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.
After that, 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 bird watching tour in Doñana is available in the link. Should you have any question, do not hesitate to contact us or visit our tour calendar.
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. In the lagoons we see lots of Greater Flamingos, Red-crested Pochards, Avocets, Common Redshanks, Great Ringed Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Dunlins, Ruffs and Avocets. 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
Please find the following Iberian lynx trip report from our last Lynx watching holidays on December.
At 11:30 I am in Malaga airport waiting for the arrival of Chris, Sheila, Allison and John who are about to land from London Stansted. Alison and John are the first to arrive and we spend one and a half hours in the Guadalhorce River. There, we managed to see Cetti’s Warbler, Common Sandpiper, Teal, White-headed Duck, Chiffchaff, Reed Bunting and Shoveler among other species.
After that, we head back to the airport to pick Chris and Sheila and have lunch in a local bar. Then, we drive to the lagoon of Fuente de Piedra. First, we stop in a nearby field to watch a group of 50-60 Common cranes, a gorgeous Hen Harrier and 2 cracking Black-winged Kites! Allison is delighted to watch one of her favourite birds. In addition, large flocks of Skylarks and Linnets pass by as we drive, and a Marsh Harrier soars close to us. Before we leave to Andújar to focus on the Iberian lynx trip, we have a quick look through the telescope to 100’s of Greater Flamingos.
It is 8:10 a.m. and we are heading to our first viewing point in Sierra de Andújar Natural Park. Fifteen minutes later we are passing through a private state with many gorgeous ‘fighting bulls’. Suddenly, an Iberian Lynx passes in front of the car as I am driving! Sheila, Allison and John are open mouthed (as I am), and Chris cries in excitement “We have seen an Iberian Lynx and we have not even got off the car” yet. We can not belive our luck!
After that, we continue driving until we get to a viewpoint and set our telescopes and chairs to search the land for all king of wildlife. Later, around 10:30, a Spanish colleague says, “there is a Lynx in the firebreak”. I focus my telescope and there it was, sat in the ground surrounded by Red-legged Partridges and Magpies. We watch it for 5 minutes and then it vanishes between the scrubs. We are over the moon!! As different watchers arrive to the viewpoint they are “green of envy”, two Iberian Lynxes in our first day! In addition, we add some birds such as Blue Rock Thrush singing from a nearby granitic rock, Crag Martin and Azure-winged Magpies.
Around 12:00 we decide to move and visit another area to continue Iberian Lynx trip. As we get on the vehicle, a group of four birds fly from the hills toward us. They are three Griffon Vultures and an immature Golden Eagle. Twenty minutes later we have lunch in a sunny hillside watching a group of seven Spanish Ibexes, a stunning male with a group of six females.
Moreover, a flock of Black and Griffon Vultures, and also a pair of Golden Eagles fly high over the hills. A fantastic mix of raptors! After that, we walk along the dam and manage to see what looks like a Daubenton’s bat hide deep in a crack.
In the afternoon, we head for the early morning viewpoint to try our luck again with the Iberian Lynx. A Dartford Warblers sings in the top of a Phyllirea shrub and Dunnocks sing in the shade. A Yellow Clouded butterfly sucks nectar from a thyme
We spend the morning in La Lancha in search for the Iberian Lynx with no luck. It is a quiet and sunny morning to watch birds such as Long-tailed Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Stonechat, Mistle Thrush and Black Redstart. In the private state, a group of 6 Mouflons graze peacefully and a herd of Wild Boar run in the distance. Around 12:00, we decide to go to a picnic area to have our ‘bocadillos’.
After lunch, we walk along a nice and steady path near the river. There, we find Otter prints, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackcap and Great Cormorant. We spend the afternoon watching from another viewpoint looking to the forest. A group of 21 large raptors circle above the mountain, one of them looks different; it is an immature Golden Eagle! Then, after few minutes Chris cries “there is another raptor coming “ It is an adult Golden Eagle. So far, 5 Golden Eagles! What an incredible area for raptors is Sierra de Andújar!! A ringed Robin and a female of Sardenian Warbler come close to us looking for crumbs. John is delighted of having the inquisitive Sardenian Warbler so close, and being able of taking close range photos. Before we leave to the hotel, a Tawny Owls calls saying goodbye to us.
At 8:15 we set off from the country house we are accommodated, and 15 minutes later we find a beautiful stag Fallow Deer standing a few meters from us. We continue our Iberian lynx trip taking pictures to the “fighting bulls” and abundant Red Deer.
Wrens sing and a male Greenfinch feeds on a berry of Pistacia lentiscus. Red-billed Choughs call and a Hoopoe stands in a wire. There is news about an early morning sighting of a Lynx, we keep scanning the forest. Then, a Spanish birder sees a raptor perched in an oak tree; it is an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle!! About 10:30 I find a familiar silhouette with the binoculars, I grab my telescope and there it is a stunning Male Iberian Lynx walking slowly in the mountain side. It is visible for a few minutes before disappearing behind the bushes. We are all excited!
