Notice that this was a tailor made tour in early April and therefore too late to watch Wallcreepers in Guara or Cranes in Gallocanta, so we combined Sierra de Guara with the Aragón Valley in the Pyrenees. It is worth to mention that neither Wallcreepers or Cranes were in our target list.
Our two full days at Sierra de Guara gave us a fantastic sightings of raptors, both resident and migrants. Numerous Black and Red Kites, Short-toed Eagles, Egyptian Vultures, Sparrowhawks, a Lammergeier and a pair of Golden Eagles were seen. In addition, the five of us were flabbergasted (I will never get used to it) to see tens of Griffon Vultures feeding and flying just few meters form us. Our hotel in Alquézar gave us the chance to make the most of this stunning village, certainly one of the most beautiful of all Spain.
The second part of the tour in the Pyrenees was fantastic with 3 more sights of Lammergeier, one of them landing in the nest were the other one was in the nest incubating! Superb!. We also managed to see a Golden Eagle, Yellow-billed Chough, Ring Ouzel, Dipper, Water Pipit and mammals such as Chamois. Not to mention the breathtaking views of the snow-capped Pyrenees.
I arrived at midday to Zaragoza airport to pick Sally, Simon, Dorothy and Mary on time. After greetings, we set up to Huesca and then to Alcázar. Our first birds during the transfer were White Storks, Black and Red Kite, Common Buzzard and Starlings. After check-in, we went for a walk around the village and nearby countryside seeing our first Black redstar, Crag Martins, Corn Buntings, Linnets, Barn Swallows, Crested, Sky and Wood Larks and a Little Owl calling. Then, we returned along the cobbled streets to our hotel to enjoy our first traditional Spanish dinner.
Our first stop by the old Moorish bridge revealed Short-toed Trecreeper, Sardenian Warbler, a male Stonechat, Grey Wagtail, Black Caps and in the sky a pair of Egyptian Vultures flying among tens of Griffons’. After a short stroll along the river, we continued driving up the valley until I pulled over the car so everyone can see our first Short-toed Eagle and Sparrowhawk. Our next stop was in the Mirador del Vero, where soon a familiar silhouette turns up, our first Lammergeier! It turned upside down to grab with its claws a Griffon Vulture, but finally it didn’t. It was just a manoeuvre to show who was the boss! Nice sight!
After having lunch, we drove back to Alcázar making a stop to find the endangered European freshwater crayfish. It is fantastic that Sierra de Guara still holds a healthy population of this threaten specie. We spent the afternoon walking the Vero Gorge near Alquézar, enjoying carpets of lilies and birds such as Crag Martins, Grey and White Wagtails, Red Billed Choughs, Wrens, Blackcaps and a Firecrest. Before we walked up back to Alcázar I found an Otter scat, which is good news as Otter are rare in Guara.
On the third day we visited the Vultures’ feeding station. During the walk to access to the feeding station, tens of Vultures chased us as if they already knew we were going to feed them, impressive to see these huge birds soaring so close to us! Once the food was unloaded from the wheelbarrow, the show started, the Vultures fought each other to grab the butcher’s waste. We had a brilliant close views of approx. 100 Griffon’s, Ravens, Egyptian Vultures and Red Kites. Once the meal was finished, we retreated few meters hoping to see a Lammergier coming down to grab some bones. Around noon, we set off back to the car and found an impressive Golden Eagle soaring high up! We had lunch while we searched through the scopes the feeding station and watched a Red Fox feeding on the scraps. A Dartford Warbler was also seeing from the bushes besides us.
Later we move to the west of the park visiting impressive gorges and finding a beautiful male of Blue-Rock Thrush singing from the rocks. In the nearby cliffs, there was a colony of Griffons’ incubating. As we were looking down the gorge, I spotted a gorgeous male Cirl Bunting singing from the top of bush and Sardenian Warbler flying.
In the evening we set off to our accommodation in valley of the river Aragón, in the Pyrenees.
We had fantastic warm and sunny weather during the trip. However, on the fourth day the sky was slightly overcast and do to the altitude we could feel the cold during the early morning! After breakfast, we walked along a path behind our Hotel and found a breeding pair of Dippers, one of them was carrying lots of insects in the bill to the hole where thee nest was. On the way back to the car, I heard a Firecrest calling from the garden besides the car park. Dorothy was very glad to see one of her favourites birds!
After a short drive we stopped in Canfranc. While we where visiting the impressive old train station, we saw a Golden Eagle, Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Jay and a flock of 30 Yellowhammers. Besides, Peacock butterflies where around. The shade of the huge mountains made us to fell the damp and the cold wind, so we went to have warm drinks and cakes. Once we were recovered, we continued driving up through the border of France. We stopped in the surroundings of the ski resort where we saw the first Yellow-billed Coughs, Water Pipits and Citril Finches. The wind was a bit cold, so we decided to drive back to lower altitudes where we spot Chiffchaffs, a Golcrest, Song and Mistle Thrushes and our second Lammergeier!
