Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza


SMALL GROUP DEPARTURE, LARGE BIRD LIST, COMFORTABLE ACCOMMODATION, TWO EXPERT GUIDES ON SPANISH BIRDS

Dates and Costs

 

12 – 27 April 2025

Price: € 7,970 / $9,080 /£7,158 per person sharing, based on 5 – 8 participants

Single Supplement: €812 / $925 / £730

 

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

 

12 – 27 April 2026

Price: € 8,850 / $10,082 /£7,949 per person sharing, based on 5 – 8 participants

Single Supplement: €901 / $1,027 / £810


Recommended Field Guide

(Please also read our blogs about recommended field guides for the seven continents here)


Tour Details

Duration: 16 days
Group Size: 5 – 8
Tour Start: Seville
Tour End: Barcelona


Price includes:

All accommodation (day 1 until day 15 as described above, or similar)
Meals (from evening welcome dinner on day 1 until breakfast on day 16)
Drinking water – please bring a refillable water bottle
Expert tour leader
Local bird and wildlife guide fees
Birdwatching site entrance fees and travel permits
All ground transport and tolls/taxes while on tour, including airport pick-up and drop-off

Price excludes:

Flights to Seville San Pablo Airport, Seville, Spain
Flights from Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport, Barcelona, Spain
Expenditures due to flight cancellations/delays or other causes beyond our control (force majeure)
Visa fees if visa required
Departure tax
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts, laundry, internet access, phone calls etc.
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing excursions
Soft/alcoholic drinks
Personal travel insurance
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)

Download Itinerary

Spain Birding Tour: Spring Birding Extravaganza
April 2025/2026

 

Spain is one of Europe’s birding wonders. It combines a sensational range of species with beautiful weather and stunning scenery. This spring birding extravaganza is perfectly timed to take in the exciting migration with a small group of like-minded birders. As our tour progresses, we will take in Spain’s vast interior with its breathtaking scenery, dotted with gorgeous white-painted classically Spanish villages. It is here that we will sample the finest avifauna that the country has to offer, including the excitement of up to 23 species of birds of prey! Our thorough itinerary covers a range of habitats from the famous coastal areas of Doñana National Park to the semi-arid steppe of the interior and the high peaks of the Pyrenees. This will enable us to see the true variety that Spain has to offer the visiting birdwatcher. The timing of our visit during the spring passage migration will also enable us to maximize the sheer number of species on offer.

Spain birding toursGreat Bustard will be a prime target on the tour. We will visit some of the best areas in Spain for this species.

Spain’s bird list currently stands at 672 species (following International Ornithological Congress (IOC) v13.1 taxonomy as of July 2023), one of the highest single country lists in the Western Palearctic, and this results in a typically high total of well over 200 species regularly recorded on this tour. The combination of expert guides, a comprehensive itinerary visiting the best places to go birding in Spain, as well as visiting at the best time of year, will result in some wonderful avian experiences.

Spain birding toursOur tour will be given a splash of exotic color as the skies fill with European Bee-eaters arriving from their wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa.  

We begin our tour in the surrounds of the Guadalquivir river and the famous Doñana National Park where we will visit the bird rich habitats of this wonderful area. This is a great way to kick off our tour with classic Mediterranean species such as Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Collared Pratincole, White-headed Duck, Red-knobbed Coot (Critically Endangered on the Red List of Spain (BirdLife International), and the only population in Europe), Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, the newly described Mediterranean Short-toed Lark (formally Lesser Short-toed Lark), Lesser Kestrel, Montagu’s Harrier, Iberian Magpie (formerly Azure-winged Magpie), and Western Swamphen all targeted, along with many other species. Rarer species in the form of Little Swift and Lesser Crested Tern will add to the spectacle as will a visit to the land of the world’s rarest large cat, Iberian Lynx. While sightings of this elusive predator are by no means guaranteed we will visit the best areas possible to give us a chance of an encounter with this mystical feline.

We then move north through the beautiful Spanish countryside towards Monfragüe National Park and the surrounding steppes and sierras. This area gives us a chance to explore some of Spain’s special steppe species such as Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, European Roller, Eurasian Stone-curlew, and Great Spotted Cuckoo. This beautiful area is also prime raptor country, and here we will be in search of Egyptian Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Booted Eagle, and Short-toed Snake Eagle. The national park is home to many other fabulous species including Black Stork, Blue Rock Thrush, Western Black-eared Wheatear, and Western Orphean Warbler. We will also get our first taste of mountain birding in the Sierra de Gredos. Here we will look for Ortolan Bunting, Water Pipit, Common Rock Thrush, Bluethroat, White-throated Dipper, European Crested Tit, Citril Finch, and Red-backed Shrike, a species which is becoming increasingly rare in Spain. We continue our northward journey to the plains north of Madrid. Here we will target the mystical Dupont’s Lark, which is best found in the early morning light of spring. This area is also superb for other larks such as Greater Short-toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, and Thekla’s Lark. Other key species of the area are Common Quail, Iberian Grey Shrike, and Tawny Pipit.

Spain birding toursWallcreeper is the only member of the monotypic Tichodroma genus and highly prized among birders around the world, especially family listers as this species is also a monotypic family.

We then take our long journey to the Pyrenees with woodpeckers our first targets. By using expert local guides, we will search for Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, and the incredibly rare (in this part of Europe) White-backed Woodpecker. We then proceed further into the vast Pyrenean wilderness looking for the iconic Bearded Vulture, a true highlight of a visit to the region. We will continue to explore this breathtaking part of Europe and target the key species of the high Pyrenees. Along with Bearded Vulture we will spend time in search of the beautiful Wallcreeper (a monotypic family). The area that supports this species is also a great place to yet again search for Red-backed Shrike plus other key species for the region such as Black Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Garden Warbler, Eurasian Treecreeper, Yellowhammer, Ring Ouzel, Rock Sparrow, Eurasian Wryneck, Alpine Chough, and Alpine Accentor. With luck we may also spot Southern Chamois, a species of goat-antelope, and the very adorable Alpine Marmot, a species of ground dwelling squirrel. We finish our Pyrenean adventure with a visit to the high plateaus and dramatic glacial valleys of the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. Here we will target some of the previously mentioned montane species plus the striking White-winged Snowfinch.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and the final leg of our tour will see us link up with a local guide to look for the often hard to find Moustached Warbler and Bearded Reedling (Bearded Tit) in the area around Lleida. We finish with a visit to the Delta de Llobregat near Barcelona which will give an excellent range of wetland species and migrants, the perfect way to end our spring birding extravaganza.

If you wanted to spend more time in the region, why not join us for our Birding Tour Morocco: Best of Northwest Africa tour which runs immediately prior to this Spain tour. Our Morocco birdwatching tour takes in the country’s highlight birds and best birding sites. Top target birds in Morocco include Levaillant’s Woodpecker, Houbara Bustard, Moussier’s Redstart, Northern Bald Ibis, Barbary Partridge, Cream-colored Courser, Egyptian Nightjar, White-rumped Swift, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Black-crowned Tchagra, Maghreb Magpie, African Blue Tit, Fulvous Babbler, Atlas Pied Flycatcher, Desert Sparrow, African Crimson-winged Finch, and Trumpeter Finch, plus multiple species of owls, warblers, larks, and sandgrouse. There will also be a great selection of migrants building up in Morocco before they continue their journey from sub-Saharan Africa to their breeding grounds in Northern Europe.

