite some time around the pine forest and the marshes of Barbate with no sign of them.
However, in the very last spot we looked, we found them! Up to 15 birds were feeding and resting and could be seen at close range. Later in the marshes we added more species: Black-tailed Godwit, Gull-billed Tern, and a nice small flock of Eurasian Stone Curlew. On the way back to the hotel, we tried for Little Owl at a known spot. It took us just a bit of time before three birds made an appearance, giving us close and prolonged views.
Day 7, 1st September 2022. Benalup and whale watching trip
We had another full day in the surroundings of Tarifa, including a whale watching trip in the afternoon, so we dedicated a very still and peaceful morning to look for some birds that we were missing, like Little Bustard and Black-winged Kite.
While looking for the kite, we had a fantastic encounter with an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle, sitting on a pylon at a relatively close distance and we enjoyed prolonged views in the scope. We then continued and, after a few kilometers of driving along a dirt track, found a hunting Black-winged Kite. We were able to enjoy watching it successfully catch its prey and start to feed in front of us, giving excellent scope views.
Unfortunately, we weren’t so successful with the Little Bustard. This species is suffering a steep decline in the Iberian Peninsula, and it seems that the Strait of Gibraltar is no exception as they are becoming more and more difficult to find. In exchange we had even more raptors, including an immature Spanish Imperial Eagle, several Booted and Short-toed Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, a new one for the trip, Red Kite. We also saw some Northern Wheatear on migration.
After a brief stop back at the hotel to get ready for the whale watching trip, we drove to the port of Tarifa and boarded the boat. We had two hours at sea, again in very good conditions. One of the highlights was being able to compare, close-up and with photos we were able to get, two “sister” species, the extremely similar Cory’s, and Scopoli’s Shearwaters. (We also enjoyed seeing Balearic Shearwater.)
In terms of sea mammals, we had excellent views of Long-finned Pilot Whale, with a large pod surrounding our boat and posing for pictures and videos, and a small group of Bottlenose Dolphin. Other remarkable observations were of Oceanic Sunfish and Bluefin Tuna.
After the whale watching trip we took a short walk around the old town of Tarifa and its castle. Here we saw a male Lesser Kestrel and, after some searching, got a good view of the only Common Bulbul in Tarifa – and probably in continental Europe! This is the last individual, as far as we know, of the offspring of a pair that bred for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015.
We ended this long, productive day with a superb meal in the old town of Tarifa accompanied by an equally excellent wine.
This was how close we were to Bottlenose Dolphin during our whale watching trip off Tarifa (photo by tour participant Aileen).
Day 8, 2nd September 2022. Migration observatories: Algarrobo & Cazalla and La Janda
This day was spent visiting the migration observatories and unexplored parts of La Janda. We started in Huerta Grande where we added a good number of forest species, including Iberian Chiffchaff, and Common Firecrest, of which we got great views. We then went to Algarrobo Migration Observatory and spent some time enjoying raptor migration. We had an opportunity to watch close passing European Honey-buzzard and spent some time learning how to separate males from females as well as juveniles. With a wide variety of plumages, European Honey-Buzzard are a lot of fun to watch! There were other good raptors of course, including a good number of Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Booted Eagle and Black Kite.
We then moved to Cazalla Migration Observatory, probably the most popular raptor migration watchpoint in Western Europe. Aside from the regular migrating raptors we were able to enjoy a juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle in the scope. It was another good migration session in the Strait of Gibraltar.
We had our picnic lunch in a pine forest near La Janda and took a walk with a main target in mind, the Iberian Green Woodpecker. It took some time but after some persistence, we got several views of a flying bird coming and going a certain area. Here we also had good views of Eurasian Hoopoe and Spotted Flycatcher.
In the afternoon we went to the main canal at La Janda. It was rather slow at La Janda, but even so we had a good time seeing some birds we had seen before. The standout was a big flock of more than one thousand Spanish Sparrow, which we could see from the vehicle and pay attention to the features that differentiate them from House Sparrow, which were also present. It was a good way to end our last day in the Strait of Gibraltar before driving up to the Ronda Mountains.
On our last day in the Strait of Gibraltar we had superb views of the African coast (photo Werner Wilmes, Wikimedia Commons).
