LOS LANCES PINE WOODS – EL TRAFICO OBSERVATORY – TARIFA WHALE AND DOLPHIN CRUISE IN THE STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR
I shouldn’t keep saying it because it’s bad for future business but, it was another very poor day for raptor migration! We saw a few birds flying over but you could hardly call it a passage, very few birds in the sky at any one time, I will have a bunch of customers demanding a full refund if things do not improve, claiming 'false pretences' under the Trade’s Description Act.
After our 7am breakfast we walked across the main road outside our hotel into a dense pine woodland, we were hoping to see some resident species as well as migrant birds. We saw very little movement at all, in fact it was hard to find a single bird. The narrow strip of pines led us to the beach where we saw Crested Lark and a few Yellow-legged Gulls. Walking back we found Zitting Costicola, Spotted Flycatcher, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Eurasian Chiffchaff, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Greenfinch and a few Collared Doves.
Our main destination for the rest of the morning was the Raptor Observations Centres at El Trafico and La Cazalla. We spent a couple of hours at the former hoping for some raptor sightings in good numbers. But alas, it wasn’t to be. We did see quite a few species but never in large numbers: Honey Buzzards, Black Kites, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Sparrowhawks, Bee-eaters and Swallows and Swifts. We did also see singles of Black Stork, Egyptian Vulture and Common Buzzard.
From the cliff tops at El Trafico we noted on the sea many Cory’s Shearwaters, a single Storm Petrel, Great Cormorant and a small flock of four Whimbrel. Other species seen: included Grey Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Hoopoe, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Crested Lark and Goldfinches.
Late morning we visited La Cazalla Observatory and during our 90 minute stay we saw very few birds! Most were very distant: Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Raven (7), Sparrowhawk, the usual Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Common Kestrel and not much else. Over the morning we also noted Monarch Butterfly and Meadow Brown.
After picking up lunch in a supermarket in Tarifa we parked the bus and walked into the ‘old town’ area where we had a nice cuppa before walking down to the port to catch our Whale and Dolphin Watchoing Cruise.
The cruise was most definitely the best part of the day! We had two hours out in the Strait where we saw many birds and afew cetaceans. Cory’s Shearwaters drifted close to the boat whilst Storm Petrels remained at a fair distance. We also saw an Arctic Skua, found by Guy, several groups of Black Terns, some Common Terns and a single Sandwich Tern.
Bottle-nose Dolphin - taken by Chris Perry
We eventually found a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins, a single Common Dolphin, a couple of Sunfish and a Flying Fish. On the way back to the port we added more Cory’s Shearwaters with small rafts of them seen near the boat and individuals glided past us very close to the boat.
Cory's Shearwater - taken by Chris Perry
The cruise ended at 17:45 and we were home by 18:30. A bunch of Serins were seen once again in the field adjacent to the hotel to finish off our sightings for the day.