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
This Petrola trip report is about the guiding I did in Petrola on April 29th. It is 8:30 in the morning and I am meeting Peter and his wife in a petrol station near L’Alcudia. I suggested them to take this tour as this area looks superb at the moment! These well preserve steppes are among the best birding places in all East Spain.
Our first stop in a lagoon revealed Greater Flamingos, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Common Sandpiper, Gadwalls, Shelducks, Dunlins, Redshanks and Gull-billed Terns. It didn’t take long before I locate 4 Long-tailed Sandgrouses, Hoopoe and Calandra Larks in the nearby fields. Ten minutes later a group of Black-bellied Sandgrouse flew at some distance which made us very happy!. Christine did very well finding our first Great Bustard, which was followed by two males and few more females. We have been just 40 minutes and we have seen all this amazing birds! Both Sandgrouses and Bustards usually occurs in the same area.
Later, we stopped in a second lagoon finding Kentish and Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwits, Whiskered Terns and 2 Temminck’s Stints. So far so good!. A solitary Stone Curlew flew above the lagoon. In front of us, there was a stone wall where I found Crested Larks, a Rock Sparrow and a flock of Spotless Starlings. We continue driving to the Petrola lagoon to find Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Sanderlings, Little and Cattle Egrets, Marsh Harriers, Zitting Cisticolas, Bee-eaters, Black-necked Grebes, Common and Red-crested Pochards, Yellow Wagtails, Shovelers, 2 stunning males White-headed Ducks and Black Terns. The island on the back of the lagoon, was very busy with large numbers of Greater Flamingos and Black-headed Gulls breeding. Peter spotted on the top of the reeds a Great Reed Warbler singing. Reed Warbler and Savi’s warblers were also singing from the reeds and a Cuckoo from the farmland close to the lagoon. Before we moved to the next place, we watched a Nightingale on an almond tree.
Finally, we move around the farmland to find Short-toed Larks, around 15 Great Bustards, Linnets, Corns Buntings and finches. In the last lagoon, there were a wide variety of waders previously mentioned, besides Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stints.
I hope you enjoy this Petrola trip report ! More information about this tour can be found in our Great Bustard Tour
Have a nice day
This birding report Doñana was preceded by a tour in Cazorla from March 14-17th.
At 9:30 we head off from Cazorla to Doñana. During the journey, numerous Black Kites and a solitary Booted Eagle are seen. Three hours later, we arrive to the lagoons of La Lantejuela. There, we have our picnic while we watch Greater Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts, Black-necked Grebes, Common Pochards, Marsh Harriers, a Cetti’s Warbler and a good number of White-headed Ducks, which is the third lifer of the trip. Katy finds on the floating trunks lots of Spanish terrapins sunbathing.
We continue the trip to our Hotel in el Rocio. After check in, we spend the last hours of the evening birding in the Rocio’s Marshes. Glossy Ibises, Spoonbills, Wood and Common Sandpiper, Common Redshanks, Great Ringed Plover, Little and Cattle Egret, White Storks, Crested Larks and Black Kites are spread all over the marshes. I locate a Grasshopper Warbler and I heard two more. Greater Flamingos become restless as a herd of Red Deers walk across the marshes, much to everyone’s delight. It makes a sensational picture of the area. A few minutes later, I spot a Spanish Imperial Eagle perched. I quickly got it in the telescope and fabulous views are obtained of this top raptor. I show it to Charlotte as I know she is really keen on seen it. She is over the moon! Finally, as the sun sets a Wild Boar is seen on the opposite site of the marshes.
Today we have focus on the farmland and marshes which surrounds Villanueva and Isla Mayor. It is a superb area to increase the bird list with many species. Our first stop has been in a breeding colony of Spanish Sparrows, the fifth liver for Charlotte, Katy, Joe and James. As they are enjoying them, I spot a pair of Red-rumped Swallow building a nest. Five minutes later, a Calandra Lark flies over us displaying and then it is joined by a Short-toed Lark. As Joe rightly said” there is never a dull moment!”.
We follow the road finding Yellow wagtails, Zitting Cisticola and more than 100 Purple-swamp hens together, what an incredible area!. After that, Katy finds a carcass with 4 Griffon Vultures feeding on it. It is lunch time and we stop at JAV visitor centre to have coffee and eat the sandwiches. After that, we continue the journey following the Guadiamar and getting excellent views of Black Stork and Great Spotted Cuckoo. Wood, Green and Common Sandpipers are regularly seen in the pools and ditches besides the road.
