Trip Report: Andalucia (Spain), September 5-12, 1999

Neil Money, Heathfield House, Dunnet, Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, KW14 8XP; Neil.Money-CASE@BTInternet.com

Background:

A trip arranged at short notice. Travelled from Caithness to Glasgow, a journey of six hours, by car and after an overnight in Glasgow took a charter flight to Malaga. Car hired from Helle Hollis who are highly recommended. [Avda. Garcia Morato no 14-16, 29004 Malaga Tel: 95 204 85 65 Fax: 95 204 85 64 Courtesy bus to and from airport] Drove west past Tarifa to camp at the Rio Jara campsite. To speed the journey through the Costa del Sol it is worth taking the toll road. Spent four nights at Rio Jara before moving on to Ronda.

Weather:

Dry and warm throughout. On the 8th a strong east wind got up which persisted to 11th. This clearly had an adverse effect on raptor movements and made passerines hard to find in exposed positions.

Itinerary:

5th September: Malaga to Tarifa. [Damaged the hire car on arrival at the campsite!]

6th September: Tarifa to Malaga to change hire car! Sotogrande, Palmones and Playa de Los Lances.

7th September: Rio Jara Valley, Zahara de los Atunes, Barbate, Barbate Pinewoods and Playa de Los Lances.

8th September: Playa de Los Lances (south end) and Ojen Valley.

9th September: Tarifa to Ronda, Sierra de Grazalema and Ronda.

10th September: Ronda and Cueva de la Pileta - a non-ornithological must with prehistoric cave paintings.

11th September: Teba Gorge and Fuenta de Peidra. The lagoon was almost completely dry but a small pond at the back of the visitor centre held water and a number of species of wader in small numbers.

12th September: Ronda to Malaga.

Recommended Books and Maps:

Where to watch birds in Southern Spain. Ernest Garcia and Andrew Paterson Helm

Finding Birds in Southern Spain. Dave Gosney, Gostours

Where to Watch Birds in Spain Ed. Eduardo de Juana, Lynx Edicions

General guide: Andalucia: The Rough Guide

Map: Michelin No 446 España: Andalucia

Overview

Tarifa has changed. Twenty five years ago it was a small Spanish town with good restaurants, small shops and, if I remember aright, no major supermarket. Today, while still being one of my favorite Spanish towns, it is beginning to show the signs of tourism strain. The development of the area as the major windsurfing centre of Europe and general tourism is starting to have its effect. The restaurants are still there!

There are also good restaurants along the N340 west of Tarifa and in the towns of Barbate and Zahara de los Atunes, both still largely unaffected by non-domestic tourism. The sea food is great - try the locally caught tuna!

Playa de Los Lances, the long beach west of Tarifa, is always worth a visit and in autumn is a reliable place to find Audouin's Gull. Depending on weather conditions, migrating raptors pass over in large numbers.

The tidal estuary at Zahara can be good for waders but I have never seen very much at the disused salt pans at Barbate. Perhaps I have just been unlucky or unobservent!

The Rio Jara valley along the road past the Santuario off the N340 can be very productive, especialy in the evenings and early morning. By following it to its end to the T-junction with the road near Facinas and turning right one can pick up the road through the Ojen valley. The road through the valley has recently been made up and will cause no problems. A change from recent years when the state of the road a times made the completion of the traverse a bit of a lottery. A superb area for raptors.

Ronda is special - go there! Breakfast at Cafe Alba c/Espinel 44 on the best churros and chocolate in Andalucia.

