The Rock of Gibraltar is famous tosome for being a peculiar Englishanachronism: a 'little England'precariously holding on to its privilegedposition as a last great outpost of theBritish Empire, whilst steadfastly guardingthe gateways to the Mediterranean andNorth Africa. For the naturalist, though, itconjures up many other associations. Thismajestic limestone buttress forms a stagingpost for great numbers of migrating birds,for the Straits of Gibraltar are just 16kilometres wide and provide the migrantswith an ideal crossing point of theMediterranean. This is especially true forraptors, and other soaring birds, whichmake use of the thermals along this ruggedcoastline to gain height before one of themost perilous sections of their bi-annualmigration.We will arrive, during the peak of theautumn migration, on the southernmost tipof the European continent. Our holiday willcomprise a 5-day exploration of bothGibraltar and Cadiz Province, based for fournights in the small Spanish town of Tarifa,an ideal base from which to enjoy theregion's cetaceans and the bird migration. with minimum travel and maximumrelaxation! All the areas we plan to visit arewithin an hour's drive of our hotel, allowingus time both for gentle walks and to sitin the sun as we scan the skies for thenext wave of raptors. Our schedulewill be flexible, based on thepredicted weather for each day, whichis crucial if we are to catch both thepeak movements of birds and ensuregood sea conditions for our boat trips. On one or more mornings we will travel outinto the Straits from either Tarifa orGibraltar to look for cetaceans. Threespecies of dolphin - Common, Bottlenoseand Striped - are resident, and are oftenparticularly abundant in September. Thereare also several resident groups of Long-finned Pilot Whales in the area. Theseenchanting animals are usually extremelyobliging and unconcerned by theapproach of the small motor-vessel we willbe using. In addition, other species suchas Fin Whale, Sperm Whale and Orcaoccur in the area, and we are likely to seesuch migrant seabirds as Cory's andBalearic Shearwaters and European Storm-petrel, as well as other marine wildlife likeOcean Sunfish and sharks. Our boat tripswill be two to three hours in duration andwill be followed by lunch. There are anumber of migration watch-points in thenearby hills which double as handy picnicsites. During September the skies areusually dominated by soaring birds.Movements can include up to 18 species ofregular raptors, especially Booted andShort-toed Eagles, with another 10 or sopossible, together with Black and WhiteStorks. The views from the hills can be quitesuperb as raptors wheel around our heads.After lunch we may continue watching themigration or explore the local area. Thereare several different wetland habitats withineasy driving distance of Tarifa, where wemay find passage waders, terns and gulls,including regular species which can bescarce elsewhere, such as Audouin's Gulland Caspian Tern. If we have time, and ourschedule allows, the Bay of Cadiz area isparticularly good for a wide variety ofspecies, including such specialities asWhite-headed Duck and Purple Gallinule,and the coastline is excellent for migrantpasserines. We will also explore 'the Rock'itself. This is not just a migrant hotspot andthe only site in Europe for the famousBarbary Macaque and Barbary Partridge,but also offers a number of sites ofhistorical and geological interest, the mostimpressive of which is St. Michael's Cave, an enormous natural limestone 'cathedral'in the heart of 'the Rock' that provides awelcome break from the heat of the day. Part of our morning on 'the Rock' may bespent at Jew's Gate participating in amorning's ringing of the migrant birds thathave been caught overnight. This will giveus an insight into the rigours of migrationfor some of these birds, which will probablyinclude several species of warblers,flycatchers, chats and others. If we arereally lucky, and the weather is right forgrounding migrant birds, we may also beable to take part in an evening ringingsession, hoping for Red-necked andEuropean Nightjars and Scops Owls, whichoften make landfall here.The beauty of this area at this time of yearis that anything can and does happen. Apod of Orcas pops in to check out the localtuna boats, a day of inclement 'levanter'winds has migrants bursting out of everybush, a sky that was empty one day isfilled with eagles the next or a vagrantCream-coloured Courser is found on thebeach at Tarifa. Whatever happens, wewon't be far away when it does!Gibraltar & Tarifa:Whales, Dolphins &Autumn Migration A 5-day short break to observe autumn bird migration from 'the Rock' and Tarifa, and thewhales and dolphins of the Straits of Gibraltar.Thursday 20th September - Monday 24th September Cost: £995Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 280 for Booking InformationFRANCEPORTUGALSEVILLEGRANADARONDAGIBRALTARMÁLAGATARIFACADIZGUADALQUIVIRRIVERMADRIDATLANTICOCEANMEDITERRANEANSEASPAINOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Málaga and transferto Tarifa.Day 2/4Tarifa.Day 5Fly London.AccommodationComfortable tourist hotel in Tarifa,all rooms with private facilities.FoodAll included in the price.Grading A. A standard wildlife tour,including boat trips and gentlewildlife walks only.Focus Autumn bird migration, whales and dolphins.LeaderSimon Tonkin or David Morris.Single room supplement£95.Web quick search: ESP0271Pilot WhalesCommon DolphinView from 'the Rock'
