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Spanish road trip - a few questions about returning rarities (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Hi all!

First of all, I'm not sure if this is in the right place, so if it needs to be moved then feel free to do so.

Covid permitting, a few friends and I are going to do a road trip throughout Spain this summer (second half of July - first half of August), to hopefully get some of the better WP/European birds. Alongside some of the tougher residents, we're looking into things like Elegant & Lesser crested tern, Rüppell's griffon vulture, Lesser flamingo, Laughing dove etc. We've bumped into a few questions about these birds while planning everything, and I think people might be able to help.

1) Elegant tern - They seem to be fairly consistent near L'Albufera (just south of Valencia) the past few years, but on April 6th a pair was reported showing courtship behaviour in Marjal dels Moros just north of Valencia this year - Do they breed at either/both locations, and are they just not often visited because of accessibility/covid reasons, or does nobody bother twitching them anymore because everyone already has them? Are other places (Salinas de Santa Pola near Alicante, or perhaps one of the places in Cadiz) also consistent, or more difficult?

2) Lesser crested tern & Roseate tern - Are these consistent anywhere in Spain, or are these just semi-regular vagrants that would be better off just to chase somewhere along the route if reports come in? It looks like there's a fairly decent amount of observations in the Cadiz area?

3) Rüppell's griffon vulture - It looks like there is one individual (or maybe up to a handful?) in the Southern tip of Spain at the moment. Does this bird show any regular patterns and hang around in a general area where it'd be good to look for it, and is it relatively doable to chase? Are roosts or feeding locations it frequents known? Or would this be near impossible without very recent reports and a lot of luck?

4) Lesser flamingo - It looks like the returning birds at Fuente de Piedra might be gone again at the moment? The last reports were of a single bird on May 8th, but before that they were last seen almost 3 weeks earlier, so they might just be hard to connect with / not often twitched?

5) Western reef heron - Is the bird at Punta Entinas still continuing?

6) Laughing dove - The last report of the Sevilla birds on eBird was on May 13th. I find it hard to believe that both would suddenly be gone, but it seems like these birds would be reported more often if they were still around?

7) Mediterranean flycatcher - To our surprise it looks like there are a handful mainland birds present at the moment. Do these often form territories and stay well into summer, or are these just spring migrants that will disappear soon?

8) Presumed hybrid White-rumped x Little swift - Is the Chipiona hybrid swift still returning/still present in the Little swift colony?

Overall, as might be obvious, we're having difficulty finding good and consistent information about reports of these birds (and other rarities). I believe eBird is the most widely used platform in Spain, but even though these species seem to be resident/returning individuals in a few locations, reports on eBird seem very few and far between. We also follow Rare Birds Spain on twitter and facebook, and check reservoirbirds.com, spain.observation.org and Tarsiger regularly, but still feel like we're missing out on a lot of info that has to be present somewhere online. Are there other sites with more information about rarities that would be important to follow?

Also, are there other rare but resident/returning birds (African/American/other) that we have glossed over? We're mainly concentrating our efforts along the Eastern and Southern coast, Extremadura and the Pyrenees. We're also targetting other very localized birds like Dupont's lark, Common bulbul, White-rumped swift, Little swift, Barbary partridge, reintroduced Northern bald ibis (are there good places in summer for the ibises, or is it best to just chase recent eBird reports?), Trumpeter finch etc. Any suggestions or tips about any of these are welcome!

Thanks very much in advance! Any answers or help regarding any of these points would be incredibly appreciated.


Virtually unknown member
United Kingdom
For the Northern Bald Ibis I've only looked in late spring and early summer but both times saw one or more in and around the small fields on the other side of the A-2231 from Playa Barbate, south of the town towards Zahara.

I've had Dupont's Lark alongside the track at El Planeron and by the car park at La Lomaza (east and north of Belchite respectively) in spring.

John Cantelo

Well-known member
I can only advise with regard to Cadiz province but I think your best chance of Lesser Crested Tern would be to check Playa de los Lances (Tarifa) & the Montijo area at low tide (just east of Chipiona but avoid w/e). Barbate could be an outside bet too. My understanding is that most reports of Roseate Tern in Cadiz come from private roost sites on saltpans & I don't know of any regular accessible sites for the species (although they have been seen at Monijo).

For Rüppell's Vulture I think the most productive strategy would be to ensure that you're around the Straits in August and ask around about the latest sightings as there should be several birds drifting around the area by then. They tend to be reported largely from the main watchpoints (i.e. Cazalla) because that's where people are looking! Chasing them isn't always very successful but can work. It may be worth checking the Laja de la Zarga Griffon Vulture colony (Bolonia).

Laughing dove - experience from previous years suggests that they'll probably still be around the area.

Mediterranean flycatcher - I think knowledge about the status of this taxon on mainland Spain is still developing but my understanding is that reports refer to spring migrants.

Northern Bald Ibis shouldn't be too hard to see in the Barbate area along the coast and I believe some birds roost at Barca de la Frontera and on the tower south of Conil.

For more information about birds & birding sites in Cadiz province PM me (with your email) for my birding guide to the area.


Well-known member
Thanks, both of you! All of this information will definitely help out during the planning of our trip, definitely with trickier birds first-hand experience like this is often a lot more useful than trying to analyse eBird records to figure out good places for each species. I hope the Laughing doves stick around as predicted!

@John Cantelo thank you! We have already communicated in 2018, when you already sent me your incredibly helpful guide. It will definitely be used extensively!

John Cantelo

Well-known member
@John Cantelo thank you! We have already communicated in 2018, when you already sent me your incredibly helpful guide. It will definitely be used extensively!
I thought that I had but it was quicker to ask directly than go through my email correspondence. Thank you for your kind words. I have made some minor changes since then & you'd be very welcome to email me for a copy of the latest update.

Ernest Garcia

Well-known member
The Bald Ibises are also remarkably fond of the golf courses south of Chiclana, north of Vejer and inland of the Playa de la Barrosa. They may be seen on the greens from the roads serving the holiday complexes.


Well-known member
The Bald ibis can be seen easily at La Barca, near Vejer de la frontera. It is their nesting site and is about a 50 metre walk from the car park! Unfortunately they may well have finished nesting by the time you get here. I live only 20 kms from La Barca so I will try to remember to keep an eye on the birds and keep you informed.


Well-known member
Awesome, thanks everyone for the tips! I think between all these locations I'll have bald ibis covered then. :)

If anyone else knows anything additionally about Elegant tern (or others!), feel free to still respond here, I think that's still the biggest mystery I'm curious of at the moment. If I've done my research correctly, it seems they have bred (or at least attempted to?) in Spain every single year since 2009?
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