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Summer birding trip to Spain and France

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Old Thursday 17th May 2018, 19:24   #1
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Summer birding trip to Spain and France

Hi everyone! I wasn't sure whether or not this was the right place for this sort of topic, so forgive me if it isn't!

Two friends and I have a few weeks of free time this July, and so we were playing with the idea of doing a kind of "birding road trip" through Spain (and passing through France, as we're from Belgium and the Netherlands). The basic trip outline was to drive in a big circle: from the low countries to the Pyrénées National Park, Extremadura, Donana and surroundings, and then back up North via the coast and Spanish Pyrenees, potentially picking up the Camargue and the Crau on the way back home.

The time frame for this would be about 3 weeks, and to keep it somewhat budget we're planning on going camping instead of going to hotels. We would do the entire trip by car. We are aware that July is definitely not the best month to go birding in Spain/Southern France, but it happens to be when we have the most time, so it'll have to do.

Our main goal is just to see as many birds as possible, preferably the ones we can't already see in our home countries of Belgium and the Netherlands. Some of our main targets would be vultures (black, egyptian, bearded, possibly rueppell's if there's a reliable spot for them), eagles (spanish imperial, golden, booted, bonelli's, short-toed), both bustards, woodpeckers (iberian green, grey-headed, white-backed, black), wallcreepers, sandgrouses, stone curlews, flamingos, ducks (white-headed duck, marbled teal), ibises, owls, spotted cuckoos, bee-eaters and rollers, and then passerines like rock thrush, alpine accentor, citril finch, black-eared wheatear, shrikes, choughs, larks, warblers, dipper... Basically any species we don't have in the low countries. It won't be the focus but nice mammals like lynx, wolf, chamois or Pyrenean desman would definitely be interesting as well.

The reason I post this thread (sorry for the long introduction!) is to ask a few questions to the people more knowledgeable about the area; which areas are worth staying in for a few days and in which areas will we have more than enough time with just one? Are there extra areas we should consider adding, or areas I listed that we shouldn't bother with? What are the best places to see any of the target birds mentioned above (or others, as mentioned anything we don't have in the low countries is interesting for us)? Are there hides or certain birding hotspots along the way that we should definitely stop at? Any personal experiences with campsites or birding tours (is it true Donana can only be done with a tour guide?)?Has anyone spent 3 weeks in Spain or does anyone know someone who has, and are there detailed trip reports of that that we should read? How would you organize three weeks in Spain?

Thanks in advance, all advice is more than welcome!

Last edited by AntonBE : Thursday 17th May 2018 at 19:34.
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Old Thursday 17th May 2018, 20:48   #2
John Cantelo
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Send me a PM with your email address and I'll send you my site guide to birding Cadiz province which should help with several species. Although the 'core' area of the Coto is inaccessible (other than by a limited guided tour) most key species can be seen at sites around its margins. I think you may find three weeks to hit all of the sites you mention rather 'tight'!

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Old Yesterday, 12:14   #3
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Since nobody else has bothered ...

Black Vulture - shouldn't be a problem if you visit the well-known sites in Extremadura such as Monfague also worth looking near Andujar
Egyptian Vulture - again Monfague etc should be OK but also good spot5s in Cadiz province such as Bolonia
Bearded Vulture - several well known sites in the Pyrenees
Ruppell's Vulture - birds have been hanging around the straits this spring but may have gone by the time you arrive
Spanish imperial Eagle - Andujar is usually good for them as is La Janda (Cadiz)
Golden Eagle - lost of sites but I've seen them easily in Andujar
Booted Eagle - simply unmissable
Bonelli's Eagle - the Ronda area is good esp. Llanos de Libar near Montejaque
Short-toed Eagle - unmissable
Great & Little Bustard - again your best bet must be in Extremadura but the area around Osuna (Seville) has both.
Iberian Green Woodpecker - often much easier to hear than see so trust to luck and explore suitable woodland in Iberia
Pin-tailed & Black-bellied Sandgrouse - again well known sites in Extremadura & also just south of the Pyrenees (latter also at Osuna)
Stone-curlew - as per bustards; Cadiz saltpans can also be good.
Flamingos - easy in right habitat
White-headed Duck - now present in many sites such as Lantejuela near Osuna and lagunas of Cadiz province
Marbled Teal - one of the best sites is along the Gudalquivir near Sanlucar de Barremeda (see my notes for details ....)
Glossy Ibis - common & unmissable in Coto area & nearby Cadiz province. Bald Ibis - Vejer de la Frontera
Owls - which ones?
Great-spotted Cuckoo - Extremadura
Bee-eaters - widespread
Rollers - Caceres plains
Rock Thrush - which one?
Alpine Accentor & Citril Finch - 'alpine meadows in the Pyrenees
Black-eared Wheatear, shrikes, choughs etc all widespread
Larks & warblers which ones?
Lynx - Andujar

Basically though you need to buy a couple of books in the Where to watch birds series and/or the Crossbill guides....

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