Migrating Over a Carpet of Flowers

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Pink Mallow and Purple Viper’s Bugloss

The last few weeks have been pretty busy for me with lots of tours and finding lots of . This year’s early rain through the month of March was extreme but all along we knew that it would be a spectacular spring and hence have been rewarded with carpets of amazing multicoloured blooms covering the Cadiz landscape.

Our day trips took us to all corners of Cadiz province and every cove and headland along The Strait of Gibraltar. We headed inland through the agricultural plains of La Janda and through the edge of the mighty Alcornocales Natural Park and into the Campo de Gibraltar. Mixed weather did slow down some bird species arrival but on the whole we had some excellent views of rare birds with many photographers managing to take stunning shots of birds and spectacular scenery.

April is such a lovely month and this year I arranged to do less tour abroad in order to keep in touch with what was happening on our own doorstep. It’s always a great month for birds and we do get a lot of enquiries from raptor enthusiasts and photographers who are always interested in watching .

Male

We made some walks through the pine forest of La Breñas above Barbate to watch the Peregrine Falcons that beed there on the 100 m sandstone cliffs. It’s a fantastic place to get an overview of the The Strait of Gibraltar and it’s prominent position down to Barbate and across to Tangier in Morocco. Some times if you are lucky you can watch the birds in flight or see them sitting on the cliffs.

On one ocasion during April we travelled to Gibraltar to look at a pair of nesting Peregrines. We had closer views and managed to take some photos. Watching Northern Gannets from the eastern side of Gibralar is worthwhile although at this time of year most birds have left the Mediterranean Sea and The Strait.

Bee-eaters arriving in spring add to the colour of the landscape

The first of the Bee-eaters arrived early this year at the end of March and it took another few weeks for the bulk of this species to come across to Europe. Hearing their loud chirping call as they fly high across the open sky is such a lovely sound.There are a few Bee-eater colonies where you can take photos like this as the birds return to their tunneled nests. Incidentally, Bee-eaters arrive in spring with quite a long bill but by the end of tunnelling new nest chambers they can loose 2-3cms in bill length. It grows back though…

The mouth of the Barbate River in springThe Barbate River flows past the edge of this famous tuna fishing port with the same name. Barbate was put on the map, so to speak by General Franco’s love for the area and the passion he had for big game fishing like Marlin and Blue-Fin Tuna. The port was developed and canning industry was an important factor in developing this beautiful coastline as a Spanish holiday resort in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Swaying Purple Bugloss, Yellow Margaritas and Red Vetch in the wind…

The Roman Ruins of Baleo Claudia on the coast beside the village of Bolonia, Cadiz

Wild Carrots and thistles

Convolvulus

Swallowing insects

swathed in Purple Viper’s Bugloss

A male Common Stonechat braces itself in the high winds

A pair of migrating Whinchats at Barbate Marismas

Migrating male Hobby

Cattle outnumber humans most of the year on the beach between Barbate and Zahara de los Atunas

Corn feeding

A male Montagu’s Harrier hunts low in the levante across broom and gorse

collecting mud close to it’s nest site

Spring Thistle

nest very close to our house in the marismas

Pink Field Scabious

Turtle Dove’s have sublime beauty and to think that ‘sport’ hunters fly down to Morocco from Europe to kill them, not to eat them… it’s just ‘sport’!

The Strait of Gibraltar – So different with astounding natural beauty!

Stephen Daly

Stephen Daly

, has been birding since he was eight years old in his native Scotland. After living in Germany and France he established Andalucian Guides the successful birding and wildlife tour company on The Strait of Gibraltar in and has been living here since 2001. Photographing birds in flight is one passion and his photos can be found in many books, magazines and journals. Studying bird behaviour and bird migration are two other positive aspects of being based on one of the busiest migration routes on Earth.

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