Central and Northern Spain
Victor Emanuel Nature Tours
April 25 to May 12, 2009

April 25, 2009 (Saturday)

  • Arrive at Madrid Barajas International Airport.
  • Spent night at Best Western Hotel Villa de Barajas.
  • Visited square near hotel.
  • Viewed local birds
    (Stock Pigeon, White Stork in nest with young, Common Magpie)

    April 26, 2009 (Sunday)

  • After breakfast, left with group for Monfragüe region and a three night stay at the Hotel Alcaudon, Serrejon.
  • Birded the San Juan Reservoir.
    (Spanish Eagle)
  • Lunch at Pelayos de la Prisa, birded San Martin de Valdeiglesias area.
    (Griffons, Short-toed Hawk, Long-tailed and Crested Tits, Azure-winged Magpies, Eurasian Nuthatch)
    Hotel Alcaudon was quaint with excellent food. Nice room with a small balcony overlooking area.

    April 27, 2009 (Monday)

  • Birded area around Torrecilla, Belen and Trujillo.
    (Hoopoes, Cinereous Vultures, Bonelli's Eagles)
  • Afternoon visit to historic hilltop town of Trujillo.
    (Pallid Swift, Lesser Kestrel)
  • Drove near Caceres.
    (European Roller)
  • Birded at night near Serrejon.
    (Red-necked Nightjar, great close-up looks)

    April 28, 2009 (Tuesday)

  • Birded Monfragüe National Park (Parque Nacional Monfragüe) located in a rural part of Extremadura, Spain.
    Area received National Park Status in 2007.
    (Black Stork,Eurasian Eagle Owl, adult with three juveniles, Booted Eagle)
  • Saw cork bark harvesting near Tietar. Spent additional time near Torrecilla looking for Little Bustard (no satisfying views).

    April 29, 2009 (Wednesday)

  • Travelled towards Valencia. Birded at Calera y Chosas.
    (Great Bustards-scope views, Black-faced Sandgrouse-flyover)
  • Stopped at Pedro Munoz.
    (White-headed Duck, wonderful looks)
  • Spent night at Hotel Rural Entrevinas in Don Quixote country.
    Nice hotel overlooking lovely vineyards, good food.
  • Night birding.
    (European Scops-Owl, heard, difficult to see amid tree branches and dense growth)

    April 30, 2009 (Thursday)

  • Pre-breakfast birding.
    (Rock Petronias, Sardinian Warbler, Crested Tit)
  • Stopped at Mirador de Fonseca overlooking the Cabriell Valley.
  • Headed to the Ebro Delta area and birded the nature reserve of La Albufera,
    the second largest in Spain, south of the city of Valencia.
    (Mediterranean Gulls, Common Kingfisher, Slender-billed Gulls, Common Terns)
  • Returned to parking lot and found that our tour vans had been broken into.
    Brad and I lost, among other things, all the SD cards with the photographs that we had taken up to April 29.
    Went to police station to report the robbery and the airport to get new vans.
  • Spent night at the lovely Hotel Miami Mar in Sant Carlos de la Rapita, Tarragona.

    Tour Van after Break in

    Tour Van after Breakin

    May 1, 2009 (Friday)

  • Birded Ebro Delta around the Encanyisada lagoon and Casa de Fusta.
  • Birded Tancada saltmarsh area.
  • Lunch at Eucalypts Campsite.
  • Birded Migjorn.
  • Before dinner, enjoyed sitting on our balcony overlooking the Mediterranean savoring the scenery and watching birds flying over us.
    Dinner was a wonderful paella.

    May 2, 2009 (Saturday)

  • Pre-breakfast birding near the Encanyisada and Casa de Fusta areas on the Ebro Delta.
    (Savi's Warbler)
  • Headed towards Spanish steppes. Birded Urrea de Gaen (looking for Sandgrouse - flybys only).
  • Visited Belchite's bombed ruins (very interesting).
  • Stayed at Hostal Rioja in Quento de Ebro, Zaragoza.

