6-13 May, 2017

All star cast of Spain’s most wanted

If there is one place in Europe that is unparalleled in terms of unspoiled  wildlife areas, a fabulous climate and outstanding birds its Spain! Here there is a fantastic opportunity to see a vast array of Mediterranean species including both exotic and near-endemics.  Extremadura and the wetlands of Andalusia represent ‘must go to sites’ within the country. These top destinations produce their own all star cast of ‘Spain’s most wanted’ and here on the ‘Birding in central Spain’ you will get a taste of the best.  

Incredible birds, incredible habitat

This incredible week long Iberian adventure begins close to the old fortified town of Trujillo  and concludes in the beautiful city of Seville. We will split our time between searching for the bustards, sandgrouse and raptors on the wonderful steppe habitat of Extremadura, only to gaze in wonder at the incredible site of hundreds of Flamingo peppered across the famous Coto Doñana National Park. By spending a few days in each location we will allow ourselves plenty of time and opportunity to seek out key species whilst experiencing a variety of impressive habitats and of course relaxing in comfort.

Flamingos to flamenco

We’ll enjoy some local culture too  when we visit Seville,  famous for its flamenco and food. Join us on this adventurous journey through Spain’s heartland, a truly spectacular introduction to dramatic landscapes, historical towns, warm weather and unbelievable birds!

What is included?

  • Pick up at Madrid airport and drop off at Malaga airport (Spain)
  • In country transportation
  • Entrance fees to parks and reserves
  • Professional bird guiding
  • Accommodation
  • Bottled water
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Summit to Seashore birding checklist

What is not included?

  • Airfare*
  • Any airport fees or taxes
  • Travel and health insurance
  • Extra soft drinks, alcohol and additional snacks

*You must book your own flights.

Note: The itinerary may change on any tour depending on factors out of our control such as weather and flight delays etc.. The tour leader’s decision on an alternative itinerary is final. Summit to Seashore do not book flights at this time but recommended the most convenient flight that connects conveniently with the tour. It is the responsibility of all guests to get to the pick up point as specified. Please familiarise yourselves with our terms and conditions policy before booking. See our FAQs and Terms and Conditions for more detailed information.

single supplement

Single Supplement: Spain 2017


Single Supplement – Spain 2017

8 in stock

Additional information

Duration7 days
Weather20-25 Celsius
LeadersRich Mooney
Level of DifficultyEasy to Moderate
Required ImmunisationsAsk your health care professional

Day 1 – Madrid Airport / Trujillo

Welcome to Spain! Pick up at Madrid airport then a 2 ½  hour drive to our accommodation for the next four nights, set right in the heart of one of the best birding areas in Extremadura. Once unpacked we can relax and begin adding a few species directly in front of our accommodation such as White Stork, Lesser Kestrel, Little Owl and Spotless Starling.

Day 2 – Trujillo and Caceres Steppe

An early morning vigil from our accommodation will hopefully afford us looks at Little Bustard before breakfast after which we will head off in search of steppe specialties such as bustards and sandgrouse. The morning will be spent stopping at key areas on the Trujillo plains where larks,bustards, sandgrouse, Bee-eaters, Hoopoe, Roller, Montagu’s Harrier, should all be encountered.

After a picnic lunch we head onto the  Caceres Plains where our search continues for the above species as well as watching for raptors such as Booted Eagle, Black Kite and Griffon Vulture. Calandra Lark, Thekla Lark, Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark, Corn Bunting should all be expected + Golden Oriole, Alpine Swift, Spanish Sparrow, Azure-winged Magpie, Iberian Gray Shrike, Great Reed Warbler and hopefully Black-winged Kite. After dinner there will be a presentation on Ascension Island in the conference room.

Day 3 – Monfrague National Park

Today our time will be dedicated to a visit to the famous Monfrague National Park. Here we hope to connect with one of Spain’s most iconic birds – the Spanish Imperial Eagle. Our first stop at the castle, perched high on a ridge, giving us an incredible panoramic view of the area; where storks and vultures will begin to float around in front of us. The Cork and Eucalyptus forest below hold Short-toed Treecreeper, Hawfinch and other warblers, finches and tits.

Our next stop is at the incredible Penafalcon rock pinnacle where breeding Griffon Vulture can be viewed at close range. This lookout point is one of the best places to view Black Stork that breed here and often take flight coasting around right above you. Other species to be expected include Peregrine, Egyptian Vulture, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Booted Eagle,Blue Rock Thrush, Black Redstart, Rock Bunting and if we are really lucky we may spot a roosting Eurasian Eagle Owl. We will find a nice shady spot for a picnic lunch before continuing on in search of raptors such as Bonelli’s Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle and Black Vulture.