Twenty minutes later, the partner of the Spanish Imperial Eagle we saw before, lands in the same tree. Two Spanish Imperial Eagles in the same tree! Three Black Vultures and few Griffons’ come around to us.
Around 12:30 we decide it is time to have lunch. As we drive to another area, we watch Corn Buntings standing in the bushes besides the road. We spend the afternoon visiting the river where I find Iberian Lynx scat in a regular dropping point. Common Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Little and Grey Egret, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper and Nuttach are seen.
After the previous day’s highlights, we are all very sad to be leaving. Around 8:15 we are driving to Malaga airport in a clouded and rainy day. The weather has been perfect, sunny and warm from mid-morning. As we drive through the motorway, Red kites, Spotless Starling and Common Buzzard are seen. This trip has been another wonderful short break, with some incredible sightings of Iberian Lynx – the rarest feline in the world!
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I hope you find useful our Bird watching La Mancha and Serrania de Cuenca trip report in November.
Our recent trip has been a complete success. This itinerary around La Mancha and Serranía de Cuenca is flexible, and it is designed to offer different alternatives depending on the clients’ preferences. Not only the area offers an incredible variety of birds, but also butterflies, orchids and an important cultural background.
It has been an unusual dry autumn in East Spain and many temporary lagoons are dry in La Mancha, but no Manjavacas where we start our bird watching and nature tour in La Mancha. It is late afternoon and we are welcomed by Marsh Harriers and Meadow Pipits. In the middle of the lagoon there is a large number of Mallards, Shovelers, Shelduck and Teals. As we continue driving around the lagoon, Zitting Cisticola flies off the reeds, and Dunlins and Little Stints feed intensively in the shore.
The background sound of Common Cranes, reminds us the importance of La Mancha as a wintering area for this superb birds.
We continue driving until the last viewing point where we observe Song Thrush, Crested Lark and 250+ Cranes.
Today we will spend the day in the National Park of Tablas de Daimiel and surroundings. As we arrived, a Little Owl looks at us from a cottage in a vineyard and ten minutes later we are lucky enough to see 5 Marbled ducks swimming close to us. What a beautiful bird!! There are very few places in Europe where this endangered bird can be seen and one of these places is Las Tablas. Cranes fly over us and also insects such as the Clouded Yellow, Small and Large White butterflies and Common Darter dragonflies. Along the path, Little Egret, Chiffchaff, Flamingo, Great Crested Grebe, Red-legged Partridge, Snipe, Grey Wagtail, Spotless Starling, Crested Lark, Marsh Harriers and a good number of song birds are seen.
We move to another lagoon located outside the National Park to continue our bird watching La Mancha tour. There we find Greylags, Gadwall, Black-winged Stilt, Lapwing, Cattle Egret and Reed Bunting. Water Rail and Purple Swamphen call from the reeds.
We spend the morning in the rich farmland area of La Mancha before moving to the Serrania de Cuenca. In a few hours we are able to see large flocks of Linnet, Skylark, Rock Sparrow and Corn Bunting. As we drive to the fields we watch a pair of Little Owls and Stonechats, Kestrels, Common Buzzards, a Hoopoe and a solitary Great Bustard. Black Redstarts and Carrion Crows are constantly seen.
Twenty minutes later, we find in a farmhouse a juvenile male Spanish Sparrow perch in a wire. Then, three Red Kites join together and 40+ Tree Sparrows hide behind the pines.
Half an hour later we are in an open oak tree forest surrounded by Thekla Larks, Sardinian Warblers, Long Tailed Tits, a Iberian Grey Shrike and Red Admiral Butterflies.
We get at dusk at the Serrania de Cuenca, with time to see the first Griffon Vultures and Red billed Choughs.
Our first stop is in the Uña lagoon, a beautiful mountain lagoon surrounded by stunning cliffs. Blue and Great Tit, Little Grebe, Teals, Shovelers, Grey Herons, Ravens, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jays, Cetti’s Warbler, Jay, Black Cap, Jackdaws, Red Wings and Mistle Thrushes are seen. In addition, a kingfisher is heard.
Later, we continue driving up to the mountains to stop near the river where can be observed Firecrest, Rock Bunting, Dunnock, Coal, Long-tailed and Crested Tits. A group of Red Deer graze near the dam and crossbills are seen everywhere.
As we search the sky for raptors, the Iberian subspecie of Green Woodpecker flies in front of us and a Yellowhammer stands from a bush.
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“.
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 Booted Eagle and three Griffon Vultures. That is a good start!!. After that, 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 and we take a stroll around. First, a large flock of inquisitive Coal and Crested Tits along with a Firecrest and a Short-toed Treecreeper feed intensively around us. Moreover, Crossbills fly pass close to us.
We retrace our steppes and on the way down the mountain we see Rock Buntings feeding in the bushes.
Finally, two and a half hours later we get to 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. In addition, we enjoy watching an Iberian Grey Shrike perch on the top of a tamarisk while a Dupont’s Lark sings its sweet melody.
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. In addition, Black Redstart and Dunnock move from bush to bush.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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