Spain, 27th June - 5th July 1999

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT


Trip Participants: Chris Batty, Richard Bonser, Kieran Foster and Andy Holden

27th June

Site: the area north of Osera (east of Zaragoza, c.10km north of E90). Opposite the garage in Osera take the road north (signed Monegrillo) and turn left after about 5 km on sandy track opposite a green-fenced generator. Once you go over the 1st hill and under electricity pylons, park after 0.5km and explore the area.

Species late afternoon - dusk hot, sunny

No sign of Dupont's Lark
Great Spotted Cuckoo (3)
Lesser Short-toed Lark (6)
Short-toed Lark (8)
Hoopoe (6)
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (2)
Black-eared Wheatear (5)
Red-billed Chough (2)
Montagu's Harrier (2)
Red-necked Nightjar (heard)
Southern Grey Shrike (2)
Tawny Pipit (1)

28th June

Site: the area known as La Lomanza, an SEO reserve. There is a car park on the right hand side of the A222 11km north of the village of Belchite (area is south-east of Zaragoza). A small valley 0.5 km walk from the car park was extremely good for Black Wheatear.

Species dawn - mid morning warm, sunny

No sign of Dupont's Lark
Black Wheatear (5)
Melodious Warbler (1)
Spectacled Warbler (1)
Short-toed Lark (6)
Thekla Lark (5)
Lesser Short-toed Lark (12)
Calandra Lark (12)
Montagu's Harrier (1)
Bee-eater (1)
Red-billed Chough (3)
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (1)

Site: El Planeron, an SEO reserve is 15 km NE of Belchite. In the village of Belchite, take the minor road to Codo (Z306) and then carry on for a further 10km until you see the reserve car park on your left. A dried up reservoir (where excellent views of both Sandgrouse can be had) can be found on the Belchite side of the reserve by taking the stony track on the acute bend of the Belchite-Quinto road (about 2 km before El Planeron). Sandgrouse use this site at 10 a.m. each morning.

Species late morning hot, sunny

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (30)
Black-bellied Sandgrouse (15)
Thekla Lark (8)
Lesser Short-toed Lark (3)
Short-toed Lark (12)
Griffon Vulture (1)
Black Kite (3)
Marsh Harrier (2)
Black-eared Wheatear (1)
Golden Oriole (1)
Pallid Swift (3)
Montagu's Harrier (1)
Black-winged Stilt (4)
Green Sandpiper (2)

Site: El Pardo, a small village just NW of Madrid. Take the M601 off the main NVI road to the village. At the north of the village is a reservoir (Embalse de El Pardo), though you can only view the area from the car park (looks like cycle sheds) to the left of where the road is gated off.

Species mid afternoon hot, sunny

No sign of Imperial Eagle
Black Kite (3)
Buzzard (1)
Little Bittern (1)
Bee-eater (1)
Fan-tailed Warbler (2)
Tree Sparrow (4)
Crested Lark (2)
Hoopoe (1)

Site: Valdesqui is situated in the Sierra de Guaderrama, and birding can be done in the vicinity of the ski car park. Take the NVI NW out of Madrid and at Collaldo-Villalba take the CL 601 to Segovia. At Puerto de Navacerrada, turn east onto the M604 and after about 5 km, you will turn right signposted to Valdesqui. The areas of pinewoods just before the car park are good for Citril Finch.

Species late afternoon-early evening overcast, drizzle

Citril Finch (7)
Rock Bunting (6)
Buzzard (1)
Ortolan (1)
Rock Thrush (1)
Water Pipit (1)
Serin (3)
Firecrest (1)
Quail (heard)
Rock Sparrow (2)
Black Redstart (4)

29th June

Site: the Parque Natural de Hoces del Rio Duraton is about 100 km north of Madrid, accessed by the N1. In Castillejo de Mesleon, go west towards Sepulveda and about 1 km before the town (in a place called Santa Cruz), take the road signposted to Castrillo de Sepulveda. In this village, take the road to Villaseca. As you enter Villaseca, there is a sandy track on the right (leading uphill) opposite a church/chapel. If you reach a small bar on your left, you have gone too far. The Dupont's Larks can be found on the right after about 0.6 km or just before the gorge (3.5 km).

Species early - mid morning warm, sunny

Dupont's Lark (1+)
Woodlark (1)
Cirl Bunting (2)
Short-toed Lark (12)
Quail (heard)
Southern Grey Shrike (2)
Black Kite (2)
Calandra Lark (10)
Thekla Lark (4)
Tawny Pipit (1)
Griffon Vulture (14)
Egyptian Vulture (1)
Montagu's Harrier (1)

Site: Oropesa is situated about 135 km WSW of Madrid on the NV. The town itself has impressive numbers of Lesser Kestrel. To the north, the road between Oropesa and Corchuela is apparently good for Black-Winged Kite, as is the first 5 km on the road NW of Oropesa to Las Ventas.

