Birding two continents

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Moroccan Marsh Owl © Inglorious Bustards

Availability now:

8 days – 20th April – 27th April 2018 – NOW FULL

8 Days 5th October – 12th October 2018 – spaces available 

£1,100 for 8 days –  price includes all accommodation, meals, guiding, transportation, ferries, taxes and entrances but excludes flights.

Single supplement: £180

Deposit: £220 (payable upon booking).

We recognise this is a popular tour therefore additional dates are available upon request for private groups and individuals during Spring (March, April, May and June) Autumn (August, September and October). Contact us for more information.

Legend has it that Hercules used his incredible strength to separate the continents of Europe and Africa, creating the Straits of Gibraltar. The Inglorious Bustards are all set to use our outstanding local knowledge and expertise to bring them back together for you! This is our feature specialist tour, and our experience of the area and local contacts mean we can take you where other guides fear to tread

The point at which Africa and Europe meet is also the epicentre for one of the world’s most spectacular bird migrations.  Every year, millions of birds make the 14 km journey across the Straits of Gibraltar, making use of uplifts and thermals rising off the Rock of Gibraltar and the stunning Moroccan peak of Jebel Musa. An estimated 250,000 raptors pass over this rugged terrain during these periods, as well as untold thousands of other journeying passerines and seabirds.

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Moroccan Marsh Owl © Inglorious Bustards

On this trip we will experience the very best of two continents from cracking locations in both Spain and Morocco.  As well as being at the heart of the thrilling migration spectacle, we will look for Marsh Owls, Northern Bald Ibis and Barbary Macaques as well as the seabirds and cetaceans of the Straits on a boat excursion and Moroccan specialities in both mountain and wetland sites.

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Long-finned Pilot Whales © Inglorious Bustards

There’ll be plenty of time to really enjoy the cultural differences too – one day you’ll be sharing tapas by the sea, the next you’ll be sipping mint tea on a rooftop!

This tour can offer be offered at anytime of the year but both Spring and Autumn offer the very best opportunities to see the migration and specialist species from both sides of the veil!

Download this years trip report here

Contact us for more information, availability and to book your place.

We recognise this is a popular tour therefore additional dates are available upon request for private groups and individuals during Spring (March, April, May and June) Autumn (August, September and October). Contact us for more information.

About The Straits of Gibraltar

The 14 km wide stretch of ocean that separates Europe and Africa has served as both a barrier and bridge between cultures throughout history.  With the land on both sides changing hands repeatedly between Spanish and North African hands, the influences of both cultures can be felt strongly on each side, resulting in the culture, food and outlook being a unique mix of the two continents.

What both sides have in common is a relaxed attitude to life, and a pride in extending a warm welcome to visitors, ensuring that your stay around the Straits will be a hugely enjoyable and amicable – not to mention fascinating – experience.

The currency in Spain is the Euro, while in Morocco it is the Dirham.

Tour overview

Every year, millions of birds make the journey between Europe and Africa across the Straits of Gibraltar, making use of uplifts and thermals which swirl around the Rock of Gibraltar and the majestic Moroccan peak of Jebel Musa. An estimated 250,000 raptors pass over this rugged terrain during these periods.  This eight-day holiday to Spain and Morocco is specifically timed to best experience the spectacle of migration, with thousands of Honey Buzzards, Black Kites, Booted and Short-toed Eagles and White Storks making the crossing daily.

Africa is always visible across the Strait and we include a three night stay in Northern Morocco, giving a different birding experience as well as a cultural element to this tour. We should have great views of the beautiful Moroccan Marsh Owl, and other specialities such as the stunning Moussier’s Redstart and Levaillant’s Woodpecker too.

The Straits may be just 14 kilometres wide, but for wildlife, and humans, it is a significant barrier.  We will enjoy these differences, both avian and cultural, throughout the tour. After crossing to Africa, tapas and Rioja give way to the aromas of spicy street food and mint tea, and familiar European birds become ‘African Blue Tit’ and ‘Magreb Magpie’.

As well a boat trip into the Strait with some great marine life including whales and dolphins and of course a number of seabirds, this tour will also include a fascinating insight into the urban birds of Spain and Morocco.

Expected Birds 

A massive migration event is in progress at this time of year, and we hope to see tens of thousands of raptors including Honey Buzzards, Black Kites, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, alongside huge flocks of White and Black Storks and European Bee-eaters.  Resident Spanish specialities include Firecrest, Short-toed Treecreeper, Crested Tit, Griffon Vulture and Northern Bald Ibis.  On the Moroccan side we will look for Moussier’s Redstart, Little Swift and Moroccan Marsh Owl. Visits to wetlands should yield Red-nobbed Coot, Brown-throated Martin and Moustached Warbler as well as a host of waders including Kentish Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling and Little Stint. The inter-tidal lagoons may yield good Gulls and Terns with Audouin’s and Slender-billed Gulls largely certain and Caspian, Little, Sandwich and Whiskered Terns in abundance perhaps joined by a Lesser-crested and/or Royal Tern!

