The Strait of Gibraltar

Price: US$1950 Species of Interest
 
Tour Gallery
 

 

Species of Interest

  • Great-crested Grebe
  • Black-necked Grebe
  • Marbled Teal
  • White-headed Duck
  • White Stork
  • Black Stork
  • Purple Heron
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Egyptian Vulture
  • Eurasian Griffon
  • Red Kite
  • Black Kite
  • Black-winged Kite
  • Spanish Imperial Eagle
  • Booted Eagle
  • Bonelli’s Eagle
  • Short-toed Eagle
  • Montagu’s Harrier
  • Lesser Kestrel
  • Purple Swamphen
  • Audouin’s Gull
  • Slender-billed Gull
  • Mediterranean Gull
  • Collared Pratincole
  • European Bee-eater
  • Great-spotted Cuckoo
  • Little Swift
  • Calandra Lark
  • Thekla Lark
  • Short-toed Lark
  • Tawny Pipit
  • Black-eared Wheatear
  • Blue Rock Thrush
  • Red-rumped Swallow
  • Great Reed Warbler
  • Western Olivaceous Warbler
  • Western Orphean Warbler
  • Firecrest
  • Short-toed Treecreeper
  • Spanish Sparrow
  • Hawfinch
  • Serin
  • Corn Bunting
  • Cirl Bunting
  • Rock Bunting
 

On this special spring tour, we cover a rich variety of landscape and habitats each day from our base near Barbate, travelling from the mouth of the River Guadalquivir on the Atlantic coast, to the River Guadarranque that flows down from the sierras to the Mediterranean. We will be visiting all the key birding and wildlife sites on The Strait of Gibraltar, studying the wonderful phenomenon of avian migration.


Our base will be in heart of the massive pine forest that stretches along the cliffs from Barbate to Caños de Meca. Here lies what once was the largest dovecot in the world, and a 18th century gem in the heart of coastal Cadiz province. Tucked away from the sight of passing pirates, this pigeon-house was first and foremost a gunpowder factory. Barn Owls and Lesser Kestrels now inhabit the old dovecot, which can be seen at the rear of the hotel - with not a domestic pigeon daring to enter the once bustling farm. This peaceful hotel is the perfect base for the next few days birding and a great place to take our non-compulsory pre-breakfast walks!

From here we’ll explore many great birding sites looking for Short-toed Eagle, Booted, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Rock Bunting, European Bee-eater, Serin, Little Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Western Orphean Warbler, Western Olivaceous Warbler and Black-eared Wheatear.

Our days out in the field will include stops at various ponds and lakes where we’ll stop off to see what’s present on the water and around the reed-fringed sides. Marbled Teal, White-headed Duck, Black-necked, Little and Great crested Grebes, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier and Purple Swamphen can regularly be seen.

Bonelli's Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle and Black-winged Kite can be found around the plains and rice fields of La Janda. This wonderful area offers great possibilities to catch up with White and Black Storks, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt, Common Kingfisher, Collared Pratincole, Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Spanish Sparrow and Tawny Pipit. Otter and Egyptian Mongoose can also be seen with luck.

The marshes, fishponds and mudflats of Barbate often reveal Caspian, Sandwich, Black and Little Tern, Great Egret, Mediterranean and Audouin’s Gull and often a Slender-billed Gull too! Ringed, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover can be seen there with Calandra, Thekla and Short-toed Larks which all breed on the drier slopes, while a colony of Collared Pratincoles dance in the air and Black-eared Wheatear, Subalpine Warblers and the well camouflaged Stone Curlew keep watch.

We'll be visiting the beaches and river mouth of the Río Jara near Tarifa and the fringes of the Sierras that lead down to the Atlantic not forgetting the beautiful Cork Oak forest and hills within Alcornocales Natural Park. Here anything can turn up from Short-toed Eagles and Black-winged Kite on the coastal fields to Cory's and Balearic Shearwater out on the Atlantic waves. Whimbrel and Grey Plover, as well as a host of Gull and Tern species often roost on the long wide beach and shallow estuary at Playa de Los Lances.

Trip Basics

This tour is a cooperative venture with our friends at Andalucian Guides

Guide: Stephen Daly, Yeray Seminario

Single room supplement: 160$

Length: 8 days

Maximum people within the group: 14

Accommodation: Very confortable hotel near Barbate.

Food: We'll have a taste of all the typical food.

Weather: It can be cool in the early morning and late in the evening. It can get hot at noon, we recommend bringing a hat or cap and sun cream. 

Difficulty: Low, short walks in mostly flat terrain.

Notes and Recommendations for the trip

Notes and Recommendations for the trip

Visa

Apart from a valid passport, most travellers, including those coming from U.S. or rest of Europe won’t need a tourist visa to enter Spain for up to 90 days.

Weather

Weather is very pleasant in spring. Even though we might get some rain, we expect sunny days and warm temperatures.

Time difference

GMT +1:00

Money and approximate exchange rates

The Euro (€) is the official currency in Spain, currently value at approximately 1,27 US$ (1US$=0,79€). There are multinational banks nearby and exchange office at the airport. All banks have ATMs and most of the shops will take credit and debit cards.