Species early afternoon hot, sunny

No sign of Black-winged Kite
Roller (2)
Azure-winged Magpie (1)
Pallid Swift (2)
Cattle Egret (10)
Lesser Kestrel (12)
Bee-eater (12)
Booted Eagle (2)
Red Kite (1)
Black Kite (20)

Site: Monfrague NP is an essential site. Castillo de Monfrague is clearly signposted and is located about 7 km south of Villareal de San Carlos, south of the Rio Tajo. Follow the steep track up to the castle and locate yourself on the roof of the castle and scan the many hirundines for the White-rumped Swifts. We found that the swifts come in from the east and fly straight over the castle towards Penafalcon. Another site is Tietar, a rocky promotionary viewable from the viewpoint midway between La Bazagona and Villareal de San Carlos. This site is located about 1 km north of where the road crosses over the Rio Tietar (Poblado de Embalse) and is situated on a sharp right hand bend (if going north).

Species late afternoon - dusk hot, sunny

White-rumped Swift (2+)
Alpine Swift (15)
Common Swift (6)
Red-rumped Swallow (12)
Crag Martin (40)
Black Stork (4)
Griffon Vulture (50)
Egyptian Vulture (3)
Short-toed Eagle (1)
Booted Eagle (2)
Black Kite (10)
Blue Rock Thrush (2)
Rock Bunting (5)
Azure-winged Magpie (30)
Serin (2)

30th June

Site: Monfrague. Tietar visited at dawn (directions as y'day). This rock promotionary has been very reliable for Eagle Owl, with mornings apparently better than evenings. Mirador de la Bascula faces rocky wooded slopes and can be found taking the road 1 km north of Villareal de San Carlos eastwards, going over the dam bridge and following the road uphill through a small pinewood and a couple of houses. Once the road straightens, Mirador (=viewpoint) de la Bascula is on the right after about 2 km. A Black Vulture nest is visible at below eye level at mid distance straight out from the viewpoint. It is also a reliable site for Spanish Imperial Eagle and Bonelli 's Eagle.

Species dawn - mid morning hot, sunny

Eagle Owl (4)
Spanish Imperial Eagle (adult)
Black Vulture (3)
Bonelli's Eagle (1)
Booted Eagle (4)
Griffon Vulture (40)
Short-toed Eagle (2)
Buzzard (1)
Red Kite (2)
Black Kite (10)
Black Stork (2)
Azure-winged Magpie (20)
Sardinian Warbler (2)
Nightingale (1)
Serin (1)
Rock Bunting (2)
Red-rumped Swallow (6)
Crag Martin (12)
Alpine Swift (8)

Site: On the minor road between Torrejon el Rubio and Caceres, 2 km east of the left hand turn to Monroy is a sandy track on the right (Casa de la Jara). Imperial Eagle nested on the pylons here in 1999.

Species early afternoon hot, sunny

No sign of Spanish Imperial Eagle
Spanish Sparrow (30)
Subalpine Warbler (1)
Little Owl (1)
Bee-eater (5)
Hoopoe (2)

Site: Valdesalor is 11 km south of Caceres city centre on the N630/E803. Take the right turn after the village, just before you cross the Rio Salor. Go over the bridge or the ford on this sandy track and scan the fields for the next 8 km. 2 Great Bustards were located after 1 km on the large, upward sloping field before the farm buildings. 3 more Great Bustards were seen 3 km further on, after the right hand bend by the wall.

Species late afternoon hot, sunny

Great Bustard (5)
Crested Lark (4)
Thekla Lark (2)
Short-toed Eagle (1)
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (2)
Black Kite (4)

Site: the Santa Marta de Magasca loop road north off the N521 between Caceres and Trujillo is a favoured site for both bustards. The fields SW of Santa Marta are apparently the most productive. Stunning views of Great Bustard were obtained in the first field on the right after the N521/loop road junction east of Caceres.

Species evening warm, sunny

Great Bustard (3)
Black-bellied Sandgrouse (4)
Stone Curlew (1)
Woodchat (4)
Southern Grey Shrike (5)
Short-toed Eagle (1)
Montagu's Harrier (4)
Bee-eater (10)
Roller (2)
Black Kite (3)
Buzzard (1)

1st July

Site: In Trujillo, take the 524 SE for about 25 km to Zorita. 3.6 km after exiting this town, pull over and scan the telegraph poles to the east of the road. No birder has failed to see Black-winged Kite at this location this year. 2 Great Bustard were in the field NW of the road at this 3.6 km mark.