    May 3, 2009 (Sunday)

  • Pre-breakfast birding at El Planeron Nature Reserve near Zaragoza.
    (Dupont's Lark)
  • Birded near Belchite.
    (Long-eared Owl)
  • Birded Ebro River area near Quinto.
    (Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Golden Oriole and Penduline-Tit nest)
  • Birded near Osera.
    (Spectacled Warbler)

    May 4, 2009 (Monday)

  • Headed north via the steppes to pre-Pyrénéean sierras and Ontiñena located in Huesca, Aragon, Spain.
    (Eurasian Thick-knee, Eurasian Hobby, Little Owl)
  • Birded near Sarinena.
    (Eurasian Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Common Nightingale)
  • Stopped at Piraces.
    (Black Wheatear)
  • Drove by Mallos de Riglos with towering pink cliff faces.
  • Spent the next three nights at the Hotel Castillo de Acher in Siresa, Huesca.
    This was a nice hotel with excellent food and a friendly, helpful staff.

    May 5, 2009 (Tuesday)

  • Spent the majority of day looking for Wallcreepers.
  • Pre-breakfast birding at Boca del Infierno.
  • Post-breakfast birding at same location (no Wallcreepers).
  • Bird alpine areas of the valley of Selva de Oza.
    (White-throated Dipper, Goldcrest, Firecrest)
  • Drove up to higher altitudes.
    (Chamois and Alpine Marmot, Yellowhammers, Dunnock and Lammergeiers)
  • Returned to hotel for a lovely sit-down lunch.
  • Birded Gabardito, beautiful scenery.
    (Coal Tits, Short-toed Treecreeper, European Robin, no Wallcreeper) and back to Boca del Infierno (finally a Wallcreeper).

    May 6, 2009 (Wednesday)

  • Birded near Arres.
    (Cirl Bunting and Orphean Warbler)
  • Drove up to Berdun and the Roncal Valley near the border with France.
  • Birded on both the Spainish and French sides of the border.
    (Black Redstarts, Water Pipit, Yellow-billed Choughs, Ring Ousels, Linnet, Accentor)

    May 7, 2009 (Thursday)

  • Birded near Arres.
    (Ortolan Bunting)
  • Visited and birded San Juan de la Peña.
    (Red Crossbill, Coal Tit, Black Woodpecker-quick look)
  • Toured lower monastery.
  • Drove to Canfranc and Astun.
    (Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush)
  • Drove to Lecina.
  • Spent the next three nights at the Hostal La Choca in Lecina, Huesca.
    This was a quaint hotel located across the road from the local church. Excellent food and friendly staff (very clean).

    May 8, 2009 (Friday)

  • Hiked between Lecina and Betorz (one of the highlights of the trip).
    Lovely cultivated area with olive groves and oak forests and spectacular Pyrénée views.
    (Bonelli's Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Winter Wren, Woodlark, Nightingale, Woodchat Shrike, etc.)
  • Spent the afternoon in Alquezar visiting the hilltop cathedral and walking its narrow streets.

    May 9, 2009 (Saturday)

  • Birded the La Choca overview down to the Rio Vero.
    (Griffons, Alpine Swifts, Dartford and Subalpine Warblers)
  • Birded south of Huesca.
    (Penduline Tit on nest, Purple Heron, Water Rail)
  • Birded Vadiello during the mid-afternoon.
    (Lammergeier, Egyptian Vulture, Blackcap)

    May 10, 2009 (Sunday)

  • Birded Betorz.
    (Song Thrush)
  • Birded our way to Barcelona through Monzon and Binefar to Mequinenza and Fraga and the wetlands around Uxtea.
    (Reed Bunting, Black Tern)
  • Spent our last night at the hilltop Hotel El Castell de San Boi in Sant Boi de Llobregat, Barcelona. Farewell dinner.

    May 11, 2009 (Monday)

  • Depart for Houston via Newark.