Time to go back to the hotel to enjoy the dinner: fighting bull as main dish and a tasty sheep milk yoghurt for dessert.
Our last day started in a quite side valley. In the hillside, a group of 8 Chamois grazed peacefully and a Ring Ozuel was spotted by Simon. Dunnocks, Water Pipits, Black Redstarts, Red and Black Kites and a two Lammergeier were seeing! One of them was carrying in the bill something which leaved to the second one in the nest. Just superb! There were also tracks of Ptarmigan, but no sight of them. After lunch, we set off to Valencia where my guests would stay overnight to catch an early flight the following morning. After having drive 3 h, we stopped in a gorge 20 km passing Teruel in order to see an Eagle Owl. It took nearly two hours to find it, but we did it. On Easter Sunday there were people everywhere and the pair of Eagle Owls became much more elusive. This top predator was still in a rock behind a bush 50 m away from the nest. From the gorge we also watched a dark morph Booted Eagle. As it was getting dark, we drove the final stretch to Valencia where I dropped them off in a Hotel near the airport.
All in all, a very interesting trip with good birding. May thanks to Sally, Simon, Dorothy and Mary. Please, visit our tour calendar or contact us for the next winter Sierra de Guara tour, which will be focus among other species in Wallcreepers and Lammergeiers.
We hope you find this Sierra de Guara Trip report useful.
Have a nice day
That is the surprise reaction when someone tells a friend that he/she has been birding in Benidorm. In the surroundings of this popular holiday destination can be found a wide variety de habitats and reserves teeming with some of the ‘most wanted’ Iberian birds. This part of East Spain is becoming more and more popular for birders, particularly families. The coast of Valencia and Alicante offers the possibility to combine beach holidays for, let’s say your partner and children, and birding for you. Following you can read my last birding Benidorm trip report.
Last Friday, I picked Vernon up from Benidorm and we went South of Alicante province to watch as much species as possible. (Please click here to see the information regarding this tour). Our first stop was at the Salinas de Santa Pola where we watched an immature Slender-billed Gull (the first lifer for Vernon), a Great White Heron, Yellow-legged Gulls, lots of Greater Flamingos and Shelducks, a Knot (a local rarity which has been in the area for few weeks), Black-tailed Godwits, Avocets, Redshanks, Black-winged Stilts, Little Stints, Iberian Grey Shrikes, Serins and other common birds.
Our second stop was on the beach near the Salinas. There we enjoyed a close-up group of 10 Sanderlings. With the telescope we watched Gannets diving and Audouin’s Gulls. Later, we drove to a nearby bar to have a coffee before continuing the birding tour.
Our next stop was at El Hondo reservoir. Here the star was a group of 70 White-headed Ducks mixed with Black-necked Grebes, Tufted Ducks and Common Pochards. We also found an injured male Red-Crested Pochard (probably shoot by hunters the days before), so I phoned straightaway the wildlife recovery center. Marsh Harriers, Stonechat, a Yellow Wagtail and gorgeous male Darford Warbler were also seen in the surroundings.
To finish the tour, we moved to our last stop in the hills which surround El Hondo. There, we got superb views of the resident pair of Bonelli’s Eagles patrolling their territory. We could see through the telescope these fantastic raptors looking at us from their usual perch. Later, on the top of a huge rock I spotted a Black wheatear and shared it quickly with Vernon. Crested Larks, Hoopoe and Sardinian Warblers were calling. On the way back to the main road, Vernon did very well spotting a Little Owl on a stone wall. With no more time, we drove back to Benidorm after this wonderful birding tour in a sunny and warm day.
As I am writing this, I get news of a Lesser Yellowlegs located in the farmland fields South of “El Hondo”. It shows what a fantastic area for birding the Alicante province is!.
Have a nice day
I met Martin and Jane at 8:30 in their Hotel’s hall in the city centre of Granada. After driving 2 h, we arrived to Andújar Natural Park.
We skipped the check–in and went straight to the view point where we got close views of Griffon and Black Vultures as soon as we parked. Around noon, a four loud mews caught our attention. We moved toward the mews came from to try to locate the elusive cat. We were unlucky so we moved back to our previous position and had lunch. The afternoon came very quiet (just 15 Cranes in V-formation, well spotted by Jane) so we decided to drive along the track to look for other wildlife. I parked the car and we walked to find a solitary Daubuton’s Bat, where were the other bats?. We continued walking and we spotted two raptors chasing one another right on the top of the mountains, it was an immature Golden Eagle chasing out a Spanish Imperial Eagle!, things were getting interesting!. On the walk back to the car I found something swimming right on the middle of the dam, too far to be identified with the bins but probably a deer swimming. From the same spot, we found a Kingfisher landing in the shore of the dam and a flock of Hawfinches. A quick look before getting on the car revealed a group of Spanish Ibex, a nice end for our first day. It was time to go to the Rural Hotel to enjoy a homemade dinner with a bottle of red wine.
