Spain: Spring Birding Extravaganza
Spain Birding Tour: Spring Birding Extravaganza
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.
Great 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.
Our 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.
Wallcreeper 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.
We’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
Black-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.
We 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
Crested 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
Monfragüe 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.
We 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
Red-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
Middle 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
Alpine 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.
Griffon 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
Our 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 2022
08 – 23 APRIL 2022
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The giant Bearded Vulture afforded some of the group brief but incredible views.
Our 16-day tour of Spain began on the 8th of April 2022, in the ancient city of Seville, and concluded on the 23rd of April 2022 in Barcelona. During the tour we visited many wonderful birding locations including Brazo del Este, Doñana National Park, Monfragüe National Park, Sierra de Gredos, Hoces del Rio Duraton Natural Park, Valles Occidentales, Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, and Delta del Llobregat.
Our trip around this beautiful country gave us many exciting species, including Marbled Duck, Laughing Dove, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Red-knobbed Coot, Audouin’s Gull, 23 species of raptors including Bearded Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, and Bonelli’s Eagle, Eurasian Eagle-Owl, European Roller, Iberian Magpie, White-backed Woodpecker, Dupont’s Lark (heard only), Western Orphean Warbler, Wallcreeper, Black Wheatear, and Citril Finch. A total of 239 bird species were recorded during the tour (five of these were “heard only”). Species lists are at the end of this report.
I would like to thank Ian, Nancy, Sandra, and Urban for their company during the tour and of course Yeray, our Spanish guide, for his excellent knowledge, logistics and planning, from start to finish. A special mention to Fernando and Marc for their fantastic knowledge during our days birding with them in the north of Spain.
As European raptors go, it’s hard to find one more iconic than Spanish Imperial Eagle (photo José Antonio Lagier Martin, Wikimedia Commons).
Day 1, 8th April 2022. Arrival in Seville
The first day of our tour was treated as an arrivals day. Urban, Nancy, Sandra, and the Birding Ecotours guide, arrived on the 7th, that left only Ian and our Spanish guide Yeray to arrive on the 8th. In the evening we went to a local restaurant for our welcome meal and to go through our exciting itinerary.
Day 2, 9th April 2022. Birding Brazo del Este, Los Palacios, and around Sanlucar
Today we headed south from Seville into the borderlands of Seville and Cadiz provinces. Our first stop was close to Los Palacios y Villafranca. Our key target being Laughing Dove, an African species only found at this site in Spain, and we were delighted to connect with around five individuals. Other interesting species seen here included Glossy Ibis, European Bee-eater, Garden Warbler, and Common Nightingale, while many others were also seen and heard.
Following a quick pit stop we headed into Brazo del Este. This large area is a wonderful site for waterbirds and they were very much the flavor of our visit here. In total 57 species were seen in just a couple of hours, including Marbled Teal, Western Swamphen, Jack Snipe, Collared Pratincole, Little Gull, multiple tern species, Greater Short-toed Lark, Great Reed Warbler, and Savi’s Warbler.
European Bee-eater proved to be a favorite among the group.
After lunch we headed further south to a series of lagoons near Puerto de Santa Maria. A cooling sea breeze aided our birding and we enjoyed good views of Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Booted Eagle, and quite bizarrely a drake Chiloe Wigeon, surely an escaped bird from a collection!
Finally, we visited the district of Costa Ballena where we enjoyed great views of Mediterranean Gull, including a few stunning adult birds in summer plumage, and a late Common Gull, an interesting record for this time of year. An excellent end to an amazing first day with 98 species recorded by the group.
Day 3, 10th April 2022. Sanlucar de Barrameda to El Rocio
Today we begun with a visit to Europe’s only breeding colony of the beautiful Little Swift. We enjoyed amazing views of these stunning birds as well as educational views of both Common Swift and Pallid Swift. Next, we visited the beach at Playa de Montijo, which proved to be a festival of shorebirds (waders) with Kentish Plover, Sanderling, Grey Plover, and many others. Also present were a good number of Little Tern plus singles of Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, and our first Slender-billed Gull of the day. In nearby scrub we located our first Western Subalpine Warbler of the tour.