We will take advantage of some down time in the late afternoon to rest and catch up with notes back at our accommodation before heading into the old town of Trujillo. Here we will stop at the Bullring to view the breeding Lesser Kestrel and enjoy an evening meal right in the town square. Here you really have a sense of the old country with a lovely atmosphere, wonderful buildings and all the while Pallid, Swift, Lesser Kestrel, Crag Martin and Red-rumped Swallow zoom over our heads.  

Day 4 – Belen Plains and Arrocampo Reservoir

This morning we head out onto the Belen Plains for another chance to connect with steppe specialties such as bustards and sandgrouse and a good place to look for Great Spotted Cuckoo. Next we head to Arrocampo Reservoir, one of Extremaduras finest wetlands. This area should include species such as  Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Purple Gallinule, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Great Reed Warbler and Marsh Harrier to name a few. We will head back through Monfrague National Park, if needed, giving us a second chance at the parks specialist species.

Day 5 – Depart for Seville / El Rocio

After breakfast we will say goodbye to Extremadura and continue our journey through Spain’s heartland, heading south into Andalucia. We should arrive at our accommodation in Seville around lunch time. After unpacking and having a bite to eat we will have a some time to relax before heading out for our evening excursion. El Rocio is situated on the northwest side of the Coto Donana park and a wonderful introduction to the inhabitants of internationally important wetland. Here we will look across La Madre de las Marismas getting our first looks at Flamingo, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Little Egret, Yellow Wagtail, Collared Pratincole,   Whiskered Tern, waders and possibility of Black-winged Kite. Here we will have a early evening meal before heading over to La Rocina where we will explore the woodland and hides. Savi’s Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Reed Warbler, Nightingale, Fan-tailed Warbler, Serin are some of the expected species before heading out into the scrub. Here Dartford Warbler, Crested Lark, Iberian Grey Shrike, Bonelli’s Warbler,  Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike and Azure-winged Magpie should keep us entertained until dusk when we hope to connect with Red-necked Nightjar and Scops Owl.

Day 6 – Los Palacios and Brazo del Este

Today we will pack in three main sites and  take advantage of their close proximity to each other. The remainder of the day will be spent relaxing at our hotel or for guests to take advantage of some city sightseeing in Seville. Our first stop is at a small lagoon known as Laguna de Mejorales but often referred to as Los Palacios. Here we should connect with such species as Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Whiskered Tern, Turtle Dove, Isabelline Warbler, Common Waxbill and possibly Rufous Bush Robin.

Next we we head for the Pinzon Marshes within the Brazo del Este. This area of pools channels and reedbeds can be fantastic for waterbirds. Crakes, warblers, egrets, terns and herons as well as escaped exotics should all be present. Once have covered the main areas here we will continue south to the Algaida wetlands, the southern end of the Coto Donana and east of Rio Guadalquivir. Here waders, flamingos, larks, gulls and terns are often present in numbers. The Bonanza Salinas is quite stark in appearance but holds many interesting species –  Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Kentish Plover, Slender-billed Gull, Little Tern, Booted Eagle, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Black Kite were all recorded on our June 2016 reconosennnse. We then head north through the pinewoods, first stopping at a lagoon where will scan for White-headed Duck, Black-necked Grebe and Red-crested Pochard. As we make our way north we will make stops listening for Bonelli’s Warbler and Iberian Chiffchaff whilst scanning for Black-winged kite. As we depart the woodland we will pass through some more wetlands where we will make stops and scan for some of the areas more rarer species such as Red-knobbed Coot and Marbled Duck.

Day 7 – Marismas del Odiel

Though not a part of the Coto Donana National Park, The Odiel Estuary offers better access to some key areas of saltmarsh, saltpans and estuary.  Flamingo, Spoonbill, Little Egret should all be seen with opportunities to see Flamingo at close range. The freshwater gravel pits hold a good array of wildfowl such as Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Gadwall, Coot, Possible Red-knobbed Coot as well as waders. Other species such as Sardinian Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Penduline Tit, Montagu’s Harrier and Osprey are all probable. We will be back to our accommodation for lunch and have some free time for guests to relax and go for a dip in the pool. Tonight we will take advantage of being in this most remarkable and beautiful city and indulge in some cultural entertainment in the form of a traditional Flamenco. Speaking from first hand experience, I can guarantee that this show will literally encapsulate you. The atmosphere, acoustics and energy at this intimate venue will truly be a highlight of your trip. Add to that amazing food and hospitable staff, we will be in for an amazing evening to celebrate our Spanish adventure.