Today we set off to the same view point. Around 10 o’clock, a mew from the right side of the track called our attention and we moved quickly to join other watchers. We missed the Lynx for few seconds! It went down to the other side of the hill. We stayed in the same spot waiting it to be again in view, but we just could see a distant Mouflon.
We returned to the car and had lunch watching Griffon’s and Black Vultures and a distant immature Golden Eagle. The Spanish Imperial Eagle remained in its usual perch all morning and a Blue-Rock Thrush rested in a rock in front of us. The afternoon was quiet until we heard another mew. Around 3 o’clock all the effort paid off as I found a female Lynx! She was approx 300 m away walking slowly and disappearing/appearing between the rocks and the vegetation. I rapidly pointed it to Martin and Jane, we were over the moon!. We worked out the route she was going to follow, so we relocated our position to get better views. After an endless waiting, we found her laying in a rock at the bottom of two olive trees. What a superb view!
Having seeing our main target, the Lynx, we decided to move to another area to get better views of Spanish Ibex. After taking some close shoots of them, we went to the Hotel.
Having seen so well the Iberian Lynx yesterday, we changed our plans and visited a different place where we looked for Otters during the morning. Grey Wagtails, Chiffchaffs, Long-tailed Tits and Cetti’s Warblers were seen along the river but not the Otters. Around 11 o’clock we agreed to go to the view point. As we were arriving I got news that few meters ahead were people listening to the lynxes. Fifteen minutes after parking, I got a view of a Lynx walking along the track. It was difficult to follow it, Jane and Martin just got a glimpse. We relocated it and we were able to see it for approx 10 seconds before it disappeared in the Mediterranean forest. Around 1 h later Jane and Martin saw the Lynx walking down hill to an open area close to the track. A driver who was driving along the main track waved his hand to stop us, as the Lynx was about to come in view. The Lynx was as fast as hare and crossed the track in a glimpse; it is amazing how agile they are! Later a group of 4 vultures (1 Griffon and 3 Black) came into view. As the sun was setting we drove back to the Hotel to celebrate our second Lynx sighting of the Iberian Lynx Holidays!
Our first schedule was to have a 5-day tour, but as we did fantastically well with the Lynx, (we have to keep in mind that the Iberian Lynx is the rarest cat in the world) Jane and Martin prefered to return today after lunch and have two days sightseeing the beautiful city of Granada. As we were driving along the view point, we saw a gathering of people looking at a big bush. That just could mean one thing, the Lynx was close! I parked the car quickly and there we had just 15-20 m away a male trying to mate with a female Lynx!. We watched the pair for nearly 4 hours; even we witnessed a fight between them. Obviously the male was waiting her permission and guarding her against any other males. I must recognize that it has been my best sight of Lynx so far! Just mention that there were nearly 100 people amazed of seeing such a wonder.
I am very glad about the amazing sightings we had in this tour, it couldn’t have gone any better. We will continue with this Lynx tour during January and part of February.
Have a nice day
I am going to explain why to visit the Albufera de Valencia in winter. Last Saturday, I guided Daniel and George to some of the most interesting birding spots in East Spain. I told them the possibility of visiting the Marjal d’Almenara, a small coastal wetland in the border between Valencia and Castellón. There in the marshes, an adult Isabelline Shrike has been recorded since one week ago. This rarity has been filmed and photographed by dozens of birders during the last week. We arrived to the area around 9:00 o’clock and it took us approx. 45 minutes to find the Shrike perched in the same spot where it was located the first time by the Bort’s brothers. As we were watching it,the Shrike made some attempts to kill a Chiffchaff but with no luck. During the previous days, some birders have recorder it killing and eating Chiffchaffs and Dragonflies.
Other species seeing in the Marjal d’Almenara were Cetti’s Warbler, Penduline Tit, Marsh and Hen Harrier, Stonechat, Moustached Warbler and other common birds.
Around 11:30 we moved to the Albufera de Valencia to do some seawatching. Daniel was looking forwards to see an Artic Skua and 30 minutes after putting up the scope we found a Great and an Artic Skua. Other interesting sightings were at least 5 Yelkouan Shearwater mixed amongst more than 600 Balearic Shearwater and few Gannets (the day before I recorded 1500 BS in 10 minutes, amazing! It made me so happy to watch this big flocks of the endangered Balearic Shearwater ). We also spotted a fem/juv Common Scoter and 3 Great Northern Loon which are no common birds in the area. In the seashore there were 400+ Sanderlings mixed with 32 Grey Plovers and few Dunlin.
Finally, we visited the main lagoon to watch hundreds of wildfowl: Red Crested Pochards, Shovellers, Shelducks, etc and. a wintering Booted Eagle. No wonder that all these fantastic birds spend the winter here! with a shiny sun and a temperature of 18ºC, I would do the same. 🙂
Have a nice day
Today I am going to meet Jill, Patricia, Laura and Frances at their hotel in Valencia. After loading the luggage, we set off for the first stop at the Sierra del Toro. The wind makes us feel the cold! Despite the wind, we managed very well seeing a party of 6 Siskins, Coal and Crested Tits, a Song Thrush, Griffon Vultures, Firecrests (what produced a wide smile in Jill) and other common birds. Then, we had a warm coffee with biscuits at a local bar before leaving to Gallocanta.
