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Short trip to Picos de Europa (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
John Kirby and Mick Bell
14th - 19th May 2023

This was a short trip to the area primarily to visit Fuente De for alpine birds.

After persistent light rain on the 15th the weather was generally sun and clouds averaging 15C but at the top of Fuente De was 5C.

We used Gosney's "Finding birds in North Spain" which was useful.

Along the motorway between Santander and Torrelavega we saw a few Black Kites.

We stayed at Hostal Remona in Espinama, booked through Booking.com. It was clean, comfortable and served good food and can be recommended.

We made two visits to the top of Fuente De (16th/17th) The ticket office opens at 10.00 but the queue starts forming about 09.30. We were in the first car on both visits. The fee was 17 Euros per person but there is a 10% discount for over 65s.
At the top we walked the track to the junction without seeing any birds apart from Chough (Alpine and Red Billed). We took the right track and scanned the scree but did not see any Wallcreeper. After about an hour 4 Snowfinches flew around and a couple of Black Redstarts showed. After further scanning did not reveal anything we descended around 14.00.
The next day we tried again. Starting with the right hand track. We walked as far as the large Refugio and eventually saw Black Redstarts, a Water Pipit, 2 Northern Wheatears, 6 Snowfinches and a single Alpine Accentor.

We tried the left hand fork and walked for about 1 km. A few Snowfinches flew around and eventually a single Alpine Accentor showed nicely. Again we didn't see any Wallcreepers despite constantly scanning the scree slopes.

At the Cable car station another Alpine Accentor was seen to the right of the station. Occasional Griffon Vultures and Ravens also flew over.
There were a few Nuthatches around the pines at the lower Cable car station.

We visited most of the villages and sites suggested by Gosney along the Potes to Fuente De road and although scenically attractive only common birds were seen. The only Woodpecker was a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Brez.

We visited Puerto de San Glorio three times and did not see any Citril Finches. Birds seen : Cuckoo, Stonechat, Rock Bunting, Yellowhammer, Water Pipit and Sparrowhawk.

At Portilla de la Reina we only saw Crag Martin, Rock Bunting and Black Redstarts. No Rock Thrush.

Driving to Riano we could not find the White Storks colony described in some reports. We found a pair feeding in the fields and nesting in Barniedo de la Reina Another birder gave us a site for Firecrest at Arenas just outside Coscaya going towards Espinama. There is an obvious walking track from the road through the El Cubo apartments that after about 300 metres opens out at the back of the houses to fields and a stand of pines. We checked these and had Short Toed Treecreeper. Then about 150 metres to the right at the tree line a pair of Firecrests responded to a quick burst of tape. A Western Bonelli's warbler also showed.

Birds were not present in high density. Raptors were very scarce. Despite looking in every river and stream we did not see Dipper but the most disappointing "dip" was Wallcreeper.
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