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Birding in and around Tarifa, Cadiz, Spain (1 Viewer)

Mike Ball

Member
United Kingdom
Hello everybody

Can anybody recommend good birding sites for September within walking distance of Tarifa? Ideally I'd like details of which species can be seen at a specific location. It is important that the locations be within an hours walk of Tarifa itself.

Thanks in advance!
 

Jon Turner

Well-known member
Walk North up the beach: there's a birding blind overlooking some water at the top of the beach. Possible to see lots of Waders and Gulls (including Audouin's) Occasional Flamingo. Birds migrating South. Larks and Egrets in the fields. Go early, as the brain-dead kite surfers just love to use this area despite many signs not to.
Up the hill a short way from Tarifa is the Cazalla bird observatory. On a good day hundreds of birds of prey are moving South.
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
A short distance NW of the town, on the main N340 road opposite the Los Lances beach hide that Jon mentions is a petrol station. A little further on a road runs from the N340 through two while pillars - it's about a mile from the Tarifa turn-off. A signpost inticates that Santuario de Nostra Señora de la Luz is 4 km away. A few hundred yards along that road is a collection of rubbish bins on the right. Taking the track past the bins the fields on either side are good for larks, tawny pipits, migrating black-eared wheatears, little owl, kestrels (common & lesser) hunting Montagu's harriers & short toed eagles. The slopes often hold hundreds of black kites biding their time until the wind drops enough for them to attempt a crossing. As an alternative to getting there along the busy main road, another track runs from near the Tarifa town turn-off, sub-parallel to the road, about a field to the north, intersecting the Santuario Road next to a square copse of trees between the N340 and the rubbish bins. This track can also be productive.

On the east side of the old town, from a point on the shore east of the port another track runs along the coast, leading initially, after a 1km walk to the newly built bird observatory at Punta Comorro. The track then continues on right along the Strait, via another observatory at Guadalmesi, about 8km from Tarifa town walls.
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
Don't forget to look around the public car park next to the east wall of the old town and the surrounding area for what may well be Europe's only resident common bulbul.

In 2013 a pair was discovered just east of the town and they successfully bred along the track east from the car park. The numbers grew for a short while. There were two nests a year or two later, but a combination of maybe predation and a too-small gene pool has meant that numbers declined and they were down to a single individual earlier this year. It can be sometimes seen in flight around the tall buildings, but it also sings from the trees, which is the best give-away.
 

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Mike Ball

Member
United Kingdom
Wow, thanks to everyone for the very detailed responses! I will be sure to visit those locations. Barred Wobbler, how doable are Bee-eaters in the area you describe mid September? I'm guessing a bit hit and miss since its migration time.
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
Mid September is getting on a bit, but there should still be a few passing through. Some of the local breeders are already moving out I'm told.

I normally get there in the last week of August and stay until the middle of September and the first part of the trip is characterised by flocks of them passing through in their hundreds, tailing off as time rolls into September. You'll see them either hawking from roadside wires, or if on passage, passing by and making a hell of a noise as they go.
 

MJB

Well-known member
On the east side of the old town, from a point on the shore east of the port another track runs along the coast, leading initially, after a 1km walk to the newly built bird observatory at Punta Comorro. The track then continues on right along the Strait, via another observatory at Guadalmesi, about 8km from Tarifa town walls.
It's Punta Camorro - your spelling takes us to California!

The observatory is named Observatorio del Estrecho on Google Maps. The other observatory is named Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesí.

I note that significant areas on Google Maps are blurred out; around Observatorio del Estrecho and between Punta de Oliveros and El Camello, about 1.3 km before Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesí. This may be for military reasons - monitoring illegal migration and drug-runners across the Strait.
MJB
 

Mike Ball

Member
United Kingdom
Mid September is getting on a bit, but there should still be a few passing through. Some of the local breeders are already moving out I'm told.

I normally get there in the last week of August and stay until the middle of September and the first part of the trip is characterised by flocks of them passing through in their hundreds, tailing off as time rolls into September. You'll see them either hawking from roadside wires, or if on passage, passing by and making a hell of a noise as they go.
Thanks.
 

Mike Ball

Member
United Kingdom
It's Punta Camorro - your spelling takes us to California!

The observatory is named Observatorio del Estrecho on Google Maps. The other observatory is named Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesí.

