Norfolk Birders

Norfolk Birdwatching and beyond!


Click to add text, images, and other content

Gibraltar 2013

                           Gibraltar Trip Report                  By Sue Bryan


March 29th – April 1st 2013


Sue Bryan

 Paul Jeffery





Sue at Europa Point Gibraltar



This trip was designed as a short weekend break to hopefully view the raptor migration that takes place from Africa to Europe each year in Spring. However a westerly wind is required (otherwise they cross over to Tarifa in Spain) and good visibility for the migrants to leave Africa and find their way from Morocco, crossing the straits and arrive in Gibraltar.



29th March   Gatwick (London) to Gibraltar-Spain-Gibraltar

30th March   Gibraltar

31st March    Gibraltar

1st April         Gibraltar – Spain- Gibraltar – Gatwick (London)




Paul arranged the Easyjet flights from Gatwick to Gibraltar Airport using the services of Trailfinders in Norwich (Tel 01063 216 216)


Car Hire


This was arranged through However although I booked the car from Gibraltar Airport, when we arrived there was no Niza Car office at the airport. After making enquiries we had to cross the border into Spain to the town of La Linea de la Concepcion, walking our entire luggage with us. We were not supplied with a map and took a while to locate the office. We were then given instructions to an underground car park some distance away and left to our own devices. A damaged car awaited us. Unknown to us later, we were also to discover a very flat tyre! More hassle ensued as we had to queue over an hour to get back across the border into Gibraltar. We lost some of our morning’s birding just hiring the car!




We stayed in the Queen’s Hotel booked through which although a little dated was clean and comfortable and cost £70 a night for the two of us, including a cooked breakfast. It was located at one end of the town and we could park outside it.




We used English pounds throughout. Gibraltar has its own Gibraltar coinage/notes which is interchangeable with our money but be aware to get rid of this before you leave.




We had mild mixed weather.




The Rock dominates Gibraltar which is steep sided. The town is built on the western side forming narrow streets with just about all available land built upon. The lower parts of The Rock on the western side has bushes/trees and a botanical garden offers some birding opportunities. The coastal fringe also offers birding in some places with beaches, rocky shoreline and some sparse scrub.




Daily Log


29th March


Paul and I spent the night in the Premier Inn at Gatwick Airport which had a good deal for 1 night’s stay and 4 days parking. Our 7.10am flight left on time and we landed at Gibraltar Airport at 11am local time. Hassle then ensued as we could not find the car rental office. It transpired that this was across the border in Spain and we had take all our luggage through customs/passport control and walk it across to the Spanish town of La Linea de la Concepcion, where we eventually found the office of Niza cars. In a dark and dingy underground car park we found our damaged car with an almost flat tyre. After an hours queue back across the border we located our hotel, dropped off our luggage and drove to Europa Point where raptor migration was in full swing.



Paul at Europa Point









































Booted Eagle







Booted Eagles were flying across the Straits of Gibraltar from North Africa and heading straight for us in Gibraltar. Many were seemingly tired as they battled against the strong westerly winds and crash-landed into the rock face of the cliff. We watched many Sparrowhawks crossing with them. Some were unfortunately being mobbed by the local Yellow-legged Gulls and made to take evasive action.


Soon we saw a Short-toed Eagle as well as several Black Kites. A Marsh Harrier, Peregrine and Common Kestrel were added to the raptor list. After a couple of hours we sought to get out of the wind and moved into the lee of the cliff and watched as small parties of Barn Swallow moved through. They were accompanied by Red-rumped Swallow and some small un-identified passerines. Over the sea Gannets were passing and a Shag stood on the rocks.


















                              Sardinian Warbler                                                                                                         Blackcap



I heard a familiar call from one of the bushes and soon located a Sardinian Warbler. Getting its photo was a different matter though, as it remained obscured in the safety of its bush.


Paul and I made our way to Jew’s Gate where the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society have an observatory and a monitoring station. As we watched more Booted Eagles and Sparrowhawks flew over and a Lesser Kestrel fluttered by as did another Short-toed Eagle.


Later at the botanical gardens Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Robin, Greenfinch and Blackcap were added to the list.


We spent the evening in the almost-deserted town where we ate in an English pub as we failed to locate any restaurants open for business.


30th March


The wind had dropped and raptor migration had quite clearly ceased. It was rather overcast and so we played tourist and took the cable car to the top of The Rock.






















                       Cable car ride to the top of The Rock                                                         Sue at the top of The Rock






















                         View from the top of The Rock                                                                    Barbary Macaques


Once at the top of the rock Barbary Macaques soon found us as we crawled and jumped around the rocks. Yellow-legged Gulls were soaring and perching all around but we failed to see any other species of bird at the top of The Rock. We contemplated walking down but the weather was not very good and we opted for the cable car once again to take us back down. Out at sea a Great Skua was noted as well as a lone Northern Wheatear on one of the scrubby areas further round Advance Europa Road.


