Our group Birding in lockdown lifting period

Active Tourism and Covid-19: birding in lockdown lifting period

In English by Javi Elorriaga

The first group of participants during the lockdown lifting period
The first group of participants birding during the lockdown lifting period

As mentioned in our Coronavirus Statement last March: The health and safety of our clients and society at large is unquestionably our top priority. This way, during the first period of lockdown in Spain, we have restricted our activity to teleworking and birding at home. However, now it’s the time to start birding in lockdown lifting period.

On the 11th of May, the province of Cádiz in Andalusia, as well as many other regions of Spain, have entered the Phase 1 of lockdown deescalation. The new regulations established by the Spanish government allow the reactivation of Active Tourism activities. Therefore, we can resume our activity, although with important restrictions. So, in order to re-establish our work in a gradual and responsible manner, this morning we have carried out a first excursion in Tarifa on a trial basis. Next, we explain our preliminary experience birding in lockdown lifting period in Tarifa, Andalucia.

New regulations for birding

Material to follow the regulations for birdwatching during Phase 1 of lockdown end
Material to follow the regulations for birdwatching during Phase 1 of lockdown end

Remarkably, a significant part of the new regulations introduce practices in line with the philosophy of Birding The Strait. As a result, we were already implementing many them routinely. For instance, we:

  • Develop our activity outdoors, always away from congregations (other than avian!).
  • Always work with small groups.
  • Use hand-sanitizer and gloves for food handling.
  • Often have picnic lunches outdoors.
  • Provide optic material for individual use.
  • Clean our vehicles after every excursion.

In addition to the abovementioned ones, we have implemented the following measurements to fully adapt our activity to the new regulations:

  • A minimum distance of 2m between participants.
  • Permanent use of masks both while in the field and in the vehicles.
  • Frequent disinfestation of the optic gear.
  • Limitation in the number of passengers to two per row of seats.

Even though the new regulation limits to 10 the maximum number of participants, we have decided to, temporally, restrict it to 6 participants.

Birding in lockdown lifting period in Cadiz

Currently, our activity is restricted to the province of Cadiz. Here again, we feel lucky. There is no need to get away from Tarifa to enjoy world-class bird migration. Moreover, we have two natural parks at the doorstep, namely: El Estrecho and Los Alcornocales Natural Parks.

In addition, we can now get back birding in La Janda, our quintessential local-patch. And, as if these were not enough, a day trip from Tarifa allows us to go birding in Doñana, La Breña and Barbate Marshes Natural Park and the Bay of Cadiz. For a change, we can also visit the mountains in Grazalema. Not bad!

Our first day birding during the lockdown lifting

Our group Birding in lockdown lifting period
Our group Birding in lockdown lifting period

Today, to get started, we have spent a lovely morning birding at Los Lances beach, in Tarifa. A large number of Balearic Shearwaters has been one of the most remarkable findings. We have equally enjoyed great views of Audouin’s Gulls. Yellow Wagtails in active migration, the song of the Greater Short-toed Larks and a varied array of waders have been additional highlights.

To end the excursion, we have enjoyed an excellent brunch at a local terrace. It consisted of a toast of brown bread with first quality olive oil and fresh squeezed tomatoes, a tasty local speciality.

We are ready!

Some of the participants in the Birding The Strait vehicle during the first birding trip of the lockdown lifting
Some of the participants in the Birding The Strait vehicle during the first birding trip of the lockdown lifting

From a technical point of view, this has been an excellent opportunity to put into effect the new sanitary measures. We have also tested the personal distancing procedures under different situations.

The birding activity has been developed with agility and uneventfully. There has been no contact with people outside the group. Definitively, the implementation of the new regulations has not affected the overall birding experience.

In Birding The Strait, we are determined to enjoy this spring. Indeed, Tarifa and the whole province of Cadiz do still have a lot to offer this season. We have already scheduled birding trips to Doñana, La Janda and the raptor observatories in the Strait of Gibraltar. Moreover, we will be organizing birding excursion from Tarifa on foot. We will adapt our rates to the current situation, including free of charge activities. Drop us an email and we will keep you updated!

It is time to make birding, ecotourism and sustainability step ahead in our region. And we are ready!