We have started the day searching for an elusive reptile which I know it would really impress the 4 birders I am guiding, the Chameleon. It is thought that they were introduced in the Iberian Peninsula centuries ago from Africa. They have been collected has a pet since then, and for that they are currently located in a very restricted areas in Huelva, Cadiz and Malaga provinces. After 20 minutes of searching, I find one beautiful Chameleon sunbathing in the top of a Broom tree. With no more time to spare, we move to the Odiel Marshes and follow the main road towards the sea. Numerous waders such as Grey Plovers, Turnstones, Sanderlings, Redshanks, Whimbrels, Greenshank, Wood Sandpipers and Curlews are observed in the low tide. James locates an Osprey perched in a post and a Peregrine flies very low chasing waders. It is midday and we decide to have lunch on the dunes. Migrants such as Northern Wheatear, Hoopoe and two Woodchat Shrikes arrive from the sea.
This year has been drier that an average year, so the Acebuche visitor centre has no water. For that reason we go straight to La Rocina where I immediately pick out two Booted Eagles, one pale and the other dark morph. A Spanish Imperial Eagle along with Marsh Harriers, Black and Red Kites fly all together, making it a perfect chance to observe the features of each species. Approachable Azure-winged Magpies move around the Stone Pines looking for food. From the hides, we manage to watch a group of 6 Purple Heron, a Chiffchaff and a Savi’s Warbler feeding on the reeds.
We have a wonderful 6-days tour to this incredible wildlife-rich area in Europe. Many thanks to the group for making this special tour, one I will remember for a long time.
I hope you find interesting and useful this birding report Doñana. More information about our Doñana tour is available in the following link.
Have a nice day
This bird watching Cazorla trip report was held from March 14th-20th. This tour was followed by a 3-day tour to Doñana National Park. The combination of both sites is the perfect mix of habitats to watch a wide variety of wildlife and landscapes in South Spain.
It is 9:00 a.m. and Charlotte, Katy, Joe, James and I are leaving from Gandia to the largest Natural Park in Spain, “Cazorla, Segura y las Villas”. They have been visiting their family in Gandia and they wish to finish their holidays with a birding tour through Andalucia. At 10:45 we stop in one of the best step habitat in East Spain, the steppes of Albacete. The lagoons are full of Greater Flamingos, Common Shelducks, Gadwalls, Red-crested Pochards, Common Pochards, Teals, Avocets, Common Redshanks, Great Ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Dunlins, Ruffs, Avocets and Snipes. In addition, birds such as Spotless Starlings, Crested Larks, Meadow Pipits and lots of different finches move around the farms.
As I am searching the sky watching a Marsh Harrier, I spot 3 Great Bustards flying towards us! James says: “That’s really a good start”. Around 4:00 p.m. we get into the car and continue our journey to bird watching Cazorla. Before we take the motorway, we find a Red Kite and a flock of 60 Rock Sparrows.
Two hours later we stop to have a coffee in a bar besides the road. A Hoopoe lands in a nearby post and a pair of Ravens display in the air. We get at dusk to our hotel in La Iruela, perfect time to check-in and have a traditional Spanish dinner.
Our first visit in this bird watching Cazorla tour has been at the view point of Puerto de Las Palomas which is located over 1000 meters above sea level in the gorge of the Guadalquivir River. Woodlarks are perched in the wire, a pair of Ravens flies below us and Alpine Accentor sings. Ten minutes later, a Griffon Vulture offers a very close view as it soars. Charlotte is amazed! Ten minutes later more Griffon’s join.
Our next stop is in “el Chorro” where we enjoy magnificent views of Griffon’s displaying in the air and also nests with eggs. Large numbers of Red-billed Choughs fly from/to their nests in the crevices and a Peregrine Falcon crosses the sky. Blue Tits, Black Redstart, Chaffins and a Short-toed Treecreeper are also seen. In a nearby oak tree, I find two stunning Firecrests which give us the chance to photograph them. Charlotte and Katy are very pleased as it is their favourite bird and first lifer of the trip! The meadows are full of Iris and butterflies such as the Yellow Clouded and Little Blue.
After lunch we drive for one hour to reach the badlands of the South of the Park. As we get to the area, we observe 4 Corn Buntings perched in a blooming Almond Tree. Besides, Thekla Larks, Rock Sparrows, Meadow Pipits, Choughs, Sardenian Warblers are also seen. A beautiful Black Wheatear sings from a rock, it is the second lifer of the tour!. Suddenly, a gorgeous Goshawk crosses fast the hills following the river allowing just me and James seen it. The wide smile of James speaks for itself!
Today we head for the high part of the mountains. A quick stop in the Puerto de las Palomas reveals a male Rock Bunting which is the second “liver” of the trip. Then, we walk the Cerrada de Utrero route during 1 hour. There we enjoy superb views of nesting Griffon Vultures and Craig Martins. Mistle Trushes, Coal Tits, Blue Tits, Grey Wagtail and Ravens are also seen. After that, we continue the route seeing Red Deers, several Red Squirrels and Common Buzzards. The nearby meadows are cover by lilies, Crocus nevadensis and Crocus salzmannii.
