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Digital Subscriptions > National Geographic Traveller (UK) > October 2018 > BIRD IS THE WORD

BIRD IS THE WORD

WITH WILDLIFE HOLIDAYS BOOMING, BIRDING IS GOING MAINSTREAM, AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO TRAVEL FAR TO SPOT RARE SPECIES. IN MÁLAGA’S NORTHERN MOUNTAINS AN AVIAN MIGRATORY MOTORWAY HOSTS RECORD NUMBERS.

We’re chasing raptors. Soaring somewhere above our car is a predator that’s casting a mighty big shadow on the ground. I bob my head out of the window trying to train binoculars on the mystery bird, but it keeps swooping out of sight. I fancy this avian car chase must look like a scene from a Bond movie, albeit a rather tame one. Plus I’ve got no ID on my target: falcon, kestrel, eagle… or vulture? They’re all plentiful in these parts. But before I can even utter the question, my guide, Luis, who’s barely taken his eyes off the road, answers: marsh harrier.

If you want a special ops ornithologist, Luis Alberto Rodríguez is your man. This Málaga native is lightning-quick at identifying birds at impossibly long distances, even while driving a car. And if he can’t see them, he’ll recognise their call and, once located, aid and abet the seriously slow spotter (me) by zooming his to-the-moon-and-backpowerful telescope on the bird for you — usually whipped out of the car and assembled before I’ve managed to remove the lens cap of my binoculars. And what’s more, he’s utterly graceful in the face of such ineptitude.

Luis is a man on a mission to bring the masses to Málaga’s mountains; most recently providing the expertise for a new tour offered by local guesthouse Almohalla 51, where I’m staying.

“We have so many people who visit the coast in summertime, and most of them don’t know that 30 minutes from the beach there’s all this nature, all these birds,” he tells me.

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About National Geographic Traveller (UK)

We grab our binoculars and set out to discover the awe-inspiring wildlife of India, scouting out the likes of Bengal tigers, one-horned rhinos and snow leopards in some of the subcontinent’s most dramatic national parks. Elsewhere, we explore the winelands of southern Australia; cross the frozen frontier of the Antarctic Circle; and spend a long weekend in the city of Leeuwarden. Other highlights this issue include the Faroe Islands, Tel Aviv, Manhattan, Tokyo and Santiago, while our photo story takes in the fresh air and Alpine beauty of Switzerland.