Species early morning warm, sunny

Black-winged Kite (4)
Great Bustard (2)
Scops Owl (heard)
Gull-billed Tern (2)
Cattle Egret (15)

Site: La Serena. The minor road that is located south of Embalse de La Serena and east of the 413 - running SE to the 420 west of Cabeza del Buey is known as a site for both bustards. Tracks to several farms are worth exploring for bustards and sandgrouse.

Species mid morning - early a'noon hot, sunny

Great Bustard (5)
Collared Pratincole (12)
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (6)
Black-bellied Sandgrouse (4)
Montagu's Harrier (6)
Griffon Vulture (3)
Short-toed Eagle (1)
Black Kite (8)
Hoopoe (4)
Roller (2)
Bee-eater (12)

Site: From the N331 running south from Cordoba to Antequera, take the road to Moriles (south of Aguilar) and about 1.5 km before reaching the town (coming from the north) is a track on the right by the 5 km sign. The track is difficult to see coming from the north yet the 'Agencia de Medio Ambiente' sign can be clearly seen coming from the south. Follow this track and park by the information centre on the left. El Rincon/ El Brazo lagoons are the most northerly reliable site for White-headed Duck in Spain.

Species late a'noon - mid evening hot, sunny

White-headed Duck (8m,4f)
Purple Gallinule (1)
Melodious Warbler (8)
Great Reed Warbler (4)
Reed Warbler (6)
Shoveler (1)
Black-winged Stilt (4)
Black-necked Grebe (15)
Stone Curlew (4)
Red-rumped Swallow (4)
Pallid Swift (2)
Nightingale (2)

2nd July

Site: The lagoons at El Hondo are well known for Marbled Duck, as well as White-headed Duck. They are situated SW of Alicante, SW of Elche (Elx). To gain entrance to the reserve proper, it is necessary to telephone the information centre on +966678515 before visiting. At the roundabout just north of San Felipe Neri (NW of Catral) take the minor road east and after a short distance (less than 3 km) the main gates to the reserve are on the right.

Species early -mid morning hot, sunny

Marbled Duck (4)
White-headed Duck (16)
Black-necked Grebe (100)
Pochard (5)
Red-crested Pochard (10)
Whiskered Tern (30)
Osprey (1)
Squacco (4)
Little Bittern (8)
Purple Heron (2)
Night Heron (2)
Moustached Warbler (1)
Fan-tailed Warbler (1)
Great Reed Warbler (5)
Reed Warbler (12)

Site: Arenales del Sol is an arid area south of Alicante. The area is north-west of the town, west of the N332 and immediately north of the road to Torrellano. Many sandy tracks lead off to the right of this latter road where the car can easily be parked. The habitat consists of a small dried-up reservoir with hill scrub and desert areas.

Species early-mid a'noon very hot, sunny

Rufous Bushchat (1)
Marbled Duck (2)
Red-necked Nightjar (1)
Sardinian Warbler (6)
Nightingale (1)
Hoopoe (5)
Southern Grey Shrike (2)
Woodchat (3)

3rd July

Site: The Ebro Delta is to the east of the A7/E15 and N340, between Tarragona and Peniscola. The area can be accessed from roads leading eastwards from the town of Amposta. The area south of the river was most productive, especially the lagoons of La Tancada and L'Encanyissada. However, El Garxal (near Riumar) north of the river produced the Marsh Sandpiper flock.

Species early-late morning humid, sunny

Marsh Sandpiper (8)
Greenshank (2)
Spotted Redshank (6)
Kentish Plover (30)
Black-tailed Godwit (25)
Whiskered Tern (100)
Black Tern (1)
Caspian Tern (2)
Collared Pratincole (2)
Squacco Heron (12)
Night Heron (5)
Little Egret (150)
Cattle Egret (80)
Mediterranean Gull (2)
Slender-billed Gull (50)
Audouin's Gull (35)
Black-winged Stilt (40)
Purple Heron (8)
Red-crested Pochard (5)
Greater Flamingo (35)
Spanish Wagtail (5)
Fan-tailed Warbler (10)
Little Bittern (5)
Spotless Starling (40)

Site: Los Riglos is situated at the Southern extremity of the Spanish Pyrenees. The area can be viewed from the A132 Pamplona to Huesca road and the obvious cliff escarpment can be scoped for vultures. There are a couple of pull-in places north of the village of Murillo de Gallego.

