Bird Party in The Gambia – Tendaba Triumphs

Our journey upriver to Tendaba brought some of the best birdwatching our well-travelled team had experienced! 

Egyptian Plover, Marshall Eagle and Long-crested Eagle, Exclamatory Paradise Whydah, Red-throated, Little Green, Blue-cheeked and European Bee-eaters led the way, with African Golden Oriole, Dark Chanting Goshawk and Grasshopper Buzzard, Beaudouin´s, Brown and Short-toed Snake Eagle, African Fish Eagle, African Blue Flycatcher, Kittlitz Plover, Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark, Cut-throat Finch, Yellow White-eye, Ant-eater Chat, Pied and Blue-breasted Kingfishers making sure the group´s waking hours were filled with avian delights!

 

Egyptian Plover!  Superb!!!  © Inglorious Bustards

We set off in the freshness of the African morning to Tendaba ´airport´ – a hand-painted sign directed us to ´Terminal 1´, which is actually a raised mudbank in the heart of a wetland! From this unbuilt, unspoilt area, we watched birds of open woodland such as Black Scimitar-bills, Purple Glossy Starlings, Village Indigo Birds and African Grey Hornbills moving through the trees, while Grasshopper Buzzards and a young African Fish Eagle got ready to leave their roosts. 

 

Moving on to an area of low-intensity peanut farming mid-morning, we soon added African Golden Oriole to the list.  We had fantastic views of Grasshopper Buzzards perched up close in the trees and our first look at a sexy Beaudouin´s Snake Eagle.  A prolonged flyby by a low Bateleur left us breathless and with some great photos!

 

This massive Bateleur took our breath away!  © Inglorious Bustards
Stunning Grasshopper Buzzard  © Inglorious Bustards

 

After a bit of relaxing downtime by the side of the broad and tranquil Senegambia River, we took an afternoon boat trip into the extensive mangrove swamps of Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve. From the small fishing boat we had intimate views of the snake-y antics of African Darter and the understated but noisy Mouse Brown Sunbird.  We also heard African Blue Flycatcher.  Long-tailed Cormorants, Striated and Squacco Herons were numerous as we pootled past muddy coves between the mangrove roots, and Pied and Blue-breasted Kingfishers were with us at every turn.

Larking about on the Gambia River

 

As the afternoon wore on, Blue-cheeked and European Bee-eaters came into roost, decorating the bare branches of trees, and many Collared Pratincoles and Gull-billed Terns drifted overhead.  We enjoyed the spectacle of a whirling mass of Sand Martins, numbering many hundreds, gathering insects over an area of misty, damp pasture.

The Sahel in the early morning has its own special light and its own amazing selection of roosting raptors – as we set off on our day´s birding, beautiful Dark Chanting Goshawks and Grasshopper Buzzards were today upstaged by Long-crested and Brown Snake Eagle and two mega Marshall Eagles, perched up next to the road for all to see.

 

Soon the passerines were active too, and we had some fantastically productive stops watching the airborne ridiculousness that is the Exclamatory Paradise Whydah.  These black, red and yellow avian shooting stars resemble airborne punctuation marks as they flit from tree to tree, encumbered by their massive tail feathers.  Yellow White-eye, Red-billed Quelea, Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark and a host of Long-tailed and Lesser Blue-eared Glossy Starlings were also seen.

 

Lesser Blue-eared Glossy Starling – what a stunner!  © Inglorious Bustards

 

Soon we reached Farafennye, where we would cross the Senegambia river to explore the northern shore.  Tijan expertly guided us to the front of the queue for the small car ferry, and after half an hour or so of enjoying the exciting atmosphere of the port, as well as its Hammerkops and Egrets, we were aboard and over the river in no time.

Soon we reached Kaur wetlands, where the day’s birding immediately went stratospheric! The very first bird we found was a lone Egyptian Plover, an excellent bird in anybody´s book, but also Alan´s most wanted bird of the trip!  This incredibly smart black, white and ginger wader allowed us to within feet of where it sat, particularly Iain and Sarah-Jane who shuffled towards it on their knees in veneration, presumably earning the privilege of some absolutely phenomenal photos of this sought-after bird.

 

That gorgeous Egyptian Plover again!  © Inglorious Bustards

 

We were so struck by its awesomeness that we barely paid heed to the host of amazing wetland birds in the background – while we ate our picnic lunch we were entertained by a strong supporting cast of Wattled and Spur-winged Plovers, Kittlitz Plovers, Purple Swamphens and Senegal Thick-knees. There were many wintering migrants in the area, including Yellow Wagtails, Reed Warblers, Common Chiffchaffs, and a Subalpine Warbler. Montagu´s and Marsh Harriers quartered the marshes and a Brown Snake Eagle sat up in a Baobab tree devouring a snake.

Next up after a restful few kilometres we arrived at a quarry, where our senses received a further avian pummelling!  This sandy expanse is home to a huge breeding colony of Red-throated Bee-eaters, which filled the air with their lively calls. They adorned literally every tree with their vivid colours, making them look like they´d been decorated for Christmas! Among them were Little Green Bee-eaters, Cut-throat Finches, Ant-eater Chats, and a large roost of Long-tailed Glossy Starlings and Yellow-billed Shrikes.  A lone White-backed Vulture silently oversaw the colourful party below like a bouncer.

  DSC09071

Red-throated and Little Green Bee-eaters decorating the trees  © Inglorious Bustards

 

We had one last ferry crossing to do, this time at the sleepy end of the river, where the queue of vehicles numbered one! As we cruised across the river in the gentle evening light, our accommodation was already in sight, and we were soon enjoying a beer overlooking the peaceful Senegambia River, as the local kids splashed about at the quayside and flocks of Egrets travelled downstream to roost.

Upriver loveliness

 

This was a truly incredible day´s birding and not one that the group will forget in a hurry!

Fancy a piece of the Egyptian Plover action?  Download the full trip report here

and check out the 2018 info on our tours page!

 

Bird Party in the Gambia – Smiles Galore at the Coast!

Not much bigger than Norfolk, The Gambia is Africa’s smallest country and clings to the banks of the Gambia river.  The curve of this river as it winds into the continent shapes the whole country into a geographical grin, earning it the nickname of Africa’s Smiling Coast. 

The team!