As soon as we got to Calamocha, I pulled over to photograph a low flying Red Kite. A few minutes later a Sparrowhawk crossed the sky. Then, we continued driving to the visitor centre where we parked. Suddenly, as we were getting out of the car more than 300 Cranes took off. I searched the sky and I found the reason of this behaviour, an immature Golden Eagle, what a wonder! Skylarks, Common Buzzard, Linnets and a female Hen Harrier were also seen from the same area. After that, we got back to the car to have our picnics and drove to the hotel to check-in and put on our warmest clothes to wait the arrival of the cranes at dusk.
Around 15:00 , we left the hotel to explore the northern part of the lagoon. This year has been very dry and there is no much water in the lagoon. In the puddles we found Shelducks, Teals, Marsh and beautiful males Hen Harriers and a group of 4 Corn Buntings in a nearby bush. Later, we got into position to witness the arrival of the cranes to roost in the lagoon, and we really enjoyed it! Marvellous!
After a nutritious breakfast, we are ready for our second day birding. Our first stop is in a viewpoint in Gallocanta. There we watched a group of 30 Ruffs, 3 Greylags and a good number of Cranes. Then, we continued driving to explore the surroundings and we found Northern Wheatear, Stonechats, Calandra and Crested Larks, Tree Sparrows, a shy Great Spotted Woodpecker, Spotless Starlings and other birds we saw the day before.
The landscape is really impressive with the contrast of the colours; the land is red, green and yellow ochre and the sky clear blue and white, fantastic for landscape shoots. Our next stop was in a nearby fresh water lagoon where there were Coots, Widgeons, Gadwalls, Shovelers and Chiffchaffs. Then, we went to a bar to have a warm chocolate, which made us feel great!. Our last stop was in a gorge, where I expected to show them different species. Black Redstars and a group of Red-legged Partridges were seen along the track. Once we started walking, a pair of Golden Eagles and a few Griffon’s glided above us. We watched them few more times. Then, when we were about to walk back to the car a group of 50 Red-billed Choughs and a Peregrine Falcon were seen. What an end! Finally, we had a tasty and warm menu for lunch before heading back to Valencia.
This short holiday is a good option for those who wish a short break in an area with an unique landscape, and to witness the always impressive roost of thousands of cranes.
Have a nice day
I have spent a great time birding in the Albufera de Valencia with Verna and Bob from Canada. The Albufera de Valencia is one of the hot spots for birders in Spain, with a good number of rarities showing up during this time of the year. I hope you find useful this trip report Albufera de Valencia.
It’s 7:00 and I am picking Verna and Bob from Oliva where they are staying. After 50 minutes driving we arrive to our first stop, “el Tancat de la Ratlla”, a reserve surrounded by paddy fields and managed particullary for waders. There has been very interesting records in the area during the previous weeks.
In the Tancat de la Ratlla, we managed to see a good number of waders such as Black-winged stilt, Collared Pratincoles, Little and Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper (some in full winter plumage while others just started to molt), Little Stint, Wood, Green and Common Sandpipers, Common Snipe and Ruffs. There were also Little Terns, Kingfishers, a Glossy Ibis and Yellow Wagtails. Verna spotted a Tern which turned out to be a Gull-billed Tern. Meanwhile, mixed flocks of Sand Martins and Barn Swallows feasted on insects. Later, as we walk along the ditch to get good views of Reed and Fan-tailed Warbler, we found two beautifuls males of Bluethroats chasing each other. Fantastic bird! Before leaving, we got a quick view of a Cetti’s Warbler.
Our next stop was “El Tancat de la Pipa”. There, from the tower we watched Purple Heron, Little ,Cattle and Great White Egret, Purple swamp-hens (2 adults + juv), a pair of Red-crested Pochards, Gadwall, Marsh Harriers and a Little Bittern which sadly is missed by Verna. On the way back to the car, a Greenshank and a group of three Caspian Terns (at least one of them was a juvenile) flew above us. They are probably the sight of the day!. We need to charge batteries so we go the local restaurant to enjoy some local cuisine “all i pebre” (eels with garlic and potatoes) and some rice with prawns for a main dish. Delicious!
Finally our last stop is in a lagoon close to the Saler beach. There we found Common Redshank, an Oystercatcher, Turnstones, and a group of juveniles Greater Flamingos dancing to stir the mud to filter their food. Being the weather hot, we decided to drive back to Oliva and rest as tomorrow we will be heading to the Steppes of Albacete.
Have a nice day
I hope to catch your attention about the superb birdlife that can be found in this part of Spain (Alicante and Valencia provinces). Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure to guide Richard in the Alicante area. He had emailed me a list of lifers he would like to see and I think we did pretty well.
