GABO DE GATA (Almeria) and
Sierra de Allmahilla

For ages this was the favoured place for pirates to hide themselves and obtain food and, most of all, water. Water is what gives this area its shape - or, rather, the absence of water! With an annual temperature of 18 degrees it is the perfect place to be. It is not a prime position for bird-watching but holds some very interesting species that only occur there - of special interest for birders from northern Europe. The magic of Almeria is represented by the strange feeling of being in a desert. (In the seventies, it was a popular place to film "spaghetti westerns".)

A beautiful place to start is Gabo the Gata - a coastal strip about 15 kilometres long, situated in the Almeria bay and featuring salt pans still in use. Thanks to an agreement between the owner and AMA we are able to enjoy bird-watching here and in the mountain range. It is said that Shags breed on the cliffs but I have never seen one there. The salt pan holds Flamingos and other Waders such as Avocets.


In the saltpans we can see waders like Avocets and others.

Ospreys appear during migration and Audouins Gulls can often be be found in one a salt pan. In the mountain area, we can find the elusive Trumpeter Finch, which only recently was believed not to be breeding in Europe. This is because of the desert habitat, though the best place to see this bird is the Sierra de Almahilla, north of Gabo de Gata - the only semi-desert area in Europe. The Duponts Lark is another elusive species found here, with some 150 pairs breeding. In the desert areas birds are difficult to find, so try the lower slopes that might contain pools. The surrounding steppe area holds Short-toed Larks and Lesser short-toed Larks and there are significant populations of Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Stone Curlews. Raptors are especially present in the mountains - formed from volcanic origins after the lagoon. Peregrine Falcons are common, Bonelli Eagles and Booted Eagles are present and Uhu breed in the sierra.

How to find it?

After Almeria follow the N-344 in the direction of San Jose and you will end up in the mountains of Gabo de Gata.

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