Species mid a'noon hot, sunny

Lammergeier (1)
Griffon Vulture (25)
Egyptian Vulture (2)
Sardinian Warbler (1)
Rock Bunting (3)
Serin (2)

Site: Monasterio de San Juan de la Pena is a renowned site for Black Woodpecker, though we had little luck with this species. It is signed off the N240 about 10 km west of Jaca, where a road climbs up to the monastery for about another 12km to the car park. An obvious open area lies adjacent to the car park, and the woodland immediately beyond this is apparently good for Black Woodpecker. After a short while (less than 1 km), the track breaches the woodland and provides a spectacular panoramic view where raptors can be seen.

Species mid-late a'noon warm, sunny

Lammergeier (1)
Short-toed Treecreeper (1)
Golden Eagle (1)
Crested Tit (5)
Coal Tit (15)
Garden Warbler (2)
Chiffchaff (3)
Black Redstart (2)
Rock Bunting (3)
Serin (2)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (1)
Crag Martin (8)

4th July

Site: The Hecho valley. West of Jaca on the N240, take the minor road that leads north from the village of Puente la Reina. Just north of the village of Hecho are a couple of road tunnels where Wallcreeper have been reported in previous years during the summer months. A right-hand turn to the monasterio just north of these tunnels failed to produce Wallcreeper as well.

Species early-mid morning warm, sunny

Red-backed Shrike (1)
Rock Bunting (4)
Crag Martin (15)
Cirl Bunting (2)
Lammergeier (1)
Griffon Vulture (12)
Dipper (1)
Red Kite (5)
Turtle Dove (3)

Site: Foret D'Issaux in France is the premier site in the Pyrenees to see it's unique race of White-Backed Woodpecker. The area can be reached by following 'Foret D'Issaux' signs from the town of Oloron on the N330 south of Pau. The site is about 15km west of this main road. When parked, walk to the car park entrance/road junction and the birds favour this area and up to 0.4 km beyond.

Species early-mid a'noon drizzle, cool

White-backed Woodpecker (2+)
Serin (2)
Nightingale (1)
Coal Tit (6)
Black Redstart (2)

5th July

Site: Massif de Neouville is located in France, north of the Tunel de Bielsa off the N138 (Spanish Road)/N929 (French Road). In the village of Fabian, take the left turning that leads uphill to Lac Cap-de-Long and Lac d'Oredon. Park at the highest altitude car park near the 3 bars/cafés. It is possible to explore the area by walking across the dam and then north up the mountains to the east of the lake. Alternatively, one can walk north from the car park, through the boulders, to a footpath that takes you up the valley to the north-west of the lake.

Species mid morning-mid a'noon warm, sunny

Snow Finch (10)
Alpine Chough (10)
Golden Eagle (2)
Black Kite (5)
Citril Finch (8)
Crag Martin (30)
Black Redstart (6)
Rock Thrush (1)

Site: north of Lleida is a town called Balaguer. Just west of the town on the 148 ring road is a roundabout with a couple of warehouses south of the road. Take the road between these two industrial warehouses, which leads into arid farmland. Carry the main track on, past an orange grove on the right (where Orphean Warbler apparently breeds) until after about 8 km you will reach a T-junction above a small ridge. Park the car here and 14 Little Bustard were located in the adjacent fields.

Species evening warm, sunny

Little Bustard (14)
Calandra Lark (20)
Corn Bunting (10)
Roller (1)
Hobby (2)
Bee-eater (3)
Crested Lark (8)
Stone Curlew (2)
Montagu's Harrier (1)

6th July

Site: Once again, the area near Balaguer was explored. The area of orange and olive groves adjacent to the dried-up river was searched for Orphean Warbler, though with no success.

Species early morning warm, sunny

Little Bustard (1)
Woodchat (2)
Cetti's Warbler (1)
Corn Bunting (15)
Melodious Warbler (15)
Nightingale (4)
Black Kite (2)
Montagu's Harrier (2)
Bee-eater (1)
Southern Grey Shrike (2)

Site: Turn off the 147 no more than 6 km north-east of Balaguer onto the road which leads westwards to Sant Llorenc de Montgai. On the extreme southern outskirts of the village, pull off by the lakeside. On the far side of the lake (looking directly opposite) is a rocky ridge where Bonelli's Eagle is regularly seen.

Species mid morning hot, sunny

Bonelli's Eagle (2)
Griffon Vulture (3)
Yellow-legged Gull (1)
Great Reed Warbler (1)
Bee-eater (4)
Golden Oriole (1)

Site: Tiana is a small village east of Barcelona city centre. The area holds Orphean Warbler, and ringing of birds was observed in the foothills just north of the village.

Species early afternoon-evening hot, sunny

Orphean Warbler (male)
Cirl Bunting (1)
Cetti's Warbler (4)
Sardinian Warbler (3)
Alpine Swift (8)
Nightingale (1)
Scops Owl (heard)
Golden Oriole (2)
Woodchat (2)

end of report