After picking him at 6:30 (we wanted to avoid the heat), we set off to el Monnegre to look for our first targets, the Black Wheatear. It didn’t take long before we watched our first Black Wheatear in the river gorge, following by two mores near a building in ruins. Then, we drove for few minutes to visit an area where last May I found two territories of Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin. In my opinion, this is one of the most wanted birds as it has become very rare. Unfortunately, the population is crashing and the remain pairs are very located. We failed in the first attempt. Nevertheless, we found in the second patch a nice male Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin calling on the top of a pine three. What a superb bird!. Besides, we found Crested Lark, Sardinian Warbler, Red-legged Partridge, Woodchat and Iberian Grey Shrike.
Our next destination in this birding trip Alicante, was El Hondo. There, we found in the lagoon besides the visitor center Fan-tailed Warbler, Purple swamp-hens and the usual Red-Knobbed Coots with a white collar. These RKC are part of a reintroduction programme which is not working as well as we would like. Once the birds are release, they disperse and never settle, suffering high mortality.
We continued the birding trip Alicante finding the third target of the day, the White-headed Duck. There was a group of 5-6 ducks diving in front of the first hide, most of them juveniles which is excellent!. We also watched a good number of birds such as Collared Pratincole, Squacco, Night and Purple Heron, Whiskered Tern, Little and Cattle Egret, Shelduck, Black-winged Stilt, Whimbrel, Little and Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, a female Red-crested Pochard, etc. Around 11:00, we started to feel the heat, so we decided to go for some refreshments in San Felipe Neri before driving to the Salinas de Santa Pola. Later, while I was driving to the Salinas I found a Roller in a Palm tree, much to Richard suprise. I pulled over the car to watch it. Nice bird!
In the Salinas we found another target, the Slender-billed Gull. Besides, we watched Greater Flamingos, Avocets, Kentish Plover, Gull-billed, Common and Little Tern, and other common birds. Finally, we made a short visit to the beach finding the last target, the Audouin’s Gull.
The following day we went to the steppes of Albacete where we accomplished the two last targets: Little Bustard (a group of 10) and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. Other nice sightings were Great Bustards, a White-headed Duck, Black-necked Grebes, Pin tailed Sandgrouses and Bee-eaters.
I hope you find useful this birding trip Alicante article. Furthermore, I would like to encourage worldwide birders to visit this superb area which won’t disappoint you by any means.
Have a nice day
I have had the pleasure of guiding Keith and Liz during 11 days in the South of Spain. We have visited Doñana, Sierra de Andújar and Cazorla from June, 23rd to July, 2nd. In this trip report, I will just comment the visit to the Coto de Doñana. Welcome to this birdwatching report Doñana.
At 9:00 I am picking Keith and Lee from their Hotel in the city center of Seville. Around 10:10 we arrive to el Rocio, a beautiful town which hasn’t lost any of his pure Spanish taste. I really recommend to go round this town.
Despite the low rainfall in this area during the last spring, the Rocio marshes and la Rocina still have a reasonable level of water. As we get to the Marshes of el Rocio and scan them, we see lots of Greater Flamingos, Spoonbills, Black tailed Godwits which have already started their post breeding migration, Black-winged Stilts, Black Kites, Shelducks, White Storks, Collared Pratincoles, Avocets, Booted Eagles, Griffon Vultures, Greylags, Reed Warblers, Little and Cattle Egrets and Spotless Starlings. We also enjoy for a while a family of Purple Swamp-hens feeding in the reeds.
After that, we grab some fruit for lunch and move to la Rocina. There, as we go from hide to hide following the boardwalk we find Short-toed Treecreeper, Melodious Warblers, Nightingales, Azure-winged Magpies, Stonechats and Woodchat Shrikes, many of them juveniles. From the hides, we see Glossy Ibis, Little Ringed Plover, Common Waxbills, Tree Sparrows, finches and a Red Deer.
Later we visit the other closeby visitor center, el Palacio del Acebrón which is accessible from La Rocina. There we find Bee-eaters, Hoopoes and Crested, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Iberian Grey Shrike and a Spotted Flycatcher. As we approach to the “closed” boarding walk, the weather worsened and starts raining so we decide go back to the Hotel.
We have dinner in the square in front of our Hotel. As the sunset, the sky is covered by Pratincoles and baths (Pipistrelle and Mouse-eared Bats). A great spectacle we all enjoy!
Today we will visit the North part of Doñana. In order to do it, we have to drive for 30 km along tracks surrounded with farmlands and ditches. As we drive we watch Purple Herons, Yellow Wagtails, Zitting Cisticola and Marsh Harrier. Our first stop is in a breeding colony of Spanish Sparrows, where Liz is delighted watching these ‘cheeky’ birds and a close nest of White Storks with three young. There, we are taken by surprise when a flock of 120-150 Collared Pratincoles is seen. Probably the biggest flock I have ever seen!. Later, as we continue driving, we spot a pair of Red-rumped Swallow, Gull-billed Terns, a flock of nearly 100 Calandra Larks, and few Short-toed Larks. Suddenly, I spot a distinctive raptor approaching, a Black-winged Kite! a few minutes later another appears. What a great bird!