Day 9, 3rd September 2022. Alcornocales Natural Park and drive to Ronda
We left our hotel in Tarifa after a very pleasant stay and headed north towards Ronda. We took a nice detour to explore some of the nicest locations in Los Alcornocales Nature Reserve, one of the largest natural parks in Spain. Right at the gate of the reserve we had a flying Eurasian Golden Oriole. We stopped and looked for it to get better views and after a couple of minutes this beautiful bird flew right above us.
Once inside the reserve, the scenery gradually changed until we were in a fantastic patch of Cork and Algerian Oak. Here not only did we get to see some nice forest birds, but we had some good migration above as well. In the forest we had Eurasian Jay, European Crested Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, and Western Bonelli’s Warbler, among others. Overhead, up to eight Black Stork were seen together with more raptors, including Egyptian Vulture, Western Marsh Harrier, and Common Buzzard.
We had a picnic lunch in a nice recreational area of the natural park, where we added Eurasian Nuthatch to our list. The rest of the afternoon was mainly spent doing a scenic drive up to the Ronda Mountains, with several stops at different lookouts to enjoy the view of the famous “Pueblos Blancos” (White Villages) in the province of Malaga. At the end of the day, we checked into our fantastic hotel in a great spot in the Ronda Mountains.
Eurasian Golden Oriole was seen around the Los Alcornocales Nature Reserve.
Day 10, 4th September 2022. Llanos de Libar and Ronda
On our last full day of the tour, we had the opportunity to explore a completely different environment, the limestone outcrops of the Ronda Mountains inside Grazalema Nature Reserve.
We started close to our accommodation, in “El Hundidero”, where we took a short walk and had great views of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Alpine Swift, as well as our first Black Wheatear of the trip. Next we headed to Llanos de Libar, not far from the charming town of Montejaque, where we spent most of our day. There was a fantastic dirt track that allowed us to bird at leisure, frequently stopping the vehicle and walking for short distances.
The first highlight was a close encounter with a group of Iberian Ibex. They spectacularly climbed some steep slopes, and we enjoyed fantastic views of these curious-looking animals. A bit later we saw Black Wheatear exceptionally well and enjoyed a close flight of a Eurasian Sparrowhawk that was roosting near the road. A small patch of bushes held Western Subalpine Warbler together with at least three Dartford Warbler and one Greater Whitethroat. Other nice birds here were Rock Bunting and Cirl Bunting. Surprisingly, this was also the first occasion where we found Eurasian Wren!
After a nice picnic lunch in the shade, we continued our drive up on the dirt track to reach a nice patch of Holm Oak. Here we had good views of forest birds, particularly in a certain spot where there was water, and the birds were coming down to bathe and drink. Species seen here included European Bee-eater, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, Willow Warbler, Western Subalpine Warbler, Rock Bunting, and Cirl Bunting. However, some of the best birds were on the farmland surrounding the forest, including Iberian Grey Shrike, Western Black-eared Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Whinchat, and Rock Sparrow. A great selection of birds to add to our list!
We drove back to our accommodation for a break, a dip in the pool for some, and got ready for a short drive to the lovely town of Ronda. Here we took a walk along the famous Tajo de Ronda, with phenomenal views of the surrounding peaks. We had a playful flock of Red-billed Chough entertaining us through the walk and all the way to the restaurant, where we had our last dinner of the tour with splendid views to the setting sun against the mountains.
Cirl Bunting was one of the iconic species of the mountains around Ronda (photo Paco Gómez, Wikimedia Commons).
Day 11, 5th September 2022. Drive to Málaga
We started our drive back to Malaga and made a final stop amongst some cliffs along the way, hoping to catch a view of Bonelli’s Eagle. We unfortunately struck out on this species but added, unexpectedly, Great Crested Grebe in a nearby reservoir and enjoyed a nice flying Osprey.
We reached the city of Malaga where we offloaded all participants at their respective hotels and said our goodbyes. All in all, this was a successful trip which focused on the raptor migration in the Strait of Gibraltar, but also offered much more, being a nice, extended view of what southern Spain has to offer in the fall.
