Day 1: Madrid airport – Henares River* – Hecho Valley
Meet and welcome at Madrid airport after which we head to the nearby Henares river to stretch our legs and enjoy the first birding in Spain. Here we try to locate Eurasian Eagle Owl, Western Marsh Harrier, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Red-billed Chough, Iberian Green Woodpecker and Eurasian Penduline Tit amongst others. We have our picnic in this wonderful spot surrounded by wheat fields and the Henares river. After lunch we will drive towards the Pyrenees , first crossing Zaragoza and the famous Ebro river and then Huesca, the most important town close to the mountains. We will arrive in the evening at the Hotel Usón, based in the Hecho Valley itself, with time for unpacking and maybe a short walk in the nearby grounds to see our first Common Crossbills, Red – backed Shrikes, Griffon Vultures and perhaps even Lammergeier. Dinner and accommodation at Hecho Valley.
* The visit to the Henares river will depend on flight arrival time into Madrid
Day 2: Hecho Valley – Gabardito refuge – Selva de Oza forest
We start with an early morning walk in the surroundings of our hotel before breakfast , and then we will head to the famous Boca del Infierno where a pair of Wallcreepers has been breeding in recent years . The spectacular ravines and deep gorges of this site will also provide us with the chance to see Egyptian Vulture, White-throated Dipper, Crag Martin, Grey Wagtail and Red – billed Chough. After the visit to the Boca we will drive up towards the well known Gabardito refuge, and in the surroundings we look for Citril Finch, Marsh Tit, Black Woodpecker, Firecrest and Garden Warbler. From the refuge we will walk to another traditional place for nesting Wallcreepers, plus look for Red-billed and Alpine Choughs, Lammergeier, Black Redstart, Rock Bunting and Alpine Swift. After this superb spot we return to the Hecho Valley and then visit the Selva de Oza forest where Lammergeier, Black Woodpecker, Citril Finch and Yellowhammer are present. Excellent chances also exist for seeing Rufous -tailed Rock Thrush, Water Pipit, Northern Wheatear, Lammergeier and two of the most representative mammals of the region, Pyrenean Chamois and Alpine Marmot. Dinner and accommodation at Hecho Valley.
Day 3: Hecho Valley – Zuriza – Roncal Valley – Belagua – France
Today we will concentrate in the most western of the valleys that we will visit on our trip, the Roncal Valley, where a very popular sheep’s milk cheese is made and where the last Brown Bears of the Pyrenees still survive in very low number. The mixed woodland areas of ancient firs and beeches of the Rincon de Belagua Natural Reserve houses one of the rarest birds of the Spanish Pyrenees, the White-backed Woodpecker. However, we will also try to see some other easier targets such as Citril Finch, Eurasian Bullfinch, Alpine Accentor and Ring Ouzel… and today we also cross the border into France! In the Zuriza area we might see Golden Eagle, Lammergeier, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures , Short-toed Eagle and European Honey Buzzard. Dinner and accommodation in the Hecho Valley.
Day 4: Hecho Valley – San Juan de la Peña – Alastuey
Driving further today and to the south, we drop well down from the high mountains. Our first stop in the morning will be to visit the San Juan de la Peña mountains and its old monastery dating from the 10th century. In the surrounding forest we try in particular for Black Woodpecker . From here we will move on to the Alastuey ravines, where we may see amongst others Melodious, Subalpine and Sardinian Warblers, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Tawny Pipit… Dinner and accommodation at the Hecho Valley.
Day 5: Hecho Valley – Escuaín watchpoint – Aínsa
In the morning we will head to the watchpoints of Escuaín, a top site for both watching and photographing Lammergeiers in flight. After exploring the woods and valleys of this beautiful corner of the Central Pyrenees we will accommodate near the Medieval looking town of Aínsa. Dinner and accommodation.
Day 6: Aínsa – Belchite steppes*
The journey to Belchite is a bit long, so we will try to sort out rooms first in the early evening before heading out to the El Planerón Nature Reserve where Stone Curlew, Black-eared Wheatear, Greater Short-toed, Lesser Short-toed, Calandra, Crested and Thekla Larks , plus of course the enigmatic Dupont’s Lark are found. Dinner and accommodation near Belchite.
* Less chances for Dupont’s Lark since middle June
Day 7: Belchite Steppes – Madrid airport
Early start for some birding before travelling back to Madrid airport where the tour ends.
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY ABOUT THIS TOUR
Nancy and I want to thank you for such a super birding trip in the Pyrenees. We really had a great time, saw some great birds, and fell in love with Spain. You run an excellent trip, just the right pace, and the food was fabulous. We’ll never forget the “raciones.” We also really liked the Hotel Uson.
Charles & Nancy Bell (USA), June 2012
Just want to say thanks again for a really nice trip. The birds and the company were especially nice and you did so much to make it special for us. Trip home seemed long but was OK. Have heard from several of the group who also had a fine experience. Hope to see more of Spain in the future.
Margie Rahner (USA), June 2006
Thanks for an excellent trip, great birds, great company, couldn’t have asked for more.
Steve Moore (UK), June 2006
I and a colleague spent two days in the Pyrenees with Santi as our guide in June this year. Between the two of us we saw all the target birds and had a most enjoyable trip. Santi is an excellent guide and a nice friendly guy to boot. We can certainly recommend him, it was our second trip with him.
Gary Hayward (UK), June 2005
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.
GUIDE: John Muddeman
What it is included:
Ground transport from Madrid airport in modern, fully seat-belted, air conditioned 9-seat vehicles
– 6 Nights accommodation with en suite bathroom (country inn and small run family hotels)
– All meals inc breakfast, fantastic “tapas-raciones” lunches and evening meals + red wine in moderate consumption
– Services of professional birding 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 from several UK airports)
– Extra drinks and other items of a personal nature
Target species in this tour:
Wallcreeper, Lammergeier, Alpine Accentor, Alpine Chough, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Ring Ouzel, Citril Finch, Dupont’s Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Short-toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Stone Curlew, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear…
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.