The next stop is a an area where good numbers of Lesser Kestrels can be seen. We stay there for 30 minutes watching beautiful juveniles and adults. While Liz and Keith are enjoying a close view of them, I find a good number of Barn Owl pellets in a nearby building. Will they be around? Then, we continue driving and just before we get to JAV visitor center Liz finds a Barn Owl in a post. We stop the car just few meters away and get cracking views of this wonderful bird. Amazingly, Keith finds another Barn Owl hiding in a tamarisk just next to the first owl. What a moment! We stay more than 20 minutes taking photos and watching both birds.
Later, we stop for lunch and a coffee in the visitor center. We watch the egrets-ibis-herons colony and find a pair of Night Heron, Little Bittern, Little Grebe and Gadwalls. After that, we continue driving to the Dehesa de Abajo finding another Barn Owl (3 in total), Red Kite, a Green Sandpiper, a pair of Great Reed Warbler and a Short-toed Eagle. In the rice fields near the Dehesa, we find a Squacco Heron.
As we drive back to the Hotel after such a superb day, we see a Little Owl perch in a fence.
This coastal marsy reserve offers an interesting variety of species all year round thanks to the tides. A quick visit to the back of the visitor center reveals Little Terns, Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers and Black-tailed Godwit. Then, as we drive to the end of the docks, we find 3 Ospreys perched. Close to them, a female Hen Harrier bombs a Marsh Harrier which is resting on a Salicornia. A nice sighting! After that, we continue driving and as I heard the calling of Curlews I pull over. I set and focus the scope and we find Oystercatchers, Spoonbills, Common Redshank and a solitary Little Stint. We are surprised by the huge number of crab fish in the mud. On the dunes, Kentish Plovers and Crested Larks fly around.
After lunch we visit the lagoon of Portil. I look out for White-headed Duck but unfortunately there is none. However, we watch Red-crested and Common Pochard, a limping Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Black-winged Stilts and Black-necked Grebe. We also find a Red-eared Terrapin basking in the shore. It is an American invasive species which is causing lot of trouble to the natives species.
The sun is intense and with 32ºC, we decide to change plans, so we move towards Doñana and stop to look for chameleons. It takes me around 25 minutes to find one in the middle of the bush, hiding from the sun. They are gorgeous!
You can find more information about the birding Doñana tour in the following link.
Have a nice day
This is a birdwatching trip report La Mancha and Serrania de Cuenca from May 29th to June 4th. We arrive to our hotel in the evening of the 29th after a birding trip in the Pyrenees, please find the trip report here.
After having breakfast in our hotel in Villalba de la Sierra, Lee and I have a quick look to the poplar trees behind the hotel and find a beautiful male of Golden Oriole. Next, we set off for the first stop in La Serranía de Cuenca where we watch Alpine and Common Swift, Blue Rock Thrush and Black Redstart. Later, we walk around Uña lagoon seeing Great Reed Warbler, Iberian Green and Great spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Treecreeper, Marsh Harrier and Bonelli’s Warbler.
Our next stop is in the Spring of Cuervo River. As we walk along the path we find 4 different species of orchids (Narrow-leaved Helleborine “Cephalanthera longifolia”, Red Helleborine “Cephalanthera rubra”, Green-winged Orchid “Anacamptis morio” and Common Spotted Orchid “Dactylorhiza fuchsii“). It is really worth to visit the area for the beauty of the waterfalls and the interesting limestone formations. Keep in mind that during weekends the Cuervo River can be crowded, so better to visit in a week day.
Regarding birds, during the walk we watch a Booted Eagle taking off from a black pine, Firecrests feeding their fledged chicks, a Jay eating a tasty worm, and an Iberian Chiffchaff. After that, we walk near Vega de Codorno seeing Melodious Warbler, Yellowhammer, Black-eared and Northern Wheatear, Nightingale and Rock Sparrow. As I follow a Hobby with the binoculars, other raptors join; for few minutes there are 5 raptors in the sky! (2 Hobbies, an Egyptian Vulture, a Common Buzzard and a Booted Eagle) What a great place for raptors! We have been listening two different Cuckoos and Lee who is from U.S.A., is very keen to see this European specie. We creep along the meadow to watch the shy Cuckoo fly off. Close where it is, we see a Fallow deer.
