Join us on an 11-day birding tour of Spain’s two richest birding regions: Extremadura and Andalucia!
Spain ranks high on the lists of travelers of all sorts—those seeking sun, culture, art, history, music, food, and wine. But increasingly Spain is becoming known as a world-class birding destination. The fabulous birds have always been there, but now the birding infrastructure is catching up, and annual visits by travelers seeking an enriching birding experience are on the rise.
Our first international Reader Rendezvous was to Spain’s neighbor, Portugal, where we were led by João Jara, one of Portugal’s leading birders. That tour was a spectacular success, so we’ve engaged João again for this special, 11-day birding tour of Spain’s two richest birding regions: Extremadura and Andalucia, both in the country’s southwest.
Extremadura, one of the most naturally beautiful regions in Iberia, is renowned for its large numbers of raptors, including golden eagle, Spanish imperial eagle, booted eagle, short-toed eagle, and Bonelli’s eagle, as well as red and black kites, lesser kestrel, harriers, and vultures. We’ll encounter many of these species in the mountains of Monfragüe National Park on our first few days in Spain. Target species include many rock-loving species, including eagle owl, griffon, cinereous and Egyptian vultures, chough, blue rock thrush, black redstart, black stork, azure-winged magpie, Alpine swift, black wheatear, crested tit, hawfinch, and rock petronia. From there we’ll visit the rolling plains and llanos of Extremadura, for grassland and steppe species, such as great bustard, little bustard, black-bellied and pin-tailed sandgrouse, Montagu’s harrier, calandra lark, crested lark, stone curlew, and Spanish sparrow.
In Andalucia, we’ll visit mainly wetland habitats, including the world-famous Doñana National Park, where the lagoons, marshes, salt pans, rice fields, reed beds, dunes, and beaches are sure to yield a massive haul of special birds. Shorebirds, waterfowl, wading birds, and raptors will be abundant, and we’ll be in the right place to catch the first spring migrants arriving from Africa, heading north. Just a few highlight species of the second half of the trip include: greater flamingo, great and little bittern, graylag goose, white-headed duck, red-crested pochard, marbled teal, garganey, ferruginous duck, red-knobbed coot, ruff, Eurasian spoonbill, water rail, purple and squacco herons, whiskered and black terns, western marsh harrier, Eurasian scops-owl, Kentish plover, European bee-eater, greater spotted cuckoo, lesser short-toed lark, meadow, tree, and water pipits, bluethroat, song, redwing, and mistle thrushes, Savi’s warbler, Iberian chiffchaff, penduline tit, and common reed bunting.
Participants will arrive and depart from the Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) in Madrid, Spain. Tour starts on the morning of March 17 and ends in the late afternoon of March 27, 2019. Participants may elect to come a day (or more) early and stay a day (or more) after the tour. João and his tour company colleagues can assist you in your pre- and post-planning. We suggest you discuss your flight details with us before booking your flights! Please contact us at [email protected] or by calling Emily Jones, our events coordinator, at 800-879-2473, extension 311, 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. eastern time Monday through Friday.
We will be traveling in a large, air-conditioned mini-bus with a driver. We’ll have three meals a day with some light snacks and water available on the bus. Lodging will be in comfortable hotels chosen for quality accommodation and proximity to birding sites. See the proposed itinerary for names of hotels and birding sites.
A Note About Mobility
Spain is a thoroughly modern country, with many, very old buildings, roads, sidewalks, and stairs. Birders on this tour need to be able and prepared to handle walking on uneven surfaces. While we won’t be doing any mountain climbing, we will be walking at a birding pace along unpaved trails, paths, and roads for distances of up to a mile. If you are not able to walk these distances or stand while birding for up to an hour, this trip is not a good fit for you. If you have specific questions about the pace and physical demands of this tour, please contact us.