Birdwatching in Andalusia

Flamingos in Andalusia

Flamingos on Laguna de Fuente de Piedra

Spring is upon us and in some parts of Andalusia seems to be slightly earlier than usual. Here in Periana we already have a good display of Almond blossom and many plants are showing their appreciation of some really warm days. Not only does our climate attract birds but the migratory route across the straights of Gibraltar funnels many species to the area. In Spain there are over 500 recorded species and about 270 of these breed whilst here.

Serious birders will head for the area around Tarifa or Doñana and hope to see Andalusian and Iberian specialities such as: Spanish imperial eagles, Andalucian hemipode, glossy ibis, spoonbills, whiteheaded duck, red knobbed coot etc etc. The list is endless and there is of course the added bonus of travelling in areas of outstanding beauty with impressive cultural and historic heritage. The sweeping plains, salty marshes, evergreen forests, wild olive trees, oaks and firs together with unusual flora and fauna ensure a steady stream of visitors. (Both feathered and plain varieties).

Eagles are just one of hundreds of migratory birds seen in Andalusia

The main crossing point is Tarifa just 14km wide which doesn’t seem much even for small birds such as swallows which in any event migrate thousands of miles. However 15% of the birds attempting the crossing perish each year and this has a knock-on effect for other countries further down the migratory route. In any year you may see some of the following species using this highway: Cuckoos, black storks, white storks, red kites, ospreys, honey buzzards, hen harriers, snipe, oystercatchers, avocets, puffins, bee-eaters, gulls, wheatears and many many more.

The best time for birdwatching is before the heat of summer and many visitors like to combine walking with birdwatching and photography. The hills and mountain ranges around Cantueso in Periana is ideal walking country, with walks of every degree of difficulty, from a family amble to more serious assault courses up Mount Maroma.

Last February we hosted over three thousand flamingos on Lake Viñuela just below us, they were no doubt en route to join their friends on Laguna de Fuente de Piedra a little further north. This famous lagoon is about an hours drive away on the A45 near Antequera and has the largest breeding colony of great flamingos in Europe. Eight to 12,000 pairs and many other species such as: gull billed tern, slender billed gull, kentish plover and montagu’s harrier all breed here. Best to visit before June as the water tends to dry up in the heat of summer.

Spain is one of the best countries in Europe for birdwatching

Please also see our website section on walking, photography and birdwatching.

Websites and books for further reading:

http://www.siren.org.uk

http://www.andaluciabirdsociety.org

“Birdwatching on Spain’s Southern Coast” by John R. Butler