Fly-away Birding Breaks in association with Huerta Grande Rural Eco-lodge
As Spain transitions to a New Normal, we have teamed up with superb rural eco-lodge Huerta Grande to bring you this short, affordable birding get-away in The Straits of Gibraltar. What better place to fly away for a three-day break and enjoy your new-found freedom in the wide-open spaces of the natural world?
The Strait area is an ideal destination for summer birding, and not just for the cooling sea breezes and plentiful ice-cream! It is also home to interesting and unusual resident and breeding birds, some of which occur nowhere else in Spain. Rüppell’s Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Common Bulbul, Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin and White-rumped Swift are not only stunning to see but high on many birding wishlists.
A great variety of coastal, mountain and wetland areas put us in contact with some of the area’s most engaging species. Gorgeous Greater Flamingoes, characterful Northern Bald Ibis, awesome Griffon Vultures and rainbow-coloured European Bee-eaters make this an ideal area to kick-start your wildlife-watching habit and make birding your New Normal! We can even loan you a pair of high-quality binoculars if this is your first foray into the bird-watching world.
With its ever-changing weather and winds, and fascinating birds cropping up in all sorts of unexpected places outside of any formal nature reserve network, this can be a tricky place for independent birders. It also holds many hidden avian treasures and permit-only areas, best explored with a knowledgeable local guide.
Over an introductory afternoon and two full days of birding, we’ll use our local knowledge of weather conditions, up-to-the-minute wildlife information – and of course your personal pace requirements and wishlist! – to bring you the very best of the area’s summer birding. The itinerary will vary accordingly, but whatever your preferred birding level, with the Inglorious Bustards you can expect passion, knowledge, patience, laughs, outstanding birding and wildlife spectacles, and legendary picnics!
Dates are available from now* until 31 August 2020
€190 per person for three days (minimum booking 2 people)
€60 single supplement
Price includes 2 nights B&B (hearty rustic breakfast features tostada with local wood-oven baked sourdough bread, tomatoes, olive oil and local cheese, coffee, tea etc); guiding; transport in our comfortable air-conditioned vehicle; Natural Park access; our legendary picnic lunch in the field featuring local, sustainably-produced food; loan of binoculars on request; guaranteed compliance with current coronavirus lockdown de-escalation procedures.
Optional extra (not included in the price) – Add an extra day and night and come with us to the Bay of Cadiz! €95 per person (conditions as above).
Optional extra (not included in the price) – Evening meal at Huerta Grande, featuring local organic produce. €18 per person per meal.
Optional extra (not included in the price) – Extra night(s) B&B accommodation at the end of the trip €45 per person per night (based on two sharing a room).
Day 1 – Meet at Huerta Grande Rural Eco-lodge from 4pm. Late afternoon birding. Overnight Huerta Grande
Day 2 – Full day birding, ends 6.30 pm. Overnight Huerta Grande
Day 3 – Full day birding. Trip ends 6.30pm.
Day 4 – Optional extra day. Trip ends 6.30pm.
On Day 1, we will be available to meet you at Huerta Grande Rural Eco-lodge from 4pm.
After you’ve had chance to settle in and enjoy a welcome drink, we’ll explore the accommodation’s wildlife-rich grounds, in the hills above The Straits of Gibraltar.
Your lodgings are set in seven acres of woodland on the boundary of Los Alcornocales Natural Park, the biggest Cork Oak forest in Europe. It is unique in the way that it gathers moisture coming in off the oceans to create a warm Mediterranean cloud forest. The birding is superb, with cracking local avian specialities including Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Hawfinch and Short-toed Treecreeper.
Over the next two full days of birding, we´ll use our local knowledge of wind and weather conditions, up-to-the-minute gen – and of course your personal wishlist! – to bring you the very best of the area’s summer birding. The itinerary will vary accordingly, but you can be sure of outstanding birding and regular ice-cream breaks!
Highlights in the area include:
Picking up good migrations! – perhaps surprisingly to some, in summer and early autumn the southwards passage for many migratory birds has already begun, and in the right weather conditions we may well start to see White Storks, Honey Buzzards and other soaring birds drifting overhead on their way back to Africa. Whatever the wind direction, if it’s happening we’ll find it and put ourselves in the best position to enjoy it!
Marismas de Barbate – this nature reserve created on the site of disused salt pans offers a fantastic selection of waders which changes every day, but we will especially hope for encounters with Kentish and Common Ringed Plovers, Eurasian Stone-curlews, Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stint and Collared Pratincole, which have a breeding colony at the site. We will also look out for eye-catchers like Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo and Western Osprey. On surrounding pasture land, we can hope to see Woodchat Shrike, Tawny Pipit, Greater Short-toed Lark, Yellow Wagtails and Corn Buntings. Nearby seabirds can include Sandwich and Caspian Terns, and the once extremely rare Audouin’s Gull.
Urban birding in the picturesque Old Town of Tarifa – where we can encounter Common Bulbuls, urban Little Owls and breeding Lesser Kestrels.
The characterful Northern Bald Ibis – the local population of this Endangered bird now numbers around 80, and we should be able to see these engaging and quirky creatures at their nesting colony or grazing on surrounding farmland.