After breakfast we headed north to the fantastic Salinas de Bonanza. Interesting species found here included Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, numerous stunning Slender-billed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, and vast flocks of shorebirds like Sanderling, Dunlin, and Common Ringed Plover. Afterwards, we moved on to the unassuming Lagunas de Camino Colorado. This proved fruitful with great views of White-headed Duck, Squacco Heron, and Western Olivaceous Warbler, plus a flyby male Little Bittern.
Montagu’s Harrier put on a good show – an always much-loved species.
We decided to take our picnic lunch to the Stone Pine woodland of Pinar de La Algaida. Here we enjoyed amazing views of Booted Eagle in display flight, plus our first Short-toed Treecreeper of the trip. Leaving the pines behind we headed for the banks of the Guadalquivir River. This productive area gave us our first Willow Warbler, Whinchat, Red Kite, and Spectacled Warbler of the trip. These were joined by three stunning Montagu’s Harriers plus great views of the recently reclassified Mediterranean Short-toed Lark.
After a long day we headed to our hotel in the Coto Doñana National Park, with Iberian Magpie and Tawny Owl added to the day list, giving us a total of 110 species today, an amazing total.
Day 4, 11th April 2022. El Rocio and Doñana National Park
Today we explored the Doñana National Park, one of Europe’s principal birding sites. We started at Puerto del Ajoli near the town of El Rocio where species of note included Common Cuckoo, Iberian Magpie, Eurasian Penduline Tit, and Eurasian Tree Sparrow, with a distant Eurasian Golden Oriole heard briefly.
Iberian Magpie was seen in Doñana National Park (photo Charles J. Sharp, Wikimedia Commons).
We then moved on to the marisma (salt marsh) next to El Rocio. Despite the strong winds we enjoyed good views of Greylag Goose, a wild-occurring species here, plus large numbers of Whiskered Terns and Eurasian Coots, with 400 of the latter in a large raft at one end of the lake.
With the wind building, we sought cover in the woods and pools of La Rocina. Here we enjoyed Ferruginous Duck, Purple Heron, Iberian Chiffchaff, and Western Swamphen, plus many other birds.
After lunch we took a short and windy walk where we secured Eurasian Crested Tit as a new species for the tour. With the weather closing in we headed for more woodland with the hope of connecting with Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. However, before locating them we searched an open area where we had brief views of Dartford Warbler in the strong winds.
A riverine woodland nearby showed promise for holding Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and it wasn’t long before we enjoyed excellent views of this diminutive species. In the open areas close by we saw some migration in action with good views of Eurasian Wryneck, European Bee-eater, Western Black-eared Wheatear, and Woodchat Shrike, while a pair of Woodlark showed briefly in flight.
Our final stop of the day was the beautiful Dehesa Tornero. This area is well known as a stronghold for Iberian Lynx, but despite extensive searching we were unable to locate any of these extremely rare big cats. However, good birds were aplenty here with the highlight being a stunning hepatic morph Common Cuckoo. After a long and blustery day, we headed back to our hotel to celebrate yet another wonderful day of Spanish birding.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker proved confiding, and we enjoyed great looks.
Day 5, 12th April 2022. El Rocio to Monfrague
Today we would finish our birding in Andalusia at the scenic Dehesa de Abajo. The large wetland area held Red-knobbed Coot, Marbled Duck, White-headed Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Western Swamphen, Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Reed Warbler, and many other wetland species.
After retreating in a downpour, we began our journey north out of Andalusia. The varied weather meant timing our birding stops would be crucial. Our first stop was the stunning rocky surrounds of the town of Hornachos. Here we scored several new species including Thekla’s Lark, Eurasian Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, and a stunning male Black Wheatear.
With the weather closing in once more we continued on and stopped at another rocky outcrop to scan for birds of prey. Despite poor light we enjoyed distant but prolonged views of a Golden Eagle on the top of the rock face, plus a significant number of Griffon Vultures. The real highlight here was a stunning Cinereous Vulture which drifted overhead and gave amazing views.