Bird List – Following IOC (12.1)
The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following BirdLife International: CR= Critically Endangered, EN= Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, NT = Near Threatened
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)|
|Northern Shoveler||Spatula clypeata|
|Marbled Duck – VU||Marmaronetta angustirostris|
|Common Pochard – VU||Aythya ferina|
|Tufted Duck||Aythya fuligula|
|White-headed Duck – EN||Oxyura leucocephala|
|Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)|
|Ring-necked Pheasant||Phasianus colchicus|
|Red-legged Partridge||Alectoris rufa|
|Red-necked Nightjar||Caprimulgus ruficollis|
|Alpine Swift||Apus melba|
|Common Swift||Apus apus|
|Pallid Swift||Apus pallidus|
|Little Swift||Apus affinis|
|Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)|
|Rock Dove||Columba livia|
|Common Wood Pigeon||Columba palumbus|
|European Turtle Dove||Streptopelia turtur|
|Eurasian Collared Dove||Streptopelia decaocto|
|Laughing Dove||Spilopelia senegalensis|
|Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)|
|Common Moorhen||Gallinula chloropus|
|Eurasian Coot||Fulica atra|
|Red-knobbed Coot||Fulice cristata|
|Western Swamphen||Porphyrio porphyrio|
|Little Grebe||Tachybaptus ruficollis|
|Great Crested Grebe||Podiceps cristatus|
|Greater Flamingo||Phoenicopterus roseus|
|Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)|
|Eurasian Stone-curlew||Burhinus oedicnemus|
|Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)|
|Black-winged Stilt||Himantopus himantopus|
|Pied Avocet||Recurvirostra avosetta|
|Eurasian Oystercatcher||Haematopus ostralegus|
|Grey Plover||Pluvialis squatarola|
|Northern Lapwing||Vanellus vanellus|
|Common Ringed Plover||Charadrius hiaticula|
|Little Ringed Plover||Charadrius dubius|
|Kentish Plover||Charadrius alexandrinus|
|Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)|
|Eurasian Whimbrel||Numenius phaeopus|
|Eurasian Curlew||Numenius arquata|
|Bar-tailed Godwit||Limosa lapponica|
|Black-tailed Godwit||Limosa limosa|
|Ruddy Turnstone||Arenaria interpres|
|Curlew Sandpiper||Calidris ferruginea|
|Temminck’s Stint||Calidris temminckii|
|Little Stint||Calidris minuta|
|Common Snipe||Gallinago gallinago|
|Common Sandpiper||Actitis hypoleucos|
|Green Sandpiper||Tringa ochropus|
|Common Redshank||Tringa totanus|
|Wood Sandpiper||Tringa glareola|
|Common Greenshank||Tringa nebularia|
|Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)|
|Collared Pratincole||Glareola pratincola|
|Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)|
|Slender-billed Gull||Chroicocephalus genei|
|Black-headed Gull||Chroicocephalus ridibundus|
|Audouin’s Gull – VU||Ichthyaetus audouinii|
|Mediterranean Gull||Ichthyaetus melanocephalus|
|Yellow-legged Gull||Larus michahellis|
|Lesser Black-backed Gull||Larus fuscus|
|Gull-billed Tern||Gelochelidon nilotica|
|Caspian Tern||Hydroprogne caspia|
|Sandwich Tern||Thalasseus sandvicensis|
|Little Tern||Sternula albifrons|
|Common Tern||Sterna hirundo|
|Whiskered Tern||Chlidonias hybrida|
|Black Tern||Chlidonias niger|
|Great Skua||Stercorarius skua|
|Pomarine Jaeger (Pomarine Skua)||Stercorarius pomarinus|
|Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua)||Stercorarius parasiticus|
|Petrels, Shearwaters, Diving Petrels (Procellariidae)|
|Cory’s Shearwater||Calonectris borealis|
|Scopoli’s Shearwater||Calonectris diomedea|
|Manx Shearwater||Puffinus puffinus|
|Balearic Shearwater – CR||Puffinus mauretanicus|
|Black Stork||Ciconia nigra|
|White Stork||Ciconia ciconia|
|Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae)|
|Northern Gannet||Morus bassanus|
|Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)|
|Great Cormorant||Phalacrocorax carbo|
|Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)|
|Glossy Ibis||Plegadis falcinellus|
|Northern Bald Ibis – EN||Geronticus eremita|
|Eurasian Spoonbill||Platalea leucorodia|
|Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)|
|Black-crowned Night Heron||Nycticorax nycticorax|
|Squacco Heron||Ardeola ralloides|
|Western Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis|
|Grey Heron||Ardea cinerea|
|Purple Heron||Ardea purpurea|
|Great Egret||Ardea alba|
|Little Egret||Egretta garzetta|
|Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)|
|Black-winged Kite||Elanus caeruleus|
|Egyptian Vulture||Neophron percnopterus|
|European Honey-buzzard||Pernis apivorus|
|Griffon Vulture||Gyps fulvus|
|Short-toed Snake Eagle||Circaetus gallicus|
|Booted Eagle||Hieraaetus pennatus|
|Spanish Imperial Eagle – VU||Aquila adalberti|
|Golden Eagle||Aquila chrysaetos|
|Benelli’s Eagle||Aquila fasciata|
|Eurasian Sparrowhawk||Accipiter nisus|
|Western Marsh Harrier||Circus aeruginosus|
|Montagu’s Harrier||Circus pygargus|
|Red Kite||Milvus milvus|
|Black Kite||Milvus migrans|
|Common Buzzard||Buteo buteo|
|Little Owl||Athene noctua|
|Eurasian Hoopoe||Upupa epops|
|European Roller||Coracias garrulus|
|Common Kingfisher||Alcedo atthis|
|European Bee-eater||Merops apiaster|
|Great Spotted Woodpecker||Dendrocopous major|
|Iberian Green Woodpecker||Picus sharpei|
|Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)|
|Lesser Kestrel||Falco naumanni|
|Common Kestrel||Falco tinnunculus|
|Lanner Falcon||Falco biarmicus|
|Peregrine Falcon||Falco peregrinus|
|African & New World Parrots (Psittacidae)|
|Monk Parakeet||Myiopsitta monachus|
|Iberian Grey Shrike||Lanius meridionalis|
|Woodchat Shrike||Lanius senator|
|Figbirds, Orioles, Turnagra (Oriolidae)|
|Eurasian Golden Oriole||Oriolus oriolus|
|Crows, Jays (Corvidae)|
|Eurasian Jay||Garrulus glandarius|
|Eurasian Magpie||Pica pica|
|Red-billed Chough||Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax|
|Western Jackdaw||Coloeus monedula|
|Northern Raven||Corvus corax|
|Tits, Chickadees (Paridae)|
|European Crested Tit||Lophophanes cristatus|
|Eurasian Blue Tit||Cyanistes caeruleus|
|Great Tit||Parus major|
|Penduline Tits (Remizidae)|
|Eurasian Penduline Tit||Remiz pendulinus|
|Thekla’s Lark||Galerida theklae|
|Crested Lark||Galerida cristata|
|Greater Short-toed Lark||Calandrella brachydactyla|
|Calandra Lark||Melanocorypha calandra|
|Mediterranean Short-toed Lark||Alaudala rufescens|
|Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)|
|Sand Martin||Riparia riparia|
|Eurasian Crag Martin||Ptyonoprogne rupestris|
|Barn Swallow||Hirundo rustica|
|Common House Martin||Delichon urbicum|
|Red-rumped Swallow||Cecropis daurica|
|Common Bulbul||Pycnonotus barbatus|
|Cettia Bush Warblers & Allies (Cettiidae)|
|Cetti’s Warbler||Cettia cetti|
|Leaf Warblers & Allies (Phylloscopidae)|
|Western Bonelli’s Warbler||Phylloscopus bonelli|
|Willow Warbler||Phylloscopus trochilus|
|Iberian Chiffchaff||Phylloscopus ibericus|
|Reed Warblers & Allies (Acrocephalidae)|
|Eurasian Reed Warbler||Acrocephalus scirpaceus|
|Melodious Warbler||Hippolais polyglotta|
|Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)|
|Zitting Cisticola||Cisticola juncidis|
|Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae)|
|Eurasian Blackcap||Sylvia atricapilla|
|Sardinian Warbler||Curruca melanocephala|
|Western Subalpine Warbler||Curruca hortensis|
|Common Whitethroat||Curruca communis|
|Dartford Warbler||Curruca undata|
|Goldcrests, Kinglets (Regulidae)|
|Common Firecrest||Regulus ignicapilla|
|Eurasian Wren||Troglodytes troglodytes|
|Eurasian Nuthatch||Sitta europaea|
|Short-toed Treecreeper||Certhia brachydactyla|
|Starlings, Rhabdornis (Sturnidae)|
|Spotless Starling||Sturnus unicolor|
|Common Blackbird||Turdus merula|
|Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)|
|Spotted Flycatcher||Muscicapa striata|
|Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin||Cercotrichas galactotes|
|European Robin||Erithacus rubecula|
|Common Nightingale||Luscinia megarhynchos|
|European Pied Flycatcher||Ficedula hypoleuca|
|Black Redstart||Phoenicurus ochruros|
|Common Redstart||Phoenicurus phoenicurus|
|Blue Rock Thrush||Monticola solitarius|
|European Stonechat||Saxicola rubicola|
|Northern Wheatear||Oenanthe oenanthe|
|Western Black-eared Wheatear||Oenanthe hispanica|
|Black Wheatear||Oenanthe leucura|
|White-throated Dipper||Cinclus cinclus|
|Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)|
|Rock Sparrow||Petronia petronia|
|Spanish Sparrow||Passer hispaniolensis|
|House Sparrow||Passer domesticus|
|Weavers, Widowbirds (Ploceidae)|
|Black-headed Weaver||Ploceus melanocephalus|
|Yellow-crowned Bishop||Euplectes afer|
|Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)|