Day 8 – Drop off at Malaga Airport/ Tour Ends

On the 10th June 2016 my wife Lori and I embarked on a road trip  and reconnaissance for Summit to Seashore Birding Adventures that started in the Spanish Pyrenees and concluded in Malaga, clocking up over 2000 kms. The weather remained good throughout the trip with a high of 36 degrees in Trujillo and average temperatures of 27 degrees daily. There was only light precipitation in the mountain area around Jaca on one day and strong winds on the last two days in Tarifa.

The birding was tough going at times, which we were prepared for, mainly due to the time of year but also due to the previous winter’s impact in certain areas. An unprecedented amount of rainfall had fallen and as a consequence the steppe grasses were very high, making spotting bustards and Sandgrouse near impossible. However, those challenges didn’t deter us and we tallied a total of 156 species, 27 lifers for me. The basic route was as follows – Stansted to Bilbao – Jaca (3 nights), Jaca – Trujillo (3 nights), Trujillo – Sevilla (2 nights), Sevilla – Tarifa (3 nights), Tarifa – Málaga then fly Gatwick. What follows is a daily account of the highlights and areas covered.

10th June 2016 – Bilbao – Jaca

We arrived at Bilbao airport at 10:00 am, picked up our car from Hertz and headed to the Guggenheim Museum for some cultural sustenance. By 14:30 we were on our way with a 3 hour drive to the beautiful town of Jaca, set in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Birds of note en-route were Griffon Vulture, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Osprey and a singing Nightingale outside our accommodation.

11th June 2016 – Astun and Hecho Valley

Departed at 07:10 am for the ½ drive to the ski resort of Astun which sits directly north of Jaca. A thick layer of mist over the hills made scanning at distance challenging so we concentrated on what we could see and that was some very good birds. Iberian Green Woodpecker started our day off very nicely followed by a perched Red-backed Shrike. Next came Citril Finch, Serin, Rock Bunting, Water Pipit, Yellowhammer, Crag Martin and a fantastic Rock Thrush.

The remainder of the day was spent at various sites within the Hecho Valley. The scenery was incredible offering an amazing canvas as a backdrop to such species as Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Black kite Red-billed Chough, Kestrel and Red Kite. Lammergeier though searched for didn’t make an appearance during our vigil. Crested Tit, Black Redstart, Serin, Dipper and Crag Martin were all present.

13th June 2016 – Los Mallos de Riglos

Today was spent in Riglos, scanning the massive red pinnacles of Los Mallos de Riglos. En-route we got good views of White Storks, Woodchat Shrikes, Corn Bunting and Spotless starling and a big colony of nesting House Martin and Crag Martin.

Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Raven, Red-billed Chough cruised round this impressive rock formation with an unconfirmed sighting of Lammergeier that disappeared before a conclusive identification was made. More Bee-eaters were on show and we added Crested Lark and Cuckoo to our list.

13th June 2016 Jaca – Trujillo / Extremadura

Nightingale, Golden Oriole and Wheatear all made their presence known outside our window before we were out of bed. By 07:30 we were on the road heading for the ancient town of Trujillo. Kites, raptors and vultures kept us company on our 7 hour drive across country and on arrival in the town Lesser Kestrel and swifts (both Pallid and Common) greeted us as we made our way through the tiny alleyways to the town square.

After booking into our hotel and a little relaxation I took a walk through the town where the continual screaming of swifts with their seemingly kamikaze personalities was in itself one of the most dramatic avian encounters I have witnessed. Their aerobatic ability, continual high speed maneuvers was really something to see, with groups of up to 10 birds packed tightly as a group and surely just racing each other for the fun of it. House Martin, Crag Martin, Swallow and Red-rumped Swallow were also putting on a show. Nesting White Storks on the buildings were a wonderful sight with Spotless Starling and Black Redstart in many areas.

The cultivated area behind the town produced some good birds in the evening including Sardinian Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Stonechat, Woodchat Shrike, Bee-eater, Little Owl and Azure-winged Magpie.

