Birding Cadiz Province
A QUICK GUIDE TO 12 TOP SITES
Cadiz is a very varied province with a diverse coastline, wetlands, farmlands, woodlands and mountains and a birdlife to match. Some specialities like Crested Coot, White-headed & Marbled Duck Little and White-rumped Swift are found in few other parts of Spain and scarcely, if at all, elsewhere in Europe.
In spring and autumn the spectacle of huge numbers of migrating kites, vultures, eagles, etc. is rivalled by a only two or three sites in Europe and only a handful more worldwide. The dozen sites described here allow you to see most of the 'key' species to be found in the province.
These notes are a condensed version of my 90 page guide to birding in Cadiz province area which is available on request. This guide is free to private users (although an appropriate donation to the RSPB or SEO, or similar, would be appreciated).
For further information on birding in Cadiz province (and elsewhere in SW Spain) also see my web page/blog - http://birdingcadizprovince.weebly.com.
Contact me via my web page (see above) as feedback always appreciated! Good birding John Cantelo
1 Alcala & Molinos Valley 7 Bahia de Cadiz (Cadiz Bay)2 Southern Alcornocales 8 Barbate Area3 Northern Alcornocales 9 Benalup & La Janda4 Laguna de Medina 10 Bolonia Area5 Sanlucar & Bonanza 11 Tarifa & Raptors6 Lagunas de Espera & 12 Llanos de Libar &
1 Alcala and the Molinos Valley The village of Alcala de los Gazules stands on the edge of the Alcornocales Natural Park into the Molinos valley (a) cuts. In the spring and summer the fences and wires provide vantage points for Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, Serin, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark and Stonechat. Several pairs of Black-eared Wheatear breed. At the end of the road a sendero (b) heads into the hills. The scrub holds, Iberian Chiffchaff plus Bonelli's & Sardinian Warbler, Firecrest, etc. Open area have Cirl Bunting and rocky tops have Blue Rockthrush. In winter and autumn look out for Spanish Grey Shrike and Siskin here.
Large numbers of Griffon Vultures spiral out of the mountains along the valley where other raptors present include Peregrine, Booted & Short-toed Eagle. Both Egyptian Vulture and Bonelli's Eagle are regular. The valley also has Little, Tawny, Barn and. Less often, Eagle Owl. The nearby village of Alcala (c) has one of the largest Lesser Kestrel colonies in the area and, in early spring c100 birds can be seen hawking over the pueblo. Walk along Calle Real and up to the Church at the top of the village to get good views of this iconic species. Below the village a sendero follows the river look for Golden Oriole here. Another good place for a walk is the old track to Paterna (d) which is off the service road north of the village. To the south (f) look for Red-rumped Swallow, Melodious and occasionally Olivaceous Warbler. On the far side of the A381 the habitat around the ermita (e) holds many of the birds noted in the Molinos valley. Embalse de Barbate can be viewed from several points; (g) where two senderos run down to the water, (h) Lomo del Judio & at the dam or 'presa' (I). The birds present here depends on the season and water level, but look out for Spoonbill, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Greenshank, etc. The scrub and tamarisk at (g) has Olivaceous Warbler, and the pines here have breeding White Stork and Cattle Egret. This is also a good point to scan for Osprey (part of an re-introduction scheme). Lomo del Judio is worth visiting to see the remains a Roman road, but also has breeding Eagle Owl. The area around the dam (i) can be good for watching migrant raptors in addition to the 'expected' species look out for Spanish Imperial Eagle and Black-winged Kite. It's often worth exploring further along this road not only for raptors but also Tawny Pipit and Red-rumped Swallow (which nests beneath bridges here). In winter or early spring distant rice fields here may have Crane. Roughly 12km along the service road a cycle route - Carrel Picacho-Piguera allows access to the woodlands which again hold the species noted under (b) but also offers a chance of Iberian Green Woodpecker.
