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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tarifa chill out after the scorched earth and plastic of Almeria

Rio Jara Campsite, from the beach
So here I am kicking my heels and in relaxed / reflective mode here in Tarifa .... a place for loafers, surfers, bums & gays from all over Europe. Mellow is my mood and I suspect I may well be here for a couple if not 3 days.

Tarifa shoreline ....Africa in the distance

The weather isn't brilliant, bit windy with the odd squally shower, but hey its 6.30pm, not quite dark and the van door is open as I recline against my many cushions in the camper and write this (wine glass half full by the way).

I've come a long way, seen some great birds and scenery and taken many pictures so here's a bit of a round up, with a bit of reflection, of the last few days after El Fondo and travelling through Murcia and Almeria.

The semi desert area of Almeria ... really struggled for birds around here, despite going up high and tramping around the mountains amidst the wind turbines
Wind Turbines at the top of Taburnas

The Almerian Desert, nr Taburnas

Best birds were whenever stopped off to break the journey, on one such break, nr the village of Gonar, I had a Scops Owl perched right in front of the van on a tree, Thekla Lark, 2 Hoopoes and my first Blue Rock Thrush of the trip

Blue Rock Thrush, nr Gonar

Blue Rock Thrush, nr Gonar

Tekla Lark, nr Gonar

Shame I missed out on a decent pic of that Scops Owl in trying to track it down I stumbled across this exquisite little butterfly .... I have this down as a Desert Orange Tip, much more of an African butterfly and pretty scarce in Spain.

Desert Orange Tip?

Further up in the mountains I had this tired looking Painted Lady .... the pic's good for the rocky surrounds as well as the butterfly itself - scorched earth!!

Painted Lady, nr Taburnas

Had a freshly dead snake in the road up there too .... shows you how arid it still is around here. Not sure what it is, possibly a Whip snake.

Travelling down through Almeria I was appalled at the amount plastic around the place. The locals seem to be taking every piece of suitable land and erecting huge swathes of plastic greenhouse to cover their crops. I know that mouths have to be fed and that men must earn the dollar but surely there's a more sustainable way than this ....
Plastic creeping up the mountains on the Almerian coast

At Las Norias the 'greenhouse effect' was as pronounced as I've seen, still a few good birds about but the rubbish that is left when the greenhouses have done their job and are just left to rot is not one of Spain's better conservation efforts!
Discarded greenhouses at Las Norias

Discarded greenhouses at Las Norias

Plastic rubbish at Las Norias

As with much of this part of Spain, the numbers of small birds, finches, Starlings, White Wagtails and especially Chiff Chaffs is a major feature of the bird-life here in Nov / Dec. I must have had 150, maybe more Chiff Chaffs at Las Norias alone! It was akin to a 'fall' of migrants at say Spurn or Flamborough Head!

Chiff Chaff, Las Norias

Chiff Chaffs, Las Norias

Greenshank, nr Cabo de Gata,

Starlings ... so many over here!!
It took a while to get used to seeing Crag Martins flying over reed beds instead of rock faces and even longer to get a half decent photo but this ain't bad ....

Crag Martin, Las Norias
Red Crested Pochard, Las Norias

So I've had a slight change of plan and decided not to take in the Sierra Andujar - its just much back tracking and for birds and scenery that I'm sure will be replicated in Extramadura, lets just hope it doesn't rain for a week because its pelting down now in Tarifa .... shame, I was hoping for some seascapes and sea birds!
I might drift off to Cape Trafalgar later if the weather improves and then tomorrow I'm off to Bonanza!




  1. You get used to the plastic eventually in Almeria, but I agree with what you say, not the best visual landscape! Tarifa is a great place to stay (I've earmarked it for my place of retirement should that ever happen), and weekends can be full of life (and I don't mean the birds!). The Scop's Owl was a good record - some seem to hang around in the south of Spain all winter, but they're not easy to see. Good luck in Extremadura - should be full of Cranes by now, plus Greylags and the occasional other goose.

  2. Cheers Richard, I should maybe have given you a heads up before heading down your way, especially since the El Fondo trip was inspired from your blog... maybe next year, I love down here!