Spain - Aragon ........ 6th to 13th June 2022

Sierra de Guara, High Pyrenees and Spanish Steppes

Aragon, a region of dramatic yet panoramic landscapes – highlighted by marvellous sunrises and sunsets, may give the feeling that one is birding in Arizona, by its diverse and contrasting environment of desert and mountains. This new and relaxed pace tour offers a round-trip from Barcelona, taking us through the scenic Guara foothills, dramatic gorges and mountains of the Pyrenees and finally into the wild Belchite steppes. A wide variety of the bird species of Spain will be encountered during this eight day itinerary; many of them in their breeding habitats. Some of the region’s typical and colourful summer breeding residents include Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Roller, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Nightingale, Cirl Bunting and Golden Oriole. Birding on the Spanish Steppes is a great experience, for in this unique habitat - wild and perhaps appearing desolate, with few roads and little traffic, are a host of superb and much sought-after steppe species. Amongst the birds we will search for, are the notoriously difficult to locate Dupont’s Lark and a magnificent supporting cast, including: Lesser Short-toed & Calandra Larks, Pin-tailed & Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Lesser Kestrel, Little Owl and Stone-curlew. In contrast, our visit to the Sierra de Guara and High Pyrenees, will provide us with quality bird watching in beautiful and tranquil mountain chains, where raptors feature highly. Within a wonderfully Alpine environment with easy walking, are a host of superb bird species, including: Egyptian Vulture, Lammergeier, Golden Eagle, Booted Eagle, Peregrine, Eagle Owl, Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor, Citril Finch, Rock Bunting and many other avian gems. We will also pay attention to the region’s array of stunning butterflies and orchids.

White Storks
Day 1: Flight from UK to Barcelona. Transfer to the pre-Pyrenees (Sierra de Guara Foothills). Birding en route for a first flavour of Spanish specialities. White Storks on their nests, Corn Buntings on the wires, Golden Oriole, Bee-eaters, Rock Sparrow, Black Redstart, Barn Owl, Nightingales and Quail can be heard near our accommodation in the Guara Foothills.
Overnight - Loporzano Village

Day 2: Morning visit to delightful wildflower meadows, behind the village, looking for Sardinian, Sub-alpine, Melodious, Dartford & Western Orphean Warblers, Woodchat Shrike and many unusual Butterflies, hoping for Swallowtail, Southern White Admiral, Spanish Fritillary and many Adonis Blues. Afternoon visit to a nearby ruined castle to seek out Spectacled Warbler, Red-rumped Swallows, Thekla's Lark, Tawny Pipit, Rock Sparrow, Black & Black-eared Wheatears. Close overhead raptors may include Griffon & Egyptian Vultures, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kites & Red Kites.
Overnight - Loporzano Village

Blue Rock Thrush
Day 3: Transfer to the Pyrenees stopping near Jaca by the confluence of two rivers for Golden Oriole, Nightingale, Red Kite, Dipper, Short-toed Treecreeper, Black Woodpecker, Iberian Green Woodpecker and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Visiting a nearby secret valley for Cirl & Ortolan Bunting, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and Blue Rock Thrush, with a bonus of butterflies and orchids.
The afternoon birding in San Juan de la Pena and in the lower Hecho Valley; birds here include Lammergeier, Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle, Red Kite, Black Woodpecker, Wryneck, Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Alpine Chough and Cirl Bunting.
Overnight – Hecho Valley

Day 4: Birdwatching further up the Hecho valley region near Gabardito. Morning watch for Wallcreeper, Black Woodpecker, Crested Tit, Citril Finch and other mountain specialities in a wooded area with alpine pastures. Picnic lunch at the refuge. In the afternoon, we visit varied habitats with good chances of Lammergeier, Red-billed & Yellow-billed Choughs, Red-backed Shrike, Yellowhammer and Water Pipit, also Marmot and Chamois and several Orchids. Dramatic mountain and valley views. Overnight – Hecho Valley

Eurasian Griffon
Day 5: Birdwatching in the spectacular Roncal Valley high in the Pyrenees, where we will again look for many of the species above, with special attention paid to Alpine Accentor, Yellow-billed Chough, Rock Bunting and Water Pipit. Possibility of over 10 species of Orchids and butterflies will also feature in this part of the holiday as we explore right up to the French border. Alpine Swift, Blue Rock Thrush and Crag Martin are all found locally; whilst above us Short-toed Eagle and Golden Eagle are usually seen amongst the thermalling Griffons, perhaps with the occasional Goshawk and Honey Buzzard.
Overnight – Hecho Valley

Day 6: Transfer south across the plains of Aragon for a total change of habitat and therefore bird species. During our drive we have chances of Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Dartford Warbler and Cirl Bunting and eyes in the sky for passing raptors. Bird watching around Loarre Castle and the spectacular Riglos region may turn up Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Crested Lark, Spotless Starling, Tawny Pipit and with luck, the now scarce Ortolan Bunting!
Overnight - near Belchite

Iberian Grey Shrike
Day 7: Early morning watch for the rare and elusive Dupont's Lark in the Belchite steppe area. Lesser Short-toed Lark, Iberian Grey Shrike and, in a small copse, Long-eared Owl and Great Spotted Cuckoo may also be seen. The rest of the day we will spend bird-watching from tracks in the surrounding steppes. Birds here may include Lesser Kestrel, Black-bellied & Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Stone-curlew, Little Owl, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Roller and Penduline Tit.
Overnight - near Belchite

Day 8: Breakfast in hotel. Stops for extra birding en route to the airport if time permits. Monk Parakeet could be espied by Barcelona Airport

Tour ref: AA22**

Cost: £TBA
Deposit: £300
Single Room Supplement: £TBA

Leaders: Cristian Jensen & Shena Maskell

Max. Group: 12 plus 2 Leaders

Includes: Economy class flights (UK-Barcelona-UK), accommodation based on twin occupancy, meals, transportation in Spain and services of leaders.

Excludes: Travel insurance, drinks and items of a personal nature.