The following stop is in the Poyos viewing point where we enjoy magnificent views of a Firecrest, Long-tailed Tits and Nuthatch. As we feel a bit tired after an intense birding day and considering that tomorrow will visit a promising steppe area in Sevilla, we decide to drive back to have an early dinner in the fantastic balcony of the Hotel. The breathtaking views of the restaurant overlooking the town of la Hiruela, is the perfect place for continuing bird watching in Cazorla while we have dinner. A Peregrine Falcon and a Short-toed Eagle crosses the sky in front of us-absolutely brilliant. Serins, Robins, Barn Swallows and Black Caps are seen in the surroundings. This is the fantastic end of the bird watching Cazorla tour, however it is the start of our next stage of the trip as we are leaving to Doñana. If you are interested in visiting the area, please lets us know and we will organize a tour to this wonderful part of Spain.
Have a nice day
Today our birding Spaintour is focused on the South of Alicante. Ans and his wife Fabienne have come from Belgium to this warm area to spend a few days with their resident family. Both of them are keen birders and are looking forward to seeing 3 different “livers”, White-headed Duck, Red-Knobbed Coot, Slender-billed Gull and if time allows us, Bonelli’s Eagle. Nevertheless, they are happy to see other Spanish species which they are not able to watch in their country. Considering this, I suggested to pick them up from Jávea and head to the South of the Alicante province to look for these four “livers”.
Our first stop in this birding Spain tour is in the Clot de Galvany. This interesting reserve was once famous for having a healthy population of Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, but unfortunately the population has declined dramatically to just 2-3 pairs. However, it is still possible to find it, if you know where to look to. In any case, they are in Africa at the moment. In the hides of Clot de Galvany reserve, we find Common Tails, Shovelers, Pochard, Morhen, Little Egret, Spotless Starlin, White Wagtail and a wintering Yellow Wagtail. As we are on the hides, an Iberian Green Woodpecker flies off from a Carob tree and dozens of Crag Martins feed intensively on the sky. Then, we continue the path to spot other species such as Sardenian Warblers and a Darford Warbler calling from the top of an Anthyllis cytisoides. It was the first Darford Warbler for Fabienne. Linnets, Chaffinches, Song Thrushes, Robins, Black Redstarts and Chiffchaffs are everywhere.
Our next stop is in the famous Hondo, a superb area for birding. Soon we find the first raptors soaring, a Marsh Harrier and a pale Booted Eagle. An Iberian Grey Shrike controls everything from a wire, Stonechats are frequently seen and a group of Penduline Tits move among the reeds. In the second hide is revealed what we were after, a male and a female White-headed Duck among Coots, Little Grebes, Tufted Ducks and two females Red-Crested Pochards. We continue walking to check one of the favourite areas for Red-Knobbed Coots, and there it is, with is white numbered collar. Nearly all the Red-Knobbed Coots come from a reintroduction project in Valencia Region. The same project is also carried out in the Balearic Islands and Andalucia. Not to said, that Ans and Fabienne are over the moon!. It is midday and we have seen two of the four targets. Soon after, a Grey wagtail flies from a ditch and Montagu’s Harrier soars high above from a close field. On the way back to the car park, a quick look on the previous hide reveals a Purple-swamp Hen feeding in the reeds. As we drive to the exit of the reserve, I see a line of Pine Processionary caterpillar, a sign of the warm climate of the region.
With no more time to spare, we move to Salinas de Santa Pola, to observe waders and gulls in this birding Spain tour. Twenty minutes later, we are enjoying with a close range stunning Slender-billed gull, one of my favourite species, no wonder why it is the logo of my birding company, Birdwatching Spain. Other species are Black-necked and Crested Grebe, a solitary Dunlin, Curlews, Great White Egret, Avocet, a Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilts, Sanderlings, Turnstones, Sandwich Terns, lots of Flamingos, Serins, an Audouin’s Gull and a Crested Lark. Then we jump into the car and go to Novelda Mountains to look for the Bonelli’s Eagle. With no luck, we find another interesting species. In the fence of an unfinished and abandoned chalet, Ans with a good eye finds a Little Owl perched very close to a Mistle Trush. Our last stop in a rocky area reveals a Black Wheatear.
It has been a great day birding in this famous birding area, where all worth birding spots are very close one to another, so it allows observing a wide range of species and habitats. What’s more the weather, 18ºC and a bright sun, perfect for a short break birding in Spain. To see some of the pictures of the trip, click on each specie Slender-billed Gull , Red-Knobbed Coot, Turnstone and Avocet.
Have a nice day