Southern Spain is a great place to visit during the winter months because the climate is so mild and very similar to the pleasant English spring days of late May. You can leave the drab, dark days of the English winter behind you and enjoy clear blue skies and fabulous clear light.
Bird watching at this time is very interesting because you get to find out where some of the northern European species spend their winter and you can catch up with quite a few scarce European breeding species.
Reed-fringed coastal lagoons and estuarine salt marshes support a great number of wintering birds with some surprises in store. The Bluethroat, though very elusive, maybe encountered along the scrub line and Penduline Tits may be found feeding in nearby reed-beds. The larger lagoons host Shoveler, Teal, Pintail and Greylag Geese. Along the salt marshes and river banks we may find a whole host of waders such as, Golden and Grey Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Northern Lapwing, Common Snipe, Little Stint, Greater & Little-ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Common and Green Sandpiper. Gulls and Terns may also be present with Caspian Tern, Audouin's and Slender-billed Gull being the most-wanted and a sighting of the 'resident' Bald Ibis is a good possibility.
Around the rice fields of La Janda a large flock of up to 2000 Common Cranes usually over-winter along with dozens of White Storks and the occasional Black Stork. Cattle, Little and Great Egret join good numbers of Glossy Ibis in open ditches and flooded rice fields. The Black-winged Kite is also a resident and a varying number of Short-eared Owls may be present and there is always the possibilty of juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle or Bonelli's Eagle.
Smaller passerines may include, White Wagtail, Zitting Cisticola, Serin, Black Redstart, Common Chiffchaff, Bramblings, Siskin and Blackcaps. The lagoons and marshes are patrolled by Peregrine Falcons, Merlin, Marsh and Hen Harriers, Osprey and Common Kestrels and in recent years the rare Pallid Harrier.
Larger inland lagunas hold Greater Flamingo, Purple Swamphen, Red-knobbed Coot, White-headed Duck and occasionally Marbled Duck. Common Crane, Glossy Ibis, Great Egret and large flocks of Calandra Lark. Little Bustard and White Stork may be found in other areas not too far away from our base.
A day in the mountainous region near Ronda should add the likes of Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Rock Bunting, Rock Sparrow, Cirl Bunting, Red-billed Chough, Griffon Vulture, Bonelli's and possibly Golden Eagle. The Hoopoe sometimes over-winters along with small numbers of Barn Swallow, House Martin, and Water Pipit.
On this winter bird-watching short-break such as this you may see up to 120 different birds including some prized species.
These 5-day winter tours are based in Tarifa, Andalucia and include:- airport transfers, 4 nights accommodation plus breakfast and delicious evening meals with wine. Accommodation is good quality hotels on the coast. Your birding time will include 3 full days guided birding and two short outings on arrival and departure day - subject to flight times. These tours are competitively priced at only £550 per person based on a minimum of two people sharing a twin room, single supplement £120.
The tour has a flexible itinerary, we go where the birds are to be found. Weather, bird movements and the discretion of the guide will dictate each day's outing. We do our utmost to cater for all your needs and if you have a specific 'wanted list' we will incorporae the necessary sites into your holiday.
During January we will concentrate on the winter visitors, early breeding birds and those migrants that make the trip back across from Africa at this time. Great-spotted Cuckoo is a good example of an early arrival, but we may see anything as we explore the coastal area near Tarifa, Barbate and Sanlucar.
What is not included?