Trip reports

Latest birding trip reports to southern Spain

 

21-2-2019. Laguna Fuente de Piedra
Michael and Hill, from Washington state, booked us for a day at the lagoon, where we met slightly before sunset to maximize the sights of the Cranes. The flamingos were shining white under a powerful full moon. Soon after, the farmlands around the lagoon obligued and provided as interesting encounters as the Laguna Dulce de Campillos, where we had excellent light to photograph Red-crested Pochard and Great crested Grebe. Back at Fuentepiedra, just Hill and me could spot a nervous Bluethroat (next time, Michael!) by the visitor centre. The Swallows had already arrived and it felt like spring had really set up. The area was very busy and we even saw a dozen of White-headed Ducks. After a great lunch in Antequera we went to see Iberian Ibex in the nearby mountains, which was a magnificent sight for Hill. Great day, I've got the feeling that we'll meet again in the future trips

20-2-2019. Serranía de Ronda
Last day birding with Art, to get now the mountain birds. The trip involved several stopovers along the valleys and high peaks. We saw a Bonelli's Eagle fighting a few Griffon Vultures and it made an impressive beginning. Certainly, Art brings luck to all days touring with him. The Montejaque area was a bit quiet but offered excellent views of Blue Rock Thrush. A detour to look for Spanish Ibex and check an area where Giant Orchids grow was very productive. A very nice day indeed.

19-2-2019. Sevilla plains
Art booked another day with us to seek Great Bustard and stepic birds in Sevilla province. The day started with a close sight of Red Kite perched on a pole. No traces of the Bustards at the beginning, but we had great sights of Calandra Lark, singing everywhere. It was nice to check a few groups of early Lesser Kestrel. A very polite Hoopoe was the best lifer for Arthur, besides many other species such as Spanish Sparrow and a dozen White-headed Ducks. After having checked most of the area, the Bustards didn't show up. It was just on a last pull off that I decided to check a remote location where I had previously spotted them, and yes, finally we got a distant but spectacular group of 8 birds foraging on the fields. One of them flew not far from us and gave us the expected adrenaline we had been seeking the whole day.

11, 12-2-2019. Best of Doñana
Our classical 2-day best of Doñana Tour with Art and Janice, Canada. Seen remarkable sights such as Greater Spotted Cuckoo, Black-winged Kite, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Lesser Kestrel and Squacco Heron. Our first day was a magnificent introduction to Doñana along the whole north side of the park, i.e., José Antonio Valverde visitor centre, Dehesa de Abajo, etc. On our second day we visited El Rocío area and the Odiel's marshes at low tide, giving us a nice bunch of waders. Great days in good company, enjoying great local fish and challenging bird sights . 9 raptor species among a rough 90sp. The season's officially started!

4-2-2019. Bonelli's day
Dörte and Jörg from Germany wanted to get Bonelli's eagle in Ronda and we went on a specific designed circuit to maximize it according to our previous sightings. The pair in the upper Genal valley didn't welcome us at first. Instead, 5 Iberian Grey Shrike plus Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear and a Peregrine Falcon made a great starting of the day. Cartajima provided excellent but short views of Cirl and Rock Buntings. Later on our very distant -as expected- Bonelli's eagle showed up for a few seconds, which didn't seem to satisfy us enough. After a delicious mix of tapas we headed to the northern mountains where dozens of Griffon Vultures flew constantly. Half a dozen Giant Orchids on the way and already heading back to Ronda where we pulled off the road for the very last lottery... and we hit it! Jörg soon screamed Bonelli's!! a very hig adult flying above the Vulture's level gave us exactly what we needed and for longer than usual. A sight -and a day- not to be forgotten.

 

21-1-2019. Serranía de Ronda
Day out with Jeronimo from Canada. We've followed the Guadiaro valley to look for all kind of local birds. Although we missed our local Dipper we soon were excited about the displaying Griffon Vultures, which stayed active all the time. I must say that I could have expected more birds, but we've enjoyed magnificent views of Black Wheatear, Firecrest and Little Owl. It was nice to hear lots of sylvia warblers -specially Blackcaps-  singing on this very sunny day.

 

11-1-2019. Torreón Peak, Cádiz mountains
Nice birding hike into the protected area of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park with our colleague Michael. At +1600 m.a.s.l. we hoped to see Alpine Accentor at the top, but the high temperatures didn't allow so. We enjoyed a singing Blue Rock Thrush, besides excellent views of Sardinian Warbler and Griffon Vulture flying overhead.