14th June 2016 – Monfrague National Park / Saucedilla

A morning walk before breakfast back in the cultivated area was productive with 30 species recorded including Hoopoe and Iberian Grey Shrike. After breakfast we headed to Monfrague National Park arriving about 10:30 am and greeted by fantastic views of a pair of Bonelli’s Eagles. Our first stop was the famous rock pinnacle known at Penafalcon. Breeding birds here include Griffon Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, Egyptian Vulture and Black Stork. Within minutes of scanning we located all of the above plus Blue Rock Thrush, Booted Eagle, Black Redstart and Rock Bunting. We then hiked the trail path to Castillo de Monfrague where vultures pass you by at head height. You have the choice of a short route of about 200 meters or opt for the longer path which takes you through some interesting cork and eucalyptus woodland. This takes about an hour but produced Long-tailed Tit ( Iberian race), Nuthatch and Short-toed Treecreeper.

Continuing east we stopped at a dam where both Griffon and Black Vulture were seen at close range. Our final two stops were geared towards locating Spanish Imperial Eagle, though unfortunately we were unrewarded for our efforts. That said, we did locate a Black Vulture nest which was a great consultation.

Our final destination for the day was the Arrocampo Reservoir south of Saucedilla and east of the Monfrague National Park. We spent 1 ½ hours checking some of the main areas which produced a few good trip birds – Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Little Bittern, Purple Swamphen, Gull-billed Tern, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Thekla Lark, Cormorant and Fan-tailed Warbler.

15th June 2016 – Trujillo and Caceres Plains

As previously stated the time of year and grass height were definitely not in our favour but we persevered and put in a full day where we covered as much ground as possible. Beginning at 08:00 am and finishing around 16:30. The first half of the day covered the Trujillo plains where we stopped at 7 key areas which delivered such delights as Woodchat Shrike, Iberian Grey Shrike, Sardinian Warbler, Bee-eater, Calandra lark, Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Spanish Sparrow, Booted Eagle, Kingfisher and Roller.

After lunch we concentrated on the Caceres plains, making another 5 main stops enroute. Here we connected with more of the same species at Trujillo but also managed to add a few species such as Little Owl, Hoopoe, Little Ringed Plover, Alpine Swift, Great Reed Warbler, Golden Oriole, Azure-winged Magpie and Raven.

16th June 2016 – Sierra de San Pedro – Andalucía

As we were heading towards Sevilla today we could have just gone south. However, we decided to take a slight detour east, then south through the Sierra de San Pedro range. In hindsight this was a good move. Just outside of Caceres on the highway I noticed what looked like a large pale goose flying from the left. Of course it wasn’t as goose. It was our first and only GREAT BUSTARD! I had given up on this bird after many hours searching, so this was a very unexpected and greatly received surprise. En-route through Sierra de San Pedro we made a few stops affording us close views of Griffon Vulture and Black vulture and recorded Turtle Dove and Dartford Warbler. Continual scanning and scrutinizing of all suspicious raptors paid off with a sighting of an adult SPANISH IMPERIAL EAGLE near Albuquerque.

Our accommodation in Andalucia was located in Benacazon which is ½ drive west of Sevilla. Once settled in we headed to El Rocio which sits on the northern perimeter of the Coto Doñana National Park. Scanning the Madre de las Marismas we connected with our first Greater Flamingos. This fabulous marsh held other new species for us for the trip such as Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Little Egret, Greylag Goose and Yellow Wagtail. Just across the road at La Rocina lagoon we spent a little time walking the trails near the hides which produced Spotted Flycatcher, Purple Swamphen, Purple heron, Red-legged Partridge, Bee-eater, Iberian Grey Shrike, Dartford Warbler and Savi’s Warbler.

17th June 2016 – The Odiel Marshes (Marismas del Odiel)

A morning visit to the Odiel Marshes southwest of Huelva proved to be a productive area with pools, lagoon, tidal estuary and saltpans to scan. There is a information centre here where I obtained a map for the main areas to check. Though Red-knobbed Coot has been recorded here in the past, only common Coot was recorded on my visit. Flamingos were in abundance as were Spoonbill which breed close by. Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Black-winged Stilt made up the wader contingent and my second sighting of Osprey and the first Little Tern. A group of 4 Audouin’s Gull flew over and wildfowl were represented by Gadwall, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard and Mallard. Bird of the day for me was Penduline Tit behind the visitor centre where I managed to locate its nest.

The evening was spent in Sevilla with a memorable visit to Casa de la Memoria for some traditional Flamenco. This alone, in terms of cultural experiences, ranks as one of the top performances I have ever witnessed. The atmosphere, passion and delivery was outstanding as was the food and service. If you go to Sevilla go and see this show! The city itself is wonderful and even in the evening right down town you’re not far from birding opportunities with Swift, Lesser kestrel and Monk Parakeets putting in appearances.