There was certainly no shortage of smiles within our team either, as the very first days at the coast brought us avian delights like Bearded Barbet, Western Bluebill, Snowy-crowned Robin Chat, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Standard-winged and Long-tailed Nightjar,  Yellow-capped Gonalek, Lesser Blue-eared and Long-tailed Glossy Starling, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Northern White-faced and Greyish Eagle Owl, Beautiful Sunbird, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Red-bellied Flycatcher, Black Scimitarbill, African Hawk Eagle, Red-winged Warbler, Pied and Malachite Kingfisher, Grasshopper Buzzard, Lizard Buzzard, Dark Chanting Goshawk and Bateleur to name but a few!

As the tarmac roads gave way to red dirt streets lined with fruit and clothes stalls, mechanic´s shops and hairdressers, bicycles, dogs and playing kids, the group could sense our Gambian adventure had already begun!  Hooded Vultures, Pied Crows and Yellow-billed Kites patrolled the skies above us, with needle-thin African Palm Swifts and Little Swifts filling the gaps in between.

A handsome Hooded Vulture!  © Inglorious Bustards
Pied Crow in Banjul  © Inglorious Bustards

We were soon at Hibiscus House hotel – a quirky, refreshing haven of a place, with luxurious rooms nestling around a courtyard draped with greenery, with intimate gathering areas and an appealing pool at its heart.  After settling in with a welcome drink or two it was time for our first dinner, choosing from a delicious menu of European and West African traditional dishes, which we enjoyed as enormous fruit bats swooped down, splashing as they drank from the swimming pool.

Birding at the Hotel!

Dotted around the courtyard at Hibiscus House are numerous bird baths, so the next day the group got in an early start, birding the hotel before breakfast!  Little Weavers, Red-billed Firefinches, Common Bulbuls, Bronze Mannakins and Red-cheeked Cordon Bleus were all bathing and drinking just metres away. Yellow-capped Gonalek made an appearance, and it soon became apparent that a pair of Senegal Coucals were nesting within the grounds!

After a tasty breakfast of fresh fruits, breads and omelettes, we headed out – just down the road to Brufut Forest, a fantastic area of Sahelian woodland.

In a clearing just beyond the village, we got our first views of some engaging local birds, including Red-billed Hornbill, Lesser Blue-eared and Long-tailed Glossy Starling, African Mourning Dove and a cute spearmint green Klaas’s Cuckoo.

Moving further into the forest, local bird guru Tijan´s local knowledge and skill came into play and he found two roosting Northern White-faced Owls, wicked little owls which stared down at us from their roosts as we got some great photos.

Here´s looking at you!  Northern White-faced Owl  © Inglorious Bustards

As the heat of the day started to pick up we headed to Tijan´s home – affectionately dubbed ´RSPB Brufut office´ – where he had kindly invited us for lunch.  Here we sat drinking a refreshing coffee in the shady courtyard while his wife Mariama prepared us a delicious Yassa, a type of local curry.

Tijan has many bird feeders and drinking areas in his garden, and we were delighted to get fantastic up-close views of Village and Black-throated Weavers, African Thrush, Lavender Waxbill, Beautiful Sunbird and Red-cheeked Cordon Bleus flitting through the trees as delicious aromas wafted out of the kitchen.

We ate African style, sharing out the peanut-y Yassa, fresh salad, bread and fried potatoes while Tijan´s 3-year old son Lamin impressed us with his binocular skills!

 

All smiles after a delicious lunch with Tijan´s family

After lunch we headed out once more to Tanji area, where the thriving fish market brings together colourful boats, fish-buyers and fishermen haggling over fresh catches while gulls and terns do the same over the discarded bits.

A stunning Grey-headed Gull  © Inglorious Bustards

We got right in amongst all the action and had fantastic close-up views of Slender-billed and Grey-headed Gulls on the beach scrapping over scraps, while Royal, Lesser Crested, Caspian and Sandwich Terns were all fishing just offshore.  Waders working the beach detritus included Ruddy Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Spur-winged Plover and Sanderling, and three wintering Western Ospreys were seen fishing and perching in nearby Baobab trees.

Scenes from bustling Tanji fish market

Continuing the relaxed birding theme of the day, we retired to the bar-café area of Tanji Eco Lodge, where, again, we had great views of feeders and water bird baths from our beverage-drinking area!  We sat back and watched the West African avian fashion parade, where Western Bluebill, Snowy-crowned Robin Chat, Little Greenbul, Yellow-throated Leaflove and Paradise Red-bellied Flycatchers showed off their plumage for all to see and giving the photographers in the group good reason to drool!

The next day’s journey upriver was at a relaxed pace, enjoying spending the whole day on the two-hour journey, making the most of great birding opportunities along the way.

Breakfast was a caffeine and condensed milk-fuelled Gambian special, taken at a roadside stall by the market at Brikama, where we supplemented our fine hotel takeaway breakfast with a nice strong coffee!

Next we made a stop at Farasuto Forest reserve, where local people are being trained to be wardens to help preserve the local wildlife. We walked through the rich Sahelian scrub getting great views of many resident species including Bronze Mannakins and Black Scimitarbills.

Arriving at a specially marked site, we were able to pass one at a time and in complete silence to a small viewing area. From here we found ourselves within metres of roosting Standard-winged and Long-tailed Nightjar, which remained undisturbed as we admired their intricate camouflage patterning.  Roosting nocturnal birds were numerous here, and we also found a Greyish Eagle Owl and a nesting Northern White-faced Owl.

DSC08022
A decidedly grumpy but very impressive Greyish Eagle Owl!  © Inglorious Bustards
Sleepy Standard-winged Nightjar  © Inglorious Bustards

In another area of the park we were treated to two exuberant Bearded Barbets, which showed well from the top of a dead tree while Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters swooped round them.

We made good progress upriver, and stopped for lunch at Kanpant rice fields. Tijan and his son Abubaka, who is following in his father´s footsteps as a bird guide, whipped up a lovely bunch of sandwiches on fresh local bread.  Appetites sated, we were birding again in no time.  We took a wander through the rice paddies, finding African Harrier Hawk, African Hawk Eagle, Red-winged Warbler, Bronze Mannakin, Western Grey Plantain Eater, African Jacana, Hammerkop, Fine-spotted Woodpecker, Pearl-spotted Owlet and Malachite Kingfisher amongst others.