After a rain-soaked day we arrived at our hotel in the town of Trujillo, a stunning location to finish a long day.
Our views of Griffon Vultures in Monfrague were just superb.
Day 6, 13th April 2022. Monfrague
Today we took the short journey into the beautiful Monfrague National Park. This is raptor paradise and we secured views of Spanish Imperial Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Booted Eagle, Black Kite, Red Kite, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, Common Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, and Peregrine Falcon while in the park.
Other birds of interest here included Blue Rock Thrush, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Rock Bunting, Black Stork, Thekla’s Lark, Dartford Warbler, European Robin, and the superb Western Orphean Warbler.
After a long day we returned to Trujillo where we enjoyed close views of a pair of Eurasian Scops Owl roosting in trees outside our hotel!
Day 7, 14th April 2022. Santa Marta Steppes
Today we enjoyed exploring the Santa Marta steppes region. The morning’s birding was absolutely incredible with amazing views of Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Golden Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Cinereous Vulture, Montagu’s Harrier, Hen Harrier, and Calandra Lark.
European Roller proved to be one of many star birds in the Santa Marta steppes.
In the afternoon we headed to another area of the steppes where we enjoyed yet more Great Bustards, fine views of Spanish Imperial Eagle and Cinereous Vulture once again, plus prolonged looks at European Roller and Iberian Grey Shrike. Sadly, our search for Great Spotted Cuckoo proved unsuccessful, but this did not detract from what was an incredible day of birding. Our final delight was a pair of stunning Black-winged Kite by the roadside as we headed for our hotel in the Sierra Gredos.
Day 8, 15th April 2022. Sierra Gredos
Today was spent exploring the beautiful Sierra Gredos. Before heading out, we searched the area around our hotel and this gave us Red (Common) Crossbill, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, European Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Carrion Crow, and other forest species.
During our exploration of the stunning La Plataforma high mountain area we saw Cinereous Vulture, Eurasian Skylark, White-throated Dipper, Northern Wheatear, Dunnock (the mabbotti subspecies, a recently touted potential split as “Iberian Dunnock”), Water Pipit, and a brief Ortolan Bunting.
Finally, we explored the pine forests at lower altitudes where we enjoyed good views of Citril Finch and Common Firecrest, while the haunting sound of Iberian Green Woodpecker echoed around the forest.
After a long drive we arrived at our hotel in the steppe region north of Madrid.
The beautiful Hoces del Duraton was a scenic backdrop to our birding (photo Raul Carrillo Garrido, Wikimedia Commons).
Day 9, 16th April 2022. Hoces del Duraton
Today was mostly treated as a travel day as we made the long drive across the north of Spain to the city of Pamplona. Before our journey we visited the stunning Hoces del Rio Duraton to look for Dupont’s Lark. Sadly our search yielded no results but a lovely walk to the hermitage here gave us some new birds for the trip, such as Stock Dove, Red-billed Chough, and Rock Sparrow. We also enjoyed good views of Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, and Blue Rock Thrush.
Our final stop of the day was at Laguna de Pitillas, just south of Pamplona. Sadly, battering winds made birding here very difficult, however brief views of Bearded Reedling were had in the reedbeds near the visitor center. On the lake itself we were able to add Mute Swan to the trip list.
After a long day we arrived at our hotel just outside Pamplona ready to begin our time in the Pyrenees the following day.
Day 10, 17th April 2022. Irati to Echo
Today we would begin our exploration of the Pyrenees Mountains. The main target of our first stop near Irati was the rare White-backed Woodpecker. While one bird was briefly seen by our guides, it failed to show again for the group, despite three hours of searching. Other birds seen here included European Crested Tit, Marsh Tit, Common Firecrest, Eurasian Nuthatch, and a beautiful pair of Eurasian Bullfinch.