You can also join us for our 14-day Birding Tour Poland: Best of Eastern Europe tour straight after this Spain tour. These two tours complement each other brilliantly, as you will have the opportunity to add a vast array of superb species from Eastern Europe to those you have just seen in Western Europe. Highlight species in Poland include Great Snipe, White-winged Tern, Aquatic Warbler, Icterine Warbler, River Warbler, Barred Warbler, Citrine Wagtail, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Red-footed Falcon, Ural Owl, Eurasian Pygmy Owl, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker, Spotted Nutcracker, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Collared Flycatcher, and so much more. We also have a good chance of seeing some of Europe’s top mammals which include European Bison, (Eurasian) Grey Wolf, Eurasian Lynx, and (European) Brown Bear.

If you cannot make the dates of this scheduled tour please get in touch and we would be happy to help build a custom tour with dates to suit you.

Itinerary (16 days/15 nights)

Day 1. Arrival in Seville

Welcome to Andalusia! You will be met at Seville San Pablo Airport by your Birding Ecotours tour leader and local Spanish bird guide. Once the whole group has arrived we will meet at our hotel to discuss the trip itinerary and use the time to facilitate with anything the group may need, or just relax after your flight before the trip starts and we head into more remote areas of the country. We will have a group ‘welcome meal’ in the evening.

Overnight: Hotel in Seville

Day 2. Birding around Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Our first full day of the tour will see us explore the superb area around Spain’s second longest river, the Guadalquivir. Throughout the day we will visit three bird rich sites that offer great variety and experiences.

The first site we are likely to visit is the Bonanza Saltpans. This expansive saltpan site is superb for shorebirds (waders) and we will spend some time here looking for species such as Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Pied Avocet, Eurasian Whimbrel, Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Ruff, Common Redshank, and Dunlin.

The area is also excellent for two rare waterbirds, the Endangered White-headed Duck and the Critically Endangered (in Spain), Red-knobbed Coot (BirdLife International). The entire European population of the coot is found in Spain and even here it is incredibly rare. Greater Flamingo is a common species here and we will visit a nearby heronry where we can find a variety of Pelecaniformes such as Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Western Cattle Egret, Purple Heron, and Eurasian Spoonbill.

The second site in the area will see us explore the habitats bordering the Guadalquivir river. It is here we will search for two key species in the form of Marbled Duck (another very localized species in Europe) and Mediterranean Short-toed Lark, two species that are hard to come by elsewhere in Spain. The vineyards around the area are a good spot to look for Eurasian Hoopoe, Lesser Kestrel, and Montagu’s Harrier, and the timing of our tour may allow us to catch up with the striking Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, which breeds here.

Our final site in the area is the Port of Chipiona. Famed for its superb seafood the town also holds the only European colony of the strikingly black-and-white plumaged Little Swift. While common on the other side of the Mediterranean in Morocco this species is a real European mega rarity, and we will take some time enjoying the nesting colony. The beach nearby can be excellent for shorebirds, gulls, and terns including rare species such as Lesser Crested Tern.

Overnight: Palacio de Arizón, Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Day 3. Sanlúcar de Barrameda to El Rocio

Depending on our success on day two we will either spend some time in the morning around Sanlúcar de Barrameda or proceed directly to the superb Brazo del Este wetlands to the north. This protected area near the city of Seville is a superb habitat for shorebirds and waterbirds, plus passerines such as Savi’s Warbler and Great Reed Warbler. We also stand a chance of adding some elusive crakes to our list with Spotted Crake, Little Crake, and Baillon’s Crake all present here.

Spain birding toursWe’ll look for some elusive rallids such as Spotted Crake.

As we proceed through the site, we will spot significant numbers of Western Swamphen, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Collared Pratincole, Whiskered Tern, and many more species typical of this habitat. We should also get some introduced species from Africa that have established themselves in the area such as Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-crowned Bishop, and Common Waxbill.

In the afternoon we visit Dehesa de Abajo and Dehesa Las Hermosillas on the borders of Doñana National Park. At these sites we have another chance of Red-knobbed Coot, Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, and possibly Ferruginous Duck. We can then proceed to Dehesa Torneros which is a beautiful area in spring with large numbers of wildflowers. This habitat is excellent for Common Cuckoo, Sardinian Warbler, European Serin, Corn Bunting, European Stonechat, and other common passerines. The real bonus of this area is that we will be in the land of the Iberian Lynx and we will spend time looking for this elusive big cat.

After dinner we will search the grounds of our hotel looking for Red-necked Nightjar, Tawny Owl, and Long-eared Owl.

Overnight: Ardea Purpurea, Villamanrique de la Condesa

Day 4. El Rocio

This morning we will visit the lagoon of El Rocio and surrounding sites of La Rocina, El Acebrón, and El Acebuche. This is a superb area for species that are otherwise hard to find in this part of Spain and we will spend time searching for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Dartford Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, and Iberian Magpie. Iberian Magpie was formally called Azure-winged Magpie, with two disjunct populations, however this species has now been split into two species, with birds in China remaining as Azure-winged Magpie (we see these on our China: Sichuan tour), and birds in Iberia gaining the new name. They are both beautiful birds.

In the afternoon we will head towards Centro de Visitantes Jose Antonio Valverde. This is a superb birding area where we will be in the prime habitat of Spanish Imperial Eagle plus other highlight raptor species such as Montagu’s Harrier and Black-winged Kite. The lagoon and wetland areas here will give us a variety of species such as Greater Flamingo, Collared Pratincole, and Squacco Heron.

Overnight: Ardea Purpurea, Villamanrique de la Condesa

Spain birding toursBlack-winged Kite will be a star attraction of day four when we visit their prime habitat.

Day 5. El Rocio to Monfragüe

Our day will start with a short birding session at Bollullos Par del Condado. This area is our last stop in Andalusia and could be our last chance of seeing the stunning Montagu’s Harrier. Unfortunately, this species has declined rapidly in the neighboring region, and our next destination, Extremadura, so this gives us one last chance of seeing this iconic Mediterranean species. Our tour should also be timed perfectly to coincide with the arrival of Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin and we will search this area for them as well.

Afterwards we will commence the journey north through the beautiful Spanish countryside towards Monfragüe. On the route we will stop at Alange Reservoir in Badajoz to search for Black Wheatear, Egyptian Vulture, Bonelli’s Eagle, Woodchat Shrike, Black Kite, Western Black-eared Wheatear, Eurasian Scops Owl, and Gull-billed Tern.

Spain birding toursWe should encounter the migrant Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin on this Spanish birding tour.

After this stop we continue our journey north towards Monfragüe. Depending on our time of arrival we can visit one or two sites close to our hotel. One site is Jaraicejo where the star species is the tiny Spectacled Warbler, a rather cute Sylvia warbler. Other Sylvia warblers present here include Western Subalpine Warbler and Dartford Warbler. Sylvia warblers are part of the Sylviidae family (now Sylviid Babblers) and are Europe’s answer to the colorful New World Warblers, the Parulidae family of the Americas. Additional key species in this bird rich area include Black Stork, Spotless Starling, Eurasian Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Booted Eagle, Eurasian Hoopoe, Common Nightingale, Cirl Bunting, Spanish Sparrow, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, European Turtle Dove, Iberian Grey Shrike, Thekla’s Lark, Short-toed Treecreeper, Greater Short-toed Lark, and European Bee-eater.

Another nearby site is Almaraz where we have a chance of spotting the huge and equally striking Eurasian Eagle-Owl. This apex predator is a highlight of any tour and a sighting of one will be a great way to end the day.

