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Depart Manchester / Gatwick. Arrive Malaga late a.m. We then make a 2-hour journey to our hotel at Tarifa where we will check into our hotel which will be our base for the whole week. There should be time for the first short outing to the nearby Jara Valley. Overnights at same hotel for the whole week.
Depending on wind conditions our destination this morning will be to the most active raptor migration viewpoint where we hope to see large numbers of Honey Buzzard. These colossal gatherings are often in the company of Black Kite, White Stork, Egyptian Vulture and Booted Eagle. This provides an unrivalled chance to see the differences in plumage between sexes, phases and ages of all the raptor species. After a relaxed lunch and a break, we will then explore the nearby rice and cotton fields of La Janda, a fabulous site for Montagu’s and Marsh Harriers plus passage waders such as Green and Wood Sandpipers. Black-crowned Night Herons can be seen in the ditches and this is one of the few sites in the area to see Black-winged Kite. Both Bonelli’s and, very occasionally, Spanish Imperial Eagle hunt the area while, on the drier fields, flocks of Spanish Sparrows and Calandra Larks gather.
This morning we will make our way down to the vast beach at Los Playa de la Lances where tidal inlets are frequented by a variety of waders. Amongst the gulls roosting we will be looking out for Audouin’s, and the pine woods are always worth a search for migrant warblers. The scrubland around the beach can be good for Greater Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit and even Little Bustard. Before lunch we will have another opportunity for raptor watching at an appropriate watchpoint. To finish the day a late afternoon stroll in the Jara Valley is usually productive for hunting raptors such as Montagu’s Harrier, Short-toed Eagle and Lesser Kestrel plus Woodchat Shrike, Bee-eater, Crested Tit, Corn Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Short-toed Treecreeper and Bonelli’s Warbler. Further into the Ojen Valley, The Embalse de Amaldovar can turn up some unusual species.
Today we will visit the coastal site of Barbate where at low tide a small estuary is frequented by a variety of waders including Kentish and Little Ringed Plover and Black-winged Stilt. Whilst in the area we will also visit the Marismas del Barbate, a nearby wetland which has been recognised as an important conservation area and a trail enables good access. Later in the afternoon we will head back to explore another very productive area within the Jara Valley where we will be looking out for all the usual raptor species, not forgetting the possibility of Ruppell’s Vulture.
Again, wind direction will determine today’s destination which will aim to be where the raptors are moving. In stiff westerlies some truly spectacular sightings can be enjoyed with eye- level Short-toed and Booted Eagles. Later in the morning we will pay a brief visit to Tarifa for anyone who wants postcards and stamps. After lunch the afternoon will give us a chance to explore the nearby Sierra de la Plata where there are large numbers of Griffon Vultures. The whole area is excellent for raptors and one of the better sites to see Bonelli’s Eagle. The rocky slopes are also ideal for Blue Rock Thrush and Black-eared Wheatear and, if we are really lucky, we might see White-rumped Swift. Sea watching at the nearby village of Bolonia can also be very rewarding, depending on the wind conditions and if there is an onshore breeze, we might expect Gannets and shearwaters as well as increasing tern activity.
Today we will head west to spend the first part of the morning walking the small river near Getares. Passerines are usually abundant in the trees and bushes bordering the river, including a range of warblers such as Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Cetti’s, Sedge, Reed, Garden and occasionally Isabelline. We will then head for the hills behind Getares which can be perfect for enjoying some of the best raptor migration. In the afternoon, we will explore a shady path through cork oak woods near Santuario which can be excellent for flycatchers, warblers, Short-toed Treecreeper, Bee-eaters Hoopoes and occasionally Hawfinch.
Our final full day we visit the tranquil little estuary at Palmones, on the east side of Gibraltar Bay, which is a good site for Kingfisher, a wide variety of passage waders and less common gulls such as Mediterranean and Slender-billed. This is also one of the best spots in the area for Osprey. On our way back to Tarifa we will stop off at one of the migration viewpoints and later in the day, depending on the wind conditions and sightings we will re-visit the hills to the west including Sierra de la Plata.
After an early breakfast we travel back to Malaga for our flights home to Manchester and Gatwick.
Absolutely outstanding. This was the best holiday we have ever had.- SF, Mexico