Our next stop was a reliable area for Middle Spotted Woodpecker, and this species did not disappoint by giving brief but enjoyable views. One of our guides also found a migrant Merlin nearby. Other notable birds seen during the day included Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed Snake Eagle, and White-throated Dipper.
Middle Spotted Woodpecker is a rare and localized species in Spain. We were fortunate to enjoy good views.
Day 11, 18th April 2022. Echo, Isaba and a brief foray into France
Today would see us explore the high Pyrenees close to the French border. Our first target would be the iconic Wallcreeper, a highly prized species. While our first stop did not give us our main target it did afford us distant views of Bearded Vulture and a brief flyover Black Woodpecker, seen by some of the group.
It was then time to really target Wallcreeper at our next site and, thanks to the keen eyes of Yeray, we had wonderful views of one high on a rock face for a prolonged period. Other birds seen here included Red-billed Chough and Griffon Vulture.
As we ascended the Pyrenees towards the French border the cloud began to build and this made birding increasingly difficult. However, a brief stop gave us great views of Ring Ouzel and European Pied Flycatcher, both new birds for our trip. Our main target of the French border was Alpine Accentor. Sadly, after a long search, we were unable to locate any in the area in dense fog.
Wallcreeper proved a challenge to locate before finally giving itself up.
On our way down from the mountains we enjoyed the wonderful sight of a male Montagu’s Harrier migrating north, an incredible sight and totally unexpected. Looking to warm up, we descended into the Valles Occidentales, a beautiful area for birding. Here we enjoyed great views of Marsh Tit, Garden Warbler, Eurasian Nuthatch, and Eurasian Treecreeper, a species that is very localized in the Pyrenees.
Our final stop was to look for Bearded Vulture, surrounded by beautiful mountains. Despite our best efforts we were unable to locate any of this species but did see Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Red-billed Chough, and a flock of twelve Eurasian Siskins.
Day 12, 19th April 2022. Echo to Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park
Unfortunately today’s birding was severely hampered by rain, with almost the entire day lost to the weather. A brief break did allow us to squeeze in some birding where we had good views of Bearded Vulture and other raptors.
After such a wet day we were glad to arrive at our hotel in the Ordesa National Park.
Day 13, 20th April 2022. Ordesa to Lleida
Once again heavy grey skies loomed over us as we left our hotel. However, once we reached higher altitudes in the national park the impending rain turned quickly to heavy snow. This made walking far more pleasant as we explored the national park with local guide Fernando.
While bird numbers were low, we did learn about the geology and flora of the park and did manage to squeeze in brief views of Common Firecrest and White-throated Dipper. Upon our return to the car park the skies began to lift, revealing brilliant scenery. Overhead we enjoyed good views of a Golden Eagle and briefer views of Black Woodpecker skirting along the forest edge. In the car park itself a pair of Marsh Tit and a Common Chaffinch showed well.
Leaving the park, a large group of Red-billed Choughs caught our attention, sadly no Alpine Chough were found among them. However, we recorded plenty more species here with Alpine Swift, Booted Eagle, Griffon Vulture, and Bearded Vulture all giving great views.
An Egyptian Vulture flying above the vulture feeding station.
A vulture feeding station at our next stop was attracting a lot of attention from nearby birds of prey. While approaching the site we had amazing views of an adult Bearded Vulture (see trip report cover image!) over the road and once in position, after yet more heavy rain, we had distant but prolonged views of Bearded Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite, Red Kite, Carrion Crow, and Northern Raven.
With more rain approaching we began our descent towards Lleida, stopping briefly to enjoy a beautiful summer plumage Water Pipit close to our vehicle.
Day 14, 21st April 2022. Lleida
Today our group was accompanied by Marc, a local expert on birding in the Lleida area. Marc’s knowledge of his local area proved valuable, and we were able to add nine new species to our trip list during the day, including Eurasian Stone-curlew, Melodious Warbler, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Eagle-Owl, and the brief song of the mystical Dupont’s Lark.
Our views of Eurasian Eagle-Owl were a sight to behold.
Other notable species seen around Lleida included Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Montagu’s Harrier, Bearded Reedling, Peregrine Falcon, and Whinchat.
