Birdwatching & nature photography holidays in Gibraltar, Spain & Morocco
A V I A N T O U R S
Morocco is situated in the northwest corner of Africa, between c 21° and 36° N, and is basically an African country with a large Mediterranean region. Except for the extreme south that is part of the Sahara, rains fall mainly during the cool season (October - April) and the summers are hot and dry; drought prevails in the Saharan region throughout the year. Friendly people, great scenery and bird specialities; Morocco is one of the favourite destination for birders in search of endangered or rare species such as Bald Ibis, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Tawny Eagle, Eleonora's Falcon, and African Marsh Owl, as well as other species such as Dupont's Lark, Moussier's Redstart, Desert Warbler, Black-crowned Tchagra, and Desert Sparrow. The Country divides into a number of geo-physical regions, and this influences the birds that are found there. Mountains, 5 ranges Rif along the Mediterranean coast, the Central Plateau, the Middle Atlas, the High Atlas & the Anti-Atlas. Despite high human and animal pressure, forests of broad-leaved and coniferous trees are still widespread. 454 species have been recorded in Morocco and 209 regularly breed there. Most (c85%) breed north of the Atlas Mountains, because of the moister climate and more diversified habitat, so only about 35% breed in the Saharan region.
Every year, millions of West European migrants go to and pass through Morocco, mainly from late July to early November in the autumn, and from March to May in the spring. Most, especially passerines, migrate by night or over-fly too high to be seen during the day; others, like waders and gulls, often stop at wetlands to refuel, and provide unforgettable sights. The Straits of Gibraltar is famous for concentrating soaring birds, especially storks and raptors. Our bird guide will lead you in a quest to watch and photograph birds in Morocco a wide variety of species in a plethora of different habitats such as the famous Merzouga dunes complex, the Tagdilt Wheatear wall, etc.
Possible species (potential lifers!) that can be seen in our Moroccan tours include:-
Marbled Duck, Barbary Falcon, Lichenstein's Sangrouse, Spotted Sandgrouse, Crowned Sandgrouse, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Moussier’s Redstart, Mourning Wheatear, Andalucian Hempipode, Northern Bald Ibis, Tristram's Warbler, Red-rumped Wheatear, Maghreb Wheatear, Seebohm’s Wheatear, Long-legged Buzzard, Alpine Accentor, Alpine Chough, House Bunting, Bar-tailed Lark, African Dunn's Lark, Temminck's Horned Lark, Thick-billed Lark, Hoopoe Lark, Black-crowed Sparrow-Lark, Moroccan Great Spotted and Levaillant’s Woodpecker, African Blue Tit, Houbara Bustard, Desert Warbler, Desert Sparrow, Desert Lark, Cream-coloured Courser, White-crowned Wheatear, Scrub Warbler, Desert Olivaceous Warbler, Fulvous Babbler and Crimson-Winged Finch.
OUR BIRDING DESTINATIONS
Aviantours offers birdwatching tours the region ranging from Central Spain down south to Andalucia, Gibraltar and Morocco. For more info on these tours, see relevant info below the contact form underneath.
Our birdwatching tours range from half-day, 1, 3, 5, 7, 11 days or a fully customised tour with your own days. For daily rates see HERE. For more days, click on 'Tours' in the menu above.
Tours generally involve short walks, at a slow and relaxed pace on fairly good paths or close to the vehicle. Our guide will always advise on the level of walking for the day ahead, and no walks are compulsory. Some guests bring walking poles, and we advise on using appropiate footwear for all activities. This gives us the best flexibility and allows us to react to the wildlife and if necessary wander off from the tracks. Some species such as Rufous-tailed rock thrush require accending to considerable heights so please bare this in mind if this species is on your wishlist. Generally we will try not to organise a tour group with participants with opposing walking abilities / fitness levels. If you and your group prefer a more sedentary tour we will organise that for you.
Our trips will cater for all experiences levels. Our guides are knowledgeable not only about birds & nature, but also have a good knowledge of regional history which adds to the experience. We try not to use complicated birder's lingo or too much technical chatter! We will aim for our clients to get the most out of their holidays both in terms of education and enjoyment. Our guides will be ready to answer all of your questions.
Birdwatching in the area can generally involve spending lots of hours in the field so it is paramount clients bring with them appropiate clothing, comfortable, sturdy shoes, suncream, mosquito repellant, a hat or cap and sunshades.
Gibraltar is served directly from the UK from the following airports; London Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester via Easyjet, British Airways & Monarch.
