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Strait Birding & Cetaceans - 7 Days

Strait Birding & Cetaceans
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The Strait of Gibraltar is the point at which Africa and Europe are at their closest, and is the epicentre for one of the world’s most spectacular bird migrations.  Every year, millions of birds make the 14 km sea crossing, making use of uplifts and thermals rising off the Rock of Gibraltar and the stunning Moroccan peak of Jebel Musa. An estimated 250,000 raptors pass over this rugged terrain during these periods, as well as untold thousands of other journeying passerines and seabirds

This flukey combination of geography and geology means a helping hand for birds and quite simply spectacular birding for us!  The incredible natural phenomenon of visible migration will be happening all around us, meaning you can sit back with a nice cold beer and simply enjoy these unforgettable scenes.

A boat trip into the Straits itself will let you get close and personal with the many cetacean species that can be found in spring and autumn, such as Common, Bottlenose and Striped Dolphins and Long-finned Pilot Whale – even Fin, Sperm Whales and Orca are possible here.  There are seabirds to look out for too, and we can hope to see Cory´s, Scopoli´s and Balearic Shearwaters, Northern Gannets, and in the right conditions, Wilson´s and European Storm Petrels.

There will also be time to explore more of the area´s superb habitats, which include salt pans, intertidal areas, freshwater wetlands, low intensity farmland, Mediterranean scrub, precipitous rock faces and the woodlands of Los Alcornocales Natural Park, Europe´s largest Cork oak Forest.  The diversity and wealth of avian and other wildlife in this beautifully unspoilt area of Spain really is astounding!

Couple this with tranquil accommodation in an eco-lodge at the edge of the Natural Park itself, the chance to enjoy the picturescue streets and Moorish fortifications of the Old Town of Tarifa, and of course the chance to sample some of Andalusia´s best local food and wine, and you really do have a trip that´s Strait-up fantastic!

Day 1
Day 1

We begin with your flight to Gibraltar, from where we meet you and transfer to our delightful eco-resort in tranquil woodland near Tarifa, the centre of birding in the Straits. Our base at Huerta Grande is ideal for watching the migration as it is located between two natural parks in the hills above the Straits of Gibraltar, amongst lush Cork Oak forest. We should witness many hundreds of migratory birds making the crossing to their wintering grounds in Africa, including Egyptian Vultures, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Honey Buzzards, Black Kites and both Black and White Storks.

Day 2
Day 2

We will take a boat excursion, weather permitting, into the Straits to witness the seabird passage and cetaceans. We will be on the lookout for Cory’s and Balearic Shearwaters among other species, plus the three species of resident dolphin (Common, Bottlenose and Striped) and the resident pods of Long-finned Pilot Whale. Once back on dry land, we will have a go at some urban birding around the old town of Tarifa where we can encounter Common Bulbul and breeding Lesser Kestrels. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch in the old town square where, simply by looking up you will be able to see migrating raptors and storks crossing over this historic town.

Day 3
Day 3

We’ll spend the morning at Los Lances nature reserve, a small area of intertidal habitat on Tarifa beach. On the short walk across low intensity farmland, we may see Crested Lark, Tawny Pipit, Short-toed Lark, Yellow Wagtails and Corn Bunting. A boardwalk takes us out to a hide, from where we can look across the lagoons to see birds including Common Ringed and Kentish Plover, Sanderling and Little Stint. Theres a decent chance of visiting Western Osprey here too, and seabirds can include Sandwich and Caspian Terns, and the once extremely rare Audouin’s Gull.

Migratory movement is completely dependent on wind strength and direction. Depending on whether birds are crossing or gathering inland waiting for their moment, this afternoon will be spent at one of several local raptor watchpoints, making the absolute most of whatever the conditions bring us.

Day 4
Day 4

Today, alongside more raptor-watching at sites with stunning views across the Straits to North Africa, we will make a visit to nearby Barbate salt pans. This area offers a fantastic selection of waders which change every day, as well as some real stars like Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo and Western Osprey.

