Spain – From Mountains to Wetlands tour description
As we arrive at Malaga airport and spend our first night in this historic city, a visit to the Guadalhorce Nature Reserve promises to get us off to a great start. High on our list of target birds here will be White-headed Duck. The reserve is located in the small wetland area bordering the Mediterranean, where the Guadalhorce River enters the sea. There are a number of hides which allow us to view various small lagoons in search of opportunities to photograph bird species such as Avocet, White-headed Duck and hopefully a few other waders. We will repeat our visit on our first morning, hoping to get some seabirds close to our viewing points, before proceeding to our second site the inland lake at Fuente de Piedra.
Fuente de Piedra, after average winter rainfall, provides a home for in excess of 30,000 Greater Flamingo and is now the main breeding site for this species in Europe. It is a large lagoon, but shallow with small scrapes around the western edge, where we might find waders at close quarters. Certainly we will see both Avocet and Black-winged Stilt within camera range, but we are also likely to witness spring migration for other waders, many in summer plumage, such as Curlew Sandpiper and Godwits. Gull and Tern species should be present in good numbers and duck should be present with Red-crested Pochard and Garganey both target birds. There are hides around the lagoon, but gentle walks will normally give better opportunities of getting closer to many species.
Doñana National Park, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Here in these wetlands such endangered species as the endemic Spanish Imperial Eagle and the emblematic Spanish Lynx maintain a foothold and are complimented by a wonderful variety of wading and water birds. The large breeding colonies of various heron species such as Squacco Heron and Purple Heron make this ‘a must visit area’ in spring. We will be able to visit several sites with hides and will also do gentle walks. Apart from water birds a target species is Azure-winged Magpie.
Europe and Africa are separated by only 14kms of ocean at the Strait of Gibraltar’s narrowest point and for millions of years this has served as a short and natural crossing point for thousands of birds during autumn and spring migration periods. Most impressive of the birds crossing the Straits are the many thousands of raptors, but other birds such as European Bee eater are expected to be seen in good numbers. We will visit the salt pans at Barbate, the wetland area known as La Janda and also strategic watch points for raptors.
The last area we will visit during this tour is The Serranía de Ronda and Sierra de Grazalema. This area is unique and an important area for European birds. Not only is the area rich in breeding species, some four different species of eagle nest here, but also because of its’ close proximity to the Straits of Gibraltar. It is an extremely important feeding area for migrant birds.
Here we will look for interesting mountain species as Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Choughs. It is also a good place to observe, from hides by feeding stations, the different raptors such as Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture and sometimes the Ruppell’s Vulture.
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