... in the Straight of Gibraltar
Tarifa is a great place for birdwatching, being situated on the edge of Los Alcornocales National Park, and also on the migration route for more than 400 species of birds which fly in flocks towards the Straits of Gibraltar and across to Africa to spend the winter, and then return again in spring.
The best area to go is between Tarifa and Betis, 12km to the west of Tarifa. One spot you shouldn’t miss along this stretch is the Laguna de los Lances, near the beach of the same name. This coastal area is characterized by dunes and beaches, offering an important habitat for rare seabirds.
Good times to come are March and April, when the flocks of birds return to Europe from Africa for the warmer months, and mid-August to October, when they migrate south for the winter. See storks in summer and early autumn; look out for their astonishing courtship dance.
Here are some of the huge variety of bird species you might spot around Tarifa:
Black stork, white stork, common crane, common kingfisher, common cuckoo, melodious warbler, moustached warbler, Sardinian warbler, European roller, grey heron, flamingo, crag martin, marbled teal, bee-eater, little owl, little ringed plover, glossy ibis, bald ibis, cattle egret, stonechat, hoopoe, white-rumped swift, little swift, Alpine swift, pallid swift, red-rumped swallow, cirl bunting, hawfinch, woodchat shrike, serin, spotless starling, Iberian chiffchaff, crested tit, firecrest, collared pratincole, red-legged partridge, southern grey shrike, short-toed treecreeper, and blue rock thrush.
Sea birds which are in the area: Audouin’s gull, avocet, lesser crested tern, sandwich tern, Arctic sandwich tern, whimbrel, dunlin, ringed and Kentish plover, sanderling, Cory’s and Balearic shearwater, gannet, skua, grey-legged gull, Atlantic puffin, common guillemot, and stone curlew.
Raptors rely on thermals to help them fly over land, as they are too big to power their own flight for long periods. As there are no thermals over the sea, they gain height and then cross here – the Straits offers the shortest distance (12km) to fly between the two continents. You could see the black kite, honey buzzard, short-toed eagle, booted eagle, griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, Ruppell’s vulture, kestrel, lesser kestrel, osprey, Montagu’s harrier, little owl, little bustard, marsh harrier, sparrowhawk, common buzzard, and hobby. Many of these birds can be seen around San Bartolome mountain, situated between Tarifa and Bolonia. High on this mountain are the 2 small hamlets called Betis and Betijuelo.
From our apartment you can see a plethora of migrating and residential birds including the nest sites of Vultures and Kestrels amongst others. Within our spacious garden there are many bird varieties as well as reptiles, mammals and insects. On occasion you will see Mongooses and Genets in or around the garden as they are attracted by the free-range chickens we keep.