Primarily a mammal
tour with the main emphasis on looking for Brown Bear, Wolf, Wild Cat and Iberian Lynx. We will also look for some of Spain's speciality birds.
Dates: September 2022
Like most of the world, travel to Spain is currently not advised by the UK government as the country is on the "amber list". Hopefully travel will be possible in 2022 without too many restrictions and until there is greater clarity we do not recommend making bookings.
Although Spain is only a short flight from the UK, the wildlife is very different to the British Isles and on this new and exciting tour, we plan to target four special mammals, Brown Bear, Wolf, Wild Cat and Iberian Lynx and working with expert local guides in all the regions we intend to visit, we hope to find them all.
We also plan to spend some time looking for birds with the possibilities including Black (Cinerous) Vulture, Great and Little Bustard, Black-belled and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, White-headed and Marbled Ducks, Wallcreeper, Moustached Warbler and Iberian Magpie.
We will start our trip in the beautiful Cantabrian Mountains of Northern Spain. Initially based in the Somiedo National Park, we will concentrate on finding Brown Bears which in the late summer are already fattening up for the winter on a diet of Hazelnuts and berries. The early mornings and evenings are the best time to look for them and patience and good optical equipment are both required.
We will then move east to the mountain village of Riaño which is considered one of the best places in Europe to look for family packs of Wolves. At the end of summer, the cubs are typically still reasonably close to their dens and are, therefore, easier to locate than later in the year when they roam more widely.
The valley meadows not far from our hotel are also home to Wild Cats, which hunt rodents in the early mornings and late afternoons, and in the surrounding countryside we hope to find Black, Iberian Green and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, as well as Iberian Grey Shrike, Iberian Chiffchaff, Rock Bunting and Rock Sparrow.
Other mammals we could find include Iberian Ibex, Pyrenean Chamois and Wild Boar and if our mammal watching has proved successful, we will head into the Picos de Europa mountains on one day to look for Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor, Griffon Vulture and Alpine Choughs. There are also opportunities to look for Golden, Booted and Short-toed Eagles and even occasionally the Lammergeier.
After five full days in the mountains, we will head south for La Mancha. It is a longish journey but this region is very different being part of Spain’s vast central plain. Scattered amongst the cereal fields and vines are a patchwork of shallow lakes and we will spend a day exploring this interesting habitat looking for a range of birds we will not have encountered so far. Out on the plains, we will look for Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Calandra Lark and Stone Curlew, whilst we will hope to see White-headed Duck, Moustached Warbler, Western Swamphen, Greater Flamingo and Zitting Cisticola in nearby wetlands.
For the final part of our tour, we will base ourselves near the small town of Andujar where our emphasis will switch back to mammals and working with local experts, we will begin our quest for the final mammal mega of our trip, the Iberian Lynx. We plan to have two full days in the area (plus a late afternoon and early morning) with part of our time being spent on private fincas (farms) where there are known populations of Lynx.
Whilst our main emphasis will be on trying to locate this endangered feline, there should also be time to see a good variety of birds with possibilities including Spanish Imperial Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Black (Cinerous) Vulture, Black Stork and Iberian Magpie.
After a final morning, we will reluctantly leave for Malaga where our tour will conclude in the afternoon at the airport.
Please note: it is important to appreciate that we will be spending long periods scanning for wildlife on some parts of this trip. There will be some early starts and late finishes so we intend to follow the Spanish habit of taking a siesta during the heat of the day, although on some days there will be optional local birding offered.
Day 1: Arrival in Northern Spain. Transfer to Pola de Somiedo. Evening excursion to look for Brown Bear.
Days 2-3: Morning and evening excursions typically of c.5 hours each (07:00-12:00 and 18:00-22:00) looking for Brown Bears with local birding/siesta in early-mid afternoon.
Day 4: Early morning excursion for bears. Transfer to Riaño. Evening excursion looking for Wolf and Wild Cat.
Days 5-6: Morning and evening excursions typically of c.5 hours each (07:00-12:00 and 18:00-22:00) looking for Wolf and Wild Cat with local birding when not looking for animals. If animals are seen well on day 5 then we may visit the higher mountains for Wallcreeper and other birds and animals.
Day 7: Depart for La Mancha. Late afternoon birding excursion if time.
Day 8: Birding excursion in La Mancha.
Day 9: Morning birding excursion in La Mancha. Drive to Baños de la Encina. Late afternoon excursion to look for Iberian Lynx.
and evening excursions looking for Lynx and other birds and wildlife
with break in the middle of the
Day 12: Morning wildlife excursion then drive to Malaga airport where the tour concludes.
NB: the exact itinerary will be subject to weather, local conditions and governmental and local permissions.
(selected species only)
Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Western Swamphen, Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Black Stork, White Stork, Black-winged Kite, Bearded Vulture/Lammergeier, Egyptain Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Black (Cinerous) Vulture, Short-toed Snake Eagle,
Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Middle-spotted Woodpecker, Black
Iberian Green Woodpecker, Iberian Grey Shrike, Iberian Magpie, Alpine Chough,
Eurasian Penduline Tit,
Thekla's Lark, Crested Lark, Calandra Lark, Eurasian Crag Martin,
Wallcreeper, Bluethroat, Common Rock Thrush,
Spanish Sparrow, Rock Sparrow,
Alpine Accentor, Citril Finch, Rock Bunting.