Species Scientific Name Comment
CORY'S SHEARWATER Calonestris diomedea 1 Playa de Los Lances 7th
NIGHT HERON Nycticorax nyticorax 15 Rio Jara campsite 8th
CATTLE EGRET Bubulcus ibis Common Tarifa to Zahara
LITTLE EGRET Egretta garzette 4 Zahara 7th; 2 Fuente de Piedra 11th
GREY HERON Ardea cinerea 1 Sotogrande 6th
WHITE STORK Ciconia ciconia 6 Palmones 6th Rio Jara Valley 7th;
GREATER FLAMINGO Pheonicopterus ruber 150 Fuente de Piedra 11th
MALLARD Anas platyrhnchos 2 Sotogrande 6th
EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD Pernis apivorus 11 Ojen Valley 8th; 1 Rio Jara campsite 9th
BLACK KITE Milvus migrans 1 Rio Jara Valley 7th; 16 south end Playa de Los Lances 8th; 10 Rio Jara campsite 9th;
GRIFFON VULTURE Gyps fulvus 3 Rio Jara Valley 7th; ca100 near Zahara 7th; 14 Ojen Valley 8th
SHORT-TOED EAGLE Circattetus gallicus 1 Rio Jara Valley 7th; 4 Ojen Valley 8th
MONTAGUíS HARRIER Circus pygargus 1 dark phase south end Playa de Los Lances 8th; 1 Ojen Valley 8th
COMMON BUZZARD Buteo buteo 1 Rio Jara Valley 7th; 1 Ojen Valley 8th
BOOTED EAGLE Hieraaetus pennatus 1 Rio Jara Valley 7th; 3 Ojen Valley 8th
COMMON KESTREL Falco tinnunculus 5 near Tarifa 6th; 1 Rio Jara Valley 7th; 1 Ojen Valley 8th; 1 Cueva de la Pileta 10th
PEREGRINE FALCON Falco peregrinus 1 Ronda 10th
MOORHEN Gallinula chloropus 100+ Fuente de Piedra 11th
COMMON COOT Fulica atra 20 Fuente de Piedra 11th
BLACK-WINGED STILT Himantopus himantopus 12 Zahara 7th; 20 Fuente de Piedra 11th
RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula 3 Sotogrande 6th; 10 Playa de Los Lances 6th; 10 Fuente de Piedra 11th
KENTISH PLOVER Charadrius alexandrinus 70+ Playa de Los Lances 6th; 1 Fuente de Piedra 11th
GREY PLOVER Pluvialis squatarola 2 Playa de Los Lances 6th
LAPWING Vanellus vanellus 3 Fuente de Piedra 11th
KNOT Calidris canutus 4 Playa de Los Lances 6th with 2 on 7th
SANDERLING Calidris alba 100+ Playa de Los Lances 6th; 1 Fuente de Piedra 11th
LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta 1 Sotogrande 6th; 3 Fuente de Piedra 11th
CURLEW SANDPIPER Calidris ferruginea 10 Zahara 7th; 3 Fuente de Piedra 11th
DUNLIN Calidris alpina 10 Playa de Los Lances 6th
RUFF Philomachus pugnax 3 Fuente de Piedra 11th
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT Limosa limosa 1 Sotogrande 6th
BAR-TAILED GODWIT Limosa lapponica 12 Playa de Los Lances 6th; 6 south end Playa de Los Lances 8th
REDSHANK Tringa totanus 1 Playa de Los Lances 6th; 1 south end Playa de Los Lances 8th
GREENSHANK Tringa nebularia 1 Playa de Los Lances 6th
GREEN SANDPIPER Tringa ochropus 1 Fuente de Piedra 11th
WOOD SANDPIPER Tringa glareola 1 Fuente de Piedra 11th
COMMON SANDPIPER Actitus hypoleucos 2 Playa de Los Lances 6th; 1 Teba Gorge 11th
TURNSTONE Arenaria interpres 1 Sotogrande 6th
BLACK-HEADED GULL Larus ridibundus 10 Sotogrande 6th; 8 Playa de Los Lances 6th; 40 Zahara 7th
AUDOUIN'S GULL Larus audouinii 30 Playa de Los Lances 6th with 6 on 7th
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus fuscus 40 Playa de Los Lances 6th
YELLOW-LEGGED GULL Larus michaehllis Very common in coastal localities
SANDWICH TERN Sterna sandvicensis 50 Playa de Los Lances 6th with 97 on 7th; 20 south end Playa de Los Lances 8th
COMMON TERN Sterna hirundo 1 Playa de Los Lances 6th
BLACK TERN Chlidonias niger 2 south end Playa de Los Lances 8th
WOOD PIGEON Columba palumbas 1 Ojen Valley 8th
COLLARED DOVE Streptopelia decaocto 5 Rio Jara campsite
COMMON CUCKOO Cuculus canorus 1 south end Playa de Los Lances 8th
COMMON SWIFT Apus apus 1 Rio Jara 6th; 2 Puerto del Boyer 9th
PALLID SWIFT Apus pallidus 2 Sotogrande 6th
ALPINE SWIFT Tachymarptis melba 2 Zahara 7th; 1 Ojen Valley 8th; 3 Ronda 9th; 2 Puerto del Boyer 9th; 1 Ronda 10th