Malachite Kingfisher

Driving on we made a couple more stops to appreciate the new raptors that were passing us by, including Grasshopper Buzzard, Lizard Buzzard and the stunning Dark Chanting Goshawk. And a lone Bateleur, soaring tail-less on V-shaped wings caused us to screech to a halt and watch it until it vanished into a speck.

Soon we arrived at Tendaba Lodge, our home for the next two nights.  Set on the quiet shores of the Senegambia River, this homely lodge offers a welcoming, clean, friendly place to stay in the heart of rural Africa.  We had time to relax before dinner, and enjoyed a couple of Gambian beers while gazing out over the serene waters and enjoying views of Spur-winged Goose, Pink-backed Pelican, Caspian Tern and Pied Kingfisher from the riverside terrace.  What a start to our trip!

dsc01670
Pied Kingfisher  © Inglorious Bustards

Sound like this experience would bring a smile to your face?  Download the full trip report here.

and check out the 2018 info on our Tours page!

 

Mountain Birding and Vulture Culture in Ronda and the Straits!

What a superb adventure that was! While birding Andalusia from the stunning mountains of Ronda to the gorgeous coasts of the Straits of Gibraltar, last week’s trip brought us encounters with star species including Rüppell’s Vulture, Black Wheatear, Golden Eagle, Audouin´s Gull, Egyptian Vulture, Montagu´s Harrier and many others!

The mountain leg of the trip was based in the quirky blue village of Jùzcar, and the high-altitude birding was fuelled by the mouth-watering local food of our hotel´s award-winning chef, Ivan. The team´s rocky explorations brought us Blue Rock Thrushes, Rock Sparrows, Rock Buntings, Golden Eagle, Black Redstarts, Black Wheatear and more.

In the Sierra de las Nieves, we picnicked amongst Holm Oaks, Wild Olives and endemic Spanish Firs, surrounded by dozens of Black and Common Redstarts, Firecrests, Crested Tits, Nuthatch, and Short-toed Creepers. We could see distant Griffon Vultures circling above the rocky hills, and we watched a Golden Eagle soaring high above us.

Soon we were settling in to our accommodation at Hotel Bandolero in the quirky blue village of Jùzcar, used as the set for the Smurfs! Movie in 2011. We took a couple of hours to unpack, relax and explore the extraordinary pueblo.

That evening, the heavily-anticipated food of award-winning chef Ivan did not disappoint, with astonishingly good chanterelle, pomegranate and blue cheese salad, pumpkin and shrimp risotto, and glazed chestnut mousse making the best of local seasonal produce with a twist!

After a hearty breakfast the next day, we headed out to the nearby `moonscape´ of Los Riscos, where the morning sun was warming the hillside. As we took up our positions, surveying the massive rock plateau in front of us, it wasn´t long before mountain birds were flitting across the rock wall. Blue Rock Thrush was the first to be spotted, soon to be followed by three Rock Sparrows. Fleeting glimpses of an Alpine Accentor were sadly not to be repeated, but after putting in a bit of effort we had close views of Rock Bunting and Cirl Bunting.

After lunch and a quick dip at the turquoise pools of Cueva del Gato we headed to Montejaque Dam, high into the mountains. Cueva del Hundidero lies at the base of a dramatic gorge which wouldn´t look out of place on a Star Wars film set. Here we watched the afternoon soften, and enjoyed unbelievable views of Black Wheatears displaying and squabbling amongst the rocks. Many low Griffon Vultures and Crag Martins passed over on their way to roost, as did a Peregrine Falcon and several Red-billed Chough, much admired by Joan and John.

Our late afternoon decision to stay ´five more minutes´ proved a good one – all at once on the rock face in front of us, we spotted a female Rock Ibex and her kid, picking their way across the boulders! On further examination there were at least six more individuals, including two adult males with impressive horns. Masters of the mountain, they melted away as softly and quickly as they had appeared, and we returned extremely happy to Jùzcar.

We spent some relaxed time in Ronda mid-morning, enjoyed this Moorish city’s gorgeous parks and streets, finding migratory warblers in the trees, including Common and Iberian Chiffchaff and Western Bonelli´s Warbler. We also had fabulous views of two Common Crossbills picking buds off the trees!

We took a coffee overlooking the impressive Tajo gorge, which the town straddles by way of three eye-pleasing historic bridges – one Roman, one Moorish and one dating from the 18th century.

Descending to the Straits, the group found themselves in the thick of the autumn Griffon Vulture migration, with birds kettling in their hundreds along with a late wave of migrating Short-toed Eagles, Black Kites, Booted Eagles and some superb Rüppell´s Vultures.

Even as we arrived in the Straits it was apparent that vultures really were on the move here! An imposing kettle of dozens of Griffon Vultures was swirling over the hillsides just beyond our lodgings, so we chased off after them as if they were a tornado!

We got right underneath this whirling avian biomass and enjoyed superb views before the birds moved on over the hill. In their wake they left at least ten Short-toed Eagles, hovering silently over the fields, hunting side-by-side, yellow eyes searching the scrub below for reptiles.

A visit to a colony of 100+ Griffon Vultures in the hills of the Sierra de la Plata allowed us to see these impressive birds up close, perching on and circling round the rocks, screeching like prehistoric beasts. As the team relaxed in the shade and observed these awe-inspiring birds – as well as Black Storks, Honey Buzzards and Booted Eagles – the shout went up! A Rüppell´s Vulture had arrived! Tarifa area is the only place in Europe where this African Species can be seen, making it highly sought after. They are not easy to see and older birds can be difficult to distinguish from Griffon Vultures, but this was classic Rüppell´s – 10% smaller than the birds alongside it, chocolate brown with no contrast, and a beautiful spangle of white on the underwing. We were immeasurably chuffed with our find and the bird was low enough for us to get some great pictures too.


A spot of sea-watching from the seaside town of Bolonia (complete with ice cream!) gave us Northern Gannet and Cory´s Shearwater, and flocks of Dunlin and Sanderling on the beach. Andrew headed down to the shore and we cheered him on from as a distance as, after sitting stock still for a while and finally lying face down in the sand, a Kentish Plover came and practically sat on his lens!

