Autumn in Andalucia

The iconic Andalucian species – White-headed Duck

We’ve just returned from one of our regular early autumn birding trips to Andalucia. We flew on this occasion with Jet2 from Stansted to Malaga – very impressed with their service, hired a car from OK Rental and stayed in Antequera, Vejer de la Frontera and, for the last three nights, at Las Margaritas in Tarifa. We were joined by Neil, my long-standing birding friend, and his partner Nicola. The weather was warm (up to 42 degrees on occasions) with a moderate easterly wind and good visibility throughout, which meant that is was far from ideal conditions for observing raptor migration. With the relative dry conditions and a lack of any open water on La Handa the birding was harder than usual, but we did manage to clock up 163 species in the week nonetheless, including all five breeding species of swift – the undoubted highlight of this years trip! The supporting cast included: White-headed Duck (over 70 on Laguna Medina), Marbled Teal, Ferruginous Duck, Black Stork, Black-shouldered Kite, Bonelli’s Eagle, 22 species of wader, Slender-billed & Audouin’s Gull, Red-necked Nightjar, Azure-winged Magpie, Calandra & Thekla Lark, Bonelli’s, Olivaceous, Sub-alpine and Orphan Warbler, Spotless Starling, Rock Sparrow, Tawny Pipit, Hawfinch and Crossbill. With several interesting butterfly and dragonfly sp added to the mix, it made for a thoroughly enjoyable and relatively relaxing holiday – although it’s true we were out of our hotel from 07.00 to 23.00 on one occasion!

Amongst the 22 wader species seen were plenty of Curlew Sandpiper 

Slender-billed Gull were plentiful at the Bonanza salt-pans and Los Lanches

Also along the beach at Los Lanches – Cory’s Shearwater came close to the shore

Passerine interest was many and varied – with Zitting Cisticola

Rock Bunting


Greater Short-toed Lark

and Olivaceous Warbler

Hoopoe added a splash of colour

But it’s really the raptors which provide the interest and challenge to an Andalucian autumn

Here is a juvenile (pale form) Short-toed Eagle

A scarce Bonelli’s Eagle

and best of all on this trip – melanistic form of Montagu’s Harrier

If the raptors aren’t obliging then usually the storks are

With careful observation the much scarcer Black Stork can be found

But the real highlight of this years trip were the swifts. Along with the more regularly encountered Alpine, Common and Pallid, we found several late breeding Little Swift (record shot)

Here’s one leaving it’s nest

and, for the first time in probably the last half-dozen visits – White-rumped 

This part of Spain is also home to a number of self-sustaining populations of imported species, including Common Waxbill

With dragonflies and butterflies providing additional interest – here Violet Dropwing in the foreground

Another good trip to Spain, with great scenery, food and birds.. we’ll be back before long!


This entry was posted in Birding.

3 comments on “Autumn in Andalucia

  1. John Eady says:

    Hi Trevor,
    I think the darter looks like a violet dropwing, Trithemis annulata, a jewel of an insect. Looks as though you had a great trip, and thanks for your wonderful blog,
    Best wishes
    John Eady

  2. […] For anyone remotely interested I’ve now posted a short blog covering our recent trip to Andalucia – click here to see […]

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