A top bird tour focused on iberian specialities
A very complete birdwatching tour in Europe in winter
Eagles, Vultures, Sandgrouses, Bustards and many Iberian top birds
Birding Castilla-La Mancha
La Mancha region south of Madrid has the largest plains in Spain. The wetlands of La Mancha húmeda together with the low mountains of Sierra Morena and the Montes de Toledo add an important variety of wildlife. The area overall is sparsely populated and the area is rich in birdlife. This tour aims to get you close to all the Iberian specialities, including interesting arrays of birds of prey, steppic species and waterfowl.
We will meet in Málaga in the morning and drive till our single base (3h 45min + stops). We will enjoy a few stops on route for birding the beautiful surroundings of the Valle de Alcudia. This a wonderful place to get a taste of Spain's mediterranean Oak forests. We should be able to spot our first Cinereous (Eurasian Black) Vultures and Common Cranes alongside a variety of woodland birds.
We'll get to our hotel with time enough to unpack before dinner.
A day to enjoy bird watching locally along the Guadiana river. This is a wonderful day to look for water/reed birds, including Purple Swamphen, Marsh Harrier and several egrets. We'll scan the trees on the riverbanks to loof for the striking Penduline Tit. We'll also visit the nearby hills in a wonderful volcanic landscape, with chances on several larks and other passerines.
Another very productive bird hotspot north of Ciudad Real will hopefully bring us good views of Greater Flamingo, Shelduck, Water Pipit and Kingfisher, to name but a few species.
This is a day devoted to the birds of prey and mammals. We'll access the private areas of Cabañeros National Park to look for these, where we'll also have good chances on Reed Deer and Wild Boar. This is a prime location for Eurasian Black Vulture, where it has some of its largest concentrations in the Western Palearctic! We should also encounter Griffon Vulture and Iberian Magpie there. We'll allow some time at other habitats to increase our species list as this is a vast and interesting area.
Today we'll be birding at some of the famous plains of Don Quixote. La Mancha region homes Spain's largest platoons, so we'll make good use of our spotting scope! There is a good variety of steppic birds to look for, perhaps being Great and Little Bustard the most iconic species of the day. Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouses will also be possible today. There will be good chances on the endemic Iberian Grey Shrike and Eurasian Hoopoe.
The day will also take us into some low mountains to look for Black Wheatear and Golden Eagle. To top up the day, we'll make a short promenade into the iconic village of Almagro.
This is perhaps Álvaro's favourite day of the tour as he grew-up enjoying his weekends wandering this vast region.
South of Ciudad Real, the beautiful mountains of Sierra Morena home one of the most iconic birds of Spain, the Spanish Imperial Eagle. We'll look for these in the open Holm Oak dehesa forest, surrounded by singing Song and Mistle Thrushes.
As usual, we'll plan to cover an array of different habitats to increase our bird sightings. Therefore, we'll also have chances to encounter Red-billed Chough, Firecrest, Cirl Bunting and Spanish Sparrow. We'll target another endemic of the day, the Iberian Green Woodpecker.
Spain smallest National Park is Las Tablas de Daimiel. This interesting wetland complex is well equipped with walkways across the reeds, where we'll look for the very elusive Bearded Tit. We'll check some bird observatories for flying flocks of -wintering- White Stork and Common Crane.
Nearby wetlands should produce very interesting arrays of ducks, with chances on White-headed Duck, Ferruginous Duck and Red-crested Pochard. There's a specific place where we will be looking for Bluethroat. Other interesting species, such as Black-winged Stilts, Pied Avocet and Black-necked Grebe are seen frequently. A wonderful day for wetlands and waterfowl.
After a relaxed breakfast we will head south towards Málaga, where the tour ends. Of course if times allows it, we'll make some birding stops along the way.
NOTE: Please note a few other drop off points might be a possibility, such as Córdoba. Likewise, trippers could consider getting a train to Madrid. Madrid is connected to Ciudad Real by a comfortable 50 min drive on a fast-train (more info on www.renfe.com).
Scenery and habitats
In any of our week tours we visit as many nature reserves as here. From wetlands to mountains, and from steppes to dehesas, including volcanic hills and large plateaus, the scenery is itself a tour highlight. In addition to some Important Bird Areas, we'll visit:
- Cabañeros National Park
- Tablas de Daimiel National Park
- Valle de Alcudia y Sierra Madrona Natural Park
Time allowing, we'll also include a visit to the picturesque village of Almagro, right at the heart of the land of Don Quijote, the man of La Mancha.
What wildlife to expect
Birds are the main focus of this winter tour and we'll aim to get over 100 species. It is not the total number but the high number of our "nearly endemics" that make this a very interesting tour. Vultures, Eagles, Sandgrouses, Bustards, Larks and Ducks are the top families of birds in central Spain.
Cabañeros is known as the "Spanish Serengeti" and we'll have good chances to see Red Deer and Wild Boar. Other possible sightings on the tour would be Red Fox and the native Rabbit. Elusive but possible are Egyptian Mongoose and Roe Deer.
The plants of the mediterranean forest will be well represented, including several species of Oaks. Your guide will explain the importante and functioning of this most important habitat in the Iberian Peninsula.
OPEN GROUP TOUR DATES
Nov 24 - 30, 2024 (7 days)
* You can also book this as a private tour with guaranteed departure or on different dates
Rates per person (2023): 1550 €
Min. 4 - max. 7 fellow travellers (1 guide)
(or max. 14 travellers with 2 guides)
Tour leader: Álvaro Peral
- Transfers from/to Málaga
- Full-time guiding by Álvaro Peral
- All meals from lunch on Day 1 till breakfast on Day 7
- Access to restricted areas of Cabañeros National Park
- Guidebooks and daily checklist
- Holiday report after the tour
- Accidents insurance
- All taxes and entry fees
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
- Transfers from/to Madrid (if preferred over Málaga)
- Any drinks
- Personal costs
- Travel insurance
We will be based at the town of Ciudad Real, famous for its manchego cheese and red wine.
Easy and flat walks. This tour is suitable for all ages.
Coffee and tostadas for breakfast. Lunches will be picnic on site or day menu at bars. Dinners will be plentiful and prioritize traditional cuisine.
What trippers say
We've had great bird sightings and a lot of fun birding with Álvaro! We never heard of La Mancha and it turned out to be fantastic. Good birds, nice food and a great company as usual!
Thomas Hahn, Germany
We guide this bird watching tour in Spain by means of Andalucía Slow Tours, S.L., a local travel agency accredited by the Spanish Tourist Board with number CIAN 297083-2.