Also close by is the town of Vejer de la Frontera, where a successful reintroduction programme of the Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis took place in 2008. From thirty pairs, the birds now number around 78 pairs, and we should be able to see these engaging and quirky birds at their nesting colony or grazing on surrounding farmland.

Day 5
Day 5

Today we will visit the farmland and wetlands of La Janda. The huge area of low intensity farmland was once a vast wetland on a par with Doñana in terms of its ecological importance. It has long since been drained for agriculture, but amongst the rice fields and managed pools and ditches, some real wetland gems remain, hinting at its former natural glory. Amongst many hundreds of White Stork and Glossy Ibis, here we should see many waders, wildfowl and raptors, such as Purple Swamphen, Marsh Harrier, Black-winged Kite as well as a chance of Spanish Imperial Eagle and Bonelli’s Eagle whilst the farmland areas should yield Spanish Sparrow, Calandra Lark and perhaps Red-necked Nightjar.

Day 6
Day 6

Our last full day in Spain taking time to explore our rich local surroundings in the Los Alcornacales natural park. This is the biggest cork oak forest in Europe and especially unique in the way that it gathers moisture coming in off the ocean to create a warm Mediterranean cloud forest. As well as some adorable local avian specialities in the form of Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Hawfinch and Short-toed Treecreeper, almost anything can turn up here during autumn migration, as passerines collect amongst the trees to gather strength for their southwards crossing of the Straits.

There are also a host of interesting rare plants to see here, such as the quasi-endemic carnivorous plant Drosophyllum lusitanicum, which occurs only here and in some areas of Portugal.

We will also have a look at the high rocky cliffs of Sierra de la Plata here, amongst the eerie screeching of the resident Griffon Vulture colony, mountain specialities such as Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin, and Rock Bunting are all likely to be encountered.

We should again find ourselves in the midst of the Autumn raptor migration, and will take our final chance to sit back and relax with a picnic and a glass of wine at a raptor watchpoint as the spectacular birds drift overhead.

Day 7
Day 7

Today sadly our trip comes to an end, and it is time to make our own migratory journey back to the UK.

Contact us for further information and to book your place on this tour.

Griffon Vultures, Egyptian Vultures, Bonelli’s Eagles, Spanish Imperial Eagles, Honey Buzzards, Black Kites, Short-toed, Booted Eagles,White and Black Storks, European Bee-eaters,Firecrest, Short-toed Treecreeper, Crested Tit, Northern Bald Ibis,Purple Swamphen, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo

What is included?

  • price includes lunch, guiding, transportation, taxes and entrances but excludes any flights or accommodation.

What is not included?