Farmland and wetlands of La Janda – Amongst many hundreds of White Stork and Glossy Ibis, here we can see a great selection of waterbirds, reed-dwellers and raptors, such as Purple Swamphen, Great Reed Warbler, Montagu’s and Marsh Harrier and Black-winged Kite. There’s also a good chance of Spanish Imperial Eagle and Bonelli’s Eagle, whilst the farmland areas should yield Spanish Sparrow, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Tawny Pipit, Yellow Wagtails and Corn Bunting.
White-rumped Swift – chance to visit a tiny breeding colony of this typically African species. A small number have occupied a collection of old Red-rumped Swallow nests, making this area one of only a handful of European sites for this fabulous little bird. As well as viewing the nesting site (always with care, respect and completely avoiding disturbance for the birds) we may hope to enjoy them feeding nearby over open water, mixed in with many Common and Pallid Swifts, several species of Swallow and Martin, and hopefully also enjoy views of locally-breeding Western Osprey.
Vultures of Bolonia – we visit the high rocky cliffs above the seaside town of Bolonia, where we have access to a permit-only site, home to the area’s largest colony of Griffon Vultures. Here, we’ll enjoy these magnificent birds soaring low over our heads and screeching and squabbling for space on the rock ledges. Amongst them we should also see breeding Egyptian Vulture. Rüppell’s Griffon Vulture, once a scarce vagrant to these parts, is now a regular here. Speciality mountain birds include Bonelli’s Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin, Rock Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear.
And many more!
Add an extra day and visit the Bay of Cadiz and Doñana National Park (east of the Guadalquivir River).
From our base in the Straits we set out to explore Cadiz Bay and the eastern side of the Guadalquivir River – many areas of which form part of Doñana National Park. The salt pans, creeks and lagoons of these very special places are home to some exceptional species.
Breeding Collared Pratincoles, Little Terns, Black-winged Stilts, Pied Avocets and Kentish Plover are to be encountered, amongst glowing pink masses of Greater Flamingoes and numerous fishing Western Ospreys. On nearby lagoons we hope to encounter Red-knobbed Coot, Marbled Duck and White-headed Duck at close range, whilst also observing busy nesting colonies of Black-crowned Night Heron, Glossy Ibis and Eurasian Spoonbill.
There are many coastal birds such as Sandwich, Gull-billed and Caspian Terns, Slender-billed Gull and the dapper Audouin’s Gull. These areas are a draw for both north- and south-bound wading birds, and we should encounter swirling mixed flocks, with a composition that changes every day, but which can include Dunlin, Sanderling, Red Knot, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Common and Spotted Redshank and even vagrants such as Red-necked Phalarope.
We’ll also take you to see some of Spain’s only Little Swifts, and to some great sites for Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin.
*Please note – coronavirus precautions
Participation in this trip is naturally subject to easing of travel restrictions and progress through government-defined lockdown de-escalation phases – transition to the “New Normal” – during the coronavirus public health crisis. The trip is therefore currently open to all residents of Cádiz Province. Once Cadiz Province has surpassed de-escalation Phase 3 (currently predicted late June), the trip is open to residents of any other province that has surpassed Phase 3. It is your responsibility to ensure you can legally participate in the trip.
Of course, it should go without saying that, as per our original statement on our website, the health and safety of our clients and avoiding the continued spread of this disease in wider society are our top priorities. We have been working hard to keep abreast of all current rules and procedures and will continue to do so, for the good of everybody. Though many of these common-sense procedures were already part of our trips, ensuring hygiene, safety and comfort for our guests, we want to reassure you that when you come birding with us, you can rely on the following:
– Our vehicle is thoroughly cleaned between every outing
– We ourselves are also thoroughly scrubbed between outings!
– Group size is limited. We are currently limiting group size to a maximum of four people (far smaller than the officially-allowed maximum of 10) to guarantee appropriate social distancing.
– Passenger numbers are limited to two per row of seats in our spacious, air-conditioned minibus.
– Any shared optical equipment such as telescopes or loaned binoculars will be sanitised at regular intervals throughout the trip and between trips.
– Your day will be spent outside and away from crowded places (that’s the joy of nature-watching!).
– A minimum distance of 2m between non-cohabiting participants will be maintained while in the field.
– Hand-sanitiser and disposable gloves are provided. We have sourced bio-compostable gloves as part of our continued resolve and commitment to eliminate non-bio-degrable waste from our trips.
– Face masks will be used throughout the day, in situations where appropriate social distancing cannot be maintained. We ask our guests to bring their own reusable facemasks to avoid unnecessary use of disposable items.
– Any accommodation used or hostelry establishments visited are known and trusted, and verified to also be totally compliant with lockdown-easing procedures.
– Our legendary picnic lunch will be provided as usual – hygienically prepared, served on disinfected reusable crockery to avoid plastic waste and stuffed full of locally sourced, sustainably-produced and delicious ingredients!
We are totally confident in our procedures and really looking forward to welcoming you to The Straits of Gibraltar.