18th June 2016 Los Palacios – Tarifa

Just south of Seville we checked Laguna de Mejorada also known as Los Palacios Lagoon. This small wetland produced some good birds and was well worth the visit. Whiskered Tern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Common Waxbill, Isabelline Warbler ( Olivaceous Warbler) and Turtle Dove were all stand out birds.

Our next stop was at the southern end of the Coto Doñana National Park at the Algaida wetlands. Here we checked several areas, some being more productive than others. The best area by far was the Bonanza salinas. These saltpans held some interesting species including Greater Flamingo, Spoonbill, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Little Tern and hundreds of Avocet. Slender-billed Gulls were present and a pair of Kentish Plover were also seen.

Our final stop en-route to Tarifa was at the most famous of the Jerez Lagoons – Laguna de Medina, though birding this area during the hottest part of the day didn’t divulge its full potential. We didn’t leave empty handed though as we added Great-crested Grebe and Black-necked Grebe to our species list. Our route from here took us southeast through Parque Natural Los Alcornocales to Algeciras then southeast to Tarifa. It is here that Google Maps took us to our accommodation via a very LONG and BUMPY road, basically the wrong road! A little character building to say the least but not without reward. It was along here where we got fantastic views of Black-eared Wheatear (pale-throated) and Tawny Pipit. Birds around our beach front house also included Stonechat, Crested Lark, Goldfinch, Spotless Starling, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Woodchat Shrike, Cattle Egret and Little Owl.

19th June 2016 – Gibraltar

Visiting Gibraltar was always on the itinerary though the visible mass migration had finished. We spent the morning at Europa Point and Windmill Hill Flats scanning for the Barbary Partridge. No luck on that front but we did get our first views of Barbary Macaques. The presence of the massive Yellow-legged Gull breeding colony was very apparent and the only real bird of interest to report was Blue Rock Thrush. A trip on cable car gave us wonderful views of the area and much closer encounters with the ‘rocks’ most photographed residents – Barbary Macaques.

20th June 2016

A morning and evening visit to the Sierra de la Plata area just west of Bolonia was well worth the effort if only for the view. My target bird here was White-rumped Swift and is well known as the first place in the Western Palearctic where they were known to be breeding. The famous breeding cave is easily seen from the layby but during both visits no swifts were seen. However, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Rock Bunting, Kestrel, breeding Griffon Vulture, Sardinian Warbler and fantastic views of Blue Rock Thrush were all recorded.

After the morning excursion I headed to La Janda, west of the village of Facinas where I followed a small track along a drainage channel. This was a great little road, passing through agricultural land and meadow. Corn Bunting, Bee-eater, Linnet, Goldfinch were the first birds encountered but as I continued with the channel to my right and meadow to my left the birds began to change. Fan-tailed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler were all still vocalising from the reeds while White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Black-winged Stilt waded in the meadows. Movement from a bird seen in a muddy irrigated field prompted me to jump on the brakes and scan its position. This particular target bird didn’t get away. Across the channel and scattered over the field were approximately 30 Collared Pratincole.

21st June 2016 – Malaga – Gatwick

As this was our final day in Spain we took a leisurely drive up the coast stopping at Marbella for a bite to eat before heading for Malaga. Here, it seemed appropriate, to finish our 12 day tour of this incredible country in a similar fashion as we started. So, we spent 1 ½ hours gazing at the awe inspiring work of one of Malaga’s most famous patrons at Museo Picasso.

During our Birding in Central Spain Tour we hope to connect with over 150 species, many of which highly prized specialties of the Iberian avifauna. Summit to Seashore’s Top 27 is really just a bit of fun, as even the most common birds are obviously special. So, the list below represents not only the rare but the good the bad and the ugly! We are very aware of our customers hopes and dreams when planning a trip, so here are some targets that are high on our priority list.

  1. Spanish Imperial Eagle
  2. Lesser Kestrel
  3. Egyptian Vulture
  4. Black Vulture
  5. Red-necked Nightjar
  6. Black Stork
  7. Flamingo
  8. Glossy Ibis
  9. Purple Swamphen
  10. Great Bustard
  11. Little Bustard
  12. Collared Pratincole
  13. Whiskered Tern
  14. Black-bellied Sandgrouse
  15. Great Spotted Cuckoo
  16. Alpine Swift
  17. Hoopoe
  18. Roller
  19. Bee-eater
  20. Calandra Lark
  21. Rufous Bush Robin
  22. Blue Rock Thrush
  23. Penduline Tit
  24. Iberian Grey Shrike
  25. Azure-winged Magpie
  26. Spanish Sparrow
  27. Rock Bunting
Birding Spain