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Jan 15th - 28th. - Sri Lanka. £1750

Feb 12th -27th - Costa Rica - full

Mar 20th - 30th Morocco - 10 nights. - £1190

April 5th - 12th - Andalucia migration tour. - £750 - 2 places

April 16th - 24th - Coto Donana & Extremadura - £950 - 2 places

April 29th - 6th May. - Lesvos - £875

May 8th - 15th - Portugal - full


May 13th - 21st Bulgaria - £850

May 23rd - 30th - Andalucia birds and butterflies - £750

May 31st - June 8th. - Extremadura and Sierra de Gredos - £950

June 12th - 20th - Pyrenees and Picos de Europa - £1050


FLIGHTS NOT INCLUDED IN THESE PRICES



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Red-throated Bee-eater

Red-throated Bee-eater
join us for a fantastic tour of The Gambia this November

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

MOROCCO SHORT BREAK-FEB 28th 2012

DAY 2 - TUES FEB 28TH – Moulay Bousselham to Rabat via Lac de Sidi Bourhaba Nature Reserve.

Another beautiful morning with a fantastic sunrise, I took an early morning walk down to the shore of the lake. It was a little chilly but a superb morning, the lake was like a mill-pond, many waders, gulls and terns were on the water and along its shoreline. I added Slender-billed Gull to the list and saw many waders that I listed yesterday. New passerines for the trip list included Pallid Swift, Sand Martin, Common Bubul, Serin and Hoopoe.

After breakfast I packed my things and headed for the motorway in the direction of Rabat. At Kenitre I exited the motorway and drove through the town before turning off towards the Atlantic coastline and the large lagoon at Sidi Bourhaba. Along the way I saw several Black Kites, a couple of Marsh Harriers and my first migrant Booted Eagle of the year!

My first glimpse of the lagoon was from the roadside high above the water, I could see the southern tip and the reed fringed water held quite a few birds. I found Purple Swamphen, Cetti’s Warbler, Little Grebe, White headed Duck, Red-knobbed Coot, Shoveler, Teal and Moorhen.



I made several stops along the lagoon as I headed back northward along the western shoreline. My first Moroccan Magpies were very obliging and I found Marbled Duck, Common Pochard and Common Coot in the water. What a great place, White-headed Duck, Red-knobbed Coot and Marbled Duck all on the same piece of water!!!

Several more Marsh Harriers were in view and one or two were displaying. I found a lovely causeway that led into the reserve proper, from there I added Red-crested Pochard to the tally. Inside the reserve I took a walk and found African Blue Tit, Great Tit, Serin and Goldfinch, a flock of Greater Flamingos and Great Crested Grebes.

I made my way back to the main road via a short-cut that took me an hour(Ernie Parker would laugh at this), but once I was headed in the right direction I relaxed and made a short stop in a cork oak wood where I found African Chaffinch, Eurasian Chiffchaff, Blackcap and I heard a Levaillant’s Woodpecker but it was too distant to track down.

It took the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon to find my next destination near Rabat, I made the mistake of keeping off the motorway and tried to weave my way through Rabat, big mistake, never to be repeated.

Eventually I was watching birds on the coast near Temara. I added Sanderling, Little Ringed Plover and Curlew Sandpiper to my wader list and Mediterranean Gull to my gull list. The rest of the day was spent locating my hotel and paying a visit to the well known site for Double-spurred Francolin. Along the way, via several diversions (many new roads and building sites have appeared since my last visit), I found several roadside pools holding lots of ducks, herons and egrets.

My luck was in and I found a single Francolin as it walk across a forest track in front of the car, wow, that was a relief, the best time to see this species is first thing in the morning, now I can have a lie in, ha!

My mission was accomplished. I had relocated all the sites I wanted to in readiness for my forthcoming tour with clients. So Tomorrow I will drive directly to Tangier and catch a lunch-time ferry back to Spain.

MOROCCO SHORT BREAK-FEB 2012

DAY 1 - MON FEB 27TH – Tarfia – Tangier – Moulay Bousselham via Asilah and Larache

An early start was made so that I could arrive in Tarifa in good time for the the first ferry at 9am.

It was a lovely morning, with a bit of a nip in the air but the sea was calm.

The crossing went smoothly, I logged my first species of the trip during the voyage, Yellow-legged Gull, Black Headed Gull, Northern Gannet, Cory’s and Balearic Shearwater, Great Cormorant and a Great Skua.