In total we recorded a whopping 92 species, our third most productive day of the tour so far.
Day 15, 22nd April 2022. Lleida to Barcelona
Our final day would be spent trying to catch up with some species we had previously missed, and to visit some of the best birding sites around Lleida and Barcelona. The day began with a walk around the village of Alfes, a great location for birding. Despite further effort we were unable to locate Great Spotted Cuckoo, however we did enjoy amazing views of a pair of Long-eared Owl chicks on the nest, a wonderful experience.
Moving out of the village to a nearby plains area gave us great views of many other species, including Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Montagu’s Harrier, Calandra Lark, and a gorgeous male Whinchat.
Our final stop around Lleida was a productive lake area. We enjoyed many of the species seen previously with Northern Goshawk, Black-crowned Night Heron, Eurasian Penduline Tit, and Western Subalpine Warbler being the highlights. However, the best was yet to come and we enjoyed incredible close-range views of Wood Warbler, a migrant species and not one we expected to find on this tour.
Wood Warbler was a wonderful surprise on the tour (photo Marton Berntsen, Wikimedia Commons).
Our final stop of the day, and the tour, was the Delta del Llobregat, a wetland area near Barcelona airport. Our first stop was the beach, and a productive sea watch gave us Pomarine Jaeger (Pomarine Skua), Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua), Balearic Shearwater, Northern Gannet, and Audouin’s Gull.
Further exploration of the site gave us Eurasian Teal and beautiful views of Garganey as new species for the tour, and we once again enjoyed wonderful close-range views of Wood Warbler, with a Western Bonelli’s Warbler thrown in for good measure.
After another productive day with exactly 100 species recorded, we headed to our hotel for the final meal and discussed the ‘Bird of the Trip’. On this occasion the decision was straightforward, with Wallcreeper being voted as the group’s outright bird of the trip. A good, but tough choice!
Day 16, 23rd April 2022. Tour conclusion
After breakfast together we went our separate ways as the tour came to its conclusion.
Bird List – Following IOC (12.1)
Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.
The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following BirdLife International: VU = Vulnerable, NT = Near Threatened
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)|
|Greylag Goose||Anser anser|
|Mute Swan||Cygnus olor|
|Common Shelduck||Tadorna tadorna|
|Northern Shoveler||Spatula clypeata|
|Eurasian Teal||Anas crecca|
|Marbled Duck||Marmaronetta angustirost|
|Red-crested Pochard||Netta rufina|
|Common Pochard – VU||Aythya ferina|
|Ferruginous Duck||Aythya nyroca|
|White-headed Duck||Oxyura leucocephala|
|Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)|
|Common Quail (H)||Coturnix coturnix|
|Red-legged Partridge||Alectoris rufa|
|Alpine Swift||Tachymarptis melba|
|Common Swift||Apus apus|
|Pallid Swift||Apus pallidus|
|Little Swift||Apus affinis|
|Great Bustard – VU||Otis tarda|
|Little Bustard – NT||Tetrax tetrax|
|Common Cuckoo||Cuculus canorus|
|Pin-tailed Sandgrouse||Pterocles alchata|
|Black-bellied Sandgrouse||Pterocles orientalis|
|Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)|
|Rock Dove||Columba livia|
|Stock Dove||Columba oenas|
|Common Wood Pigeon||Columba palumbus|
|European Turtle Dove||Streptopelia turtur|