At the botanical gardens we did not add further species to our list and went into town to explore the camera shops!


In the evening at Ocean Village we enjoyed a meal in the marina over-looking the sea and watched the rather large fish swimming underneath us.


Yellow-legged Gull














31st March























                                          Subalpine Warbler                                                                                Blue Rock Thrush



The weather had turned a bit colder and was spitting with rain so we decided to explore Little Bay where we hoped that we might find a few small migrants sheltering. We soon located Sardinian Warbler and Subalpine Warbler. A male Blue Rock Thrush sat posing as its mate carried food to a nest site. We could hear a Wren calling but it failed to appear. A Great Cormorant flew by before we drove round once again to Europa Point.


Here we watched the gulls on the sea and counted at least six Audouin’s Gulls. Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull and Yellow-legged Gull were also present.


In the rain a lone Common Swift flew in and a bit later we saw a lone Sand Martin. Both were struggling against the north-west wind.























                                   Audouin’s Gull                                                                                         Woodchat Shrike


Around the houses in the rain we watched a Woodchat Shrike as it took refuge on some bamboo. I drove along the eastern coastal fringe and Paul discovered a Common Redstart lurking under a rock as we stopped off where we could to search for migrants. At the cemetery there was a small flock of Spotless Starlings as well as three more Woodchat Shrikes.



Spotless Starling


The weather had turned against us and the rain defeated us. We had a last look at the botanical gardens before deciding to return to the hotel to prepare for our evening meal back at the marina.















1st April


After travelling back across the border into Spain to return our car, we had to walk back to Gibraltar. At the airport we added White Wagtail to our list before our flight back to a very cold England.


Bird List


  1. Northern Gannet           Morus bassanus            29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  2. Great Cormorant          Phalacrocorax carbo carbo       31/03/2013      Europa Point   
  3. European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis           29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  4. Black Kite        Milvus migrans migrans 29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  5. Short-toed Eagle          Circaetus gallicus gallicus          29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  6. Western Marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus        29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  7. Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus  29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  8. Booted Eagle    Hieraaetus pennatus      29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  9. Lesser Kestrel  Falco naumanni 29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  10. Common Kestrel          Falco tinnunculus          29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  11. Peregrine Falcon           Falco peregrinus           29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  12. Great Skua       Catharacta skua            30/03/2013      Europa Point   
  13. Arctic Skua      Stercorarius parasiticus 31/03/2013      Europa Point   
  14. Audouin's Gull  Larus audouinii 31/03/2013      Europa Point   
  15. Western Yellow-legged Gull     Larus michahellis  29/03/2013   Botanical Gardens       
  16. Lesser Black-backed Gull         Larus fuscus graellsi      31/03/2013      Europa Point   
  17. Black-headed Gull        Larus ridibundus           31/03/2013      Europa Point   
  18. Eurasian Collared-dove            Streptopelia decaocto   29/03/2013      Botanical Gardens       
  19. Common Swift Apus apus        31/03/2013      Europa Point   
  20. Sand Martin     Riparia riparia   31/03/2013      Europa Point   
  21. Barn Swallow   Hirundo rustica 29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  22. Red-rumped Swallow   Hirundo daurica            29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  23. Tree Pipit         Anthus trivialis  31/03/2013      Europa Point   
  24. White Wagtail   Motacilla alba alba        01/04/2013      Gibraltar Airport          
  25. European Robin            Erithacus rubecula         29/03/2013      Botanical Gardens       
  26. Common Redstart        Phoenicurus phoenicurus phoenicurus 31/03/2013         Europa Point   
  27. Northern Wheatear       Oenanthe oenanthe       30/03/2013      Europa Point   
  28. Blue Rock-thrush          Monticola solitarius       29/03/2013      Europa Point   
  29. Eurasian Blackbird        Turdus merula   29/03/2013      Botanical Gardens       
  30. Blackcap          Sylvia atricapilla            29/03/2013      Botanical Gardens       
  31. Sardinian Warbler         Sylvia melanocephala    29/03/2013      Botanical Gardens       
  32. Subalpine Warbler        Sylvia cantillans 31/03/2013      Europa Point   
  33. Common Chiffchaff       Phylloscopus collybita   29/03/2013      Botanical Gardens       
  34. Blue Tit            Parus caeruleus 29/03/2013      Botanical Gardens       
  35. Woodchat Shrike         Lanius senator  29/03/2013      Botanical Gardens
  36. Spotless Starling           Sturnus unicolor            31/03/2013      Europa Point   
  37. House Sparrow            Passer domesticus        29/03/2013      Botanical Gardens       
  38. European Greenfinch    Carduelis chloris           29/03/2013      Botanical Gardens



Mammal List


1. Barbary macaques  Macaca sylvanus





Recent Blog Entries

Newest Members