Overnight: Hospederia de Monfragüe, Torrejón el Rubio

Day 6. Monfragüe to Santa Marta steppes

We will spend the full day exploring the Santa Marta steppes. This beautiful area is our best chance of the tour to spot some of the many iconic species of the steppe habitat. We will have plenty of time looking for Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, European Roller, Eurasian Stone-curlew, and Great Spotted Cuckoo.

Overhead the sight and sound of European Bee-eaters will likely fill the air and other steppe species such as Iberian Grey Shrike, Black Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Crested Lark, Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Eurasian Hoopoe, Corn Bunting, and European Stonechat will add variety to a day focused on the real specials of this area.

Overnight: Hospederia de Monfragüe, Torrejón El Rubio

Spain birding toursCrested Lark can be seen in Spain’s picturesque countryside.

Day 7. Monfragüe to Gredos

Our second day in Monfragüe will take us to Monfragüe National Park itself before we continue our journey north to Gredos. The majestic scenery and fabulous wildlife here make this a real highlight of the tour. The national park is a mecca for birds of prey with Egyptian Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Red Kite, Black Kite, Common Buzzard, Osprey, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Eurasian Goshawk, Black-winged Kite, and Montagu’s Harrier all recorded in the area during spring. While some of these species are more common than others, we will have a fantastic day in the national park, taking in its many birds of prey.

However, it is not all just about birds of prey here as many other star species call the national park their home. These include Black Stork, Blue Rock Thrush, Western Black-eared Wheatear, Western Orphean Warbler, Alpine Swift, Thekla’s Lark, Eurasian Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Western Subalpine Warbler, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Iberian Grey Shrike, Northern Wheatear, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Zitting Cisticola, Melodious Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Short-toed Treecreeper, Spanish Sparrow, Hawfinch, and Rock Sparrow.

Overnight: Hostal Almanzor, Navarredonda de Gredos

Spain birding toursMonfragüe National Park is a good spot to find Black Stork, amongst others. 

Day 8. Gredos to Hoces del Duratón

Our day will begin with a pre-breakfast visit to the hotel bird blind (hide) where we could get close views of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Red (Common) Crossbill, and Eurasian Nuthatch, plus common garden species of the area such as Eurasian Blue Tit, Great Tit, House Sparrow, European Goldfinch, and European Greenfinch.

After breakfast we will continue our day by driving up to La Plataforma which sits at 5,800 feet (1,770 meters) above sea level. Here we will enjoy stunning scenery along with some excellent bird species such as Ortolan Bunting, Northern Wheatear, Water Pipit, Eurasian Skylark, Common Rock Thrush, Bluethroat, and Red-backed Shrike, a species which is becoming incredibly rare in Spain. We will also explore the nearby forests for White-throated Dipper, Goldcrest, European Crested Tit, and Citril Finch.

Spain birding toursWe may find the colorful Bluethroat on this tour.

We are also in suitable terrain to search for Iberian Ibex. This fantastic-looking goat is split into four subspecies, two of which are extinct, with the subspecies in the Gredos area being known as Western Spanish (Gredos) Ibex.

In the afternoon we head northeast towards the Hoces del Rio Duratón National Park. If time allows, we will make our first attempt at the incredibly elusive Dupont’s Lark. BirdLife International list this bird as being of globally Near Threatened status and it has declined rapidly in many areas. It has always been a highly prized species, but that status is becoming more relevant than ever in recent years.

Overnight: Rincón de las Hoces, Burgomillodo

Day 9. Hoces del Duratón to Irati

Today will see us make an early morning start as we go in search of Dupont’s Lark at Hoces del Duratón. As previously mentioned, this is a highly prized species and our best chance of seeing it will occur in the early morning as they perform their beautiful song. This area is generally excellent for larks and we could come across Greater Short-toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Eurasian Skylark, Crested Lark, and Thekla’s Lark here. Other star birds of the area include Common Quail, Common Cuckoo, Iberian Grey Shrike, and Tawny Pipit.

After breakfast we will prepare ourselves for the drive of around four hours to the Pyrenees mountains. Depending on time we have two options for this journey and your guides will discuss this with you at the time. Both routes offer the opportunity of good birding with the southern route giving us the opportunity to look for the highly sought-after Middle Spotted Woodpecker.

After our drive we will arrive in the village of Ecay de Lónguida which sits nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees just 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the border with France.

Overnight: Hotel Ekai, Ecay de Lónguida

Spain birding tourRed-backed Shrike has become increasingly rare in Spain in recent years. Habitat loss has seen a massive retraction of their breeding range to just a few pockets in the north of the country. Worryingly, they have declined by 95% in the last 40 years in Spain’s Basque Country. This species is also decreasing at an alarming rate across Europe as a whole. This population decline is likely to also be linked to a reduction in insect prey due to an increase in insecticide use in modern farming practices.

Day 10. Irati to Echo

We will join forces with local guides to search for several woodpeckers which are found in the areas of Irati Nature Reserve and Quinto Real. We will once again target Middle Spotted Woodpecker, but it is Black Woodpecker and White-backed Woodpecker which are the two most-prized species here. These are both incredibly difficult to see anywhere in Spain and to see both species would be a superb start to the day. We will give plenty of time to look for all three species while being aware that we have another chance of getting Black Woodpecker later in the tour.

The afternoon will be spent driving to the breathtaking Echo valley. This area is extremely popular with climbers, but it is also a superb birding area and it is here that we will look for the iconic Bearded Vulture. This species of vulture is a star bird of the region and we will have several opportunities to connect with it.

Overnight: Hotel de Montaña Usón, Echo

Spain birding toursMiddle Spotted Woodpecker is one of three highly prized woodpecker species of the Irati Nature Reserve. We will spend time here searching for this species as well as the rarer Black Woodpecker and White-backed Woodpecker.

Day 11. Echo

We will once again explore the Echo valley and its surrounding areas. We begin at Gabardito in the high Pyrenees where, along with Bearded Vulture, our primary target will be the outrageous Wallcreeper. This species is monotypic meaning it is the only species in its family and it is a highly prized bird for visitors to the region. We will then head to the forests nearby to search for Black Woodpecker, once again, and also for other forest species such as Marsh Tit, Garden Warbler, and Eurasian Treecreeper, the latter of which does not occur further south in Spain. We will continue our high-altitude birding at Guarrinza and La Mina which are a stone’s throw from the border with France. Here we will target species such as Yellowhammer, Red-backed Shrike, and Alpine Chough. There are also two exciting mammal species here. The first is Alpine Marmot which is a species of ground squirrel and can be seen scurrying around the rocky outcrops of the area. The second is the rare Southern Chamois, a species of goat-antelope, which favors high mountain areas. Its population numbers just 50,000 individuals but is thankfully increasing.

After a day exploring the high Pyrenees we will return to Echo for the night.

Overnight: Hotel de Montaña Usón, Echo

Spain birding toursAlpine Accentor is a hardy passerine of high-altitude mountains. They are also an altitudinal migrant in many areas and retreat to lower altitudes during the peak of winter.

Day 12. Echo to Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

Depending on the success of the previous days we will have the ability to be flexible today. In the morning we can attempt to spot Wallcreeper, once again, in case we missed it during previous searches. If we have already had success with this iconic species, then we can spend the morning in the Baztan valley for species like Red-backed Shrike and Marsh Tit. If time permits, we could spend the full day in this valley and climb its neighboring peaks to the French border to look for high-altitude specials such as Ring Ouzel (alpestris subspecies) and Alpine Accentor.

If we spend the morning in this area, we will make the journey towards Ordesa in the afternoon. En route we will stop to spot some species we may have missed so far. We will be in the prime habitat of Eurasian Wryneck, Western Subalpine Warbler, Rock Sparrow, Common Chiffchaff, and Ortolan Bunting. This area is also good for Black Woodpecker, if we have not already connected with this species.