A walk through the grazed pastures down to the shoreline at Playa de los Lances gave us swirling flocks of Corn Buntings, House Sparrows and Spotless Starlings, as well as our best views yet of Crested Larks and numerous Meadow Pipits. Reaching the hide we enjoyed Bar-tailed Godwits and Grey Plovers chilling out on the sand while flocks of Sanderling, Common Ringed and Kentish Plover scurried back and forth. Out to sea, Northern Gannets and Cory´s Shearwaters were visible.

Just as we were leaving, a Short-eared Owl rose up from the tussocky vegetation at the far end of the reserve and landed on the sand right in front of us! An SEO on the beach certainly made for a very unusual sight!

Heading to the salt pans at Barbate, passing a stunning melanistic Montagu´s Harrier on the way, we arrived to find a flock of lovely Audouin´s gulls waiting for us close to shore. A pleasing selection of waders ensued, including Redshank, Greenshank, Dunlin, Black-winged Stilt, Common Ringed and Kentish Plover and Common Sandpiper. A passing Peregrine Falcon caused a flurry of activity with many more Common Ringed and Kentish Plover flushed to our end of the marsh. Further on we found Eurasian Spoonbills and Greater Flamingoes, and a late Marsh Harrier also graced us with its presence before we headed home, ready for a relax before dinner.

In a moment of silliness, we had indulged in a group prayer to the ornithological gods and spirits, and we like to think it was this that brought us to Cheryl and Richard. Noticing our bird-watchers´ T-shirts and equipment, they came over to tell us that they had a young Griffon Vulture with a leg injury – nicknamed Victor – knocking about on their farm. We put them in contact with our friends at the Junta de Andalusia who manage a raptor rehabilitation centre, and popped in to visit the damaged youngster. Victor proved very relaxed and keen to meet us, and we were honoured to spend half an hour in his company, admiring his incredibly strong beak and talons, and his gentle-looking eyes.

At our accommodation at the tranquil eco-lodge of Huerta Grande, we enjoyed strolls around the beautiful wooded grounds, enjoying the mist-shrouded trees, where many Serins, Short-toed Treecreepers, Crested Tits and Firecrests sang, and a wave of migrant Blackcaps and European Robins brought the undergrowth to life.

Our exploration of mountains, salt pans, lagoons, intertidal habitat, cork oak forests, plains and pastureland habitat had brought us encounters with over 140 bird species, some very special mammals, and a fascinating selection of reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, moths and dragonflies.

As well as being treated to some spectacular birding in Spain, the group enjoyed relaxed days taking in all the gorgeous cuisine, scenery Andalusia has to offer.
Simon and Niki had some top birding – and such great fun – with John, Joan, Andrew, Pip and Jane, and we´re thoroughly looking forward to welcoming them back next year!

Sound like your kind of Vultural experience?! Our Ronda & The Straits trip will be running again next October! Contact us for more info or download our brochure here.

Full trip report and checklist available here!

A Tale of Two Continents ! Birding Spain and Morocco

This September, we were joined by a hearty crew of Inglorious Bustards for a rip-roaring (yet thoroughly laid-back!) adventure, birding across Southern Spain and Northern Morocco! 

Our journey brought our group up close and personal with star species on both sides of the Straits of Gibraltar, including Moroccan Marsh Owl, Moussier’s Redstart, Bonelli’s Eagle, Audouin’s Gull, Red-necked Nightjar and much, much more.
The Straits themselves formed the centrepiece of the trip, and the group found themselves in the thick of the autumn migration, with hundreds upon hundreds of raptors and soaring birds moving south alongside many thousands of hirundines and Swifts. 

Within hours of arriving, the group were thrilled to have our first encounters with Honey Buzzards, Black Kites and Booted and Short-toed Eagles, soaring low over our heads, as well as a solitary Black Stork and an Egyptian Vulture, as we took in the stunning views out across Tarifa Bay. We also found ourselves right in the middle of a river of Alpine, Common and Pallid Swifts as well as Barn and Red-rumped Swallows whizzing right past our ears!

Exploring local mountain habitat, we drove up through a maquis-covered landscape of Fan Palm and Cistus to a dramatic rocky outcrop, to a spot next to a colony of some seventy pairs of Griffon Vultures. These enormous birds delighted the group by soaring low over our heads and screeching from their perches like prehistoric beasts. As we enjoyed the thrilling views, many Honey Buzzards, Black Kites, Booted Eagles and Short-toed Eagles drifted overhead, and we were lucky enough to get great views of two Bonelli´s Eagles, and two Egyptian Vultures.

We wiled away a pleasant time bird-watching at the rice paddies and pastures of La Janda, marvelling at the numbers of Montagu´s and Marsh Harriers and Lesser Kestrels, and enjoying Eurasian Spoonbills, Greater Flamingoes, White Storks, Glossy Ibis, Cattle and Little Egrets, interspersed with Black-winged Stilts, Common Snipe, Green Sandpipers, as well as Little Ringed Plovers, Northern Lapwings and Ruff.

The farmland had another treat in store for the group! Taking a track up to the higher part of the farm, we stopped alongside a strip of willow and poplar scrub, and began to quietly scan the leaf litter with our optics. There, gulating gently amongst the dried leaves and twigs, completely still apart from the twitch of its rictal bristles, was a Red-necked Nightjar, just feet away from us! Taking great care not to disturb this exquisite bird we took our time to enjoy the beautiful pattern details of its gold-and-brown plumage.


Birding in Morocco, we explored the famous Merja Zerga lagoon – known as the haunt of the planet´s last Slender-billed Curlews – by boat, with local legend Hassan. The lagoon is a teeming protected wetland, alive with birds – and local traditional fishermen – probing the mud for crustaceans and molluscs.

We soon spotted Mediterranean, Slender-billed and Audouin´s Gulls amongst the Yellow-legged, Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls. The numbers of waders were huge, with Oystercatchers, Black-winged Stilt, Common Ringed and Grey Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green and Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone all around us.


Mooring the boat, Hassan ushered us out onto a sandbank in the middle of the lagoon! From here, as well as enjoying our surreal birding location, we also added Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingoes, Kentish Plover and Black Terns to our list, as well as picking up a Western Osprey.

And later that afternoon, just as we hoped, our star species appeared, with not one, but EIGHT stunning Moroccan Marsh Owls taking flight from their roost in local grazing marshes. The group were spellbound by these beautiful, dark-eyed birds.