The primary habitat in Gibraltar is maquis, or dense Mediterranean scrub. This is mostly made up of tall bushes that include wild olive, Mediterranean buckthorn, lentisc, Osyris, terebinth, and smaller bushes that include shrubby scorpion vetch, spiny broom, teline, wild jasmine, shrubby germander and felty germander. The bay laurel, and the dwarf fan palm are also found in parts of the maquis. Understory plants include the intermediate periwinkle, Butcher’s broom, Italian arum and Bear's breech. The firebreaks in the maquis are home to plants such as paper-white narcissus, common asphodel, giant Tangier fennel, wild gladiolus, Galactites and mallow bindweed.
Gibraltar is the narrowest crossing point for birds migrating to and from Europe and Africa, the Rock offers unrivalled bird watching opportunities. 315 species of birds have been recorded, many of which are migratory. Gibraltar, at the head of the Strait, is a prominent headland, which accumulates migrants during the passage periods. The vegetation on the Rock, unique in southern Iberia, provides a temporary home for many species of migratory birds that stop to rest and feed before continuing migration for their crossing over the desert and sea. In spring they return to replenish before continuing their journeys to Western Europe, journeys that may take them as far as Greenland or Russia. Because of the lack of natural fresh water streams & rivers in Gibraltar, a lot of the species you would expect to see across the border in nearby Spain often associated with such habitats such as Grey Wagtails, Nightgales, Cetti’s Warbler and others, are generally absent and only ever encountered on the rock during passage periods.
European Shags, the only mainland site in Europe for Barbary Partridges, Peregrine Falcon, Common & Lesser Kestrels, Common, Pallid & Alpine Swifts, Blue Rock Thrush, House Martin, Eagle Owl and thousands of Yellow-legged Gulls. A plethora of smaller songbirds such as Spotted Flycatcher, Sardianian Warbler, Blackcap, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Serin, Zitting Cisticola and many others also breed.
Spring & autumn regular passage migrants include, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Turtle Dove, Northern & Black-eared Wheatears, Subalpine & Spectacled Warblers, Willow Warbler, Western Olivacious Warbler, Whinchat, Common Redstart, Tree & Tawny Pipit, Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Ortolan Bunting to name just a few! More scare migrants include Lanner Falcon, Roller, Stone Curlew and others. For a more detailed species migration timetable in Gibraltar visit.
They include Alpine Accentor, Black Redstart, Robin, Tawny Owl, Woodcock, Skylark, Thekla Larks, Meadow Pipit, Dartford Warbler, Firecrest Zitting Cisticola, Stonechat and in the past have included species such as Wallcreeper & Yellow-browed Warbler.
Depending on the Spain tour you choose with Aviantours, you can fly into Spain via Madrid, Jerez, Seville, Malaga or by using one of the many UK airports serving flights straight to Gibraltar from London Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester via Easyjet, British Airways & Monarch. Please contact us before booking any flights.
Doñana is the most important wetland in Western Europe. It is protected due its unique landscape and range of habitats and is an ideal environment for wildlife. It is home to 125 species of resident birds, but is also a major site for migratory birds, supporting a further 125 species. The silty residue and sandbanks created by the delta waters of the River Guadalquivir create an ideal environment for huge flocks of breeding and winter birds including terns and a variety of waders.
Residents - Glossy Ibis Spoonbill Little Egret Cattle Egret Night Heron Flamingo Squacco Heron Red-crested Pochard Hoopoe, Red-knobbed Coot, Stone Curlew, Spanish Sparrow, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Spanish Imperial Eagle, White-headed Duck, Marbled Duck and Bittern and many others.
Summer Birds - Savi´s Warbler Purple Heron Bee-eater Little Bittern Gull-billed Tern Booted Eagle Whiskered Tern Subalpine Warbler Short-toed Lark Purple Heron Bee-eater Little Bittern Gull-billed Tern Short-toed Eagle Black Tern Collared Pratincole Roller Western Olivaceous Warbler Rufous Bush Robin
Migrants - Garganey, Wood Sandpiper, Temminck´s Stint, Spotted Redshank, Whinchat, Common Redstart, Aquatic Warbler amongst many others.
Winter Birds - Common Crane, Red Kite, Back-shoudeed Kite, Curlew Sandpiper Pintail Shoveler Wigeon Great White Egret Osprey Crane Black-tailed Godwit Black Stork
Mammals include:- Iberian Lynx, Fox, Mongoose, Genet, Wild Boar, Red and Fallow Deer
The Autonomous Community of Extremadura is considered one of the most important regions in Europe for birds and thus it is among the most prized destinations for birdwatching enthusiasts and nature lovers from all over the world, drawn by the possibility of observing birds in natural habitats of great beauty and also of enjoying the interesting cultural and historical heritage of Extremadura.