Overnight: Hotel Palazio, Nerín

Day 13. Ordesa to Lleida

Today we will exchange our tour bus for 4×4 vehicles as we head into the  Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. This is the only way to reach this high-altitude area and we will spend the day at around 8,200 – 9,800 feet (2,500 – 3,000 meters) above sea level. This is the Pyrenees Mountains at their largest and the breathtaking Monte Perdido, the third highest peak in the Pyrenees, will tower over us, it is a spectacular site to be birding.

We will spend the day on the high plateau and view the glacial valley of Ordesa in all its majesty. It is here we will once again find high-altitude bird species with White-winged Snowfinch being the star of the show. This stunning species is joined in its mountain home by Alpine Accentor, Ring Ouzel (alpestris subspecies), Alpine Chough, Water Pipit, White-throated Dipper, Eurasian Crag Martin, Rock Bunting, Black Redstart, and Rock Sparrow. We may get lucky and have Griffon Vulture and Bearded Vulture soar overhead, once more, as we descend through the valley stopping to look for other species that favor this valley.

Spain birding toursGriffon Vulture is one of a several vulture species we may encounter on this birding tour.

With our lungs filled with fresh mountain air and our cameras full of stunning photos we will begin the descent out of the Pyrenees. We will travel south into the heartland of Lleida, the penultimate region we visit on our tour.

Overnight: Ibis Hotel, Lleida

Day 14. Lleida

We will once again team up with a local guide to try and seek out some of the area’s species that we may have missed previously. In addition, we will also look for two species which can prove very tricky. Moustached Warbler is one of these, and this species of Acrocephalus warbler can be exceptionally elusive as it moves through its preferred dense reedbed habitat. The second is the striking Bearded Reedling (Bearded Tit), another species which can be elusive. This bird is often heard before it is seen, with its characteristic “ping” call a great indicator that a group is nearby.

We will once again overnight in the town of Lleida.

Overnight: Ibis Hotel, Lleida

Day 15. Lleida to Barcelona

The penultimate day of this exciting tour will see us spend the morning driving from Lleida into the Catalan capital of Barcelona. This stunning city also has the fantastic Delta de Llobregat on its doorstep, and it is here we will spend the day birding. This area is a fantastic spot for shorebirds (waders), wetland birds, and spring passage migrants making their way north. Species of note for this site include Red-crested Pochard, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Kentish Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Eurasian Whimbrel, Yellow-legged Gull, Whiskered Tern, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Western Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Glossy Ibis, Great Reed Warbler, European Serin, Greater Flamingo, Water Rail, and Western Swamphen.

It is also a great site for picking up migrant passerines, particularly warblers and we may come across Wood Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Sedge Warbler, Common (Eurasian) Reed Warbler, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Willow Warbler, Eurasian Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Western Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Common Nightingale, Common Redstart, Northern Wheatear, and Western Yellow Wagtail.

The site is also a good lure for rarer species and in recent springs this part of Spain has seen eruptions of Collared Flycatcher, a rare vagrant that moves from Africa to eastern Europe (we often see this gorgeous bird on our Greece tour for example).

Overnight: Hotel in Barcelona

Spain birding toursOur tour will end as it begins with many shorebird (wader) species. Pied Avocets are one of the prettiest shorebirds found in Spain and we will get good views of them during the tour.

Day 16. Barcelona where tour concludes

Non-birding day. After a leisurely breakfast at our hotel we will head to Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport to connect you with your flight home or for some further travel (such as our Birding Tour Poland: Best of Eastern Europe tour, to really maximize your birding visit to Europe).

Prior to leaving Barcelona, your guide will be on hand to answer any questions relating to the trip list or identification of species we have seen on the tour and we will have the important task of deciding ‘bird of the trip’, not an easy one, as we will have seen some absolute crackers.

Overnight: Not included

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes must use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.

Download Itinerary

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza Trip Report, April 2023

 

12–27 APRIL 2023

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

 

Overview

Our 16-day tour of Spain began on the 12th of April 2023, in the ancient city of Seville, and concluded on the 27th of April 2023 in Barcelona. During the tour we visited many wonderful birding locations including Brazo del Este, Doñana National Park, Monfragüe National Park, Sierra de Gredos, Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, and Delta del Llobregat.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

The views provided by the elusive Dupont’s Lark greatly exceeded our highest expectations.

 

Our trip around this beautiful country gave us many exciting species, including Marbled DuckWhite-headed DuckPin-tailed SandgrouseGreat BustardLittle BustardRed-knobbed CootAudouin’s Gull, 25 species of raptor including Bearded VultureEgyptian VultureSpanish Imperial Eagle, and Bonelli’s EagleEurasian Eagle-OwlEuropean RollerIberian MagpieDupont’s Lark (stunning views), Black Wheatear, and Citril Finch, to name only a few. A total of 229 bird species were recorded during the tour (four of these were “heard only”). Species lists are at the end of this report. In addition, this tour allowed us to become familiar with the main habitats, natural sites and diverse culture of Spain. I would like to thank Mary and Gail for the wonderful days we shared exploring my country.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

The European Bee-eater is one of the most colourful birds in Europe, and each observation during our tour was celebrated.

 

Detailed Report

 

Day 1, 12th April 2023. Arrival in Seville

The first day of our tour kicked off with the excitement of arrival. Mary and Gail breezed into Seville airport from Madrid mid-afternoon, and were warmly greeted by Javi, the Spanish guide from Birding Ecotours. From the airport, we made a beeline for our nearby hotel.

Eager to dive into the world of Spanish birdwatching, we wasted no time. After a swift check-in, we embarked on an easy one-hour stroll through the streets and gardens surrounding our hotel. Nature did not disappoint – rewarding us with sightings of both Common and Pallid SwiftHouse Martin and Barn Swallow. Luckily, we detected a fall of migrants in the urban gardens, treating us to sights of Woodchat ShrikeWestern Subalpine WarblerMelodious Warbler, and European Robin. Among the resident bird population, we spotted European GoldfinchGreenfinch, Common LinnetCommon Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, and Spotless Starling.

In the evening we enjoyed a welcome meal at the hotel, setting the stage for our thrilling itinerary which lay ahead.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

We were able to enjoy the brightly colored European Greenfinch during much of the tour.

 


Day 2,
13th April 2023. Birding Brazo del Este, Laguna Juncosa, Costa Ballena and Chipiona

Today, our first full day, we went south from Seville to the borderlands between the provinces of Seville and Cadiz. Our initial destination was Brazo del Este, a sprawling wetland and agricultural expanse adjacent to the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. This locale proved to be a remarkably fruitful birding haven, showcasing its richness, despite the severe drought conditions prevailing during our visit. During the morning, we were delighted to observe a total of 69 bird species, including Greater FlamingoWestern SwamphenPied AvocetBlack-tailed GodwitCollared Pratincole (100+), Whiskered TernPurple Heron, and Glossy Ibis. Notably, the morning brought us our first encounter with the celebrated European Bee-eater. Adding to the excitement, the usually elusive Western Olivaceous Warbler offered splendid views as it sang loudly from the dense reed beds.

At noon, while enjoying our picnic lunch in an urban park in the neighboring town of Pinzón, we were excited to come across a European Pied Flycatcher.