Getting through customs with an English car which is registered in my wife’s name proved a little tricky, but as soon as a few euros had crossed the palm of the customs man I was on my way. It took 20 minutes to get out of Tangier and soon the countryside was looking nice.

My first stop was North of Asilah near the mouth of the Oued Tahadart, I parked just south of the bridge and scanned from the roadside. Sandwich Terns patrolled the river whilst Curlew, Grey Plover, Black-winged Stilt and Redshank fed on the mud-banks, a Marsh Harrier and a few Lapwings littered the sky.

Next I stopped to scanned some open fields hoping for a glimpse of a Little Bustard, but failed. I did see Little Owl, Hen Harrier, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel and Corn Bunting. A few hundred yards further along the road I could see some seasonal pools, in fact the whole area was lush green so a lot of rain had fallen recently, a stark contrast to the arid conditions in Spain.

The pools were quite productive, I saw about fifty Greater Flamingos, a nice flock of Golden Plover, Green Sandpiper, Water Pipit and lots of Barn Swallows. I then drove to Asilah and just before entering the town I turned right to follow a road heading back northward. This led to a wonderful series of hillocks and huge open pastures, this was an area well known for bustards in days gone by. Not surprising, I failed to find any! In compensation I was rewarded with good views of Black-winged Kite and also Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Meadow Pipit, Corn Bunting, Stonechat, Skylark, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Spotless Starling.

Just south of Asilah I stopped at the rubbish dump, there were hundreds of Cattle Egrets, White Storks, Jackdaws and Spotless Starlings.

It was approaching lunchtime and the temperature was now a nice 18 C as I arrived at the Oued Loukkos Marshes. First I turned eastward off the main road and followed the river to its mouth, along the way I found: Curlew, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Greenshank, Ringed Plover and thousands of Gulls. A flock of Wigeon on the water was nice and on the way back I found 7 Caspian Terns on a sandbank with Sandwich Terns and some Gulls which included a single adult Audouin’s Gull.

The best part of this huge marsh complex is found east of the main road just on the north side of the main bridge. This tarmac road leads for many kilometers into the marsh but I found most birds after about 4km. The pools were full of birds as I got out of the car I noticed some movement on the opposite side of the road, a crake had just run from a clump of marram grass into a ditch. I didn’t have to wait long before a beautiful Spotted Crake emerged and started feeding close by, what a thrill, my third new species for Morocco this year, following Woodcock and Short-eared Owl earlier in the month!



A flock of Common Coot held at least a dozen Red-knobbed Coots and a huge flock of Glossy ibis were joined by Little Egrets, Grey Heron, Spoonbill and White Storks in the middle of the marsh. Much nearer were Ruff, Common Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilts, Dunlin, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Snipe, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lapwing, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Little Grebe and Common Moorhen. Another Black-winged Kite appeared and five Marsh Harriers were quartering the area.

I reluctantly left the marsh area and drove through Larache, on the south side of the town I turned westward onto a side road to look for the ‘Merjas of the Rharb’, a series of 3 lagoons hidden in the rolling hills andFarmland. I found all 3 but was a little disappointed as it was hard to get near them, the sun was also in the south and it was difficult viewing. So I left them and set off for my final destination the Merja Zerja lagoon at Moulay Bousselham. I checked into my hotel in Moulay before setting off to look at the lagoon, the hotel had fantastic views of the blue lagoon, it was looking superb in the afternoon sunlight.

I spent the rest of the daylight searching for the ‘well known’ spot where everyone goes to find Marsh Owl, I couldn’t find it!!! But I did find many hundreds of birds and I added Great Egret to the Tally, tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

FEB 25TH - PUNTA UMBRIA WALK

Dawn and I took a late morning walk along one of our favourite tracks which is found just north of the village. We set off in bright, warm sunshine, it was about 16 C with a light breeze.

Over the next 2 hours we logged many woodland species as the track climbed up through a cork oak forest. Many Robins, blackcaps and Chaffinches were singing we also heard Wren, Great Tit, Sardinian Warbler and both Great-spotted & Green Woodpeckers were calling and drumming. Jays, Common Buzzards, Eurasian Nuthatch and Short-toed Treecreeper were found towards the end of the walk.

