Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bald Ibis on the Costa de la Luz

I’ve spent most of the last three weeks in Spanish territory. Firstly, to Zahara de los Atunes in Southern Spain on an ecological genetics field course with work and secondly to Tenerife in the Canary Islands for an endemic clean-up.

Zahara (of the tuna fish) – once the centre of the Almadraba - is situated on a quiet 15 km beach on the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) west of the Straits of Gibraltar. This area is one of the last unspoiled stretches of coastline in Spain and the light here is unbelievably intense, although the wind and the sea also dominate the experience here. But there is much more here, especially for the naturalist from northern Europe who will find that spring is in full swing at this time of year. Just east towards Tarifa, thousands of birds are flying across to the European continent from Africa and many can be observed arriving in off the sea near Zahara, particularly when strong winds are blowing from the east.

The area around Zahara is a superb area for birding with Montagu’s Harrier, Calandra Lark, Purple Swamp-Hen, Pallid Swift, Lesser Kestrel and Little Bustard all available. Perhaps the highlight for me is seeing the recently (re)introduced Bald Ibises in the Sierra del Retín. The flock regularly feeds in coastal meadows between Zahara and Barbate. These birds originate from a captive flock in Jerez Zoo and the reintroduction program, Proyecto Eremita, is led by Jose Manuel Lopez Vasquez and run by several organisations including Junta de Andalucia and Zoobotanico de Jerez.

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1 comment:

Scented Sweetpeas said...

Some fab photos there - really stricking. Also lovely to read about birding in the Costa de la Luz which is a place close to my heart.