For all lovers of the natural world thereis no finer spectacle than a meadowbrimming with wild flowers attendedby dancing clouds of brightly colouredbutterflies. This is a scene that epitomisesthe drowsy days of summer and yet, forthose of us living in the intensively farmedregions of Great Britain, it is one that isconsigned to the wistful memories of theelderly. Fortunately, there are still areas inEurope where a century of change hasscarcely diminished the profusion offlowers, and where the spirit can still beuplifted by the myriad of butterflies sippingnectar in the summer sunshine. SouthernGreece is particularly favoured in thisrespect and the destination for thisNaturetrek holiday. Our relaxing, week-long tour focuses ontwo of the most famous butterfly mountainsof Greece - Mount Chelmos and MountParnassos. Situated on opposite sides ofthe Gulf of Corinth, these two mountainmassifs present a wide range of habitatsfrom hot Mediterranean scrub, pine forestsand olive groves, to mountain streams,alpine pastures and meadows, rocky screeand even patches of snow! We will besearching mainly for butterflies, dragonfliesand other insect-life, but also keeping aneye open for birds, lizards, and any otherwildlife we might encounter.During our week we will be based firstly inthe small town of Kalavrita, situated on thenorth-west slopes of Mount Chelmos, partof the Aroanian Mountains on thePeloponnese. After several days spent inleisurely exploration of this fascinatingarea by minibus and on foot we will thentransfer to Delphi, home of the famousTemple of Apollo and very convenient foraccess to the Parnassos National Parksituated just to the north.The richness of the butterflies of thisregion is legendary amongstentomologists, but it is perhaps not somuch the scarce or restricted specieswhich impress the visitor as much as thesheer diversity and abundance ofindividual butterflies in some areas. Theidentification of over 50 species of butterflyin a day is quite feasible, and the sight ofhundreds of Balkan Marbled Whites,Black-veined Whites and Clouded Yellows,all crowding together on patches ofthistles, is astonishing to those of us moreused to a mere scattering of butterflies incooler northern climes.On the forested slopes of Mount Chelmoswe can find Grecian Copper, Escher'sBlue, Meleager's Blue, at least threespecies of 'Anomalous Blue' (including theendemic Chestnut Anomalous Blue andGrecian Anomalous Blue), Great BandedGrayling, Queen of Spain Fritillary,Cleopatra and another south-eastEuropean speciality - the White-bandedGrayling. At the summit plateau we willsearch for the very local race of GreekClouded Yellow, Mountain Small White,Clouded Apollo and we might even trackdown the famous but elusive ChelmosBlue! Sunny woodland glades in thesurrounding valleys are graced withnumerous Silver-washed Fritillaries, LargeTortoiseshell, Southern White Admiral andthe occasional Camberwell Beauty.Descending to the river valleys to the southof the massif we will encounter variousdragonflies such as Calopteryx virgo,Lestesbarbarusand the bizarre Onychogomphusforcipatusas we walk along the edges ofthe streams, whilst Cetti's Warblers pour outtheir explosive torrents of song from riverinebushes and Great Reed Warblers gratenoisily from marshy vegetation. This is alsoa good area to look for the endemicPeloponnese Wall Lizard basking in themorning sun and Kotschy's Gecko, anAsian reptile with a range that just stretchesinto southern Greece.Our final destination, Mount Parnassos, issimilarly blessed with an abundance ofbutterfly species and has its own range ofattractions, including Blue Argus, BalkanCopper, Krueper's Small White, ZephyrBlue, Freyer's Grayling and OrientalMeadow Brown. Ascending to the alpinemeadows, haunt of Alpine Chough andRock Thrush, we will search for some of thebutterfly species of the higher altitudes suchas Clouded Apollo, Purple-shot Copper,Greek Clouded Yellow and perhaps theunobtrusive Black Ringlet. Two full daysexploring the various elevations andhabitats of this butterfly-rich mountain willbe interspersed with a visit to the Temple ofApollo at Delphi. Even at this world famousarchaeological site there is an impressivepopulation of butterflies in the surroundinghillsides and a diverse selection of birdspecies including Rock Nuthatch, Black-eared Wheatear and Rüppell's Warbler. Greek hospitality, warm Mediterraneanweather, magnificent scenery, a touch ofhistory and, above all, a bumper show ofbutterflies make an unbeatable combinationfor everyone with an enthusiasm for thesejewels of the insect world.Butterflies of Southern Greece An 8-day holiday to southern Greece in search of the butterflies of Mount Chelmos, on the Peloponnese, and Mount Parnassos. Saturday 23rd June - Saturday 30th June Cost: £1,495Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Athens; transfer toKalavrita.Day 2/4Mount Chelmos area,from Kalavrita.Day 5/7Delphi and MountParnassos.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationComfortable 2-star hotels, withprivate facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA/B. Slow paced walks of between5-8 kilometres each day, some inmontane terrain.FocusButterflies, dragonflies and generalnatural history.LeaderPhil Thompson.Single room supplement £160.ExtensionsOn request.Web quick search: GRC0172Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.uk for your free Trip ItineraryGREECEAEGEAN SEA MEDITERRANEANSEA PELOPONNESEGULF OF CORINTHATHENSKALAVRITAMOUNTKILLINIMOUNTCHELMOSDELPHIMOUNTPARNASSOSTemple of Apollo, DelphiBalkan Marbled WhiteMount Chelmos10% DONATIONTO