|Eurasian Collared Dove||Streptopelia decaocto|
|Laughing Dove||Spilopelia senegalensis|
|Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)|
|Common Moorhen||Gallinula chloropus|
|Eurasian Coot||Fulica atra|
|Red-knobbed Coot||Fulice cristata|
|Western Swamphen||Porphyrio porphyrio|
|Little Grebe||Tachybaptus ruficollis|
|Great Crested Grebe||Podiceps cristatus|
|Black-necked Grebe||Podiceps nigricollis|
|Greater Flamingo||Phoenicopterus roseus|
|Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)|
|Eurasian Stone-curlew||Burhinus oedicnemus|
|Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)|
|Black-winged Stilt||Himantopus himantopus|
|Pied Avocet||Recurvirostra avosetta|
|Grey Plover||Pluvialis squatarola|
|Common Ringed Plover||Charadrius hiaticula|
|Little Ringed Plover||Charadrius dubius|
|Kentish Plover||Charadrius alexandrinus|
|Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)|
|Eurasian Whimbrel||Numenius phaeopus|
|Bar-tailed Godwit||Limosa lapponica|
|Black-tailed Godwit||Limosa limosa|
|Ruddy Turnstone||Arenaria interpres|
|Red Knot||Calidris canutus|
|Curlew Sandpiper||Calidris ferruginea|
|Little Stint||Calidris minuta|
|Jack Snipe||Lymnocryptes minimus|
|Common Sandpiper||Actitis hypoleucos|
|Common Redshank||Tringa totanus|
|Wood Sandpiper||Tringa glareola|
|Common Greenshank||Tringa nebularia|
|Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae|
|Collared Pratincole||Glareola pratincola|
|Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)|
|Slender-billed Gull||Chroicocephalus genei|
|Black-headed Gull||Chroicocephalus ridibundus|
|Little Gull||Hydrocoloeus minutus|
|Audouin’s Gull – VU||Ichthyaetus audouinii|
|Mediterranean Gull||Ichthyaetus melanocephalus|
|Common Gull||Larus canus|
|Great Black-backed Gull||Larus marinus|
|Yellow-legged Gull||Larus michahellis|
|Lesser Black-backed Gull||Larus fuscus|
|Gull-billed Tern||Gelochelidon nilotica|
|Caspian Tern||Hydroprogne caspia|
|Sandwich Tern||Thalasseus sandvicensis|
|Little Tern||Sternula albifrons|
|Common Tern||Sterna hirundo|
|Whiskered Tern||Chlidonias hybrida|
|Black Tern||Chlidonias niger|
|Pomarine Jaeger (Pomarine Skua)||Stercorarius pomarinus|
|Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua)||Stercorarius parasiticus|
|Petrels, Shearwaters, Diving Petrels (Procellariidae)|
|Balearic Shearwater||Puffinus mauretanicus|
|Black Stork||Ciconia nigra|
|White Stork||Ciconia ciconia|
|Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae)|
|Northern Gannet||Morus bassanus|
|Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)|
|Great Cormorant||Phalacrocorax carbo|
|Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)|
|Glossy Ibis||Plegadis falcinellus|
|Eurasian Spoonbill||Platalea leucorodia|
|Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)|
|Little Bittern||Ixobrychus minutus|
|Black-crowned Night Heron||Nycticorax nycticorax|
|Squacco Heron||Ardeola ralloides|
|Western Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis|
|Grey Heron||Ardea cinerea|
|Purple Heron||Ardea purpurea|
|Great Egret||Ardea alba|
|Little Egret||Egretta garzetta|
|Western Osprey||Pandion haliaetus|
|Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)|
|Black-winged Kite||Elanus caeruleus|
|Bearded Vulture||Gypaetus barbatus|
|Egyptian Vulture||Neophron percnopterus|
|Griffon Vulture||Gyps fulvus|
|Cinereous Vulture||Aegypius monachus|
|Short-toed Snake Eagle||Circaetus gallicus|
|Booted Eagle||Hieraaetus pennatus|