Some interesting butterflies we on the wing: Spanish Festoon, Brimstone, Cleopatra and Large Tortoiseshell were the most abundant.

THE BAD NEWS IS THAT I DROPPED MY CAMERA AND NOW IT DOESN'T WORK!!

FEB 24TH - RIO GENAL

A late afternoon walk along my local river, the Rio Genal, produced many winter-migrants. Spring is in the air as several species were singing: Chaffinch, Blackcap, Song Thrush, Robin, Wren and Cetti's Warbler.

A view up to my village, Gaucin, taken from the Rio Genal, you can just see the castle on the brow of the hill.


Soon most of these birds will set off northward to their breeding grounds in Northern Europe.
Two shots of the river, there is a surprising amount of water still flowing even though we have had very little rain this winter.



Our most common winter visitors are:

White Wagtail



Blackcap

Black Redstart

Song Thrush
also we get many:

European Robin

Chaffinch

Common Starling

along with many Goldfinches, Linnets, Greenfinch, Siskin and Blackbird that winter in these parts.

Spring migrants are showing up everyday now: Barn Swallow, House martin, Red-rumped Swallow and Black Kites.Excviting times are ahead!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

ANDALUCIA - DAY TOUR FEB 20TH

SERRANIA DE RONDA - LAGUNA DULCE - TEBA GORGE

Today I collected Kurt and Ann-Marie from their hotel in Marbella at 8:30am. They are Danish and they had a small list of five 'lifers' for me to find for them.

Rock Sparrow
Black Wheatear
Little Owl
Bonelli's Eagle
Calandra Lark

No problem!


KURT & ANN-MARIE IN THE FIELDS BEHIND LAGUNA DULCE WATCHING CALANDRA LARKS

We drove from Marbella up to Ronda and turned onto the Algeciras road, after 10km we stopped in a mountainous region to look for the first of the 'lifers'. Within seconds of pulling over we found our first target bird as two Rock Sparrows sat on a wall and chirped at us!!!

Then, within 5 minutes, the second bird appeared, a male Black Wheatear flew onto a rock pinnacle just below us! We watched the bird flitting about for a while and then well satisfied with our findings we set off back towards Ronda. Other species seen at this first venue were: Blue Rock Thrush, Red-billed Chough, Spectacled Warbler, Red-legged Partridge, Linnet and Goldfinch.

BLACK-TAILED GODWITS SEEN AT LAGUNA DULCE

Our next stop was at the Encinas Borraches track, there we located two Little Owls within a short walk from the car, target number 3 in the bag. We also saw: Southern Grey Shrike, Corn Bunting, Thekla Lark, Stonechat, Spainsh Sparrow, Meadow Pipit and lots more Goldfinches.

From Ronda we drove towards Teba and Campillos, after 20km we stopped at a good spot from where to see Bonelli's Eagle. Sure enough as we jumped out of the car we saw a bird fly from the nearest cliff-face and was seen to chase off a few passing Griffon Vulutres. Before long we had seen two of these magnificent eagles, they soared and perched for us to admire them, that was number 4 in the bag.

Lastly we drove to Campillos and visited the laguna Dulce and surrounding fields.Our first birds there were Golden Plover, six of them were feeding close to the track. After a short drive into open fields we found several Calandra Larks, they were pairing off, displaying and cavorting on the ground. That was our final bird in the bag and it was only 12:30am.

Other species seen in the area were: Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Common Snipe (seen in a ditch), Lapwing, Skylark, Corn Bunting, White Wagtails. From our vantage point on the fields we could see that the laguna was covered in thousands of birds and that is where we went next.

We ate our picnic lunch sitting in the hide overlooking the laguna. We saw many species there, the best of which were: Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, White headed Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Tufted Duck, Ferruginous Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Common Pochard, Teal, Shoveler, Purple Swamphen and our star find a 1st winter LITTLE GULL.

We drove back to Marbella the same way we had come, except that we stopped at the Teba Gorge, nothing new was seen but the gorge looked good.

