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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If you are thinking about joining some birding tours in Costa Blanca, this trip report might interest you. We offer two different birding tours Costa Blanca: El Hondo de Elche and Salinas de Santa Pola and Pego Marshes and forest birds. However, if you are keen in natural history, I would recommed you to read these articles about orchids, butterflies and dragonflies in Valencia.
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, we drive down hill and hear the call of a Wryneck.
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 birds 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 bird 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 the bird, we drive around the marshes watching interesting birds such as Hoopoe, Kingfisher, Common Sand, lots of Whinchats, Little ringed Plover, Crested Lark, Fan-tailed and Great Reed Warbler among other. 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. Firstly, we stop under a Aleppo Pine to have lunch. Up in the tree we see a short-toed Treecreeper, Coal and Crested Tit flying around.
Once we have finished our lunches, we go straight to the Griffon Vulture colony. It is midday and temperature climbs, perfect to watch these majestic raptors gliding over us. After that, we take a stroll along the path that goes to the feeding station and see a Sardinian Warbler and a small flock of Crossbills.
To sum up, there is very interesting variety wildlife to observe in one of our birding tours Costa Blanca. Should you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our tour calendar.
Have a nice day!
This is a trip report about a bird watching Albufera de Valencia day tour. The area is a truly paradise for bird watching in Valencia, specially during the migration. 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 in the Albufera de Valencia. The Albufera can be combined with other reserves in order to put together an very interesting birding and wildlife holidays. Please see here our 5-day birding tour around Valencia and Alicante.
It’s 9:00 and I am picking up Pauline and Brian from the meeting point in Javea. The Albufera de Valencia is located slightly more than one hour from the Costa Blanca. Therefore, it is an accessible birding reserve for any tourist or resident birder staying in Denia, Xàbia, Calpe or Benidorm.
Around 10:10, we are bird watching in the Albufera de Valencia, to be precise in the paddy fields of Silla. There, it is located a small reserve “Tancat” 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 scoping for waders, Pauline and Brian are happy to see their first Wood Sandpiper. In addition, 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 finally, the special one I wanted to show them, a Pectoral Sandpiper. This 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 set off to another reserve, a pair of Glossy Ibis land near to us and a Swallowtail butterflies suck nectar from the Purple loosestrife.
Now 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 Tancat de Pipa 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-swamp Hen, 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, a Purple Heron fly away close to the walkway.
After that, we walk up to the viewing point and from there we see through the telescope a group of 6 Greater Flamingos. On the way back to the car, a White-headed Duck try to hide from us, but 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!. Later we set off for the next area and besides a ditch I spot another species which I wanted to show them, a Squacco Heron.
In 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!!
Have a nice day!
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