Day 1 / 23 May: 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. We should find here amongst many others Greater Flamingo, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Collared Pratincole, Purple Heron, Black-necked Grebe, Black-winged Stilt and Avocet amongst many others. Accommodation and dinner at Hotel Guadiana located in the town of Ciudad Real.
Day 2 / 24 May: 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 extension 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 in the Hotel Guadiana.
Day 3 / 25 May: 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 birds 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 egrets 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 / 26 May: Ciudad Real – Alcudia Valley
South of Ciudad Real lies a vast and beautiful valley surrounded by two massive rock formations. This is the Alcudia Valley, a natural (in good part) grassland habitat used generation after generation in the Winter months for feeding the livestock coming from the northern regions of Spain. The place is still being used by hundreds of “merinas” sheep after their “trashumancia” (Spanish word to describe the ancient journeys made since medieval times by animals and shepherds). This is a realm for vultures! And we will have good chances to see all three species present in Central Spain: Griffon, Eurasian Black and Egyptian. Other interesting raptors present here are Bonelli’s and Spanish Imperial Eagles, Black Kites and Lesser Kestrel. After a full day exploring the “sierras” and plains of the Alcudia Valley we will return to our hotel in Ciudad Real.
Day 5 / 27 May: Ciudad Real – Guadarrama National Park
Breakfast at our hotel and drive towards the mountains of Madrid, a journey of about 2,5 hours. It is quite surprising to experience the wide variety of these mountains placed only under 50 km from Madrid’s city centre. We will be looking for beautiful and usually shies Citril Finches, the winged gem of this National Park. Other species of special interest for birders are Crested Tit, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Red Crossbill and Iberian Pied Flycatcher. Depending on our timing we might dedicate some time to find further down in the valley near our hotel Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Bonelli’s Warbler and Cirl Bunting. Dinner and accommodation in the charming little hotel of Luces del Poniente.
Day 6 / 28 May: Guadarrama Mountains – Sepúlveda – Hoces del Duratón Natural Park
After a morning birding up in the mountains of Madrid where we might find Honey Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle and Red Kite as new birds for us, with chances for Western Orphean Warbler and nesting Red-backed Shrikes, we will drive straight to the surroundings of the Hoces del Duratón Natural Park where we will try to find one of the rarest birds in Europe, the elusive Dupont’s Lark. The only places in Europe where this species still survive are all in Spain, and the rocky thyme fields around Sepúlveda are one of its best sanctuaries. The difficulty to observe this bird gained it the name of “el diablo” (the devil!) amongst the birders from all over the world. Besides the Dupont’s Lark these fields are also suitable to see Spectacled and Dartford Warbler, Black-eared Wheatear and Red-Billed Chough. Dinner and accommodation at Hotel Puerta de Sepúlveda, placed in the charming town under the same name.
Day 7 / 29 May: Hoces del Duratón Natural Park – Madrid
The plan for our last day will depend on how successful was our Dupont’s Lark hunting the previous evening! So we might start very early in order to get new chances for this very interesting bird. The surrounding hills and sierras provide as well excellent birding opportunities where we could see Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and Ortolan Bunting, two species mostly relate to higher elevations which find here a suitable habitat to breed. After lunch we will drive back to Madrid in order to arrive to our hotel / or airport to avoid its terrible evening traffic, where this tour ends.
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:
€ 1,450 / £ 1,285 / USD 1,670
Single suplement: € 195 / £ 175 / USD 225
Group size: Min. 4 – Max. 7 participants
* Pounds Sterling and US Dollars are given as an estimate based on 4th October 2018 exchange rates. All prices have to be paid in Euros to Spainbirds Nature Tours S.L.
GUIDE: John L. Muddeman
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, 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.