NEW! Andalucia and Northern Morocco
Departures from London, Manchester or East Midlands Airport
A fantastic new holiday from Heatherlea, combining both sides of the Straits of Gibraltar to explore the most important bird migration route of the Western Palearctic. Most observers concentrate on the Spanish side, but what happens to all those migrants which arrive in Africa? Over 250 species of bird have been recorded crossing this stretch of sea. Raptors are the most spectacular, but the migration of pelagic birds, storks, egrets and passerines such as bee-eaters, larks and hirundines as well, is quite impressive on both sides, Andalusia in Spain and the northernmost part of Morocco .
We will concentrate our efforts on studying this migration spectacular, firstly in Spain and then in Morocco , where we will visit the internationally recognised Merja Zerga, where Marsh Owl will be an important target bird. Due to the warmer temperatures of the last decade, many birds are not migrating as far into Africa and this will give us good opportunities to see birds such as Great-spotted Cuckoos and Squacco Herons, which were not wintering in the area twenty years ago. Visiting several watch points, we will enjoy the endless flights of soaring vultures, kites, eagles, harriers and storks while countless small birds take their last food before they ‘jump' the Mediterranean Sea to their wintering sanctuaries. This Autumn migration is an experience that all nature and bird lovers should not miss.
Day 1- We fly from London (other regional departures available) - Malaga and are met by our expert Spanish Heatherlea Guide Josele Saiz. Transfer to our hotel, birding en-route. Overnight in Zahara de los Atunes
Day 2 & 3 - From Malaga on the way to the Straits of Gibraltar we will visit the mouth of the river Guadalorce. Depending on the water levels the lakes there, surrounded by human constructions, and with an important reed bed, are good habitats for resident species including Red-crested Pochard, White-headed duck, Black-winged Stilt, Marsh Harrier, Zitting Cisticola and Sardinian Warbler. The Straits themselves concentrate most of the western European migrants. Several watch points will be visited and will provide opportunities to see numerous migrants including swifts, swallows, bee-eaters etc., but mainly soaring raptors such as Egyptian Vultures, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Honey Buzzards, Lesser Kestrels and storks. We will also visit Cape Trafalgar for seabirds. Gannets will be easy to see there, but several species of shearwaters are also likely. Along the coastline we will encounter concentrations of gulls, including Audouin's and Slender-billed Gulls, also terns and waders in a perfect combination of birdwatching and scenery that will offer the chance of finding a rarity or unexpected bird. Overnight in Zahara de los Atunes.
Day 4 - We will take the ferry between Tarifa and Tangier in north Africa, crossing the waters of the Straits of Gibraltar with good chances to see dolphins; Bottlenose, Common and Stripped whales and pelagic birds. We will then drive to our new base in the littoral hills of Jebel Kebir where we will reach the best watch points. Overnight locally.
Days 5 & 6 - We visit watch points such as Punta Ceres, Jebel Mussa and Cap Spartel, looking for local birds as Black-crowned Tchagra , the African races of Blue Tit and Chaffinch also numerous migrants arriving from Europe. One day we will drive to the famous Merja Zerga wetland, declared a biological reserve in 1987. The lagoon surrounded by a wide belt of low vegetation is an important sanctuary for ducks, waders, terns , gulls and a vest number of other migrants. Here we will take a boat day trip supporting the local groups who are active promoting eco-tourism. This is also the best place to see Marsh Owl in Morocco. Also, in 1988, was the last wintering record for Slender-billed Curlew. Other interesting birds here should include Red-necked Nightjar, Little Bustard and Stone Curlew. Overnights locally.
Day 7 - Late in the day we will take the ferry back to Tarifa, again with good chances of seeing Cory's and perhaps a Little Shearwater, plus some marine mammals. Overnight in Tarifa
Day 8 - Time permitting we will visit Tarifa Harbour before we make our way back to Malaga airport for our flight back to London.