In this carnivorous and butterflies tour, we will explore the breathtaking Mountains of Picos de Europa. These mountains are the last stronghold for the Cantabrian Brown Bear, an endangered subspecies of the widespread Brown Bear. They are usually hidden in tick forest but in late summer they venture to the open and rocky hillside to feed on berries. This top endangered predator (estimated population of approximately 250 bears) is recovering from a nearly extinction through hunting and habitat destruction.
Rebeco (Southern Chamois), Red Squirrel, Iberian Wolf and Wildcats are also among our targets in this carnivorous and butterflies trip. We will combine morning and evening stakeout with nice and steady walks during midday to discover birds, butterflies and reptiles such as the endemic Schreiber’s green Lizard or the Seoane’s viper.
After a bit more than 3 h drive from Santander airport, we will be in our rural hotel in Pola de Somiedo ready to pick our picnics and check-in. Soon we will be in our first Bear and Wildcat stakeout.
At the end of summer Brown Bears that are disperse in the inaccessible valleys and mountains, move to a specific location in search of berries of Alpine Buckthorn Rhamnus alpinus, Bilberries Vaccinium myrtillus and Red Currants Ribes rubrum. That gives us the chance to find this elusive mammal above the tree-line on the higher mountain slopes. At this location, they are much more visible than in the forests.
After the morning stakeout, we will take a nice stroll searching for migrants birds, butterflies among the lush meadows and reptiles. Later, after lunch and a nap, we will go for another walk before the evening skateout.
Regarding birds, some of the species we might watch during the trip are Alpine Accentor, Yellow Hammer, Water Pipit, Red-billed Chough, Rock Bunting, Iberian Chiffchaff, Crested Tit, Bullfinch, Marsh Tit, Egyptian and Griffon Vulture. The area also holds a few pairs of Peregrine Falcon and Golden Eagle. We will always keep an eye in the steppes hillside which bears visit regularly to feed on berries.
At the end of the summer, farmers cut the hay from the fields to feed the cattle during the cold winter. This leave many rodents exposed to the Wildcats which come out the forest to feast on them, even in daylight. Thus, this area holds one of the best and healthy Wildcat populations in Europe.
We will spend the following days looking for Iberian wolfs in the mountains of Picos de Europa. In order to find this elusive mammal, we will have the support of our local guides who would have spend all summer tracking the family packs. We will combine the stakeouts with 1 day for Alpine birds: Snowfinche, Alpine accentor, Wallcreeper, Yellow billed Chough or Rock Thrush to name few.
In addition, we will also keep an eye to the astonishing variety of butterflies that can be observes in the meadows and forest. Some of the butterflies include: Meadow Brown, Marbled White, False Ilex Hairstreak, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Marsh Fritillary, High Brown Fritillary, Heath Fritillary, Marsh Fritillary, Weaver’s Fritillary, Garvarnie Blue, Brown Argus, Long-tailed Blue, Lang’s Short-tailed Blue, Small Blue, Holly Blue, Grizzled Skipper, Large Skipper, Red-underwing Skipper, Mallow Skipper, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Black-veined White, Brown Small Heath, Chapman’s Ringlet, Marbled White, etc.
Sadly this is the end of the carnivorous and butterflies tour through one of the most beautiful areas of Europe in search of top predators and birds.
Price of the Carnivorous tour in Picos de Europa:
1500 € /people (4-6 people)
Single supplement: 150€
Please find our last carnivours trip report here.
Price of a tour focus on butterflies:
1100 € /people (4-6 people)
Single supplement: 150€
Please find our last butterfly trip report here.
What is included:
– Travel from Bilbao or Santander airport in modern, fully seat belted, air conditioned vehicles
– 7 Nights accommodation in a beautiful rural hotel
– All meals included, picnic for lunch and traditional Spanish evening meals
– Tour guided by a professional bird guides
– Basic travel insurance
What is not included:
– Air fare (Low cost companies operate daily flights to Bilbao and Santander from several European airports) Easyjet flights from London Stansted.
– Drinks and other items of a personal nature