 

9-1-2019. Guadalhorce Reserve, Málaga
Winter is never harsh in the Guadalhorce river mouth. Deborah and Mike from Oklahoma were amazed on the variety of winter birdlife and the huge Cape sorrel yellow carpet covering the nature reserve. The day started with a close encounter with a Booted Eagle perched on an tree, which Deborah quickly sketched on her drawing notebook. 2 other eagles followed along the day, including a stunning Black Morph. A variety of waders passing in front of us from the several bird hides also made the day. Black-tailed Godwits and a flock of Black-necked Grebes were seen from the Laguna Grande observatory. Distant Crag Martin, Sandwich Tern and elusive Zitting Cisticola were just part of the 42 species recorded. More info.

 

28,29 and 30-12-2018. La Mancha
Fantastic couple of days out in central Spain, patroling plains, river beds, wetlands and rolling hills. One of the highlights in Tablas de Daimiel National Park and Navaseca lagoon were a couple of Bearded Tits feeeding in the reeds among a heavy fog. The White-headed duck obligued, and likewise for Reed Bunting and Crane. The tour also gave time to visit the famous windmills of Consuegra. On the following day, the plains of Calatrava produced all the sought stepic species, including enormous flocks of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, a few Little Bustard and 19 Great Bustard. The Guadiana river offered nice photo opportunities of Lapwing and Swamphen. The castle of Calatrava gave us great sights of a pair of Black Wheatear and Blue Rock-thrush. On the way back to Andalucía, a group of ca. 300 Griffon Vultures flying over Sierra de Montoro Natural Park were the best possible ending to this original and last tour of 2018!

 

8-12-2018. Torreguadiaro
Laguna de las Camelias near Sotogrande was full or reeds and in a bad maintenance. However, we managed to see 2x Swamphen, 10x Little Grebe and hear Water Rail. Numbers of Gannets were flying far on the coast. We checked then the nearby estuary of the Guadiaro River, and walking along the promenade we had great views of a pair of Kingfisher and Zitting cisticola. Chiffchaff were abundant and we could also see some dragonflies and Speckled Wood Butterfly.

 

24-11-2018. Guadalhorce estuary
En route spotted a fully winter-furred Red Fox chasing mice near Campillos. Morning birding with photographer Mauricio, MX. Great sights of an Osprey mobbed by a Kestrel. 4x Booted Eagles, incl. a juvenile dark morph. 2x White-headed Duck. 45 sp. Water levels at the lagoons very high after last heavy rains. Awesome weather.

 

23-11-2018. Fuente de Piedra and El Torcal
Full day birding with Helen and Thomas, UK. Great birding in the lagoon, with a roost and subsequent flight of +160 Stone Curlew. Enjoyed long-time views of 2xBluethroats, besides Iberian Shrike, Booted Eagle and Dartford Warbler. Curlew calling as it flew overhead. Afternoon spent in a very foggy and cold Torcal. Far distance views of Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush and Iberian Shrike. Excellent sights of a bachelor herd of Iberian Ibex some 30 m far.

 

20-11-2018. Serranía de Ronda and Fuente de Piedra
Day out with Jari, FI. Rainy morning along the Llanos de Líbar with short range views of 2x pairs of Black Wheatear. Followed by a quick visit to Teba where we saw a very acrobatic Bonelli's Eagle. Fuente de Piedra, really filled up with water after a long dry period, but couldn't get any remarkable sights except Hoopoe, Crag Martin and close views of 2x Marsh Harrier.

 

9, 10-11-2018. La Mancha
Birding en route the N-420 found a Golden Eagle in the Alcudia Valley. Early morning in the Tablas de Daimiel National Park with just a medium level of water. 2x Iberian Shrike, Crane, Greylag Goose, Tree and Spanish Sparrow. Navaseca lagoon provided Swamphen and White headed Duck as expected. Cold and sunny day.

 

29-10-2018. Cádiz side of Doñana
Big day guiding an excellent guest, Garry from the Northern Ireland Ornithologists Club. The itinerary has been designed to target tricky birds mostly. Starting with good views of 16x Little Swift, follwed by birding the saltmarshes south of Doñana National Park. Good to see many new waders coming to spend the winter besides a juvenile Black Stork. Wetland birding provided a sleepy flock of White-headed duck plus 2x Marbled Duck and 2x Swamphen. We got back to the Ronda mountain range just in time for Black Wheatear and some other local specialities. An outstanding journey!

