Day 1: Madrid airport – Wetlands of La Mancha – Ciudad Real
Meet and welcome at Madrid airport before we transfer to Ciudad Real (Castilla La Mancha region). We’ll do the first birding on route in the area known as “La Mancha Húmeda”, a vast flat region containing some important Ramsar wetlands and also arable fields where Great and Little Bustards are present all year round. We should find here amongst many others Greater Flamingo, Red-crested Pochard, Garganey, Black-necked Grebe, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet and waders on migration.. Accommodation and dinner in Ciudad Real.
Day 2: Ciudad Real – IBA Campo de Calatrava plains – Calatrava castle – Ciudad Real
Today we will explore the plains of the Important Bird Area of Campo de Calatrava, an extention of wheat fields where the “big 5” of the steppe habitats occur: Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and Stone Curlew. In the cliffs around the Calatrava castle we should be able to find Black Wheatear, Blue-Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and Hawfinch. This is also a good spot for both Bonelli’s and Golden Eagles. In the evening travel back to Ciudad Real for a meal and accommodation.
Day 3: Ciudad Real – Daimiel National Park – Navaseca lagoon & Vicario reservoir – Ciudad Real
Today we will travel towards the town of Daimiel where we will dedicate our time to bird in the Tablas de Daimiel National Park and the nearby Navaseca lagoon. Excellent chances for Penduline and Bearded Tit, White-headed Duck, Water Rail, Purple Swamp Hen, Red-crested Pochard and Ferruginous Duck (with at least 9 different individuals present in the last seasons). Before heading back to our base in Ciudad Real we will explore the Vicario reservoir where a good selection of herons and egrests are usually recorded in Spring including Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Little Bittern, Great, Cattle and Little Egrets and sometimes Glossy Ibis. Dinner and accommodation at our hotel in Ciudad Real.
Day 4: Ciudad Real – Tietar Valley – Navarredonda de Gredos
On our fourth day we will have a long journey of nearly 300 km by road with some stops for birding on route, mainly in the known as Tietar Valley, a lovely grassland area mixed with scattered Holm Oaks called it here as “dehesas”. This is a superb spot for Black-shouldered Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Spanish Sparrow and Great Spotted Cuckoo. We might even see some of the few juveniles and subadults Spanish Imperial Eagles that come for feeding into this region. After a quick look at the Mombeltrán Castle and the old roman road which leads into the Gredos mountains we will arrive to our base in Navarredonda de Gredos, where we will enjoy a wonderful dinner. Scops Owls and European Nightjar are often heard in the backyard of our hotel.
Day 5: Gredos Mountains
Breakfast at our hotel and drive to the Plataforma de Gredos, a journey of about 30 minutes, where we will walk uphill to reach the breeding grounds of Bluethroats, our main target here. In the walk up we should see Ortolan Bunting, Water Pipit, Northern Wheatear, Red-billed Chough, Skylark, Rock Bunting and Dunnock with very good chances for Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and see the Gredos form of the Iberian Ibex, a different subspecies than in the rest of the mountains of Southern Spain.
Down in the valley we will try for the Iberian race of Pied-Flycatcher, plus Common Crossbill, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Red Kite, Black Redstart, Green Woodpecker (the sharpei race) and before going back to our hotel we will visit a couple of traditional sites for Citril Finch. Back to our hotel for a meal and accommodation.
Day 6: Gredos Mountains – Avila – Guadarrama National Park
In the morning we will leave the high mountains of Gredos behind travelling back to Madrid via the medieval town of Avila. It will be worth to have a little break to enjoy its magnificent stone wall at the distance. We will access the Guadarrama Mountains through the Northern section exploring ski resorts and Scot’s Pine woods looking for Firecrest, Goldcrest, Citril Finch and Crossbill amongst others. Up in the sky it won’t be surprising to find Eurasian Black Vultures, having near the largest colony in Central Spain at Rascafría Valley, Booted Eagle and with luck, Golden Eagle. Dinner and accommodation at our hotel in the foothills of Guadarrama.
Day 7: Guadarrama National Park – Madrid
The plan for the last morning will depend on our success with some of the main targets of the week. The region of Madrid holds a wide variety of ecosystems which will allow us to decide where to spend the last few hours before heading to the airport for our return flights home. Amongst the species that can be recorded in Madrid within less than hour drive to the airport are Spanish Imperial Eagle, Great and Little Bustard, Eurasian Eagle Owl and Bonelli’s Eagle.
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY ABOUT THIS TOUR
Many many thanks for the most memorable trip to your wonderful country. The birding was better than I hoped for, the company was wonderful, and the food and accommodation was excellent. Again “Muchas gracias y nos vemos el año que viene”!
Barry Dursley (UK), April 2016
Thank you very much for your blog write-up and the pictures. I very much enjoyed sharing the trip with you and appreciate all the effort and focus you put into tracking down our target birds. I hope to see you on a future trip and will definitely recommend you to anyone going to Spain or Morocco.
Sterling Blanchard (USA), October 2010
We enjoyed Spain very much for its birds, scenery, and way of life, but were disappointed at how much Spanish we’d forgotten! We especially enjoyed the wetland tour and are quite impressed with your knowledge both of where the wetlands are and how they are used by birds.
Milton and Doris Weller (USA), April 2004
Rates per person sharing:
€ 1,400 / £ 1,190 / USD 1,550
Single suplement: € 175 / £ 150 / USD 195
Group size: Min. 4 – Max. 7 participants
* Pounds Sterling and US Dollars are given as an estimate based on 7th July 2016 exchange rates. All prices have to be paid in Euros to Spainbirds Nature Tours S.L.
What it is included:
– Ground transport from Madrid airport in modern, fully seat-belted, 9-seat vehicles
– 6 Nights accommodation (country inn and small run family hotels)
– All meals inc breakfast, fantastic “tapas-raciones” lunches and evening meals + red wine in a moderate consumption
– Services of professional birding & nature guide
– Basic travel insurance
– Bird checklist (revised edition 2016)
– All taxes
What it is NOT included:
– Air fare (Easyjet, Ryanair & other companies operate daily flight to Madrid from several UK airports)
– Extra drinks and other items of a personal nature
Target species in this tour:
Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Eurasian Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Scops Owl, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Blue Rock Thrush, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, European Bee-eater, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Stone Curlew, White-headed Duck, Penduline Tit, Bearded Tit, Moustached Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Western Orphean Warbler, Citril Finch, Iberian Pied Flycatcher, Bluethroat, Ortolan Bunting, Water Pipit, Red-billed Chough, Iberian Magpie, Western Bonelli’s Warbler…
Spainbirds Nature Tours is a tour agent accredited by the Spanish Tourist Board with number CICMA 2517. This code allows us to operate under all international tourism regulations thus assuring all our clients the highest level of protection during their holidays.