TARIFA AREA AND LOS ALCORNOCALES

The Tarifa area and Los Alcornocales - a must for the bird-watcher. People have maintained an intimate relation with the park, first as carboneros (coal-makers) now as corcheros (cork oak-cutters). Recently, Auspecian of National Geographic spent two years filming in this area for a one-hour documentary.

The area extends for 170,000 hectares and is mainly covered by cork oaks, which give life to some elusive animals surviving here. Several interesting species can be found in the streams, which are dominated by a warm, humid micro-climate. Among them is the only Mongoose living in Europe - understood to have been introduced by the Arabs, the same as the Ginet cat. Most of the area is private but many tracks give access to the better sites.

Birdwise, it is of great importance because of the massive migration. It is the bridge between Europe and Africa. The area can be visited throughout the year but becomes a particularly special destination during migration periods. All Eagles can be seen, and in May the mass arrival of Honey Buzzards makes you dizzy - with flocks of more than 200 birds possible. Both Kites can be seen and, furthermore, all other Raptors also pass through. Together with Storks and Bee-eaters, they are most visible during migration. In winter, bird populations remain large, as many northern Passerines winter in the woods. Visiting the Valle de Ojen in winter is like visiting northern Europe in spring. Some very large colonies of Vultures can be found in the hinterland, as well as breeding Egyptian Vultures.

tarifinland
Flower fields inland at Tarifa can be astonishing wealthy in Spring

Puerto Bujeo is a good site; at weekends it can be quite buzzy, though moving up the hill it becomes quieter. Raptors and migration are the main attractions here. With a little bit of luck, you can watch young, wandering Spanish Eagles from Donana. Each season 250,000 Raptors and more than 30,000 Storks congregate here. During one two-month period, on a strip of just a few kilometres, 40,000 Kites, 35,000 Storks and 4,000 Short-toed Eeagles were counted. The beach at Tarifa has an important role for birds arriving from Morocco - offering a small nature park with lagoons. Waders stay here during migratory periods to replenish their energy. A visit to southern Spain without watching the migration here is incomplete.


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