2 Southern Alcornocales The lightly used service road alongside the A381 offers the opportunity to pull off and look for birds, pretty much at will, denied those travelling on the motorway. Woodchat Shrike, Bee-eaters, a wide range of raptors can easily be seen from the car. The more active might like to try some of the excellent footpaths (senderos) along this route:
a) - Sendero La Teja take exit 66 (not on map) - The footpath is on the left c1.7 km to the south of the exit. It has a good mix of woodland and open land with views of the Alcornocales. Iberian Green Woodpecker, a scarce species in the southern part of the Alcornocales occurs here also Iberian Chiffchaff, Rock Bunting etc. Bonelli's Eagle occasional. This path links with a long distance cycle route.
b) - Sendero El Palancar take exit 70 - this is circular route of c7 km is 2km south of this exit (by the Charco Redondo reservoir). It snakes through woodland and open land plus a couple of ancient cave shelters good for all the species noted at other sites, but is probably better for passing raptors. c) - Sendero de Valdeinfierno take exit 73 - A gem of the walk (5km) with wheelchair accessible footpath is on the right c1.5km from the exit. Either park on the track just off the service road or drive c1km along the track to the wheelchair accessible walk. The walk explores a narrow shady valley (= canuto). The car park just off the road usually has Cirl Bunting and often Black-eared Wheatear. The woodland has Crested Tit, Iberian Chiffchaff, etc. An evening visit could conceivably produce Eagle & Scops Owl. d) Area Recreativa Montera del Torero. A little to the south of Valdeinfierno theres a convenient wooded picnic site for Bonelli's Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, etc. e) Ojen Valley take exit 73 or 77 for a classic drive across to Facinas with a couple of pleasant senderos en route. Superb for raptors (all expected species possible) and a site for White-rumped Swift, but track, despite recent repairs, has quickly degenerated and needs care. The old venta en route with earthen floors and caldron heated by wood give a taste of 'old Spain'. f) Los Barrios Rubbish tip exit 80 for Los Barrios then the CA 9207 bearing left at the T-junction, Incredibly smelly, sometimes nauseaously so, this tip attracts huge numbers of raptors (esp. Black Kite), White Storks, Cattle Egrets, etc. and, in autumn, often has Ruppell's Vulture
3 Northern Alcornocales The sandstone mountians of the Alcornocales here are less rugged than those south of the A 381, but no less well clothed in cork oaks. Roads are narrow with few places to park. Site worth a stop include:- a) Picacho picnic site the open woods have Serin, Short-toed Treecreeper, Bonelli's Warbler, Nuthatch, etc. If wet, the small pool along short signposted walk opposite the car park has Grey Wagtail. To do the longer climb up to Picacho and back (c2 hrs) needs permission; the peak has had Alpine Accentor in winter. b) San Jose turning a decent viewpoint stands at the junction of the CA 2304 and a minor road
to San Jose del Vallee. This site can be good for a variety of raptors. There are few other places to pull off along this route, but the venta at the crossroads has excellent coffee and serves hearty food.c) La Sauceda take the CA 8201 (C 3331 in Malaga province) towards Jimena and pull off at the very sharp bend (c4.5 km after the venta). Several paths explore the woodland here (species as noted for (a), but to explore the peak you need permission from the Park Visitors' Centre. Red-rumped Swallow nest below the bridge White-rumped Swift sometimes present. d) Area Recreativa Los Acebuches a small picnic site, offering similar fare to (a) and (b) makes a pleasant stop en route to Jimena. Starting point for several senderos.e) Jimena. This attractive village has Lesser Kestrel and Blue Rockthrush around the castle (sometimes also White-rumped Swift). Several senderos explore the valley here and a track heads into the hills to the south-west. Check Tourist Information for maps etc. f) Marchinella this hamlet is so small it can easily be missed look out for a white & purple sign opposite a small venta. Follow the track through the village to a large cactus hedge Rufous Bushchat are possible here. If you're out of luck continue until you reach the top of a low hill and pull off. The road continues, but is in an extremely dangerous condition (2011) so check the rocky stream (dry in summer) to the left for Rufous Bushchat. Tawny Pipits are common here and Spanish Sparrow occurs.
4 Laguna de Medina Laguna de Medina is now well signposted off the A 381 just south of Jerez. The two main targets here are White-headed Duck & Crested Coot.
However, in recent years White-headed Duck numbers have declined and Crested Coot numbers fluctuate. In some years very few are present and, even in better years, only 20-25 birds (Common Coot can be numerous).
A good idea of the size of the lake can be gained from the
viewpoint above the small white building (a). Crested Coot can be seen i