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14 Oct

This is a trip report about a bird watching tour in the Pyrenees. It is widely known that the Pyrenees are one of the best places in Europe to observe dazzling birds such as the Lammergeier, Citril Finch and the Wallcreeper. I am guiding Steve who has been after this three species for years.Following there is a description of one of our birding tour in the Pyrenees “Belchite and the Pyrenees tour“.

 

Day 1. Bird watching tour Pyrenees (Valencia airport-Belchite)

 

It is 11:30 and I am picking Steve up from Valencia airport. His flight from London has been on time and 1:30 h later we are birding in Sierra del Toro (The Bull Mountain). I stop the car as there is something gliding on the sky, they are a high flying Bonelli’s Eagle and three Griffon Vultures. That is a good start!!. We continue driving up the hill and we are approximately 1.500 meters above sea level. I pull over the car near a small Scots pine forest. A large flock of inquisitive Coal and Crested Tits along with a Firecrest and a Short-toed Treecreeper feed intensively around us. Crossbills pass close to us. In the way down the mountain, we see Rock Buntings feeding in the bushes.

Two and a half hours later, we are in the steppes of Belchite. I check that there is no water in the main pond, so I think that is going to be tough to find the two species of Sandgrouses. Birds such as Wood, Crested, Thekla and Short-toed Lark chirp constantly as I drive the car. The winter is coming and large flocks of Corn Bunting are forming. An Iberian Grey Shrike sings on the top of a tamarisk. Suddenly, the face of Steve changes completely with a large smile, the Dupont’s Lark is singing its sweet melody.

 

Day 2. Bird watching tour Pyrenees (Belchite-Valle de Hecho)

 

An early visit to Belchite to look for the sandgrouses pays off.  A group of 8 Black-bellied Sandgrouses feed in a recently harvested wheat field. Now, it is time to continue the bird watching tour in the Pyrenees. An hour and a half later, we are in the castle of Loarre in the Pre-Pyrenees enjoying magnificent views of Crag martins and Red Kites. Black Redstart and Dunnock sing from the bushes.

After that, we get into the car and drive to the Hecho Valley. After check-in, we drive up to the valley. The views are breathtaking. A walk around reveals Water Pipit, Ring Ouzel, Yellowhammer and Black Redstart.

 

Day 3. Bird watching tour Pyrenees

 

After breakfast we head for the West of the Hecho Valley. We walk for 35 minutes across the forest in order to reach a cliff where Wallcreeper are often seen. There is none, so we continue walking to the next area. A Black Woodpecker flies in front of us as we reach the second cliff. Chiffchaffs are all over, Redwings fly in small groups and a Iberian Green Woodpecker calls. As we reach the second cliff, a Wallcreeper lands in it, then two more join it. What a spectacle!! Three Wallcreepers all together. While we are enjoying the view, a Sparrowhawk flies over us. Then, we return to the car and have lunch.

During the afternoon we visit Biniés Gorge to watch Rock Buntings, Sardenian and Darford Warblers. Then, after 30 minutes we are in Ansó Valley where we walk for 1,30 h in a steady path watching Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Alpine Accentor, Common Buzzard, Red-billed Chough, and mammals as the Red Squirrel and Red Deer. Steve looks up and sees a Sparrowhawk being under the attack of tens of Martins.

 

Day 4. Bird watching tour Pyrenees

 

Today we continue our birding tours in the Pyrenees but in Navarra, to be more precise in the Roncal Valley. Our first stop in a viewing point reveals the familiar silhouette of the Lammergeier. His first for Steve!! What an elegant bird! We move to the highest area in Navarra and despite the cold weather we manage to see Yellow-billed Choughs, Crossbills and Citril Finches. The Pyrenees holds half of the world population of Citril Finch, so there it is the place to watch them.

To finish the day, we move down to the Biniés gorge where we can enjoy the fly of a Golden Eagle.

 

Day 5. Bird watching tour Pyrenees (Valle de Hecho-Valencia)

 

Time to drive back to Valencia. We stop near Puente de la Reina, in arable fields surrounded by woodland where we find Skylarks, Cirl Buntings and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. We continue driving until we stop to have our picnic in Sierra de Guara. Steve is amazed of seeing the Griffon Vultures so close, we even can hear the sound of their wings cutting the air!. A Peregrine Falcon flies close to the cliffs, and as we are walking to the car, a Wallcreper flies off the cliff, which means that they are already moving to winter in the area.

Rock Buntings hide in the bushes, Dunnocks sing and Red-billed Choughs  gather together in the crags.

 

Day 6. Bird watching tour Pyrenees

 

We spend half morning birding in the Albufera de Valencia before Steve takes the plane. We watch Little and Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Black-winged Stilt, Dunlin, Yellow-legged Gull and Purple-swamp Hen.

Our next bird watching tour to the Pyrenees and Belchite will be June 9-14. Do not miss it!!!

Have a nice day

Birdwatching Spain


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01 Oct

Birding tours Costa Blanca

If you are thinking about doing some birding tours in Costa Blanca, this trip report might interest you. We offer two different birding tours Costa BlancaEl Hondo de Elche and Salinas de Santa Pola and Pego Marshes and forest birds.