Airlines

There are many ways to get to Andalucía in southern Spain by air. Our closest airports are Jerez de La Frontera and Gibraltar. There are also airports at Seville and even further off is Malaga airport. Quite often clients arrive earlier to explore the area and relax before the tour. By rail, the best destination and easiest pick up points would be Cadiz or Algeciras. Cadiz line has the AVE or high-speed link now from Madrid, so this is the fastest route

Lodging

During our time exploring the Strait of Gibraltar, we will be staying in El Palomar de la Breña, a fantastic, charming hotel nearby the coastal town of Barbate.

Transportation

We will move around in a comfortable mini-bus.

Communications

Our hotel provides free Wifi, fax services and TV. 

Pace of the Tour

This is a really easy, comfortable trip, ideal for photographers. Those willing to join our guides on a morning walk before breakfast, are very welcome to do so, and those who prefer to rest a little bit more and just enjoy our drives to look for the birds will have that option as well.

Packing Essentials

  • Hat or visor to shade you from the sunlight
  • Sun glasses
  • Sun block
  • Different layers of comfortable clothes, for both sunny and rainy days.
  • A warm sweater for cool mornings and evenings
  • Binoculars
  • Camera

Health

There are no vaccinations required for entry into Spain. Food and water are very safe throughout the country.

Security

Spain is considered to be a very safe country to travel. 

Smokers

As a courtesy to all of our guests, smoking is not allowed in the vehicles or when we all meet for dinner or to go over our bird sightings for the day, etc.  If you share a room with a non-smoker, please refrain from smoking in the room. If you would like to smoke while we are in the field, please do so at a distance from the group.  

 Photography

This trip will offer some wonderful opportunities for photographers. It is a good idea to bring along lots of extra cards, and maybe an extra battery, even though there will be power in your room at all times to charge them.  

Publications and Field Guides

We recommend “Collins Bird Guide: The most complete guide to the birds of Britain and Europe” by Lars Svensson, Killian Mullarney, Dan Zetterstrom and Peter J Grant. 

Other suggestions and recommendations

If possible, bring good optical equipment such as binoculars and even a spotting scope (however, our guides will bring a scope with them at all times).

 Please, take a moment to read our Terms and Conditions which contain important information about our trips such as: what is included in the price of the tour and what isn’t; our reimbursement policy; our trip cancellation policy; as well as other information which may be useful to you when planning your trip with us.

 

Itinerary

Day 1 

Airport or train station pick-up. Transport to Hotel El Palomar de La Breña.


Days 2 to 7

Our days will be spent exploring the very best birding and wildlife sites inland and on the unspoilt shores of the Strait of Gibraltar.

For example, the wonderful Ojen Valley and surrounding sierras of the picturesque Alcornocales Natural park, offers a chance to see many raptors including Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Bonelli's, Booted, Short-toed and Golden Eagles. There are also Common Buzzard, Goshawk and Hobby. Other species here include Hawfinch, Black- eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Short-toed Treecreeper, Firecrest and Great-spotted Cuckoo.


We’ll travel to the Guadalquivir basin over on the far side of Cadiz province. Here, we’ll explore the eastern side of the Parque Natural de Doñana’s vast protected areas, as well as the wetlands, river marshlands and forest of the Bajo Guadalquivir, the Bonanza saltpans and the Algaida Forest. Masses of Greater Flamingo, Osprey, Black Stork, Marbled Teal and White-headed Duck are some of the keys species found in this area. Our hotel is very close to the agricultural plain of La Janda and the farmland of the Benalup area.

This rich birding area is often a magnet for early migrants and already the beautiful Montagu’s Harriers should be displaying. Earlier in the year there’s always the chance to see Little Bustard.

La Janda was once one of the largest natural freshwater marshlands and lakes in Europe but has been drained and given over to rice, cotton maize and sunflower fields. Nevertheless the area still attracts huge numbers of resident and migrants alike. Here we can expect to see Purple, Grey and Night Heron, Cattle and Little Egret, Crested and Calandra Lark, Reed Warbler, Montagu’s and Marsh Harrier, White Stork and Black Stork. There is also a breeding colony of Collared Pratincole that nest alongside Black-winged Stilt, Green Sandpiper and Yellow Wagtail. Little Owl is usually present and Black Kites and other migrating birds of prey stop off to hunt after crossing The Strait.


The Laguna de Medina near Jerez is another famous lake that holds a good population of White-headed Ducks. Here we can often find Red-knobbed Coot, Black-necked, Little and Great Crested Grebes. Cetti’s, Marsh, Reed and Melodious Warblers are present with Little Bittern, Purple Swamphen, Marsh Harrier and Black-winged Kite making it a great place to visit.

We will also have a beach walk along Playa de los Lances near to the town of Tarifa. This is where the Rio Jara flows out on its last leg from the Alcornocales to the Atlantic. We can see almost anything here as the changing weather dictates what stays here for a few days or flies over, westwards or northwards. Sandwich and Caspian Terns can often be found sitting on sandbars amongst Audouin’s, Mediterranean, Slender-billed. Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gull. Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Little ringed and Kentish Plover can be found here too.


No trip would be complete without a visit or two to the viewpoints over the Strait of Gibraltar to watch incoming flights of Booted, Short-toed Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Red Kites and Black Kites. Another great viewing point is directly below on the coast at Guadalmesi opposite Morocco. This gives us flexibility to change our viewing positions according to the weather in the Strait.


Day 8

We return to your airport of arrival for an afternoon flight back to the UK.

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