EUROPEAN BEE-EATER Merops apiaster Steady movement over Rio Jara and Barbate Pinewoods with flocks of 20/40; 15 Ojen Valley 8th
HOOPOE Upupa epops 1 Barbate Pinewoods 7th; 3 south end Playa de Los Lances 8th
CRESTED LARK Galerida cristata Common and widespread
SKYLARK Alauda arvensis 1 Rio Jara Valley 7th
SAND MARTIN Riparia riparia 2 Rio Jara 6th
CRAG MARTIN Ptyonoprogne rupestris 1 Ojen Valley 8th; 1 Ronda 10th; 5 Teba Gorge 11th
BARN SWALLOW Hirundo rustica Steady passage in coastal localities
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW Hirundo daurica 1 Zahara 7th; 1 Ojen Valley 8th
HOUSE MARTIN Delichon urbica 3 near Grazalema 9th
TAWNY PIPIT Anthus campestris 1 Rio Jara Valley 7th
YELLOW WAGTAIL Motacilla flava 10 south end Playa de Los Lances 8th
GREY WAGTAIL Motacilla cinerea 2 Teba Gorge 11th
WREN Troglodytes troglodytes 1 Barbate Pinewoods 7th; 1 Teba Gorge 11th
ROBIN Erithacus rubecula 1 Ojen Valley 8th
REDSTART Phoenicurus phoenicurus 5 Barbate Pinewoods 7th
COMMON STONECHAT Saxicola torquata Common
NORTHERN WHEATEAR Oenanthe oenanthe 1 Rio Jara Valley 7th; 3 Fuente de Piedra 11th
BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR Oenanthe hispanica 1 south end Playa de Los Lances 8th
BLACK WHEATEAR Oenanthe leucura 1 Grazalema 9th; 2 Cueva de la Pileta 10th 3 Teba Gorge 11th;
BLUE ROCK THRUSH Monitcola solitarius 1 Ronda 10th; 2 Teba Gorge 11th
BLACKBIRD Turdus merula 1 Sotogrande 6th; 2 Rio Jara Valley 7th; 3 Barbate Pinewoods 7th; 1 Ojen Valley 8th
CETTIíS WARBLER Cettia cetti 1 Sotogrande 6th; 1 Teba Gorge 11th
FAN-TAILED WARBLER Cisticola juncidis 3 Sotogrande 6th
SARDINIAN WARBLER Sylvia melanocephala 2 Rio Jara Valley 7th; common Barbate Pinewoods 7th; 1 Ojen Valley 8th; 2 Teba Gorge 11th
COMMON WHITETHROAT Sylvia communis 1 Barbate Pinewoods 7th
GARDEN WARBLER Sylvia borin 1 Barbate Pinewoods 7th
CHIFFCHAFF Phylloscopus collybita 2 Rio Jara Valley 7th; 3 Barbate Pinewoods 7th
WILLOW WARBLER Phylloscopus trochilus 1 Rio Jara Valley 7th
FIRECREST Regulus ignicapillus 1 Ojen Valley 8th
SPOTTED FLYCATCHER Muscicapa striata 2 Rio Jara Valley 7th; 10 Barbate Pinewoods 7th; 2 Ojen Valley 8th
PIED FLYCATCHER Ficedula hypoleuca 1 Rio Jara Valley 7th; 5 Barbate Pinewoods 7th
LONG-TAILED TIT Aegithalos caudatus 3 Ojen Valley 8th
COAL TIT Parus ater 1 Barbate Pinewoods 7th
BLUE TIT Parus caeruleus 4 Barbate Pinewoods 7th; 2 Ojen Valley 8th; 1 Teba Gorge 11th
GREAT TIT Parus major 20 Barbate Pinewoods 7th; 1 Teba Gorge 11th
SHORT-TOED TREECREEPER Erthia brachydactyla 1 Barbate Pinewoods 7th
SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE Lanius meridionalis 1 Fuente de Piedra 11th
WOODCHAT SHRIKE Lanius senator 2 Rio Jara Valley 7th
RED-BILLED CHOUGH Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax 100 near Ronda 9th; 200+ Ronda 9th; 2 Puerto del Boyer 9th
EURASIAN JACKDAW Corvus monedula 200+ Teba Gorge 11th
COMMON RAVEN Corvus corax 2 Fuente de Piedra 11th
SPOTLESS STARLING Sturnus unicolor Common
HOUSE SPARROW Passer domesticus Common and widespread
TREE SPARROW Passer montanus 2 Grazalema 9th
ROCK SPARROW Petronia petronia 6 Ronda 9th; 2 Ronda 10th; 20 Teba Gorge 11th
COMMOM CHAFFINCH Fringilla coelebs Common in suitable habitats
EUROPEAN SERIN Serinus serinus 3 Grazalema 9th
GOLDFINCH Carduelis carduelis Common and widespread
LINNET Carduelis cannabina 2 Teba Gorge 11th
CIRL BUNTING Emberiza cirlis 5 Rio Jara Valley 7th; 1 Ojen Valley 8th
ROCK BUNTING Emberiza cia 4 Teba Gorge 11th
REED BUNTING Emberiza schoeniclus 1 Sotogrande 6th
CORN BUNTING Miliaria calandra Common and widspread

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This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser; ugeiser@xnet.com; November 24, 1999