Our boat trip should give us views of Cory’s and Scopoli’s Shearwaters as well as Long-finned Pilot Whales, Common and Striped Dolphins, scarcer possibilities may include Sperm Whale, Fin Whale and even Orca!

Itinerary

Day 1

We begin with a flight to Gibraltar, from where we transfer to our delightful eco-resort in tranquil woodland near Tarifa, the centre of birding in the Straits. Our base at Huerta Grande is ideal for watching the migration as it is located between two natural parks in the hills above the Straits of Gibraltar, amongst lush Cork Oak forest. We should witness many hundreds of migratory birds making the crossing to their wintering / breeding grounds in Africa / Europe, including Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Honey Buzzards, Black Kites and both Black and White Storks.

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Short-toed Eagle © Inglorious Bustards

Day 2

We will take a boat excursion, weather permitting, into the Straits to witness the seabird passage and cetaceans. We will be on the lookout for Cory’s and Balearic Shearwaters and European Storm-petrel among other species, plus the three species of resident dolphin (Common, Bottlenose and Striped) and the resident pods of Long-finned Pilot Whale. Following our boat trip we will engage in some urban birding around the old town of Tarifa where we can encounter Common Bulbul and Lesser Kestrels. Simply by looking up we will encounter migrating raptors and storks crossing over this historic town.

Day 3

We next make our own crossing – to northern Morocco by ferry – before beginning our exploration of the African side of the Straits, visiting a variety of coastal and inland sites.

We will visit the estuary of Merdja Zerga, a sweeping wetland on Morocco’s Atlantic coast south of Tangiers. Merdja Zerga is famous amongst birders as the last known winter haunt of the legendary Slender-billed Curlew, a bird now sadly presumed extinct. None have been seen here since 1995, but the beautiful drawings of those who journeyed here in the early 1990s can still be seen in the cherished bird log on display in a quiet estuary-side café. Despite the demise of its Slender-billed Curlews, Merdja Zerga is still a magnificent wildlife site. Here a variety of terns stop to feed and breed, while waders probe the mud in their thousands, amongst them Greenshanks, Spotted Redshanks, Whimbrels and Avocets.  We’ll stay until dusk, for then we have a chance of seeing the extremely rare Moroccan Marsh Owl.

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Birding the Merdja Zerga Lagoon © Inglorious Bustards

Our first night will be in the historic city of Larache, where breeding Little Swift and Pallid Swift will whizz overhead and Common Bulbul and House Bunting should be encountered.

Day 4

We will visit some nearby wetlands where we’ll look for Moustached Warbler, Brown-throated Martin, Red-knobbed Coot, and Marbled Duck and White-headed Duck, before heading to our next base in the delightful blue city of Chefchaouen, where we’ll stay for two nights.  This ancient city at the edge of Talassamtane National Park gives spectacular views of the Rif Mountains and offers some of the best urban birding on the planet!

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Chefchaouen © Inglorious Bustards

En route we will spend time in the Forest of Bouhachem in the Rif Mountains where there is a small population of Barbary Macacques.  The Barbary Macaque lives mainly in mountain ranges in north-west Africa and is the only species of macaque found outside Asia.

Day 5

The Talassamtane mountain range offers brilliant and easily accessible mountain birding with several species of raptor likely to be encountered such as Atlas Long-legged Buzzards, Peregrine Falcons and Bonelli’s Eagles amongst raptors migrating through the mountain ranges. Smaller jewels to be found come in the form of the stunning Moussier’s Redstart and Black Wheatear whilst Blue Rock Thrushes are frequently encountered.  Amongst these specialists are generalists that take on new meaning such as the gorgeous African Blue Tit and African Chaffinch, giving quite a twist on familiar species.

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Moussier’s Redstart © Inglorious Bustards

Day 6 – 8

We then journey north to make our crossing back to the Spanish mainland.  There, during the last part of our holiday, we will spend our time around Tarifa and Bolonia and exploring the wetlands of La Janda, where we should see a good variety and number of passage waders, storks and birds of prey including Black-winged Kite, before visiting the successfully reintroduced population of Northern Bald Ibis.

This holiday offers the chance to see breath-taking migration and make comparisons between avifauna across the short stretch of water dividing Europe and Africa in addition to spectacular urban birding. After a week’s exciting birding it will be time to leave this avian highway bottleneck and make our own flight home, with great memories of the spectacular flow of birdlife over the Straits and some special species from both Spain and Morocco.

Price

£1,100 per person (excludes flights)

Contact us for further information and to book your place on this tour.

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Migrating White Storks  © Inglorious Bustards