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Birdwatching in Tarifa

An ornithologist's paradise

If there would be such a thing as a 'bird highway', the narrow 14-kilometre strip that separates Europe from Africa would be it; for this is where so many of Central and Western Europe's bird species collect on their migratory route to Africa that it has been called the 'bird bottleneck of Europe'.

Each year, more than 200 different species use the tip of Tarifa as a vital staging post on their migration routes, making the region a veritable bird-watcher's paradise in autumn, when hundreds of thousands of birds gather in an age-old ritual that remains as mysterious as it is awe-inspiring. If you were put off by Alfred Hitchcock's feathered classic ('The Birds'), don't go, but if you are an ornithologist or a nature lover, this is a rare opportunity to spot large numbers of eagles, hawks, sparrows, vultures, storks, larks, hoopoes, orioles, warblers and finches, to name a few.

Bird-watchers will find the nearby nature reserves of Los Alcornocales and Doñana inspiring, but in autumn there are also a number of excellent observation points such as the Mirador del Estrecho, the Punta Paloma and the Puerto del Cabrito in Tarifa, from where to observe the gathered flocks from Europe, as they wait for the right moment to engage the powerful winds that will carry them across the Straits towards the sunny climes of Africa.

If you have some bird-ringing experience, you could even volunteer to participate in MIGRES, the official monitoring programme of bird migration through the Straits of Gibraltar-with food and accommodation offered by the Regional Government of Andalucía!

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