During the afternoon, now in the province of Cádiz, we visited the Laguna Juncosa lagoon. Here a gorgeous flock, totaling over 100 Greater Flamingos, absorbed our attention when we arrived. Next, we began discovering an interesting array of species, including Red-crested PochardRuffBlack-necked GrebeBlack-winged StiltRed Kite and a Red Fox too. In the riverside grove, we encountered three Eurasian Hoopoes and a splendid Iberian Green Woodpecker which, fortunately, remained motionless on a dry trunk, allowing detailed scope views. In fact, this bird unanimously became the bird of the day. Our next stop was at the Costa Ballena ponds, which produced yet another bird of the day, the iconic White-headed Duck, along with some interesting gulls such as Audouin´s GullSlender-billed Gull and Mediterranean Gull. Afterwards, we journeyed to the neighboring town of Chipiona, where our comfortable hotel awaited. However, before officially concluding our day, we couldn’t resist the temptation to visit the sole breeding colony on the entire European continent of Little Swift. Our efforts were handsomely rewarded with exceptional views of this typically African species bathed in the warm glow of a delightful late afternoon.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

Little Swift, a recent colonizer of the European continent from Africa, was seen at Chipiona


Day 3, 
14th April 2023. From the Guadalquivir mouth in Cádiz to Doñana National Park

Today we began with an early morning walk from the hotel, along the sea promenade of Chipiona. The sight of an adult Peregrine elegantly perched on a ledge of the lighthouse signaled the beginning of a fresh day of birdwatching. Next, we visited the beach at Playa de Montijo, which proved to be a festival of shorebirds (waders) with Kentish PloverSanderlingGrey PloverEurasian OystercatcherRudy TurnstoneEurasian WhimbrelGreen SandpiperCommon RedshankCommon Greenshank, and many others. Also present were a good number of Little Tern, plus singles of Sandwich Tern and Osprey.

At midmorning we visited La Algaida Stone Pine Woodland, where Booted EagleEurasian SpoonbillWhite Stork and Grey Heron share the treetops, creating a vivid mixed colony, locally referred to as “pajareras”.  We walked amongst the trees until we spotted a Western Bonelli’s Warbler.  Not much further, at El Tarelo lagoon, we were fortunate to observe a Little Bittern. Additionally, we managed to find four more White-headed Duck and a group of Common Waxbill.

At noon we headed to the fantastic Salinas de Bonanza. Interesting species found here included Curlew SandpiperLittle Stint, over a hundred stunning Slender-billed GullCaspian Tern, vast numbers of Greater Flamingo and one of the recently reclassified Mediterranean Short-toed Lark.  Subsequently, we ventured to the unassuming Lagunas de Camino Colorado, affectionately known as the Stinky Pools. Our visit yielded excellent views of our primary target, Red-knobbed Coot, along with six additional White-headed Duck and seven Red-crested Pochard, amidst a diverse assortment of other waterbirds.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

The third day of the tour turned out to be particularly successful when it came to observing White-headed Duck.

 

In the afternoon we crossed the Guadalquivir River, using the same small ferry utilized by traditional pilgrims during the Rocío pilgrimage. On the way to the hotel, we made a strategic stop to enjoy a colourful colony of European Bee-eater right on the roadside embankment.

After checking into the hotel and before dinner, at sunset, we visited the open woodland of Dehesa Tornero, in the core of Coto Doñana National Park. This area is well known as a stronghold of Iberian Lynx, but despite extensive searching we were not able to locate any of these extremely rare big cats. However, good birds were aplenty here. Indeed, we enjoyed our first Azure-winged Magpie of the trip. On the way back to the hotel, in complete darkness, the car’s headlights allowed us to enjoy a complete family of five Tawny Owl, the bird of the day!

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

We enjoyed this family group of Tawny Owl with recently fledged offspring.

 

Day 4, 15th April 2023. El Rocío and Doñana National Park: La Rocina and El Acebrón

Today was entirely dedicated to birdwatching in the diverse habitats of Doñana National Park. Our day began with a dawn visit to Dehesa Tornero, where a Common Cuckoo and two Eurasian Hoopoe treated us to a delightful spectacle. After breakfast, we took a leisurely stroll around the hotel surroundings, spotting the first Eurasian Tree Sparrows of the trip and enjoying excellent views of Iberian Magpie.

Towards the end of the morning, we explored El Rocío and the adjacent “La Madre” Lagoon, the park’s most iconic location. Despite the low water levels, we observed a variety of birds, including Graylag GooseGreater FlamingoEurasian SpoonbillWhite StorkCollared PratincoleEurasian Coot, and Common Shelduck. Notably, we were fortunate to spot a Temminck’s Stint, a scarce migrant in Spain.

In the afternoon, we ventured to the La Rocina area, where we had an outdoor picnic while observing Short-toed TreecreeperSavi’s Warbler and many others. Not far from here, at El Acebrón riparian forest, we easily spotted a local highlight, the Iberian Chiffchaff, and we delighted in the melodious song of the nightingale.

In the early afternoon we returned to our comfortable hotel for a well-deserved rest.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

El Rocío is a picturesque village in the heart of Doñana National Park, characterized by its sandy streets and whitewashed houses that evoke a traditional Andalusian atmosphere.

 

Day 5, 16th April 2023. El Rocio to Extremadura

We started the day in a relaxed manner, before bidding farewell to Andalusia and heading north to Extremadura. At noon, we arrived at the Chozos de Llera, where we were greeted by two majestic immature Spanish Imperial Eagle!

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

Iberian Magpie is one of the most sought-after species on any birding trip to Spain. We had great encounters with this iconic species while birding in Doñana National Park.

 

From a picnic table on a beautiful promontory, we also had the pleasure of enjoying the first (of many) Cinereous Vulture, while Thekla’s Lark displayed all round. Unfortunately, Gail began to experience stomach discomfort, so we set course for the hotel, with the memory of the iconic and endangered eagles in our minds.

As European raptors go, it’s hard to find one more iconic than Spanish Imperial Eagle. Here is one of the two juveniles we saw together, being harassed by two Western Marsh Harriers.

 

Day 6, 17th April 2023. Monfragüe National Park and surrounds

Today we took the short journey into the beautiful Monfragüe National Park, with a first stop at the famous “Salto del Gitano”.  As usual in this extraordinary area, the targets gradually appeared, providing excellent views, including Blue Rock ThrushBlack RedstartRock BuntingBlack Stork at their nests, and CinereousEgyptian and Griffon Vulture, these last ones seen in every possible way. Remarkably, despite the distance, we managed to see a pair of Bonelli’s Eagle on their nesting platform on a eucalyptus tree. Not much further, between Fuente del Frances and Las Corchuelas, we found the always impressive Alpine SwiftShort-toed Snake EagleWestern Subalpine WarblerDartford Warbler and Western Black-eared Wheatear. Our outstanding sighting of a breeding pair of Lesser-spotted Woodpecker deserves special mention.

We finished the day visiting a breeding colony of Lesser Kestrel, beautifully placed at a Romanesque chapel in the town of Saucedilla.

We still had time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of our hotel, where Eurasian Crag MartinHouse Martin and Spanish Sparrow were fully engaged in their breeding activities.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

“El Salto del Gitano” stands as a prominent landmark in Monfragüe National Park and holds a large colony of Griffon Vultures and several pairs of Black Stork, all surrounded by a pristine “dehesas” and Mediterranean forest.

 

Day 7, 18th April 2023. Santa Marta Steppes, Trujillo and Gredos Mountains

Today, we woke early to reach the steppes of Santa Marta with the first light of day. Undoubtedly, this was a very wise decision, as we were able to observe at our leisure the elaborate courtship display of a male Great Bustard to a group of females.

