DOÑANA, STEPPES OF SERENA & MONFRAGÜE
April 15th - 25th 2011 (11 days)
Arrival Sevilla Airport
Departure Madrid Airport
Full Board 1710€ (single supplement 250€)
Bird List for this tour
Trip reports from our tours HERE
See detailed itinerary map
A gorgeous trip to some of the best birding localities in Europe.
Doñana is a wonderful place to visit throughout the year, but for birdwatchers the spring is a particularly good time to go. The famous marshes of Doñana usually hold water at this time of year and attract great numbers of gulls, terns, and shorebirds, foraging side by side with White Stork, Spoonbill, and several species of herons and egrets. Some of the breeding raptors are back in their territories whilst others are still passing on migration, and the whole area is just full of life. In the National Park we have chances of seeing the rare Iberian Lynx and other large mammals such as Wild Boar, Red Deer, and Fallow Deer.
Extremadura gives you an outstanding chance to see large quantities of raptors in a rough and beautiful terrain, and it offers great views of extraordinary bird species such as Great Bustard, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Stork, Eagle Owl, and Azure-winged Magpie. Other specialities such as the Spanish Sylvia warblers and both species of sandgrouse are also found in the area. Extremadura is wonderful in the springtime with lots of wild flowers and butterflies in addition to the birds, which are all busy with their nesting activities. We will visit Monfragüe, Trujillo, and the steppes of Serena, staying in hotels close to the best birding localities.
DAY 1 - Rendezvous at the airport of Seville. Transport to Doñana and check-in at our hotel. Birding in the Marismas of el Rocio if time allows.
DAY 2 - We drive down to the salt pans and estuaries of the Rio Odiel where shorebirds abound. The quantity and diversity of species in this place is only comparable to the Wadden Sea area on the North Sea coast – among the species we can expect to see are Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Kentish Plover, Caspian and Little Terns, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, and Greater Flamingo. We will spend the whole day out, and on our way back we will visit the lagoons at Palos, where we might see Purple Swamphen and Penduline Tit. Back in El Rocio we will check the marshes before heading for our rooms, but this will be optional birding.
DAY 3 - Full day inside Doñana visiting the area of Isla Mayor, where many birds are found in the rice fields. Herons, egrets, and shorebirds, will be the main characters of the day, probably accompanied by White Stork. We have a good chance of spotting Purple Heron here. We will also visit Brazo de la Torre and Dehesa de Abajo, where we have another chance of Black-shouldered Kite and can also expect to see Common Waxbill. The dehesa holds the biggest tree-breeding colony of White Stork in Europe.
DAY 4 - Visit to Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Laguna de Medina, where we will search for White-headed Duck, Marbled Teal, and with luck also see Western Olivacious Warbler. We will bird in salt pans, marshes, and lagoons and try to find any birds that we may have missed so far.
DAY 5 - Transfer to Serena Steppes. Check-in to our hotel and birding locally if time allows.
DAY 6 - Birding in la Serena and Sierra de Tiros. The combination of mountains and steppes in this area allows for a great bird variety, and a large number of species can be found here. Egyptian Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle, Eagle Owl, Red-legged Partridge, and Black Wheatear can be found in Sierra de Tiros, while Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouses, Stone Curlew and Montagu's Harrier can be found in the steppe areas. We also have a good chance of finding Spanish Sparrow here.
DAY 7 - In the morning we go birding along the Zujar River and around Serena. Along the river we might see Eagle Owl, Bee-eater, Golden Oriole, Grey Wagtail, Red-rumped Swallow, Bonelli's Warbler, and Great Reed Warbler. Red-crested Pochard and Little Grebe are also sometimes found in the area, along with any of the migrating shorebirds. In Serena we will look for any steppe species that we may have missed so far, or for better looks at larks, sandgrouse, and bustards.
DAY 8 - This day we head towards Monfragüe with stops in Trujillo, the steppes of Belen, and Embalse de Sierra Brava. In Trujillo we'll visit the town briefly to see White Stork, Lesser Kestrel and Pallid Swift, which all breed on the buildings of the old town. The steppes of Belen hold Great and Little Bustard, Short-toed Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Little Owl, Great Spotted Cuckoo, and Woodchat Shrike, and this place is always worth a stop. At the embalse we might see some terns and gulls, and with a bit of luck some of the newly arrived Collared Pratincoles. Check-in to our hotel in Monfragüe.
DAY 9 - Today we follow a birding route inside Monfragüe, part of it running along the Tajo River, and can expect excellent views of the many raptor species found in the area. Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Black Kite, and Red Kite, are all likely to be found here. We also have good chances of seeing Eagle Owl and Black Stork, which are nesting along the river. In the forested area around the hotel we will look for Rock Sparrow, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, and Short-toed Tree-creeper.
DAY 10 - In the morning we will visit the old castle, Castillo de Monfragüe, where we can find species such as Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla Lark, Rock Bunting, and Azure-winged Magpie. Also, the castle offers a great place to view the park's numerous raptors as they circle the sky. We have a chance of seeing the very rare White-rumped Swift here. In the afternoon we will continue birdwatching in the southern region of Monfragüe, where we might find Crested Tit and other forest birds.
DAY 11 - This day's birding itinerary takes us on a round-trip east and south of Monfragüe itself. This route is laid out especially for the many Sylvia warblers of Extremadura, and we should see both Spectacled, Orphean, Subalpine, Dartford, and Sardinian Warbler. Also, we still have good chances of many raptors, as well as Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, and Wood Lark. We will enjoy our picnic lunch at the Arrocampo Reservoir, where we might see Penduline Tit and Savi's Warbler in addition to the many herons, egrets and shorebirds.
Transfer to the airport of Madrid. Birding en route if time allows.
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