|Common Waxbill||Estrilda astrild|
|Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)|
|Western Yellow Wagtail||Motacilla flava|
|Tawny Pipit||Anthus campestris|
|Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)|
|Common Chaffinch||Fringilla coelebs|
|European Greenfinch||Chloris chloris|
|Common Linnet||Linaria cannabina|
|European Goldfinch||Carduelis carduelis|
|European Serin||Serinus serinus|
|Corn Bunting||Emberiza calandra|
|Rock Bunting||Emberiza cia|
|Cirl Bunting||Emberiza cirlus|
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Rabbits and Hares (Leporidae)|
|European Rabbit||Oryctolagus cuniculus|
|Iberian Ibex||Capra pyrenaica|
|Fallow Deer||Dama dama|
|Oceanic Dolphins (Delphinidae)|
|Long-finned Pilot Whale||Globicephala melas|
|Common Bottlenose Dolphin||Tursiops truncatus|
|Sperm Whales (Physeteridae)|
|Sperm Whale||Physeter macrocephalus|
Colubrid Snakes (Colubridae)
|Horseshoe Whip Snake||Hemorrhois hippocrepis|
|Pond Turtles (Emydidae)|
|Spanish Pond Turtle||Mauremys leprosa|
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Atlantic Bluefin Tuna||Thunnus thynnus|
|Ocean Sunfish||Mola mola|
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Spain: Birding Andalusia in Fall
This small-group birding tour to Spain in the fall (autumn) season offers a wide range of exciting birds without having to travel too far. The tour starts in Seville and ends in Málaga and takes in a wonderful birding circuit, even including two pelagic trips (off Tarifa and into the Bay of Cadiz). The list of possible bird species on this tour is long, and includes Spanish Imperial Eagle, Rüppell’s Vulture, Audouin’s Gull, Balearic Shearwater, Cory’s Shearwater, Great Shearwater, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Northern Bald Ibis, Red-knobbed Coot, White-headed Duck, Little Swift, White-rumped Swift, Iberian Magpie, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Black Wheatear, and many more, including the impressive spectacle of visible migration of cranes, raptors, storks, and shorebirds. The detailed itinerary includes full details of what to expect on this wonderful European bird tour.
Our fall tour will see high temperatures throughout, ranging from 82 – 95 °F (28 – 35 °C) during the daytime. Coastal areas can be cooler but please be aware of these likely high temperatures and remember to pack accordingly. If you struggle with being outside in these temperatures, then please also bare this in mind. Nights are warm with temperatures of 64 – 69 °F (18 – 21 °C), and evening temperatures will still be very warm. The sun will be incredibly strong at this time of year however rain should not be a problem (but as this is Europe it should never be totally ruled out!).
DAILY ACTIVITIES, PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS, AND TOUR PACE
Our Spain fall birding tour covers a large section of Andalusia and is at a faster pace than some other tours we run. A long list of birds is possible on this birdwatching tour. We break longer journeys up with birding stops and bathroom breaks where needed.
The majority of walking is an easy level of effort and at a gentle pace and should be suitable for most people. For the most part walking will be on easy tracks, roads, and trails. Some longer walks may be required for some bird sites and the exact details of these longer walks will be given to you ahead of time, most walks are optional and should you prefer to sit out a walk we will try to plan something else for you. Relaxing around the hotel grounds could be a good option.
On this tour there will be some early starts and late finishes to our days in the field to maximize our birding time and meal times will remain variable around our birding activities. The main focus of this tour is to find as many Spanish bird specials as possible. Most of the tour is spent at sea-level and low mountain elevations (e.g. around Málaga we will find ourselves birding at around 2,460 feet / 750 meters).
During our Spain fall tour we stay in a range of two-star to four-star hotels. Accommodation is of a traditional style and has been selected to offer the best experience in the area, including being close to excellent birdwatching areas.