It is without a doubt an authentic birdwatching paradise due to the excellent state of conservation of its natural habitats, in which Mediterranean vegetation finds one of its best expressions. Wood pasture (dehesa) is the most emblematic landscape of the region and plays a crucial role in the great diversity of birds, as many species are closely associated with this valuable habitat. But this territory also brings together a great variety of habitats that make up a complex mosaic, from high mountain landscapes of the Sierra de Gredos mountain range, passing through the extensive pasture lands of the peneplains, the dense Mediterranean forest formations that still cover the sides of many mountains and riverbanks, to the intricate network of waterways, tributaries of the Tajo and Guadiana rivers distinguished by large reservoirs. The agricultural landscape completes and enriches this diverse mosaic, integrating itself harmoniously with the natural habitats and highlighting the importance for the birds of the grain fields and irrigated crops, mainly rice and corn.
Some of the birds that can be seen includes:-
Spanish Imperial Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Golden Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Black-shouldered Kite, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Black Wheatear, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Purple Swamphen, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Great Spotted Cuckoo, European Roller, European Bee-eater, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush (only likely if visiting Villuercas Mountains), Western Orphean Warbler, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Iberian Magpie...
La Janda which is an ancient desiccated lake, formerly the home and former breeding ground of species such as Demoiselle Cranes & African Marsh Owls. The last remaining, and most southerly breeding populations of Common Crane dissapeared in the mid 1950′s when La Janda was finally drained. The surrounding area is a breeding ground for various rare waterbirds and species such as Osprey, deer and other wildlife.
La Janda is still under threat from that spices called Homo Sapiens better known as ‘man’. Habitat loss is the main factor affecting La Janda, which is currently being used for extensive agricultre, particularly rice, which thankfully has some sort of positive effect on the bird life as it means large portions of otherwise dry farmland now remains wet for the most part of the year, attracting large numbers of water birds. During the winter months, and depending on the amount of rainfall, it becomes a naturally flooded plain which has through the years, become less conspicuous.
I remember in my younger days, after heavy sustained rainfall, the area was transformed into a vast lake several kilometres in length, most of it approximately 6m below sea level. These wonderful sights are now a thing of the past, as improvement in drainage has meant that although the area does temporarily flood up to a certain extent, its nowhere as impressive as it used to be. neverthess, the birdlife is still rich and varied even in the driest and warmest of seasons. Between Benalup and Alcala de Los Gazules a huge dam exists, called the Presa de Barbate. Its purpose was to prevent the fluctuating waters that connected the Marismas de Barbate to La Janda in winter overflowing and flooding La Janda. This presa (reservoir) serves to irrigate the rice fields in summer. The rice is planted in May and harvested from September to November.
Residents - Glossy Ibis, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Bonelli's Eagle,White Stork, Griffon Vulture, Little Bustard (rare in summer), Purple Swamphen, Black-Winged Stilt, Stone-Curlew, Eagle Owl, Calandra Lark, Thekla Lark, Fan-Tailed Warbler, Spotless Starling Various species of Finch.
Breeding Season - Black Kite, Egyptian Vulture, Short-Toed Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Booted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Collared Pratincole, Scops Owl, Red-Necked Nightjar, Bee-Eater, Hoopoe, Greater Short-Toed Lark, Red-Rumped Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Rufous Bush Chat, Reed Warbler, Western Olivacious Warbler Woodchat Shrike, Ortolan Bunting, Yellow Wagtail.
Passage - Great Bustard (Rare), Common Crane, Garganey, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, White Stork, Black Stork, Honey Buzzard, Osprey, Roller, Wryneck, Lesser Short-Toed Lark, Bluethroat, Black-Eared Wheatear, Warblers and finches, , Roller, Bee-Eater, Black-Shouldered Kite, Purple Heron, Montagu’s Harrier, Tawny Pipit, Spoonbill, Stone Curlew, Red-Rumped Swallow, Red Kite, Northern Wheatear, Whinchat, Black Kite, Cattle Egret, Purple Swamphen, Gull-Billed Tern, Crag Martin, Greenshank, Tree Pipit, Glossy Ibis, Pallid Harrier, Long-Legged Buzzard, Little Bustard, Woodchat Shrike, Melodious Warbler, Fan-Tailed Warbler, Corn Bunting, Hoopoe, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit.
Winter - Red Kite, Black-shouldered Kite, Imperial Eagle, Golden Plover lapwing, Common Crane, Little Bustard, Short-eared Owl, Long-eared Owl Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Black redstart, Bluethroat, Penduline Tit. In some years, species have included Pallid Harrier and in some years, Red-footed Falcon.
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