Dedicated birdwatching trips organised by Arbuthnott Holidays and accompanied by SBS Director Keith Cowieson

The Arbuthnott family have organised avariety of ‘themed’ holidays from their idyllic home in the bucolic hills of southern Spain over the last 26 years, with SBS trips in 2015 and 2016.

The 2015 trip to Andalucía took in the rolling low-intensity farmland surrounding Almuña - a haven for all manner of song and other birds that one seldom sees in such profusion nowadays in UK. Serin and short-toed treecreeper sing and call from pepper and walnut trees lining the garden, nightingales pour forth their liquid music from the adjoining scrub, Sardinian warbler and cirl bunting call from the surrounding farmland while booted and short-toed eagles soar on overhead thermals.  

The 2 day excursion to the world-famous Coto Doñana was the highlight of the 2015 trip for many, and understandably so, for where else can one see and hear Spanish Imperial Eagle, flamingos, great crested grebe, coot, shoveler, crested tits, firecrest, melodious and other warblers, glossy ibis, black kite, nightingale and white stork, all in one 360 degree sweep of the binoculars?

An outing to Gibraltar rewarded the group with an up-close-and-personal experience of bird-ringing by Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society staff at their ringing station.  The steady flow of migrant warblers - bonellis, subalpine, wood, orphean, and melodious was broken every so often with a redstart, nightingale or hoopoe, and great views were obtained of the resident peregrines chasing common and pallid swifts, barn and red-rumped swallows and stray yellow-legged gulls as they hawked and wheeled, respectively, around the straits.

In 2016, the trip took in southern Spain and western Morocco. This included birdwatching on the Sierra de Libar mountain plateau, day trips to birding meccas such as Moulay-Bousselham and the nearby large shallow lagoon at Merja Zerga, and to the wetlands around Larache and the lower River Loukos estuary and marshes.

The mosaic of habitats in and around the Sierra de Libar plateau makes for an exciting variety of bird species, with griffon vulture, raven, chough and kestrels around the cliffs; blue rock thrush, black redstart, woodchat shrike and rock bunting on the lower slopes and scrub; black-eared and black wheatear, crested and thekla lark on the hillsides and in upland meadows; and hoopoe, common redstart and song thrush among the cork oak plantations.

Merja Zerga is famous for its number and variety of wildfowl, gulls, terns, waders and waterbirds, including slender-billed and Audouin’s gulls; black, whiskered, sandwich, gull-billed and Caspian terns; flamingo and spoonbill; black-tailed godwit, black-winged stilts, greenshank and curlew sandpiper; marsh and Montagu’s harriers; great white and little egret, black-necked, great-crested and little grebe; shoveler, gadwall and red-crested pochard. 

These trips attract a whole spectrum of bird watching and nature loving experience and expertise and with the delights of Spanish birdwatching done in the inimitable relaxed Arbuthnott style, they certainly guarantee a birdwatching holiday to remember.

Full details of Arbuthnott Holidays can be obtained through their website -