  • Items of a personal nature
Wildlife Reviews
5 stars
- based on 7  reviews
  1. A fantastic time
    Ian Powell01 Oct 2019
    5
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    Two days birding with Niki and Simon could not have been better. They were very flexible and arranged a day specifically for me and then allowed me to join in a pre booked group. The knowledge of both of them is second to none, without them I would have seen very little and certainly would not have known what I was looking at. As it was I saw everything I was hoping for and more. It was fantastic Most importantly Niki and Simon are nice people who made me feel very welcome and made the days fun. Also they were extremely good value at either half or even a third of the price of competitors. Do not let a comparatively low price make you think the quality must be bad, nothing is further from the truth. I would not hesitate to use them again and heartily recommend them to other birders
  2. Just Brilliant Birding !
    Justin Williams26 Aug 2019
    5
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    Contacted Simon and Nikki pretty late in the day having found a slot to grab a few days with the family in Spain. Having used these guys before I was delighted that they were able to fit me in at short notice. Always friendly and happy to accommodate specific requests where at all possible, we birded the Straits of Gibraltar for the day First taking in the spectacle of the raptor migration back to Africa with literally thousands of Black Kites and dozens of Honey Buzzards Short-toed and Booted Eagles as well as endangered Egyptian Vultures and my target species Montagus Harrier, we moved on to mountain and wetland habitats where, with Simon and Nikkis excellent local knowledge and expert guidance I was lucky enough to get to see even more amazing birds. Stand out species included Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Red-necked Nightjar, Bee-eaters galore, Roller, Hoopoe, more Montys and even a distant view of a Spanish Imperial Eagle. So another brilliant days birding with Simon and Nikki, great knowledge, great company and great birds - I couldn't recommend them enough!
  3. Mega day tour
    Jeff21 Aug 2019
    5
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    I was amazed at the quantity of migrating raptors we were witness to even in adverse wind conditions - Simon and Niki gave me a new love for Black Kites - they really are mental migrants! Egyptian Vultures, Griffon Vultures, Black Kites (prob close a thousand), Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Montagu's Harriers and hundreds of migrating European Bee-eaters. Yet we were also given the reality of the situation and were introduced to the conservation partner of Inglorious Bustards - foundation Migres, I was impressed by their ongoing monitoring and the protection of migrating birds, clearly more needs to be done but this was a great starting point and I'm glad in some small way our day tour not only enabled us to witness this magical natural event but also raise the issues surrounding the conservation of the flyways. Great tour, great conservation work and fabulous guides!
  4. Super day tour !
    Katy and Jeff21 Aug 2019
    5
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    We were taken to some of the best places to see the migration of raptors including squadrons of Black Kites, Honey Buzzards, Montagu's Harriers and more, if that wasn't enough we were taken to a Griffon Vulture colony where we witnessed them coming to roost as Egyptian Vultures cruised in and over 200 Black Kites filled the gaps. All of this was conducted with professionalism and conscious actions to the environment - we were introduced to their conservation partners at Foundation Migres and their vital work and were glad that by travelling with the Inglorious Bustards we were directly contributing to this vital conservation work and monitoring.
  5. Solo traveller returns
    Gary Mantle01 Apr 2017
    5
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    Being guided was like being out with a friend. I never felt rushed and yet we packed in an incredible amount. Succesdgul birding in the Straits is all about the wind and adkustong plans on the day. In this, they excel ensuring that you have the best experience. I asked lots of basic questions but never felt stupid. Or embarrassed by my lack of knowledge. I loved the passion and enthusiasm they showed and was moved by the grateful welcome they showed to the migrant birds. Being guided by them was much more than than a simple transaction and more a sharing of a mutual pleasure. As a result of spending time together my first experience of birding in the Straits was so much better than if I had tried to go it alone - indeed I doubt if I would have seen a fraction of what we experienced together. Without hesitation I thoroughly recommend.
  6. Glorious day\'s birding with Nikki & Simon
    Barbara Shelton04 Oct 2018
    5
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    Nikki & Simon waved a magic wand and made our wish list come true! With 80 species in one day, many of them lifers for me, it was an incredible day that will live long in the memory. Such skill, knowledge and friendliness, and a great lunch too. Not only did we achieve our target birds, we had some unexpected bonuses such as Northern Bald Ibis and Black-crowned Night Heron, not to mention Stone Curlew. A stunning day all round - muchas gracias!
  7. Glorious bustards !!
    Dan McGibbon03 Feb 2017
    5
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    Amazing birds, people, location, food and atmosphere. Well worth going on any tour with these folk; can't express in words how good they are !!!!

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Why book with Inglorious Bustards?

We love birds and wildlife! But even more than that we love making sure you see it, experience it and have a fantastic time to boot. Between us we have a vast experience in nature conservation, ecology, tour leading and the hospitality industry, and we’ll use it to bring you fantastic wildlife spectacles alongside chilled-out birding and local culture and food. All our team fulfil these criteria: - Are professional naturalists with expertise and training in their speciality fields. - Demonstrate active conservation work both through tours and independently. - Have a proven track record of inspiring a love of the natural world through all generations. - Great no fuss problem-solvers where required, and always ensure the enjoyment and safety of our groups. - Have an exceptional background in the country they are leading in. - Are fully insured and compliant with the Travel and Tour regulations. - Patient, always helpful and inspiring teachers.

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7 Days

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EUR1,200 / per person
1,200
Total EUR 1,200
This tour is operated by: Inglorious Bustards

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Operator Review Summary

4.99 Based on 24 reviews
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