We breakfasted the next day under a ´giggling´ colony of Little Swifts, under the newly-restored colonnades of Larache´s main square, before birding the Loukkos marshes, just a short drive out of town. These grazed damp pastures are a real oasis for all manner of birds, from waders to raptors, and can be easily birded either from the minibus or by walking short distances along farm tracks. We soon picked up Brown-throated Martins amongst the Barn Swallows and Sand Martins. As we explored the shallower pools we found waders galore, including Black-winged Stilts, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Greenshank, Green, Wood and Common Sandpipers. In the deeper waters waded elegant Squacco Herons and many Glossy Ibis, alongside dabbling Ruddy Shelducks and Red-crested Pochards. Overhead, over twenty Marsh Harriers quartered the wetlands.

These beautiful wetlands are home to many traditional farmers, and while we birded the group enjoyed a bit of friendly banter with the locals, as well as finding ourselves amidst a flock of curious sheep!


After lunch in a rural village, where the delighted chef rustled up us up a banquet of deep-fried sardines, lentil dahl, tomato and cucumber salad, white beans in tomato sauce, and flatbread from seemingly nowhere, we headed up into the mystical forest of Bouachem. 

 It wasn´t long before we caught a glimpse through the undergrowth of a Barbary Macaque! He was of course one of a troupe, and we watched spellbound as over forty of these sociable, intelligent creatures filed peacefully past us, foraging for insects, nuts and roots on the forest floor.


Along the steep mountain tracks of the Talessamtane Natural park in our convoy of 4×4 vehicles, we had stunning views down over the Oued Laou valley, and the charming blue-painted city of Chefchouen.

It didn’t take too long before we started coming across a fantastic array of mountain birds. Three marvellous Moussier’s Redstarts were flitting enthusiastically around the rock faces and were sometimes just metres away from our group! As we explored the slopes, they were joined by Black Wheatears, Rock Buntings, Crag Martins, Common Redstarts, and a Bonelli´s Eagle drifting in and out of the clouds.

We took the afternoon to explore the picturesque labyrinthine streets of Chefchouen´s famous blue-washed medina, or old town, enjoying the assault on our senses from all the colourful wares and spicy smells. Bill, a surrealist artist, was thrilled by the colours and angles of the sloping mountain town and we are eagerly waiting to see it reflected in future works!

 

After experiencing the traditional Moroccan town, we were glad to experience its traditional food. We headed to our favourite restaurant overlooking the main square, where we enjoyed excellent salads, soups, tagines and a dessert of yoghurt, nuts and local honey.

Our hotel was wonderfully situated on the outskirts of Chefchouen and during a pre-breakfast stroll around the nearby riverside habitat we encountered very confiding subpersonata White Wagtails and a Desert Grey Shrike. We also found two Golden Orioles warming up in the morning sun, two Black-crowned Night Herons, an Atlas Long-legged Buzzard, a probable Barbary Falcon, and a swarm of Barn Swallows and House Martins too numerous to count.

Having explored wildlife on both sides of the Straits, we headed out onto the waters themselves, on a boat trip with responsible whale-watching company Turmares. Over the seas we had great views of dozens of Cory´s Shearwaters, Northern Gannets, Great Skua, Audouin´s Gulls, and maybe twenty bizarre, dustbin lid-shaped Ocean Sunfish. Striped Dolphins too were extremely active and we saw a hundred or more scudding through the sea.

But the stars of the show were the Long-finned Pilot Whales, which decided to offer us breath-taking close-up views! Finding several combined family groups numbering over fifteen individuals, we simply floated quietly for over an hour, while they swam curiously around the boat and often surfaced right alongside! It was a long and extremely moving encounter with these alluring creatures.  

Overall, our exploration of salt pans, lagoons, intertidal habitat, cork oak forests, mountains, plains and freshwater wetland habitat on two continents brought us encounters with over 140 bird species and a fascinating selection of African and European mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, moths and dragonflies.

As well as being treated to some spectacular migration and cetacean events, the group enjoyed relaxed days in perfect weather, taking in all the gorgeous wildlife, scenery, culture and cuisine Southern Andalusia and Northern Morocco have to offer.


We really enjoyed welcoming our hearty crew – Lynne, Peter, Margaret, Sue, Bill, Tony and Wendy – to our home in The Straits, – you were great company on this intercontinental birding adventure and we hope to see you again here soon!

Does this sounds like your kind of derring-do?! Our Birding Two Continents trip is running again in 2018 – contact us for more info, or download our brochure

Click here to download the full 2017 Trip Report.

You wait all morning then 9,000 turn up at once!

Rush hour for the East Atlantic Flyway started late yesterday, but Blimey, was it a busy one!

It was a dank start, with cloudy raptor-less skies that were more like England than southern Spain! Indeed, as we looked over to the Rock of Gibraltar, it was actually raining in the UK!

We were volunteering again today, helping Fundacion Migres with their long-running migration monitoring programme.

fullsizeoutput_2496
A European Honey Buzzard descends through the cloud layer © Inglorious Bustards

The sullen morning gave us chance to appreciate another aspect of migration – the wild olive scrub around El Algorrobo watchpoint was hosting loads of migrant passerines like Common Redstart, Spotted Flycatchers, Golden Orioles and many Phylloscopus warblers, resting on their way south.  The morning rush hour saw dozens of Hirundines, Common, Pallid and Alpine Swift racing through.

But it was 11.45am that the climatic traffic lights turned green for raptors! The sky was suddenly full of Honey Buzzards, kettling in their hundreds and barging south along the now congested flyway.

 

Male European Honey Buzzard © Wader World
Honey Buzzards descend from the grey! © Inglorious Bustards

The chirpiest of the travelers were the European Bee-eaters. So many passed over, quipping like kids on a school bus, and some buzzed right over and around our group, prompting so many ‘Ooooh’s and ‘Aaaah’s that we almost forgot to count them!

 

fullsizeoutput_2491
European Bee-eaters quipping noisily straight passed us, I forgot to take a photo until they were on their way! © Inglorious Bustards

But it was the last couple hours of the count that really blew our minds! Late arrivals finally getting past bad weather in the Pyrenees were racing over in their hundreds, seemingly experiencing flyway rage, desperate to reach Africa before sundown. At around 3pm, after a busy but relaxed days counting, our group was suddenly silent except for whirring clickers and the barking of things like “10 Milanos Negros!”, “234 Abejeiros!”, “Aguila Calzada! Aguila Calzada!”