|Spanish Imperial Eagle – VU||Aquila adalberti|
|Golden Eagle||Aquila chrysaetos|
|Bonelli’s Eagle||Aquila fasciata|
|Eurasian Sparrowhawk||Accipiter nisus|
|Northern Goshawk||Accipter gentillis|
|Western Marsh Harrier||Circus aeruginosus|
|Hen Harrier||Circus cyaneus|
|Montagu’s Harrier||Circus pygargus|
|Red Kite||Milvus milvus|
|Black Kite||Milvus migrans|
|Common Buzzard||Buteo buteo|
|Little Owl||Athene noctua|
|Eurasian Scops Owl||Otus scops|
|Long-eared Owl||Asio otus|
|Eurasian Eagle-Owl||Bubo bubo|
|Tawny Owl||Strix aluco|
|Eurasian Hoopoe||Upupa epops|
|European Roller||Coracias garrulus|
|Common Kingfisher||Alcedo atthis|
|European Bee-eater||Merops apiaster|
|Eurasian Wryneck||Jynx torquilla|
|Middle Spotted Woodpecker||Dendrocoptes medius|
|Lesser Spotted Woodpecker||Dryobates minor|
|Great Spotted Woodpecker||Dendrocopous major|
|White-backed Woodpecker||Dendrocopos leucotos|
|Black Woodpecker||Dryocopus martius|
|Iberian Green Woodpecker||Picus sharpei|
|Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)|
|Lesser Kestrel||Falco naumanni|
|Common Kestrel||Falco tinnunculus|
|Peregrine Falcon||Falco peregrinus|
|African & New World Parrots (Psittacidae)|
|Monk Parakeet||Myiopsitta monachus|
|Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)|
|Rose-ringed Parakeet||Psittacula krameri|
|Iberian Grey Shrike||Lanius meridionalis|
|Woodchat Shrike||Lanius senator|
|Figbirds, Orioles, Turnagra (Oriolidae)|
|Eurasian Golden Oriole||Oriolus oriolus|
|Crows, Jays (Corvidae)|
|Eurasian Jay||Garrulus glandarius|
|Iberian Magpie||Cyanopica cooki|
|Eurasian Magpie||Pica pica|
|Red-billed Chough||Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax|
|Western Jackdaw||Coloeus monedula|
|Carrion Crow||Corvus corone|
|Northern Raven||Corvus corax|
|Tits, Chickadees (Paridae)|
|Coal Tit||Periparus ater|
|European Crested Tit||Lophophanes cristatus|
|Marsh Tit||Poecile palustris|
|Eurasian Blue Tit||Cyanistes caeruleus|
|Great Tit||Parus major|
|Penduline Tits (Remizidae)|
|Eurasian Penduline Tit||Remiz pendulinus|
|Bearded Reedling (Panuridae)|
|Bearded Reedling||Panurus biarmicus|
|Eurasian Skylark||Alauda arvensis|
|Thekla’s Lark||Galerida theklae|
|Crested Lark||Galerida cristata|
|Greater Short-toed Lark||Calandrella brachydactyla|
|Calandra Lark||Melanocorypha calandra|
|Dupont’s Lark (H)||Chersophilus duponti|
|Mediterranean Short-toed Lark||Alaudala rufescens|
|Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)|
|Sand Martin||Riparia riparia|
|Eurasian Crag Martin||Ptyonoprogne rupestris|
|Barn Swallow||Hirundo rustica|
|Common House Martin||Delichon urbicum|
|Red-rumped Swallow||Cecropis daurica|
|Cettia Bush Warblers & Allies (Cettiidae)|
|Cetti’s Warbler||Cettia cetti|
|Long-tailed Tit||Aegithalos caudatus|
|Leaf Warblers & Allies (Phylloscopidae)|
|Wood Warbler||Phylloscopus sibilatrix|
|Western Bonelli’s Warbler||Phylloscopus bonelli|
|Willow Warbler||Phylloscopus trochilus|
|Common Chiffchaff||Phylloscopus collybita|
|Iberian Chiffchaff||Phylloscopus ibericus|
|Reed Warblers & Allies (Acrocephalidae)|
|Great Reed Warbler||Acrocephalus arundinaeceus|
|Sedge Warbler||Acrocephalus schoenobaenus|
|Eurasian Reed Warbler||Acrocephalus scirpaceus|
|Western Olivaceous Warbler||Iduna opaca|
|Melodious Warbler||Hippolais polyglotta|
|Grassbirds & Allies (Locustellidae)|
|Savi’s Warbler||Locustella luscinioides|
|Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)|
|Zitting Cisticola||Cisticola juncidis|
|Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae)|
|Eurasian Blackcap||Sylvia atricapilla|
|Garden Warbler||Sylvia borin|
|Western Orphean Warbler||Curruca hortensis|
|Sardinian Warbler||Curruca melanocephala|
|Western Subalpine Warbler||Curruca hortensis|
|Common Whitethroat||Curruca communis|
|Spectacled Warbler||Curruca conspicillata|
|Dartford Warbler||Curruca undata|
|Goldcrests, Kinglets (Regulidae)|
|Common Firecrest||Regulus ignicapilla|
|Goldcrest (H)||Regulus regulus|
|Eurasian Wren||Troglodytes troglodytes|
|Eurasian Nuthatch||Sitta europaea|
|Eurasian Treecreeper||Certhia familiaris|
|Short-toed Treecreeper||Certhia brachydactyla|
|Starlings, Rhabdornis (Sturnidae)|
|Common Starling||Sturnus vulgaris|
|Spotless Starling||Sturnus unicolor|
|Song Thrush||Turdus philomelos|
|Mistle Thrush||Turdus viscivorus|
|Common Blackbird||Turdus merula|
|Ring Ouzel||Turdus torquatus|
|Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)|
|European Robin||Erithacus rubecula|
|Common Nightingale||Luscinia megarhynchos|
|European Pied Flycatcher||Ficedula hypoleuca|
|Black Redstart||Phoenicurus ochruros|
|Common Redstart||Phoenicurus phoenicurus|
|Blue Rock Thrush||Monticola solitarius|
|European Stonechat||Saxicola rubicola|
|Northern Wheatear||Oenanthe oenanthe|
|Western Black-eared Wheatear||Oenanthe hispanica|
|Black Wheatear||Oenanthe leucura|
|White-throated Dipper||Cinclus cinclus|
|Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)|
|Rock Sparrow||Petronia petronia|
|Eurasian Tree Sparrow||Passer montanus|
|Spanish Sparrow||Passer hispaniolensis|
|House Sparrow||Passer domesticus|
|Weavers, Widowbirds (Ploceidae)|
|Black-headed Weaver||Ploceus melanocephalus|
|Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)|
|Common Waxbill||Estrilda astrild|
|Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)|
|Western Yellow Wagtail||Motacilla flava|
|Grey Wagtail||Motacilla cinerea|
|White Wagtail||Motacilla alba|
|Tawny Pipit||Anthus campestris|
|Meadow Pipit||Anthus pratensis|
|Tree Pipit (H)||Anthus trivialis|
|Water Pipit||Anthus spinoletta|
|Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)|
|Common Chaffinch||Fringilla coelebs|
|Eurasian Bullfinch||Pyrrhula pyrrhula|
|European Greenfinch||Chloris chloris|
|Common Linnet||Linaria cannabina|
|Red Crossbill||Loxia curvirostra|
|European Goldfinch||Carduelis carduelis|
|Citril Finch||Carduelis citronella|
|European Serin||Serinus serinus|
|Eurasian Siskin||Spinus spinus|
|Corn Bunting||Emberiza calandra|
|Yellowhammer (H)||Emberiza citronella|
|Rock Bunting||Emberiza cia|
|Ortolan Bunting||Emberiza hortulana|
|Cirl Bunting||Emberiza cirlus|
|Total heard only||5|
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Red Fox||Vulpes vulpes|
|Rabbits and Hares (Leporidae)|
|European Rabbit||Oryctolagus cuniculus|
|(Spanish) Red Deer||Cervus elaphus hispanicus|
|Iberian Ibex (Gredos)||Capra pyrenaica victoriae|
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Pond Turtles (Emydidae)|
|Spanish Pond Turtle||Mauremys leprosa|
|Wall/True Lizards (Lacertidae)|
|Large Psammodromus||Psammodromus algirus|
|Common Name||Scientific Name|
|Semiterrestrial Crabs (Ocypodidae)|
|European Fiddler Crab||Afruca tangeri|
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
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.
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.
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.
‘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.’