Spain. The weather was very variable, with the hottest day reaching 30c and
the coolest only 14c. It was difficult keeping warm some nights in my sleeping
bag! I visited lots of sites in the area, with a focus mainly on seeing the
Raptor migration that the Straits are famous for. Over the duration of the trip
i had some wonderful close-up views of Raptors and managed to see three
lifers; Northern Bald Ibis, Marbled Teal and a surprise that came in the shape
of a Cream-coloured Courser!
On the down-side i found it difficult to locate some of the sites and wasted
valuable time in doing so. On the 8th April i met up with local birder Jeff Saez
and we spent a full day birding the mountains in search of my target bird of the
trip, Bonelli's Eagle. We saw two over the course of the day and later in the
week i located another near the town of Ronda.
Booted Eagles were very common
this bird was hunting close to the campsite
Jeff, scanning the mountain ridges
This Short-toed Eagle gave superb, close up views as it soared to gain height
just 30-40 metres in front of us. We saw around 400 birds of prey in the
mountains that day, along with a host of many interesting birds including;
Melodious and Sardinian Warblers, Cirl Bunting, Firecrest, Alpine and Pallid
Swifts and Woodchat Shrike.
Later in the day we stopped at Castellar de la Frontera and were treated to
some close-up views of Lesser Kestrel that breed within the castle walls.
view from the castle, with the 'Rock' in the distance
Throughout the rest of the week i travelled up and down the coast, calling in at
various sites. One of the best areas was the Bonanza salt pans, about 1.5 hours
from Tarifa. It was teeming with migrant Waders and is a 'must see' place for anyone
visiting the area.
Playa de Los Lances was very close to the campsite and i made multiple visits,
seeing Waders, Terns and Gulls. It was a good place to see the Raptor migration,
as the birds tended to be quite low as they came in off the sea. And with the light
reflecting off the sand, made it good for photography too.
dark Booted Eagle
pale Booted Eagle
This superb, melanistic Monty flew in one evening, what a treat!
La Janda was only a fifteen minute drive away and was another place that was
good for photography. It was a farmland site with lots of Corn Buntings, Finches
and water birds in the dykes. Purple Gallinule was easy to see here and the views
of Corn Bunting from the car were superb!
Calandra Larks could be seen high over the fields, song-flighting and i saw a flock
of 100 'Yellow' Wagtails, almost all Iberian, with an odd flavissama, on one visit!
Hunting Montagu's Harrier
Waders featured strongly at Bonanza saltpans and excellent close views using
the car as a hide were obtained. Around the area were Red and Black Kites,
Booted Eagles, Flamingos, Hoopoe, Warblers, Short-toed Lark and several Ducks on
the nearby lagoon, including a single Marbled Teal.
Mixed Duck flock
Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin
I spent two mornings at Punta del Carnero to watch the migration as quite a strong
westerly wind was blowing, pushing birds east of Tarifa. Whilst there, i saw the
following: c400 Black Kite, 20 Montagu's Harrier, 5 Egyptian Vulture, 35 Booted
Eagle, 40 Short-toed Eagle, 2 Buzzard, 4 Sparrowhawk, 6 Kestrel, 20 Griffon
Vulture, Peregrine, and 2 Marsh Harrier. Other birds moving included; 2 Black Stork,
Bee-eater, Swifts and hirundines.
Home for the duration!
Cabo de Trafalgar.
Western Bonelli's Warbler
I was told of a Cream-coloured Courser that had been found close to where i was
staying near Tarifa and after missing it initially, returned in the evening and saw it
well. Five birders in total where there that evening, with six the next day. The bird
showed down to c15yards.
At the end of my stay i met up with Jeff again and we birded some sites close to his
home. We spent 30 minutes at a refuse tip, watching Kites and Gulls and on the way
managed a Tawny Pipit, nice one Jeff! Then it was time to say my goodbyes and
drive back to Malaga for the flight home.
A few more images from earlier in the trip.