 

28-10-2018. Serranía de Ronda
Mountain photo tour with the Wheeler family, UK. Although it's been a bit of a fresh morning, we've enjoyed local mountain birds, specially Griffon Vulture and Little Owl. It was a bit surprising to still see a decent number of Alpine Swifts along the Guadiaro valley. Iberian Ibex were also around. Nice crew!

 

15-10-2018. Sierra de Grazalema
Birdwatching day out with Jim and his family, USA. Nice to see high numbers of Blue Rock Thrush. Magnificent views of Little Owl being mobbed by smaller passerines. Sunny and rainy morning.

 

14-10-2018. La Janda and Tarifa
Full day out birding with Greta and her family, UK. What it started as a rainy sunrise turned out to be a fantastic sunny day in La Janda. We were wondering if the first Cranes of the year would be around but instead we saw Night Heron and enjoyed distant views of Spanish Imperial Eagle and Black Winged Kite. Other ramarkable sights included a roosting Rüpppell's Vulture in the nearby mountain range. Nice and friendly crew!

 

8-10-2018. El Torcal and Fuente de Piedra
Day out with Jenna and her mother, UK. Despite the very low water level at the lagoon, we had Fantastic views of White headed Duck, Hoopoe and Snipe. El Torcal provided excellent views of a pair of Black Wheatears and a flock of Choughs. Warm weather.

 

7-10-2018. World's bird day
We've organized a small stand on top of famous Ronda's New Bridge to show general public about local birds. Our scope was there to watch out for the Choughs and passerines. Leaflets, ornithological maps and checklists were given to people showing interest. Thanks Virginia for your help!

 

5-10-2018. Montejaque
Twitchers' day with Corinne and Att, NL. We've chanced most of the local birds at this time of the year, except the elusive local pair of Bonelli's Eagle near their hotel. Great weather and a very polite crew.

 

2-10-2018. Grazalema
Naturalists' morning out showing West & Butler families -USA- the variety of natural wonders here near Ronda. We've been to the Llanos de Rabel, a restricted path into the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. A variety of woodland birds and butterflies were present along this charming walk. Sunny morning with the last Reed Deer rotting in the background.

 

23-9-2018. Ronda northern mountains
A cheerful day out with Jeff & Margaret, UK. We went to another restricted path within the Sierra de Grazalema, the Garganta Verde. Jeff's priority was getting a Blue Rock Thrush and so we did. Lots of insects enjoying the wonderful September's weather. As for me, the best sight was a stunning Two-tailed Pasha feeding on some rotten berries.

 

22-9-2018. Strait of Gibraltar
Bird migration day with Liz, John & Karen, UK. Nice and windy day out along the main observatories at the Strait, plus the beaches of Bolonia and Los Lances. At los Lances we got Peregrine Falcon and considerable numbers of Black Stork and Sparrowhawk. La Janda wasn't at its best water levels so we spent more time near the coast. Although this day migration hasn't been dramatically notorious for us, we've enjoyed a bit of everything!

 

8-9-2018. Fuente de Piedra
Ruth and her son Lucas, ES, asked us for an introduction to bird watching and we really enjoyed showing them the basics of this great hobby. Lucas has been very surprised to realize how close a scope can get you to the birds. We've enjoyed the usual birds at the lagoon at that time and we've been lucky to have nice views of Greater Flamingo at just some  20 m far.

 

29-8-2018. Ronda
Day out with David, UK. Or what it's turned out to be a warblers day. Despite we didn't see Spectacled, we gathered a very nice set of local warblers.

 

29-8-2018. Ronda and Teba
Summer birding morning with Quentin and Emilie, FR. We've focused on the limestone gorges and cliffs to benefit from shade and bird activity. Unexpectedly easy views of a pair of Bonelli's Eagle! At this time one can come across juvenile Griffon Vultures that are apparently not scared of humans, so it was very surprising for my guests. A later walk along the bosky gorges near Ronda provided several sights of Booted Eagle besides lots of woodland birds.

 

25-7-2018. Guadalhorce estuary
Brith & Alf -Sweden- asked us for a guided tour near Málaga and they couldn't imagine how many birds were going to see. We've particularly enjoyed Orphean Warbler, Kentish Plover and 3x Woodchat Shrike. Mycket bra!

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We've thought it'd be useful to list our bird sightings during some of our tours and days out. A great bunch of info for those planning the next birding holidays. Enjoy it!

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Álvaro