We couldn’t believe our luck as we witnessed the so-called foam bath intricate performance of the male, capturing the attention of a group of females. This captivating display involved the majestic bird puffing up its feathers, gracefully raising and lowering its wings. All of this was enhanced, if possible, by the beautiful morning light. This turned out to be one of the most remarkable moments of the trip. As if this were not enough, just a few hundred feet ahead, another group of naturalists kindly directed us to a male Little Bustard, also in courtship! A great encounter with a Little Owl was another highly celebrated moment.

Our next stop was at the old town of Trujillo, hometown of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador known for his exploration and conquests in South America during the early 16th century. Our reason for visiting the town was mainly to observe, at very close range, a Eurasian Scops Owl in its usual day roost in a beautiful horse chestnut tree in an urban park.

In the early afternoon, we hit the road again, to Gredos Mountains. At the roadside, we managed great views of a Greater Spotted Cuckoo and an immature Bonelli’s Eagle.

We received a warm welcome at Hotel Almanzor from our friends, Luis Alfonso and Loli. Once settled into our cosy rooms, we had an opportunity to enjoy an initial visit to the excellent bird feeder and hide, right at the hotel.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

During the tour, we particularly enjoyed the owls, such as this Little Owl in its nest box in the Plains of Caceres, Extremadura.

 

Day 8, 19th April 2023. Sierra Gredos: Plataforma de Gredos and Pine Woodland

Today was spent exploring the beautiful Sierra Gredos. Before heading out, we searched the area around our hotel, including the excellent bird feeder. This gave us unbeatable views of a striking Greater Spotted WoodpeckerEurasian NuthatchEurasian WrenEuropean Robin and Rock Sparrow.

During our exploration of the stunning La Plataforma high mountain area, we saw Booted EagleWoodlarkCommon WhitethroatNorthern Wheatear and Water Pipit. However, the most remarkable sightings were Ortolan Bunting, two Common (Rufous-tailed) Rock Thrush and plenty of Dunnock (the mabbotti subspecies, a recently touted potential split as “Iberian Dunnock”).

The close encounters with numerous Spanish Ibex, some with impressive antlers, also provided immense enjoyment and great photographic opportunities.

Finally, we explored the pine forests at lower altitudes, where we enjoyed good views of White-throated DipperCrested TitCitril Finch and Common Firecrest, GoldcrestCoal Tit and Red Crossbill, to name but a few. In part, all of this happened while we remained comfortably seated on two chairs by a beautiful clearing in the forest. With all the day’s goals more than achieved, we decided to return to the hotel, with plenty of time to enjoy another session at the bird feeders.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

The Spanish Ibex stands as one of Spain’s most iconic mammals, exemplified by this spectacular male in full display, for the delight of the group.

 

Day 9, 20th April 2022. From Gredos to Pamplona: Steppes of Ablitas and Pitillas Lagoon

Before bidding farewell to the Gredos mountains, we woke up early to search for our last major objective in the area, the Bluethroat, in its pristine mountain breeding grounds. Fortunately, we managed to see two specimens, one of them particularly well.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

To get a good look at the mythical Bluethroat we had to wake up early and engage in a pre-breakfast birding session in the high plateaus of Gredos Mountains in central Spain.

 

Next, we returned to our hotel for breakfast and to say our goodbyes. Then we headed north, on a rather long journey to the steppes of Ablitas in Navarra. Upon arrival, we enjoyed an excellent sighting of perched European Bee-eater. With great effort and perseverance, we managed to find one of the most challenging objectives of the trip and Iberian birdlife, Dupont’s Lark. As is usual with this elusive species, initially we only managed to hear its plaintive call. Happily, and without prior notice, an adult, followed by a chick, appeared just a few feet from our car, allowing us to enjoy their presence at our leisure. It was a dreamlike observation!

Our next destination was Pitillas Lagoon, which proved to be quieter than usual for this time of year. Nevertheless, we saw Mute SwanTufted DuckEurasian Skylark, and a group of baby Wild Boar on our path. We then drove to our hotel in downtown Pamplona, a city globally renowned for the running of the bulls.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

This striking Dupont´s Lark showed up exceptionally well, accompanied by a recently fledged chick.

Day 10, 21st April 2023. From Pamplona to the Western Pyrenees

Firstly, we visited Quinto Real, a transboundary (with France) forest area, a deciduous forest composed primarily of beeches, chestnuts, oaks, and alders. This is a purely Atlantic environment, markedly different from the Mediterranean setting of the first half of the tour. We took a gentle and leisurely walk, paying attention to every song and movement in the treetops, and found Eurasian JayCrested TitCoal TitGreat Tit, and we detected the first Song Thrush and Eurasian Treecreeper of the trip.

Next, we visited some high mountain passes, but the bothersome wind made us give up and continue our route towards the east. We had our picnic in the stunning Foz de Arbayún, the gateway to the Pyrenees. Here we saw our first distant Bearded Vulture soaring high over the deep gorge. These were sharing the sky with a group of Alpine Swifts and two Egyptian Vultures.

In the afternoon, we crossed the Pyrenean valley of Larra and Belagua. Here, the most notable observations were the elegant Chamois. We ended the day enjoying a craft beer next to the fireplace at our hotel, located in an idyllic setting in the mountains of the Hecho Valley.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

This obliging Common Firecrest enlivened our picnic lunch in the woods.

 

Day 11, 22nd April 2023. Pyrenees between Aragón and Navarra.

The day dawned partially cloudy with showers. We started the day by visiting the surroundings of the Refugio de Gabardito shelter. Unfortunately, the rain prevented us from completing the route through a limestone massif, a prime area for observing Wallcreeper. In turn, we had no less than seven (!) Egyptian Vulture perched on the ground in a farm, several Roe Deer and wonderful views of Mistle Thrush. At this point, we made a short detour to get some medicine.

We spent the rest of the day visiting the most attractive locations in the adjacent valleys between Aragon and Navarra. A remarkable sight was a pair of Golden Eagle gliding over the head of a glacial cirque and perched on the snow. In the same area, a large mixed flock of hundreds of Red-billed and Alpine Choughs showed up.

We also saw Bearded VultureYellowhammer and White-throated Dipper. We were driving, and had almost lost hope of finding it, when an unexpected Black Woodpecker appeared briefly, perched at the base of a trunk on the roadside!

As a result of the storms, we found the road in one of the valleys blocked due to the overflowing of a river with red ferruginous waters, creating a beautiful scene.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

We found this splendid adult Egyptian Vulture on the roadside in northern Spain.

 

Day 12, 23rd April 2023. From Hecho to Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park with a brief foray into France

Dawn was rainy and we made a final, unsuccessful, attempt to locate the elusive wallcreeper in a gorge very close to our hotel. Seeing that the weather wasn’t improving, we decided to descend to lower altitudes and set course for our next destination in the Central Pyrenees. Along the way, we had multiple encounters with Red Kite, one of the best-represented raptors of the trip.

At noon, we visited the beautiful surroundings of San Juan de la Peña, including a territory of the Black Woodpecker, which unfortunately did not makean appearance.

We enjoyed watching Griffon Vultures in their nests perched on impressive cliffs.

We made a brief detour into France to visit Le Portalet area, to enjoy the impressive mountain landscapes. We then spent the rest of the day getting to our hotel in the Central Pyrenees.