I note that significant areas on Google Maps are blurred out; around Observatorio del Estrecho and between Punta de Oliveros and El Camello, about 1.3 km before Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesí. This may be for military reasons - monitoring illegal migration and drug-runners across the Strait.
MJB
As long as the area is open to the public! Is there a map detailing public rights of way?
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
It's Punta Camorro - your spelling takes us to California!

The observatory is named Observatorio del Estrecho on Google Maps. The other observatory is named Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesí.

I note that significant areas on Google Maps are blurred out; around Observatorio del Estrecho and between Punta de Oliveros and El Camello, about 1.3 km before Observatorio de Aves Guadalmesí. This may be for military reasons - monitoring illegal migration and drug-runners across the Strait.
MJB
Ooops. :)

Those areas that are blurred out on Google Earth are Military Zones, although many of them are now defunct and abandoned and public transit is permitted. The track to Guadalmesi for instance from around km90 on the N340 close to the radio mast on the seaward side runs through one such area, but it's permitted to pass and cars are constantly using it to get down to the shore.
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
I almost included that in my reply above. September seems to be a goodish time for lesser crested tern, but they are very uncommon - think hens' teeth. After years of calling in there every autumn in the hope of picking one up I finally caught up with one in 2017. In May!

Having said that I was on my way there in the last week of September in 2004, but the weather looked very cloudy over the Strait from where I was near Marbella, so I diverted northwards to the Ronda area as an alternative, thinking that the trip to the Strait might be better made the following day.

At first it looked like I'd made a good decision. I got a lifer in the mountains south of Ronda - a late White-rumped Swift.

My elation was somewhat diminished when I found out that if I'd pressed ahead with Plan A I'd have had a good chance of 2 lifers. Not only was a lesser crested tern at Los Lances, but it was accompanied by a Royal Tern!

This was my May 2017 bird.
 

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Jon Turner

Well-known member
Don't forget to look around the public car park next to the east wall of the old town and the surrounding area for what may well be Europe's only resident common bulbul.

In 2013 a pair was discovered just east of the town and they successfully bred along the track east from the car park. The numbers grew for a short while. There were two nests a year or two later, but a combination of maybe predation and a too-small gene pool has meant that numbers declined and they were down to a single individual earlier this year. It can be sometimes seen in flight around the tall buildings, but it also sings from the trees, which is the best give-away.
I went several times over the years to see these, but failed every time! There were also a pair of House Finches in the town centre square a few years back, but I haven't heard any recent reports.
Oh and I've also never seen Lesser Crested Tern on the beach either!
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
While I was there a couple of years ago (my last vist to Tarifa pre-Covid) I got a text from a well-known local birder and guide to tell me about a new arrival in the old town. I was just about to start making our dinner, but that was immediately put on hold and less than half an hour later I was with him in Tarifa photographing a house bunting at close range! I went back a couple of days later for seconds and over the period following it had an entourage of birders from all over.

Then it was eaten by a local kestrel.
 

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Mike Ball

Member
United Kingdom
I almost included that in my reply above. September seems to be a goodish time for lesser crested tern, but they are very uncommon - think hens' teeth. After years of calling in there every autumn in the hope of picking one up I finally caught up with one in 2017. In May!

Having said that I was on my way there in the last week of September in 2004, but the weather looked very cloudy over the Strait from where I was near Marbella, so I diverted northwards to the Ronda area as an alternative, thinking that the trip to the Strait might be better made the following day.

At first it looked like I'd made a good decision. I got a lifer in the mountains south of Ronda - a late White-rumped Swift.

My elation was somewhat diminished when I found out that if I'd pressed ahead with Plan A I'd have had a good chance of 2 lifers. Not only was a lesser crested tern at Los Lances, but it was accompanied by a Royal Tern!

This was my May 2017 bird.
Yikes!
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
I assume Black-eared Wheatear and Hoopoe are pretty easy to find there?
Black-eared wheatear is pretty sporadic on migration. You might come across one on the track off the Santuario Road, but don't be too expectant. Hoopoe is pretty easy. The car park area for Los Lances hide is pretty reliable, but they can be almost anywhere with the right habitat.
 

Barred Wobbler

Well-known member
I see on ebird that 2 Lesser-crested Tern were seen on 27 Sept 2020, and also on 28 Oct
That's about the level of expectation. They are reported every year, but often only single birds and only once or twice, before they vanish again. Very hit and miss. Right place, right time.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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