We start the day walking along the Júcar River to see a 19th century watermill and some birds such as Iberian Green Woodpecker, Cetti’s Warbler, Nuthatch and Wrens. During the morning we visit the fields around the hotel, seeing Bee-eaters, Black-eared Wheatear, Crested Lark, Woodlark, Rock Sparrow, Orphean Warbler, Crested Tit, Hoopoe, Red Kite, Woodchat Shrike and an Iberian Hare. Then we visit and Las Majadas where we find badger scat, a Melodious Warbler, Crossbills and Yellow Ophrys Orchid “Ophrys lutea” and butterflies such as Adoni’s Blue, Moroccan Orange Tip, Black Veined, Cleopatra, etc.
After having lunch, we visit Beteta to find Bonelli’s Warbler, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle and Griffon’s in their nest looking after their chicks. Nice view! Along the path we also find a Narrow-leaved Helleborine and “Pinguicola mundi”, an interesting endemic Butterwort.
Today we head off to the lagoons of La Mancha. In route we have good views of Montagu’s Harriers. The first stop is in Manjavacas lagoon where we find Fan-tailed Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Shelducks, Gull-billed and Whiskered Terns, Kentish and Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilt, a Common Redshank and a Little Stint in full summer plumage. Lesser Kestrels hunt in the nearby fields and a Little Owl peer at us from the wall of an abandoned hut. Later, we visit the Lagoons of Pedro Muñoz and find Lapwing, Gadwall, Spotted Starlings, Greater Flamingos and other species seen previously. About noon, we are in the lagoons of Alcázar de San Juan. There, Lee makes the most of two pairs of White Storks and chicks in their nest. We also see juveniles and adults of White-headed Ducks, Black-necked Grebes, Red-crested Pochard, Mediterranean Gull, Black-tailed Godwits, Savi’s Warbler, Bearded Tit, Common Redshank and Wood Sandpiper. In the last lagoon, we find a Black Kite and few pairs of Lesser Kestrel which breed in the area thanks to the construction of a “primillar” (buildings which imitate the countryside houses to allow them to breed there). After that, we drive to our Hotel in Belmonte.
Today we visit the Tablas de Daimiel National Park. A quick stop in the entrance reveals a pair of Penduline Tits, which are really abundant this year in the park. In the same place, we watch about 8 pairs of White Storks in their nest, Great Crested Grebes, Cattle and Little Egret, Purple and Night Herons. Later, during a short walk in the reeds we observe Great and Reed Warblers, Nightingales, Marsh Harriers, Little and Black necked Grebe, Savi’s Warbler, Common Pochards, Squacco Heron, Little Bitterns and Spoonbills in their breeding colony in a group of tamarisk trees. Later, after lunch, we drive around the nearby farmland seeing a beautiful pair of Rollers, Lesser Kestrels, Hoopoe, Crested and Calandra Larks. With already 30ºC, we decide to drive back to the hotel.
At 7:30 p.m. we meet at the bar of the Hotel to have some refreshments with our local contact. He is going to show us a bird which I know Lee is very keen to see. Thirty minutes later, we stand in the opposite cliff of an abandoned quarry watching a chick of an Eagle Owl, what a beautiful view! Besides, Bee-eaters delight us with is beauty. They breed just few meters away from the Eagle Owl. My congratulations to the owners of so well manage hunting ground! We encourage landowners to protect raptors as a tourism resource.
Few minutes after setting off to the South of the province, a large bird fly above us, I say: It’s a Great Bustard; Lee reply:“You are kidding”. No, I am not. There it is, a solitary Great Bustard.
One hour later we are in the Dehesa of Munera where we see Sardinian, Dartford and Spectacled Warbler. That’s fantastic, two new species for Lee. As we drive through the countryside, we find Thekla Lark, more Spectacled Warbler, Booted Eagle, Black and Red Kite, Iberian Grey Shrike, Hoopoe, Spotless Starling, Corn Buntings and Woodlark. After that, we go to the Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park. In this beautiful spot we watch Purple Heron, Crested Tit, Blue Rock Thrush, Great Crested Grebe, Azure-winged Magpie, Ocellated Lizards and a wide variety of butterflies: Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Western Dappled White, etc.
Again, the temperature is over 30ºC, so we go to the Hotel to rest after 14 following day birding around Spain.
I strongly recommend visiting La Mancha and Serranía de Cuenca. Both are superb areas for birding and are unfairly overlooked as a birding destination. I hope you find useful this birdwatching trip report La Mancha.
Have a nice day
This is a Pyrenees bird watching trip report from May 25th to 29th. During the previous 4 days, I have had the pleasure of guiding Lee around Valencia and Alicante provinces. Some of the species we observed were White headed Duck, Great and Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Roller, Little Bittern, Moustached Warbler, Bonelli’s Eagle and Warbler, etc.
At 6:30 a.m. Lee, Lauren and I are leaving from Gandia to Valencia to drop off Lauren in the Ave train station. At 9:00 we are birding in “La Sierra del Toro”. This open Mediterranean woodland forest mix with traditional farmland holds a good number of interesting species. Our first observations in the area are Rock Sparrow and Black-eared Wheatear which welcome us from a hut roof. Then, we park the car to walk around the countryside. Woodlarks and Northern Wheatears fly in display. Iberian Green Woodpecker is spotted by Lee. That is really great! Woodpeckers are her favourite birds!. After that, we move to the other side of the road watching Great Spotted Woodpecker,3 Subalpine Warblers, Cirl Bunting, Serin, 3 majestic Short-toed Eagle, an Egyptian Vulture and an Orphean Warbler!. What a great place!. The area is also full of butterflies such us Eastern Dappled White, Cleopatra, Large and Small Whites.
