Andalucía – easy birding, Coto Doñana and Tarifa
A long overdue return to Andalucía during the exciting autumn bird migration season.
September is a fantastic time to visit Andalucía, with our visit timed to catch the peak of bird migration as countless birds head south for the winter, particularly the raptors crossing the Straits of Gibraltar: the proximity of Africa, just over 14km at its closest point, makes this area a natural draw for birds crossing the Mediterranean.
We start our visit amongst the stunning limestone vistas of Sierra de Grazelema Natural Park, where we hope to find some of the mountain specialists such as Chough, Rock Thrush and Crag Martin.From here we move to La Janda and Sanlucar de Barrameda where we will visit a number of wetland sites in search of waders, gulls, waterfowl and terns.
Our visit would not be complete without a visit to Doñana National Park, where we will take an excursion by 4x4 to explore this vast wetland looking for birds and large mammals including, if we are lucky, the elusive and endangered Iberian Lynx.
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Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
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Return flights from UK. Local transport on excursions as specified in the itinerary including boat trip. Seven nights’ accommodation, full board basis.
Refreshments. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing (e.g. museums). Gratuities. Travel insurance.
We can hope to see a good range of species and at this time of year, anything can turn up!
Day 1 Our flight takes us to Málaga, from where we travel west towards Ronda (c. two hours). We will stop along the way to look for birds of the cliffs and mountains including Griffon Vulture, Alpine Swift and Bonelli’s Eagle, before settling in to our hotel for the evening.
Day 2 We head to Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, with its stunning, rugged limestone landscape, Mediterranean scrub and Cork Oak forests. Following our picnic in the Natural Park we will visit cliffs near the villages of El Bosque and Arcos de la Frontera to look for Lesser Kestrel, Bonelli’s Eagle and Peregrine.
Day 3 Today we will visit La Janda, where we hope to spot a range of species amongst the rice fields, marshes and ditches, with Montagu’s Harrier, Little Bustard, Calandra Lark, Stone Curlew and more all possible. Our afternoon will include a visit to look for the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis, which breeds in this area following a reintroduction project.
Day 4 We head south along the coast to the Strait of Gibraltar Natural Park. In good conditions huge flocks of raptors and other large birds can be seen soaring upwards on thermals before making the crossing over the Strait of Gibraltar and we hope to get good views of species including Honey Buzzard, Black Stork, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite and Booted Eagles. We will also look for reptiles during the day, including the Common Chameleon.
Day 5 Today we will take a boat trip out into the Strait of Gibraltar, where we hope to find some of the marine life of the area – at this time of year we could encounter Striped Dolphin, Long-finned Pilot Whale, Fin Whale, or maybe even Orca, which enter the Strait in late summer to hunt tuna. Following lunch in a restaurant, we will visit the Cork Oak forest at Los Alcornocales.
Day 6 Our morning will be spent exploring the marshes and salt pans around Sanlucar de Barrameda home to a wide variety of waders, wildfowl, gulls and terns, and we hope to find species such as Slender-billed Gull, Black-winged Stilt, Curlew Sandpiper, Greater Flamingo, Osprey and Caspian Tern. We will stop at several local sites to look for species including Little Swift, Marbled Duck, Spectacled Warbler, White-headed Duck and Booted Eagle.
Day 7 We will have an early start this morning to give us the best chances of finding Iberian Lynx. Travelling in 4×4 vehicles, we will spend the day in Doñana National Park, which has the planet’s second largest population of this stunning endangered cat. We should see a wide range of terns, waders and gulls, and with a little luck, perhaps the majestic Spanish Imperial Eagle.
Day 8 Our final breakfast and then it is time to head towards Málaga (c. four hours), making roadside stops along the way as time allows before our flight home.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
We will be staying at three small hotels during our holiday – Hotel Polo in Ronda, La Codorniz in Tarifa, and Casa Rural Doñana 51 in El Rocío. All rooms are en-suite.
The holiday is full board, with all the meals provided during the stay a mixture of local and International dishes. We will take picnic lunches with us on our excursions with lunch at a local restaurant during our visit to Tarifa. Requests for special diets can be accommodated.
We will travel by small coach or minibus.
The group flights are with Easyjet from London Gatwick.
Spain is one hour ahead of the UK.
If you hold a UK passport, you do not currently need a visa to travel to Spain. If you do not have a UK passport, please check with your local consulate.
At this time of year the weather is usually sunny and warm (mid to high 20s°). However, as with everywhere the weather is no longer entirely predictable, and there could well be some hotter or cooler weather, or rain (perhaps heavy). There can be strong sun especially on higher slopes and sun protection is needed.
You should have a good level of fitness to get the most out of the planned activities on this holiday. While the walking is generally easy and we won’t be covering any great distances, there will be some hilly, uneven or rocky areas for which good walking boots are essential.