Spain - Pyrenees, Steppes & Ebro........30th May to 8th June 2018
This new tour offers a round-trip from Barcelona taking us through scenic mountains, wild steppes and vast wetlands.
A wide variety of the birds of Spain will be encountered during this ten day-itinerary; many of them in their breeding habitats. This time of year is excellent for locating the rare and skulking Dupont's Lark! We are also anticipating good views of Lammergeier, Bonelli's Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse as well as the colourful Blue Rock Thrush, Roller, Bee-eater, Hoopoe and Ortolan Bunting.
The mountains hold various sought-after species such as Lammergeier, Griffon Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Wallcreeper, Red-billed Chough, Alpine Chough, Citril Finch, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and Blue Rock Thrush. In the steppes we hope to see Stone-curlew, Montagu's Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Black-bellied & Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Little Owl, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Red-legged Partridge, Roller, Bee-eater, Calandra Lark, Thekla Lark, and many more. The Ebro Delta is teeming with life in the summertime, and thousands of gulls, shorebirds, and herons are foraging in the open rice fields. Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Little Bittern, Purple Swamphen, Audouin's Gull, Collared Pratincole, Avocet and many other species are breeding in the Delta, enabling great views around the colonies.
Day 1: Flight from London to Barcelona. Transfer to the pre-Pyrenees. Birding around the Guara mountains if time permits. Dinner and overnight in the foothills.
Day 2: Morning visit to a nearby ruined castle for birds such as Egyptian Vulture, Black Wheatear, Thekla Lark, Tawny Pipit, Rock Sparrow, Bonelli’s, Spectacled, Melodious & Orphean Warblers. Transfer to the Pyrenees, with afternoon birding in the Hecho Valley. Birds here include Lammergeier, Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle, Red Kite, Black Woodpecker, Wryneck, Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Alpine Chough, Citril Finch and Cirl Bunting.
Overnight in the village of Siresa.
Day 3: Birdwatching in the Hecho valley region. Morning watch for Wallcreeper, Crested Tit, Citril Finch and other mountain specialities in a wooded area with alpine pastures. Picnic lunch. In the afternoon, a walk in varied habitat with good chances of Lammergeier, Red-billed & Alpine Choughs, Red-backed Shrike, Yellowhammer and Water Pipit, also Marmot and Chamois.
Day 4: Birdwatching in the spectacular Roncal Valley high in the Pyrenees, where we will again look for many of the species above, with special attention paid to Alpine Accentor, Alpine Chough, Rock Bunting and Water Pipit. Possibility of 10 species of Orchids and butterflies will also feature in this part of the holiday as we explore right up to the French border. Alpine Swift, Blue Rock Thrush and Crag Martin are all found locally; whilst above us Short-toed & Golden Eagles are usually seen amongst the thermalling Griffons, perhaps with the occasional Goshawk and Honey Buzzard.
Day 5: Transfer south across the plains of Aragon for a total change of habitat and therefore bird species. During our drive we have chances of Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Crested Tit, Rock Bunting, Dartford Warbler and Cirl Bunting and eyes in the sky for passing raptors. Bird watching in Monegros region may turn up Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Crested Lark, Spotless Starling, Tawny Pipit and with luck. the now scarce Ortolan Bunting!
Overnight near Belchite.
Days 6 & 7: Early morning watch for the rare and elusive Dupont's Lark in the Belchite steppe area. Lesser Short-toed Lark, shrikes, harriers are also to be seen. The rest of the day we will spend bird-watching from tracks in the surrounding steppes. Birds here may include Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Montagu's Harrier, Stone-curlew, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Roller and Penduline Tit.
Overnights near Belchite.
Day 8: Transfer to the Ebro Delta via Terra Alta, where we may see various raptors also a chance for the rare Spanish Ibex. Afternoon bird-watching in the northern part of the Ebro Delta. Most of the migratory breeding birds will have arrived by now, including Little Bittern, Collared Pratincole, Gull-billed Tern and Great Reed Warbler. Also may be seen Greater Flamingo, Great Egret, Glossy Ibis, Red-crested Pochard and Purple Swamphen. One evening, we may take a night-drive to look for Eagle Owl, Scops Owl and Red-necked Nightjars on the track!
Overnight in the Ebro Delta
Day 9: Bird watching in the southern part of the Ebro Delta. We expect to see Avocet, Audouin's & Slender-billed Gulls, Gull-billed & Whiskered Terns, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Reed Bunting, also good chances of Penduline Tit and Bittern. Traditional lunch in restaurant La Tancada. In the evening we will try for Bonelli’s Eagle and Eagle Owl.
Overnight in the Ebro Delta
Day 10: Breakfast in hotel. Stops for extra birding enroute if time permits. Monk Parakeet could be espied near Barcelona Airport
Tour ref: AA18**
Single Room Supplement: £125
Leaders: Cristian Jensen & Shena Maskell
Max. Group: 12 plus leaders
Includes: Return flights (London-Barcelona-London Gatwick), accommodation (based on twin occupancy), meals, all transportation in Spain and services of leaders.
Excludes: Travel insurance, drinks and items of a personal nature.