Thirty minutes later we stop near the Mijares River, in the province of Teruel. There, Skylarks, Ortolan Bunting, Melodious Warbler, Booted Eagle, Bee-eater, Grey Wagtail and Stock Doves are quickly spotted.
Around 2:00 p.m. we leave to our next destination, the steppes of Belchite. Once we arrive there, a great number of Lesser Short-toed Larks are observed along with Thekla and Calandra Larks. Later, while I drive back to the main road to leave the reserve, I spot a Pin-tailed Sandgrouse hidden less than 10 m from the car; quickly I share my finding with Lee. What a gorgeous bird!. Few minutes after that, a pair of Black-bellied Sandgrouse fly in front of us. That has been a great end for the first day! Now it is time to rest and have dinner after this intense and pleasant birding day.
At 9:00 we head off to the western Pyrenees. In route we observe Red Kites and White Storks in their nest.
As we drive through the Foz de Bienés, Lee says “there is a Fox”. Quickly I drive backwards and there it is, a beautiful Red Fox in the middle of the meadow looking at us. After that, we continue driving for 20 minutes to reach a viewing point. As I park, a Hare runs to hide in the bushes. We stay for 40 minutes watching Griffon Vultures, a pair of Subalpine Warblers, a Bonelli’s Warbler and a Peregrine Falcon. Then, we move to the Ansó Valley where we enjoy a pair of Egyptian Vultures, Red-backed Shrikes, Red-billed Choughs and Grey Wagtails. Suddenly, a large raptor soars along the valley, I pull over and I shout: it’s a Lammergeier-Lee replies:”You’re Kidding”. There it is, a superb adult Lammergeier in our first day in the Spanish Pyrenees!
As the weather get worst and it rains, we decide to move to the Roncal Valley. There we enjoy watching Water Pipits, Yellow-billed Choughs, Black Redstarts, and other common birds.
Today we focus on the Hecho Valley. In route we manage to see Iberian Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Subalpine Warblers, Grey Wagtails, Red-backed Shrikes, Yellowhammer, Bullfinches and a Roe Deer. After parking the car in the middle of the valley, we find 2 Red squirrels playing in a beech tree. Then, we walk for 30 minutes through the forest to reach an excellent point to observe the star of the day “the Wallcreepeer”. During the walk we watch Coal, Citril Finch, Long-tailed and Crested Tits, Nuthatch, Firecrest, Griffon Vultures, Yellow-billed Choughs, Crag Martins and Chamois grazing high in the meadows. Black-veined White and Dark Green Fritillary Butterflies are seen too.
Once we arrive to the right spot, it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to find the superb Wallcreepeer, excellent! As we fell hungry, we walk back to the car to have lunch. Then, we continue up to the valley seeing Iberian Green Woodpecker, Egyptian Vulture, Common Buzzard, Linnets, Yellowhammer and a Marmot which sadly is missed by Lee. As showers are back, we decide to drive back to the hotel.
Showers are the forecast for today. Being today our last full day in the Pyrenees, we will focus on the species we haven’t seen yet. First we stop near Isaba, in reliable point to observe the Dipper. After just five minutes waiting, a Dipper flies right up the river. Lee misses it, so I suggest her staying in the same point while I walk along the river to relocate it. Ten minutes later I turn my head towards Lee and I see her thumb up. She got a fantastic close view of the Dipper catching insects. Great!
Then, I drive to another place where we expect to find the star of the day “the Rock Thrush”. We look out to the rocky slopes, but nothing, the weather is not helping at all. We decide to try a bit further up in the hillside and after few minutes walking I spot this magnificent bird in the top of the rock. Lee is like a dog with two tails!. After that, we move to next place where we have great views of Water Pipits, Ring Ouzels, Citril Finches, Goldcrest and Crossbills.
We decide to move down the valley in search of better weather. While we have lunch, we watch a pair of Egyptian Vultures, a Blue Rock Thrush, Red-backed Shrikes, Peregrine Falcons, a Red Kite and a Booted Eagle.
Today we leave the Pyrenees to continue bird watching in La Mancha. As we drive close to Bianés, a Roe Deer crosses the road and a Golden Eagle and an Egyptian Vulture are seen. Later, we stop in the Sierra de Guara to have lunch. There,Tawny Pipit, Bee-eater, Sardenian Warbler, Egyptian Vulture, Red-billed Chough and 2 Lammergeiers are seen. Excellent!
It has been a fantastic tour with lots of interesting birds. It has been a great pleasure to guide Lee. Thanks.
Have a nice day
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