All in all we counted 9,081 birds commuting to Africa in just one day, at just one watch point, a mere fraction of the 250,000+ raptors and 400,000 Swifts that will pass through here this season.

Fundacion Migres have been carrying out this exceptional monitoring programme since 1997, making it one of the greatest sustained efforts in Europe. Today we were privileged to count alongside Alejandro, Migres’s Flyway Veteran.  He has been with the programme since the beginning, and now leads it.

They are keen for volunteers to help with the counts – people like Alberto – a professional musician and birder from Madrid who was with us yesterday.  He will be with Migres for the minimum placement of 1 week, during which he can stay at their accommodation at the Centro Internacional de Migracion de Aves near Tarifa and receive full training.

Fancy gazing at a bit of mega migration? Don’t worry, this was only the beginning! Find out about volunteering with Fundacion Migres here. Or come see #FlywayBirding in action with us next Spring or Autumn!

Raptors before the eyes

It’s a disconcerting feeling when you shut your eyes and you can still see hundreds of raptor silhouettes passing in front of them!

We’ve spent the day volunteering with Fundacion Migres as part of their long-standing migration monitoring programne – we reckon this must be a common side effect!

Marina, Martina and the Inglorious Bustards

With very little wind, but heavy low cloud to start with, it’s been a strange day for movement. Early doors saw dozens of hundreds of assorted raptors forming in large lazy kettles and rolling up and down the coast.
Simon spies on Gibraltar

It gave us a while to find our feet in terms of monitoring protocol, and to find even deeper admiration for Migres staff Marina and Martina, their quick eyes, organised approach and the intense, almost telepathic communication between them!
Enthusiastic and skilled teachers, they were chatty and friendly yet never missing a bird.

As the day wore on, many Short-toed Eagles continued to mooch around the valleys, giving stunning views, sunlit from the south against a black sky.

Egyptian Vultures, Sparrowhawks, quipping Bee-eaters and some dapper Montagu’s Harriers provided further highlights.

Black Kites and Booted Eagles were passing over us in droves but today, The Honey Buzzard was king – they streamed over all day in groups of 30 or more, and by 3.30 we were receiving reports from Morocco that they were arriving at the the iconic rock monolith of the Jebel Musa.

The pace was constant but relaxed – we even found time to have bit of fun with an Egyptian Mantis determined to learn the salient ID features of a Honey Buzzard!

Fundacion Migres have been carrying out this exceptional monitoring programme since 1997, making it one of the greatest sustained efforts in Europe.  It has generated much important research and conservation protocols for migrating soaring birds and the challenges they face.

We were happy to help (at least we hope we were helpful!) and to add our numbers to today’s count, which we’ll hopefully hear the results of soon! Sure we’ll see most of them again when we close our eyes to sleep!

Fancy gazing at a bit of mega-migration?! Migres welcome seasonal volunteers, who can stay at their Centro Internacional de Migracion de Aves near Tarifa. Or come see #FlywayBirding in action with us next Spring or Autumn!

#Birdfair Rocked!

With potentially record attendance figures and legions of new faces in evidence, this year’s Birdfair felt more like the start of a movement than the continuation of an event.

We were told on Sunday by one of the events’ army of lovely volunteers that the combined visitor total for Friday and Saturday was up by 2000 on previous years. With the usual attendance at around 20,000 that’s an increase of 10% in just the first two days! (Anyone heard the final figures yet..?)


So who are these new disciples flocking to ‘Birders’ Glastonbury’? It seems to us there’s been a seismic shift in the past year or two in the mass appeal of birding. As well as the legendary folk who’ve been making the pilgrimage for many years, there’s a new following in town. And far from being the influx of shallow hipsters that the mainstream media had us all expecting, these are genuine bird-curious nature-lovers who are looking for a new place to connect.

Of the folk we chatted to on our stand, many were old friends and personal heroes of ours.  But many were new to birding and Birdfair.  Nowadays folk are as likely to be sporting jeans and a hoodie as the fabled twitcher’s jerkin, as likely to be female as male, and are representative of diverse age groups, nationalities, and cultures.  With this sort of inclusivity of attendance on the rise, Birdfair is becoming ever more deserving of its title of the ‘Birders’ Glastonbury’.

People were loving our relaxed, but professional approach to birding and wildlife tours and #FlywayBirding, our approachability, and the way we and others like us offer a non-patronising way to learn, to reach whatever level of expertise is desired, or just to appreciate the beauty of a wildlife spectacle like migration.  No doubt the free Sangria on our stand also helped!

Although many people stay the full weekend, and no doubt celebrate together in the evenings (the long-standing ‘Birds and Beers’ event being a prime example), we loved the feeling of an emerging of what Niki dubbed the ‘Birdfair Fringe’. Our friends Amity and Mark of Morning Bride rocked an intimate folk gig at the Crown in Uppingham, and the Champions of the Flyway event grew ever bigger, with wine, music and uplifting project updates from previous years’ beneficiaries.

The birders we know are lovely folk – what a great feeling that there seem to be more and more of them!

More people connecting with the message from organisations and individuals like Mark Avery, Chris Packham, Birders Against Wildlife Crime and rspb, this year focussed heavily on ending wildlife crime and the murder of Hen Harriers and other raptors our uplands – which should be managed for the many, not the few.

More people becoming aware of the struggles our wildlife faces against invasive non-native species, like the breeding colonies of endemic birds on Pacific islands, decimated by rats, whose future generations will benefit from this year’s Birdfair dosh. It’ll be a while before we know the full total that was raised this year, but last year it was £350,000, up from the previous year’s £320,000, up from £270,000 the year before that, so it won’t be negligible!

More people engaging with causes like Champions of the Flyway, committed to ending the illegal hunting of birds across so many flyways (this year’s cause will see funds go to a collaborative project between Bosnia and Croatia– that’s the kind of cross-border amazingness we’re talking about!).

And yes, we can’t lie about it – for us, it means more friends!! YES!!

Please be our #FlywayBirding friend! Join our mailing list here!

 

 

#Birdfair to #Birdfair – a year of migration!