My new friends were very happy with their day out and Kurt was over the moon with seeing his 5 'lifers'.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

MOROCCO FEB 7TH - 17TH 2012 - SPECIES LIST

1. Great Crested Grebe

2. Little Grebe

3. Northern Gannet

4. Great Cormorant

5. Balearic Shearwater

6. Little Egret

7. Cattle Egret

8. Great White Egret

9. Grey Heron

10. Purple Heron

11. Black-crowned Night Heron

12. Glossy Ibis

13. Bald Ibis

14. White Stork

15. Black Stork

16. Eurasian Spoonbill

17. Greater Flamingo

18. Common Shelduck

19. Ruddy Shelduck

20. Mallard

21. Gadwall

22. Wigeon

23. Common Teal

24. Northern Shoveler

25. Marbled Duck

26. Western Marsh Harrier

27. Hen Harrier

28. Eurasian Sparrowhawk

29. Long-legged Buzzard

30. Golden Eagle

31. Bonelli’s Eagle

32. Osprey

33. Common Kestrel

34. Lanner Falcon

35. Barbary Falcon

36. Peregrine Falcon

37. Barbary Partridge

38. Common Quail

39. Common Moorhen

40. Eurasian Coot

41. Oystercatcher

42. Black-winged Stilt

43. Pied Avocet

44. Stone Curlew

45. Cream-coloured Courser

46. Common Ringed Plover

47. Little Ringed Plover

48. Kentish Plover

49. Grey Plover

50. Sanderling

51. Little Stint

52. Curlew Sandpiper

53. Dunlin

54. Red Knot

55. Ruff

56. Common Snipe

57. Woodcock

58. Black-tailed Godwit

59. Bar-tailed Godwit

60. Eurasian Curlew

61. Spotted Redshank

62. Common Redshank

63. Common Greenshank

64. Green Sandpiper

65. Common Sandpiper

66. Ruddy Turnstone

67. Mediterranean Gull

68. Black-headed Gull

69. Slender-billed Gull

70. Audouin’s Gull

71. Lesser Black-backed Gull

72. Yellow Legged Gull

73. Sandwich Tern

74. Black-bellied Sandgrouse

75. Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon

76. Eurasian Collared Dove

77. Wood Pigeon

78. Laughing Dove

79. Great Spotted Cuckoo

80. Pharoah Eagle Owl

81. Little Owl

82. Short-eared Owl

83. Pallid Swift

84. Little Swift

85. Alpine Swift

86. Red-necked Nightjar

87. Common Kingfisher

88. Eurasian Hoopoe

89. Levaillant’s Woodpecker

90. Great Spotted Woodpecker

91. Bar-tailed Lark

92. Desert Lark

93. Hoopoe Lark

94. Lesser Short-toed Lark

95. Crested Lark (also Long-billed Crested Lark)

96. Thekla Lark

97. Skylark

98. Atlas Horned Lark

99. Temminck’s Horned Lark

100. Plain Martin

101. Sand Martin

102. Crag Martin

103. Barn Swallow

104. House Martin

105. Meadow Pipit

106. Tree Pipit

107. Water Pipit

108. Grey Wagtail

109. White Wagtail (also Moroccan Wagtail)

110. Common Bulbul

111. White-throated Dipper

112. Wren

113. Alpine Accentor

114. European Robin

115. Bluethroat

116. Black Redstart

117. Moussier’s Redstart

118. Stonechat

119. Desert Wheatear

120. Red-rumped Wheatear

121. Magreb Wheatear

122. White-crowned Wheatear

123. Black Wheatear

124. Eurasian Blackbird

125. Mistle Thrush

126. Song Thrush

127. Cetti’s Warbler

128. Zitting Cisticola

129. Scrub Warbler

130. Dartford Warbler

131. Tristram’s Warbler

132. Spectacled Warbler

133. Sardinian Warbler

134. African Desert Warbler

135. Blackcap

136. Eurasian Chiffchaff

137. Iberian Chiffchaff

138. Firecrest

139. Fulvus Babbler

140. Coal Tit

141. African Blue Tit

142. Great Tit

143. Black-crowned Tchagra

144. Great Grey Shrike

145. Common Magpie

146. Alpine Chough

147. Red-billed Chough

148. Northern Raven

149. Brown-necked Raven

150. Spotless Starling

151. Common Starling

152. House Sparrow

153. Spanish Sparrow

154. Rock Sparrow

155. Desert Sparrow

156. African Chaffinch

157. European Serin

158. European Greenfinch

159. European Goldfinch

160. Eurasian Linnet

161. Crossbill

162. Trumpeter Finch

163. Crimson-winged Finch

164. Hawfinch

165. Cirl Bunting

166. Rock Bunting

167. House Bunting

168. Corn Bunting