This trip report corresponds to the Pego Marshes tour booked by Pete and his friends. It is 9:00 and I am picking up Pete, his wife and another nice couple from Denia. Five minutes after picking them, while we are driving down the hill, we hear the call of a Wryneck. We are in the middle of the migration!!.

Twenty minutes later we arrive to the Pego Marshes and we are welcome by Cattle and Little Egrets along with two juveniles of Marsh Harrier. As we stop in the track to have a look out to the recently harvested rice fields, we see a good number of Yellow Wagtail, Northern Wheatear and a juvenile Purple Heron.

I phone to my colleague Emilio who is ringing in the Marshes. He is one of the member of the ringing group I belong to. We (Pit-Roig Group) ring every day during August and September in order to study the post-breeding migration and the importance of the coastal wetlands in Spain. Emilio tells me that he has a Bluethroat and a Reed Warbler in his hands!, so we drive off to the ringing station.

I am glad that Pete can observe his first Bluethroat!, it is a juvenile female so it has nearly no blue. 

After releasing both birds, we drive around the marshes watching interesting birds such as Hoopoe, Kingfisher, Kestrel, Common Sandpiper, lots of Whinchats, Ringed and Little Plover, Crested Lark, Stonechat, Fan-tailed and Great Reed Warbler, etc. The sun is up and temperatures are increasing, so we move to Pego to have some refreshments.

After that, we drive to the Alcoy mountains in search of the Griffon Vultures and other forest species. We stop under a Aleppo Pine to have lunch. Up in the tree, short-toed Treecreeper, Coal and Crested Tit move around and a Song Thrush fly near us.

Birding tours Costa Blanca

Once we have finished our lunches, we go straight to the Griffon Vulture colony. It is midday and temperature climbs, perfect to watch this majestic raptors gliding over us. In the path that goes to the feeding station, Sardinian Warbler and Crossbills are seen.


As you can see there is very interesting wildlife to observe in one of our birding tours Costa Blanca. In the following link, you can find more information about the Pego Marshes and forest birds tour.

Have a nice day!

Birdwatching Spain


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21 Sep
Bird watching Albufera de Valencia 

This is a trip report about a bird watching Albufera de Valencia tour. The area is a truly paradise for birding in Valencia. I strongly recommend any birder, no matter where he/she is from, to visit the area at least once.  I have spent the day guiding a nice couple of  birders through the Albufera de Valencia. It’s 9:00 and I am picking up Pauline and Brian from the meeting point in Javea. The location of the Albufera de Valencia, just slightly more than one hour from the Costa Blanca, makes it an accessible birding destiny for any tourist or resident birder from Denia, Javea, Calpe or Benidorm. Around 10:10, we are bird watching in the Albufera de Valencia, to be precise in the rice fields of Silla. There, it is located a small reserve that can be really interesting during migration, especially for waders.

Things look quite promising as a juvenile Montagu’s Harrier fly over the reserve and makes the waders feel a bit restless. After that, we start searching for waders, Pauline and Brian are happy to see their first Wood Sandpiper, then we are able to observe 12 more species of waders, included Collared Pratincole, Little and  Ringed Plover, Little Stilt, Dunlin, Black-winged Stilt, Greenshank, Kentish Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper Snipe and the one I wanted to show them, a Pectoral Sandpiper. It is a vagrant American species which breeds in North America and NE Siberia. It has been in the area the previous two days. Before we move to another reserve, a pair of Glossy Ibis land close to us and Marsh Harriers stay with us all morning. Swallowtail butterflies suck nectar from the Purple loosestrife.

 

White-headed Duck | Birdwatching SpainNow it is time to take the car and drive 10 minutes to Catarroja and to continue bird watching Albufera de Valencia. Before we arrive to the reserve, we find a Iberian Grey Shrike looking at us from an electric wire. I have been seeing the same birds in the same place for at least three years! it is doing very well!. Once we get into the reserve, a big spot in the electric wire give away an Osprey. In our walk to the hide, Fan-tailed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Purple-swamphen, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Sandpipers and Great Egret are seen. Brian asks me if it possible to observe any summer Heron, and I reply that is still possible. Five minutes later on, a Purple Heron fly away close to the walkway. From the viewing point we can see through the telescope a group of 6 Greater Flamingos. In the way back to the car, a White-headed Duck try to hide from us, not before I take a good shoot. White-headed Duck is an uncommon species in the area, being our observation the first record of the year in the Albufera de Valencia!. We set off for the next area and besides a ditch I spot another species which I wanted to show them, a Squacco Heron.

 

Bird watching Albufera de ValenciaIn the afternoon, we move to another habitat, the dunes. There, we find Red-legged Partridge, Crested Lark, Booted Eagle, Sardinian Warbler and Yellow-legged Gull by the seashore.To finish the tour I decide to cross the rice fields in search for raptors. We are lucky enough to see Marsh Harriers in different plumage, perfect to age them.

One never knows what would bring you a day bird watching  in the Albufera Valencia, it is an amazing birding area!!.

Here you will find more information about Bird watching Albufera de Valencia tour.

 

Have a nice day!

Birdwatching Spain

 


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