The ebb and flow of migration along the East Atlantic Flyway never really stops – here’s how in the past year The Inglorious Bustards have been gathering a perspective from the Straits of Gibraltar on the journeys of some familiar – and less familiar – species

fullsizeoutput_22ed
Short-toed Eagle

Birdfair 2016 marked the beginning of our journey last year – a beautiful summer weekend to bid a fond hasta luego to friends before heading off to our home at Huerta Grande Eco-lodge in the Straits of Gibraltar on our next tour-leading adventure.  We weren’t the only ones choosing to head south, and our movements coincided with the steadily mounting autumn migration.

All through August, September and October, our UK-bred Turtle Doves, Barn Swallows, Cuckoos, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Marsh Harriers to name but a few were streaming south, travelling mostly by cover of darkness, all following the bustling East Atlantic flyway to wintering grounds in Africa.

At only 14 km wide, the Strait of Gibraltar is the narrowest stretch of water between Europe and Africa.  As well as many millions of Northern European passerines, twice a year over 250,000 migrating raptors choose this point to cross between continents.  The birds gather in huge numbers, making use of the thermals that rise off the rocky coastlines to give them the lift they need to traverse the short – but potentially deadly – stretch of sea. 

This breath-taking migratory spectacle is beyond compare.  Imagine looking up and seeing 20,000 Honey Buzzards, Black Kites, White Storks, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, with supporting groups of Black Storks, Egyptian Vultures and European Bee-eaters.  No matter how many times we see it, it never loses its magic.  It’s not surprising that this experience has the power to reduce many folk to tears! 

img_4157

This phenomenon continues well into November as thousands of Griffon Vultures join the throng.  At this time, we also enjoyed exploring the more mountainous inland areas of Malaga province, where delights such as Alpine Accentor, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and Rock Sparrow were starting to move down to more agreeable altitudes for the winter, making them much easier to find.  We also got to enjoy the odd migratory overshoot, in the form of Fieldfares and Redwings enjoying expat life and a wealth of fruits and berries on the nearby farmland.

December and January were fine months to explore the area’s wetland habitats.  The flooded farmland fields were at their absolute best, hosting a wetland spectacle to rival Coto Doñana.   Many thousands of Common Cranes congregated, while we enjoyed huge flocks of Northern Lapwings, Skylarks and more, enjoying some winter sun before their return to the UK.  While we were still without a heart-warming pint of Adnams, wintering Common Chiffchaffs, Robins, Song Thrushes and Blackcaps provided us with a much-needed taste of UK life.

February is when it all kicks off again. One day conditions will suddenly be right, and huge columns of Black Kites will be visible surging from the northern coast of Morocco as if someone has popped a bottle of champagne.  Seemingly within minutes they’re here – and if we’re not working, we like to sit on the clifftops and raise a glass of vino tinto to their welcome arrival!

Perhaps surprisingly, at this coldest dampest part of the British year, swallows and martins have already started their passage north by now – the earliest we had were on Christmas Day!

img_2692

This year for us, February also brought everyone’s favourite waif and stray, Jonny Rankin, and his crew, who stayed with us for the first legs of his epic Dovestep 3 walking extravaganza, before eventually marching on cross the entirety of Spain on foot (some 700 miles) and raise another £7000 for the RSPB’s Operation Turtle Dove.

Throughout March and April the migratory return journey was in full rush hour.  What a joy to see the promise of return fulfilled by familiar species such as Barn Swallows, House Martins, Ospreys, Nightingales, Common Redstarts– and the odd flavissima Yellow Wagtail – pouring through on their way back to the UK!  We also got to enjoy the arrival of such stunners as Collared Pratincoles, Stone Curlews, Melodious Warblers, Tawny Pipits, Woodchat Shrikes and Black-eared Wheatears.

img_3778

In May and June we enjoyed the later movement of UK birds like Common Swift, Pied Flycatcher and the deeply anticipated Turtle Dove, all merged in with a fantastic passage of almost the entire European population of Honey Buzzards.  It was also the peak of the breeding season – a perfect time to observe local resident species.  This is one of the very few areas in Europe where you can find all five of the European swifts – Common, Pallid, White-rumped, Little and Alpine.  It’s also a fine place to get outstanding views of the Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis.  A successful reintroduction programme of this weird and wonderful avian creature means that the Straits now holds possibly the most viable – but certainly the most viewable – population in the world.

With its intense heat,  early July is probably the only real lull in activity, so we spend the brief time doing some office work (with air-conditioning if possible!), forging ahead with new partnerships we are building to ensure that we, and the people we bring here, are able to give something back to conservation in the Straits.  We’re working with organisations like Fundacion Migres, who have been monitoring the migration for 25 years and are the source of much of the available data on it.

Come mid-July and August, however, and flocks of White Storks and Black Kites are once more overhead, already Africa bound!  Beautiful as they are, we are Blighty-bound to catch up with old friends and new at the Birdfair. Will we see you there? We are in Marquee 1, Stand 28 – Come and chat to us and we can tell you in person how, no matter which of the 365 days you choose, every day is a good day in the Straits! 

img_1313

Next year we’d love to share some of these experiences with you! Check out our tours page and come and see us at Birdfair, Marquee 1, Stand 28 to find out more about migration experiences, vulture spectacles, swift weekenders and more!

 

Fill up your Swift page!

Common. Pallid. Alpine. Little. White-rumped. This time next year, your list of European breeding swifts could be complete!  During our exciting new Swift Weekender tour, we endeavour to bring you together with all five species of that most aerially superb genus, the Swift, all over the course of a weekend of fantastic and varied birding!


Because of its strategic position at the gateway of two continents, our home in Andalusia is a unique blend of European and African, with our beloved Apus species passing through on their way to and from breeding grounds, and the more typically African amongst them choosing the Iberian peninsula as one of their very localised breeding sites in Europe. It’s one of the very few places in Europe you can see them all!
This southernmost Spanish province is the most biodiverse region not only in Spain but the whole of Europe. So, set our swift-spotting against a background of superb resident species in intertidal, wetland, farmland, woodland and urban habitats, accompanied with fantastic tapas, passionate discussions, and welcoming people, and you’re looking at a weekend to remember!