 

Day 13, 24th April 2023. Torla and Ordesa National Park

Today was planned to be one of the most special of the tour. On the one hand, we had the extra assistance of Juan Carlos, a professional biologist and one of the most experienced ornithologists in the area. On the other hand, due to the unusual lack of snow at the higher altitudes of the park, we had the rare opportunity to access the high meadows in April, something truly uncommon. To do this, we used a private vehicle expressly authorized to travel on a restricted track and access Cuello Gordo area. Next, we hiked a couple of miles on a rather challenging path, to reach an extremely impressive viewpoint overlooking the main canyon in Ordesa National Park. In doing so, we saw MarmotWater PipitNorthern WheatearEurasian SkylarkRed-billed and Alpine Choughs, plenty of Griffon and a Bearded Vulture.  Unfortunately, probably also due to the lack of snow, we didn’t manage to find other typical species, such as the Wallcreeper. Fortunately, we did get great views of an Alpine Accentor.

During the afternoon, still in the company of Juan Carlos, we visited several key locations in the lower area of the national park. Firstly, we visited a Bearded Vulture breeding area. While we waited and enjoyed a picnic, we spotted an adult bird in the far distance. Fortunately, the bird visited its nest, flying over the area where we were located. In the same area, we also saw a Golden Eagle.

To finish the birding journey, we explored several forest areas where we had a very good view of a Marsh Tit and a Eurasian Treecreeper. While driving back to Torla, a male Eurasian Bullfinch crossed the road in front of us.

We then left the high Pyrenees, with the most dramatic landscapes of the journey, to continue east towards our next destination in Lleida, Catalonia.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

The glacial valley of Ordesa National Park, in the central Pyrenees, is the realm of the Wallcreeper and one of the most spectacular landscapes in Spain.

 

Day 14, 25th April 2023. Outskirts of Lleida

Today we were accompanied by Jose, a local expert on birding in the Lleida area. Jose’s deep knowledge of his local area proved invaluable, and thanks to him we enjoyed a very varied array of species. In fact, as soon as we arrived at the first birdwatching area, we could clearly hear the distinctive song of Dupont’s Lark. It’s worth noting how unusual it is to detect this threatened and elusive species in two different populations on the same tour.

Other remarkable sightings included Red-crested PochardRed-legged PartridgeWhinchatShort-toed Snake EagleMontagu’s HarrierEuropean Turtle Dove, and Stock Dove. The remarkable observations of Pin-tailed SandgrouseLittle Bustard, Great Spotted CuckooEurasian Stone-curlew and Black Wheatear stood out!

As if this were not enough, Jose still had many surprises in store for us and took us to his secret spots to enjoy a Long-eared Owl and a family of four Eurasian Eagle-Owls! We also had time to visit a colony of Lesser Kestrel and Red-billed Chough in an old building.

As a final touch, before returning to the hotel, Jose took us to our last great objective, Eurasian Hobby. We then said a warm goodbye to Jose and thanked him for his friendliness and for providing us with one of the most fruitful birding days of the trip.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

Obtaining convincing views of the Eurasian Treecreeper required a considerable effort, but it was undoubtedly worth it.

 

Day 15, 26th April 2023. Lleida to Barcelona: Delta del Llobregat

This was to be our last full day of birdwatching, and we still had many possible targets, so we decided to wake up early to make the most of it. This way, we arrived at the Utxesa reservoir at dawn and rather easily managed to find two Common Kingfisher, three Eurasian Penduline Tit, about six Bearded Reedling, three Great Reed Warbler and two Moustached Warbler. However, the most unexpected thing was hearing a Common Grasshopper Warbler.

In another nearby wetland, on our way to Barcelona, we added Great Crested Grebe and Northern Lapwing to the trip list.

We arrived at our magnificent hotel in Barcelona in the early afternoon. We had time to settle in and rest briefly before heading out for our last birding session at the famous Delta del Llobregat, a wetland area near Barcelona airport. From the comfort of well-designed wooden observatories, we managed to enjoy a wide variety of waterfowl species, such as Northern PintailGreater FlamingoWestern SwamphenBlack-winged StiltCommon SnipeRuff, and Curlew Sandpiper. Walking among the observatories, we also found some interesting migrants including Garden WarblerCommon RedstartWillow Warbler, and Sand Martin.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

Finding this Eurasian Scops Owl day-roosting in the dense foliage was not an easy task.

 

Our final stop of the day, and the tour, was on a beach near the hotel, from where we carried out a short sea-watching session. Despite the considerable distance to the birds, we managed to conclude the tour with two species of great interest, Cory’s Shearwater and the Critically Endangered Balearic Shearwater.

After another productive day, we headed to our hotel for the final meal and discussed the ‘Bird of the Trip’. After careful consideration, we chose the courtship display of the Great Bustards in Extremadura. Undoubtedly, a very fair and wise decision!

 


Day 16, 27th April 2023. Tour conclusion in Barcelona

On the very last day of the tour, we rose early to arrive at the airport at first light, a task we executed rapidly and uneventfully. There, Javi bid farewell to Mary and Gail, and each of us proceeded homeward, our minds still brimming with the beautiful scenes of the birdlife in Spain.


Bird List
 – Following IOC (12.1)

Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.

Common Name Scientific Name
Anatidae – Ducks and Geese
Graylag Goose Anser anser
Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata
Gadwall Mareca strepera
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina
Common Pochard Aythya ferina
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala
 
Phasianidae – Quails and Partridges
Common Quail (H) Coturnix coturnix
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
 
Podicipedidae – Grebes
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
 
Phoenicopteridae – Flamingoes
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
 
Procellariidae – Shearwaters and Petrels
Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris borealis
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus
 
Ciconiidae – Storks
Black Stork Ciconia nigra
White Stork Ciconia ciconia
 
Phalacrocoracidae – Cormorants
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
 
Ardeidae – Herons and Egrets
Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Great Egret Ardea alba
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
 
Threskiornithidae – Ibises and Spoonbills
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
 
Pandionidae – Ospreys
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
 
Accipitridae – Vultures, Eagles and Kites
Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus
Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus
Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
Bonelli’s Eagle Aquila fasciata
Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus
Northern Goshawk (H) Accipiter gentilis
Red Kite Milvus milvus
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
 
Otididae – Bustards
Great Bustard Otis tarda
Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax
 
Rallidae – Crakes and Moorhens
Water Rail (H) Rallus aquaticus
Western Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Eurasian Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
 
Burhinidae – Thick-knees
Eurasian Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus
 
Recurvirostridae – Stilts and Avocets
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
 
Haematopodidae – Oystercatchers
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
 
Charadriidae – Plovers and Lapwings
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
 
Scolopacidae – Sandpipers and Godwits
Eurasian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Ruff Calidris pugnax
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii
Sanderling Calidris alba
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
 
Glareolidae – Coursers and Pratincoles
Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola
 
Laridae – Gulls and Terns
Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
Audouin’s Gull Ichthyaetus audouinii
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Little Tern Sternula albifrons
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis
 
Pteroclidae – Sandgrouses
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata
 
Columbidae – Pigeons and Doves
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia
Stock Dove Columba oenas
Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
 
Cuculidae – Cuckoos
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
 
Strigidae – Owls
European Scops Owl Otus scops
Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo
Little Owl Athene noctua
Tawny Owl Strix aluco
Long-eared Owl Asio otus
 
Apodidae – Swifts
Alpine Swift Apus melba
Common Swift Apus apus
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus
Little Swift Apus affinis
 
Upudidae – Hoopoes
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
 
Alcedinidae – Kingfishers
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
 
Meropidae – Bee-eaters
European Bee-eater Merops apiaster
 
Coraciidae – Rollers
European Roller Coracias garrulus
 
Picidae – Woodpeckers
Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius
Iberian Green Woodpecker Picus sharpei
 
