The site is located on the outskirts of the town of Tanger (Tangiers) at the western extremity of the southern side of the Straits of Gibraltar. It consists of the small hill of Jbel Kebir (320 m), partly covered by the Forêt de Perdicaris and terminating at its western end in the rocky headland of Cap Spartel, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The forest is predominantly composed of Quercus faginea with some Q. suber and other indigenous species, mixed with poorly-maintained plantations of exotics such as Eucalyptus globulus, Pinus radiata, Cupressus macrocarpa and Acacia spp. Forest-cover is highest on the northern slopes between 80 and 240 m in altitude: Cap Spartel itself is mainly covered with ‘matorral’ or Spanish maquis-type heathland vegetation. The climate is very humid, due to the site’s exposure to the Atlantic, with 900–1,200 mm annual precipitation.
See Box for key species. The site is of major international importance as a migration bottleneck between Europe and Africa, since it is the first wooded zone encountered by birds crossing the western end of the Straits of Gibraltar. It therefore provides both resting places and thermal updrafts for thousands of soaring migrants. The most noteworthy non-raptor migratory species include Ciconia ciconia (30,000–50,000), Ciconia nigra (200–400), Merops apiaster (40,000–50,000), Hirundo rustica (75,000–100,000), and Apus apus (400,000–800,000). Amongst the raptors, the most notable are Pernis apivorus (60,000–120,000), Milvus migrans (30,000–70,000), Hieraaetus pennatus (10,000–18,000), Circaetus gallicus (5,000–10,000), Neophron percnopterus (3,000–5,500), Gyps fulvus (700–1,000), Buteo buteo (2,000–5,000) and Circus pygargus (800–2,000). Many migrating passerines and waders also pass through the site, and seabirds such as Larus audouinii pass through on passage between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Around 60 species are known to nest, including Alectoris barbara, restricted to the Mediterranean North Africa biome (Table 2).
Non-bird biodiversity: The tortoise Testudo graeca (VU) occurs.Attributes
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Cap Spartel - Perdicaris. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/03/2021.