From our delightful weekend base at Huerta Grande eco-resort, fast becoming known as the centre of birding in the Straits of Gibraltar, while searching the skies for Pallid, Alpine and Common Swifts, we’ll also explore our rich local surroundings in the Los Alcornacales natural park. As well as some cracking local avian specialities in the form of Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Hawfinch and Short-toed Treecreeper, almost anything can turn up here during the early days of autumn migration, as passerines collect amongst the trees to gather strength for their southwards crossing of the Straits.

fullsizeoutput_2430

We’ll also go out on the town in picturesque Tarifa, where we can encounter Common Bulbuls (another unusual European tick), urban Little Owls and breeding Lesser Kestrels. We’ll enjoy a stroll along the harbour front where, simply by looking up we’ll be able to see Pallid Swifts galore and pick out Common Swifts on passage crossing over this historic town.

Around teeming local farmland and wetland sites, we’ll look out for a veritable takeaway menu of delights, including many hundreds of White Stork and Glossy Ibis, Collared Pratincole, Purple Swamphen, Black-winged Kite, Short-toed, Booted, Spanish Imperial and Bonelli’s Eagle, Black Kite, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Spanish Sparrow, Tawny Pipit, and Calandra, Crested and Short-toed Lark.  A successful reintroduction programme of the Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis took place here in 2008, and we should be able to see these engaging and quirky birds at their nesting colony or grazing on surrounding farmland.

You won’t mind missing the sport this weekend for a visit to a tiny breeding colony of White-rumped Swift. Several pairs of this typically African breeding species have found and occupied a collection of old Red-rumped Swallow nests nearby, making this area one of only a handful of European sites for this fabulous little bird. As well as unintrusively visiting the nest site we will enjoy them feeding over nearby 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.

Little Swift is another typically African species, better known in the souks and medinas of Marrakech. But again, for this tiny Apus the Straits have proved no barrier, and we will be able to make a Sunday afternoon saunter to the local seaside near Cadiz to enjoy their aerial antics.

Cadiz Bay is also home to some exceptional coastal marshes and sensitively-managed salt pans. We’ll explore the creeks and lagoons of this very special area, with its ever-changing selection of wetland birds. At this time of year the southerly migration has already begun for many waders, and we can hope to see Sanderling, Red Knot, Dunlin, Little Stint, Bar- and Black-tailed Godwit passing through, amongst the breeding Collared Pratincoles, Common Ringed and Kentish Plover.  There are also many seabirds such as Sandwich, Little and Caspian Terns, Slender-billed Gull and the once extremely rare Audouin’s Gull. We should also get views of Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo and Western Osprey.

A relaxed Sunday dinner Spanish-style enjoying chef Juan Carlos’s traditional Andalusian fare, and a glass or two of local sherry should sooth all thoughts of the coming week, and instead of heading to work on Monday morning, you’ll be enjoying our local Monarch and Two-tailed Pasha butterflies, Copper Demoiselles and Four-spotted Emeralds before flying out over the spectacular Rock of Gibraltar.

Fancy getting set for the weekend with us? Check out our tour here, and sign up for our e-newsletter so you can always keep up-to-date with new tours!  And please, come and chat to us at Birdfair, Marquee 1, Stand 28.  Be swift!

 

 

Star-studded Birding in Morocco; Can We Pap a Pode..?

Birding in north-western Morocco has been bringing us a wealth of avian ‘A’-listers, and now we were headed for the beautiful little gem of Oualidia in search of the ultimate reclusive star bird, the Andalusian Hemipode.

Thought extinct, the small population that breeds here was rediscovered in the 2000s. On the neighbouring farmland, in 2007, a living Andalusian Hemipode was photographed for the first time in the Western Palearctic.

We’d brought our good friend, wildlife photographer and artist Tony Mills, within close reach of such glamorous species as Eleonora’s Falcon and Cream-coloured Courser and now we were up for this final star-stalking challenge.

Hemipode’s eye view!

 

Here at Inglorious Bustards we take the welfare and future of the wildlife we love extremely seriously, so it goes without saying we would only see this species if it could be done without causing them undue disturbance in the breeding season.

So our strategy was to focus our attention on the ‘Pode’s breeding grounds in the area’s pumpkin fields, keeping a watchful eye and listening out for the characteristic ‘Moooooo! at dawn and dusk, but taking time to enjoy all the stunning wildlife the area has to offer.

The pretty little resort of Oualidia spreads around a languid crescent-shaped lagoon fringed with golden sands and protected from the Atlantic surf by a rocky breakwater.

Rolling fields stretch right down to the coast to meet marshes, reedbeds, saltpans, sandy beaches and rocky outcrops, so there’s lots to explore.

Beach birding, Oualidia

 

We had a wondrous boat trip out onto the lagoon, with local skipper Hassan, taking in a wealth of gulls waders and terns, including Audouin’s Gulls, Little Terns, Red Knot and Ruddy Turnstone.

Skipper Hassan

Hassan is also a formidable chef, and, mooring up on a sandbank, he cooked us up a delicious BBQ lunch of fresh local sardines and Moroccan salad, while we enjoyed watching fishing Little Terns and maroccanus Great Cormorants.

Well fed, we drifted back towards the town’s beach, and literally as we passed the royal palace, what should be waiting to greet us but a splendid Royal Tern, looking every bit the aristocrat?! These regal visitors to the area breed in West Africa and only turn up occasionally so we felt very privileged!

Between ‘Pode patrols we also visited the salt pans, rich in waders. Black-winged Stilts promenaded their chicks among Kentish Plovers, and Dunlin and Sanderling were all glammed up in summer plumage.

The fields around the beach brought enviable pickings for any photographer, enabling us to get within feet of gleaming Audouin’s Gulls and dapper Collared Pratincoles.

And as for the reclusive star? Excitingly, among a handful of Common Quails we encountered in the pumpkin fields, we had glimpses of Small Buttonquail, the pale underwing, contrasted wing coverts and strange, jerky flight giving the identity away.  And the pic? In the words of Sean O’Connell, rugged wildlife photographer in the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: “If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it…” ‘Nuff said.

Would you enjoy searching for a reclusive avian stars? Our unique ‘Choc & Pode’ tour, featuring Eleonora’s Falcon, Cream-coloured Courser, Andalusian Hemipode and much more is running again in 2018. Come join us!

And don’t forget to check out Tony’s wonderful artwork here.