Falconidae – Falcons
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni
Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
 
Psittaculidae – Parrots and Lovebirds
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
 
Psittacidae – New World and African Parrots
Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus
 
Laniidae – Shrikes
Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
 
Oriolidae – Orioles
Eurasian Golden Oriole (H) Oriolus oriolus
 
Corvidae – Corvids
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
Iberian Magpie Cyanopica cooki
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus
Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Carrion Crow Corvus corone
Common Raven Corvus corax
 
Panuridae – Bearded reedling
Bearded Reedling Panurus biarmicus
 
Alaudidae – Larks
Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra
Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus duponti
Mediterranean Short-toed Lark Alaudala rufescens
Woodlark Lullula arborea
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis
Thekla’s Lark Galerida theklae
Crested Lark Galerida cristata
 
Hirundinidae – Swallows and Martins
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Eurasian Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
Common House Martin Delichon urbicum
 
Paridae, Remizidae, Aegithalidae – Tits
Coal Tit Periparus ater
Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus
Marsh Tit Poecile palustris
Eurasian Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
Great Tit Parus major
 
Remizidae – Penduline Tits
Eurasian Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus
 
Aegithalidae – Long-tailed Tits
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
 
Sittidae – Nuthatches
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea
 
Certhiidae – Treecreepers
Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla
 
Troglodytidae – Wrens
Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
 
Cinclidae – Dippers
White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus
 
Regulidae – Kinglets
Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla
 
Cettiidae – Cettiid Warblers
Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti
 
Phylloscopidae – Leaf Warblers
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Iberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus ibericus
Western Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli
 
Acrocephalidae – Reed Warblers
Western Olivaceous Warbler Iduna opaca
Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta
Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon
Eurasian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
 
Locustellidae – Grass Warblers
Savi’s Warbler Locustella luscinioides
Common Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia
 
Cisticolidae – Cisticolas
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
 
Sylviidae – Sylvia Warblers
Eurasian Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
Western Subalpine Warbler Sylvia iberiae
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata
 
Muscicapidae – Flycatchers
European Robin Erithacus rubecula
Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Common Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Western Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica
 
Turdidae – Thrushes
Common Blackbird Turdus merula
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
 
Sturnidae – Starlings
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor
 
Prunellidae – Accentors
Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris
Dunnock Prunella modularis
 
Motacillidae – Pipits and Wagtails
Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta
 
Emberizidae – Buntings
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra
 
Fringillidae – Finches
Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
European Greenfinch Chloris chloris
Eurasian Linnet Linaria cannabina
Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Citril Finch Carduelis citrinella
European Serin Serinus serinus
 
Passeridae – Sparrows
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Rock Petronia Petronia petronia
 
Ploceidae – Weavers
Black-headed Weaver Ploceus melanocephalus
 
Estrildidae – Estrildid Finches
Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild
Total seen 225
Total heard only 4
Total recorded 229

Mammal List

Common Name Scientific Name
Dogs (Canidae)
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
Rabbits and Hares (Leporidae)
European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
 
Deer (Cervidae)
(Spanish) Red Deer Cervus elaphus hispanicus
Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus
 
Bovids (Bovidae)
Iberian Ibex (Gredos) Capra pyrenaica victoriae
Chamois Rupicapra rupicapra
 
Pigs and hogs (Suyidae)
Wild Boar Sus scrofa
 
Squirrels (Sciuridae)
Marmot Marmota marmota
Total seen 8

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

Please see the downloadable PDF above with the full species lists included. This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.

Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza

Tour-specific Information

 

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT SPAIN CAN BE READ HERE

 

TOUR OUTLINE

Our small-group birdwatching tour to Spain during the spring season offers a comprehensive look at the Iberian region and connects with some of the most highly sought-after of the country’s species, such as Dupont’s Lark, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Cinereous Vulture, Bearded Vulture, Great Bustard, White-headed Duck, Marbled Duck, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Wallcreeper, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Iberian Magpie, Iberian Grey Shrike, White-winged Snowfinch, Citril Finch, and Alpine Accentor to mention but a few. Take a look at the detailed itinerary for more information on the species possible on this tour which starts in Seville and ends in Barcelona.

 

WEATHER/CLIMATE   

The temperatures on this spring birding tour could be incredibly varied. During the first half of the tour, we should expect temperatures around 64 – 77 °F (18 – 25 °C) while our visit to the Pyrenees could see temperatures as low as single figures in Celsius (possibly in the region of 41 °F or 5 °C). Nights are generally comfortable but can still be chilly with temperatures around 46 – 57 °F (8 – 14 °C). The sun is strong this time of the year but as it is the European spring it is also necessary to be prepared for rain.

 

DAILY ACTIVITIES, PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS, AND TOUR PACE

This spring birding tour covers a large proportion of Spain and is at a faster pace than some of our other tours, with a long list of birds possible. Longer journeys are broken up with birding and bathroom stops. Most walking is an easy level of exertion and at a gentle pace and should be suitable for most people, for the most part this will all be on easy tracks, roads, and trails for the most part. Some longer walks will be required for some sites and the exact details of these longer walks will be presented to you ahead of time, most walks are optional and should you wish to sit out a walk we will endeavor to plan something else for you, or you are welcome to relax around the hotel grounds.

The tour will require some early starts and late finishes to our days in the field to maximize the return on the birding and meal times will remain flexible around our birding activities, the main focus of this tour is finding as many of the regionally special birds as possible. Most of the tour is spent at sea-level and low elevations, though we will spend time in higher elevations later in the tour, but these elevations are still not particularly high and are unlikely to provide any constraints to most people (e.g. we will be birding at around 6,500 feet / 2,000 meters), potentially a little higher.

 

DOMESTIC FLIGHTS

There are no domestic flights included in this tour. Note the tour starts in Seville at Seville San Pablo Airport and ends in Barcelona at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport.

 

ACCOMMODATION

During our Spain spring tour we will be staying in a range of two-star to four-star hotels. All the hotels are of a traditional style and have been hand-picked to offer the best experience in their respective area. Hotels are located in areas that enable short drives to excellent birding areas.

Birding Ecotours

Spain General Information

Download Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza Information

‘The Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza itinerary is superb. We travelled the breadth of Spain through major habitat changes that allowed us to see a magnificent variety of birds. This was a particularly wet year for Spain and we walked through wildflower meadows and green fields, through rock-covered trails by rushing water and city streets filled with people (to see an owl). We had long distances to travel but frequently stopped for birdwatching, so the drives were more than manageable.

Our views of birds was often magic. We were taken to vantage points that allowed us to view raptors at eye level or even above eye level so looking at the markings was textbook. We also walked toward monuments in isolated countryside and found small birds, raptors and brilliant scenery in a windswept and lush environment.

We were incredibly lucky with our weather; while often chilly to cold, we only really encountered rain. On one truly memorable morning we walked through snow in the Pyrenees seeing some birds but since we were in the oldest forest in Europe, with a guide that knew the flora as well as the fauna, it was a magical experience.

The hotels were varied from simple to modern. I wouldn’t change any of them since the simplest had the best food and the most modern put us close to where we needed to be to get to the birds quickly the next morning. Breakfast and dinner were good to wonderful. Our lunches were a bit boring but we were so often away from any kind of town that picnics were required and usually in places where we got great birds as a result of the stop. Because dinner in Spain is late it allowed us to birdwatch until early evening to maximize our opportunities to see good birds. Because sunrise was later, we only had a couple of days with early starts. It worked well.’

Sandra

Join our newsletter for exclusive discounts and great birding information!

 

Thank you!