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Mammals, birds and butterflies in the Cantabrian Mountains

During our wildlife trips to the Cantabrian Mountains, we will look for a wonderful variety of wildlife, including mammals like the Iberian Wolf, Wildcat and Brown Bear. Moreover, we will scan the alpine meadows for butterflies and birds like the Wallcreeper.


Mammals Cantabrian Mountains-Brown bear


In this amazing wildlife tour, we will explore the Cantabrian Mountains. 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, Stoat and Wildcats are also among our targets in this wildlife trip. We will combine morning and evening stakeout with nice and steady walks during midday to discover birds, butterflies (please check our butterfly and wildlife gallery in Instagram) and reptiles such as the endemic Schreiber’s green Lizard or the Seoane’s viper.


Day 1 – 7. Cantabrian Mountains (mammals, birds and butterflies in NW Spain)


Wildcat in Spain

After a bit more than 2 h drive from Santander airport, we will be in our rural hotel ready to check-in and leave for our first Wildcat and Iberian Wolf 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.

Quen of Spain fritillary-butterflies in the Cantabrian mountains

We will spend the following days looking for Iberian wolfs in Sierra de la Culebra. In order to find this elusive mammal, we shall spend early mornings and evenings scanning the area in order to find the packs. The rest of the day will be spend looking for birds and insects in the surroundings, but there will be also time to rest and recover for the early start.

In addition, we will also keep an eye to the astonishing variety of butterflies that can be observed 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 mammals and birds.



Price of the tour: mammals, birds and butterflies in the Cantabrian Mountains

1300 € /people (4-6 people)

Single supplement: 150€

Please find our last mammal trip report to the Cantabrian mountains here.


Should you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our tour calendar!


What is included:
– Travel from Bilbao or Santander  airport in modern, fully seat belted, air conditioned vehicles. The last day, you will be transfer to Madrid airport.
– 6 Nights accommodation in a beautiful rural hotels. 3 different locations.
– All meals included, picnic for lunch and traditional Spanish evening meals
– Tour guided by a professional bird guides
Basic travel insurance
– Fuel

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

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