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Sierra de Guadarrama - BirdForum Opus



Like the Sierra de Gredos this range of mountains in the Sistema Central lies close to Madrid and consequently attracts large large numbers of tourists. However, it is also home to good populations of large raptors including the engangered Spanish Imperial Eagle. The Sierra de Guadarrama covers a large area to the north of Madrid in the east of the Spanish Meseta roughly from Puerto de Somosierra to San Benito.

The highest point is Penalara at 2469m and extensive forests survive, mainly of Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris, and oaks Quercus pyrenaicus and Q.rotundifolia. Scrub covers large areas and cattle-grazing is widespread.


Notable Species

Around 20 pairs of Spanish Imperial Eagle are thought to survive here as well as Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle and Bonelli's Eagle and Griffon Vulture and Eurasian Black Vulture. Smaller raptors include both kites, European Honey Buzzard and Common Buzzard, Northern Goshawk and Peregrine Falcon.

White Stork is common and a few pairs of Black Stork are present but difficult to locate. Other breeding species include typical upland birds such as Eurasian Eagle Owl, Eurasian Crag Martin, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting.

The wooded areas have Golden Oriole and Common Firecrest and larks, shrikes and various warblers inhabit the scrub and grasslands.

The Sierra de Guadarrama is a large area and it is difficult to cover even a small part of it. However, the historic town of Segovia provides an excellent base from which to explore the mountains. This town, situated in a bend of the river Eresma, is famous for its Roman aqueduct, a cathedral and a fortress. It is also has breeding White Stork and Chough around the cathedral.

In the surrounding countryside Golden Oriole, Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike etc are common and Lesser Kestrel, Eurasian Scops Owl and Stone-curlew also occur.

Just out of the town is the grounds of a royal hunting lodge, the Monte de Riofrio, where dry grassland is interspersed with patches of Holm Oak Quercus ilex woodland. Leaving the car in this area is prohibited but it is possible to continue up the hill to the left of the north gate and view the park from there.

Raptors can often be seen here including Eurasian Black Vulture and Griffon Vulture and kites. Lesser Kestrel breeds in the nearby village of Madrona.


Birds you can see here include:

Grey Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, European Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Red Kite, Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Booted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Northern Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Common Quail, Little Bustard, Stone-curlew, Rock Dove, Stock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Eurasian Scops Owl, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Tawny Owl, Long-eared Owl, Common Swift, Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Calandra Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Thekla Lark, Wood Lark, Tawny Pipit, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Eurasian Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Common Dipper, Common Wren, Dunnock, Alpine Accentor, Common Nightingale, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Melodious Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Common Firecrest, European Pied Flycatcher, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Iberian Magpie, Red-billed Chough, Eurasian Jackdaw, Northern Raven, Common Starling, Rock Sparrow, Chaffinch, Citril Finch, European Greenfinch, Common Crossbill, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Corn Bunting

Other Wildlife

Wolf Canis lupus still survive in these mountains and other mammals include Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus and Fallow Deer Cervus dama, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Otter Lutra lutra and Badger Meles meles.

Plants of interest found in the pinewoods include three species of Toadflax Linaria nivea, L. incarnata and L. triornithophora, Spanish Bluebell Endymion hispanicus and Mountain Valerian Valeriana tuberosa. The scrub above the woodlands consists mainly of Pyrenean Broom Cytisus purgans.

Site Information

Areas of Interest

La Granja

For more montane species leave Segovia on the N601 and head for La Granja, a densely wooded mountain area. The royal parkland at La Granja is excellent for a wide range of species including Eurasian Black Vulture and Spanish Imperial Eagle.

Species such as Bluethroat, Alpine Accentor, Water Pipit and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush can be seen by walking from La Granja to the high pass of Puerto del Reventon via Pena Buitrera.

Puerto de Navacerrada

A similar range of species can be seen at or close to the pass at Puerto de Navacerrada, one of the best and most visited birding sites in the Sierra de Guadarrama.

To reach it leave Madrid on the A6 turning off at Villalba onto the N601 and continue for another 60km. There are extensive pinewoods between the passes of Puerto de la Navacerrada and Puerto de los Cotos and from the latter the peak of Penalara can be climbed although there is also a chair lift. Lake Penalara is nearby and this whole area provides excellent birding.

Access and Facilities

Segovia is easily reached by road from Madrid and has a good range of accommodation from campsite to hotel. La Granja and Navacerrada can also provide basic hotel accommodation.

In addition there are mountain refuges scattered through the range.

External Links

Tourist Information for High Sierra Guadarrama Manzanares (English translation)

Content and images originally posted by Steve