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IBERIAN LYNX & BIRDS OF SOUTHERN SPAIN

Sunday 5th January — Saturday 11th January 2020
(7 days)


Leaders: Pete Morris and an assistant leader

Group Size Limit: 12

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations

An Iberian Lynx on the prowl (Pete Morris)

An Iberian Lynx on the prowl (Pete Morris)

Spain has long been a classic European birding destination, with a series of exciting specialities coupled with splendid scenery and some beautiful, largely unspoiled towns that are redolent of ‘Old Spain’.

On this short journey we will explore several areas between Madrid and the spectacular Sierra de Andújar in northern Andalucia. Most classic tours run in the Spring, but this tour is different… It is timed at the beginning of the year in order to find one of Spain’s biggest treasures… the marvellous Iberian Lynx, and we have an excellent chance of seeing this, the world’s rarest feline in the remote and scenic Sierra de Andújar. Here, at this time of year, the lynx is often more visible in the dehesa landscapes that it shares with the spectacular and globally threatened Spanish Imperial Eagle (it must be the best place in the world to see this speciality!). The eagle is, for all intents and purposes, endemic to Spain, where the population is slowly recovering from near-extinction in the 1960s and 1970s. We can also expect to see numbers of the huge Griffon and Cinereous Vultures as well as other specialities such as Iberian Green Woodpecker, Iberian Grey Shrike (now restricted to southern France and the Iberian peninsula), Iberian Magpie (a species now recognized as specifically distinct from its cousin the Azure-winged Magpie in northeast Asia), Thekla’s Lark, Dartford and Sardinian Warblers and Short-toed Treecreeper.

We will also explore the wetlands and vast plains of the nearby Castilla la Mancha region. The central plains of Spain provide a last great refuge for some of Europe’s most spectacular birds. The wide open expanses have become famous for their remarkable populations of both Great and Little Bustards, species which have declined drastically over most of their range and which are now very hard to find elsewhere in Western Europe. The arid plains are not just superb for bustards, but also provide a home for Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, and Calandra Larks. At this time of year, the plains birds are often to be found in large and impressive flocks, and there can be few finer sites than a large mixed flock of Little Bustards and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse dropping in to a field to feed, or a flock of huge Great Bustards slowly flapping over the plains! Also on these plains, we will have ample opportunity to watch Eurasian Hoopoes, Spotless Starlings and Spanish Sparrows.

We will also have the opportunity to explore some bird-rich wetlands. Here, the star of the show will be the rare White-headed Duck, which is likely to be found in a small raft of individuals, tails aloft! Here, we may well also find the scarce Ferruginous Duck as well as Greater Flamingo, impressive numbers of Common Cranes, White Storks, bold Western Swamphens, tiny Eurasian Penduline Tits and colourful Bluethroats. We will also visit a nearby castle, which will not only provide a scenic detour, but an excellent opportunity to find the regionally endemic Black Wheatear as well as Rock Sparrow and Blue Rock Thrush, and we will also seek out the impressive Eurasian Eagle Owl at one of its known breeding sites.

Birdquest has operated tours to Spain since 1983.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/guesthouses are of good standard throughout. Road transport is by minibus and roads are good.

Walking: The walking effort is easy throughout.

Climate: Many days at this season are dry and sunny, though it is often cool to cold early in the day. There may be wet and overcast spells at times.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are good.

IBERIAN LYNX & BIRDS OF SOUTHERN SPAIN TOUR: PRICE INFORMATION

Birdquest Inclusions: our tour prices include all tipping. Some bird tour operators do not do this, yet for participants these costs are an unavoidable part of the tour. The value of these inclusions on this Birdquest tour amounts to approximately €90.

£1590, €1810, $2140 Madrid/Madrid. Deposit: 10%.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Single Room Supplement: £180, €210, $250.

This tour is priced in Euros. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

With careful scanning, we have an excellent chance of prolonged lynx sightings (Pete Morris)

With careful scanning, we have an excellent chance of prolonged lynx sightings (Pete Morris)

The local Tawny Owls are rather different looking and with a distinctive call (Pete Morris)

The local Tawny Owls are rather different looking and with a distinctive call (Pete Morris)

Gorgeous Bluethroats winter on Spanish wetlands (Pete Morris)

Gorgeous Bluethroats winter on Spanish wetlands (Pete Morris)

The wetlands are frequented by the rare White-headed Duck (Pete Morris)

The wetlands are frequented by the rare White-headed Duck (Pete Morris)

White Storks and Greater Flamingos are also present in good numbers (Pete Morris)

White Storks and Greater Flamingos are also present in good numbers (Pete Morris)

Good numbers of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse can be found on the steppe fields (Pete Morris)

Good numbers of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse can be found on the steppe fields (Pete Morris)

More Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Pete Morris)

More Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Pete Morris)

We'll encounter some fantastic scenery... (Pete Morris)

We'll encounter some fantastic scenery... (Pete Morris)

Where Black Wheatears reside (Pete Morris)

Where Black Wheatears reside (Pete Morris)

Spanish Imperial Eagles share the dehessa landscapes with the lynxes (Pete Morris)

Spanish Imperial Eagles share the dehessa landscapes with the lynxes (Pete Morris)

... and Eurasian Griffon Vultures (Pete Morris)

... and Eurasian Griffon Vultures (Pete Morris)

The dehessa habitat where we will spend much of our time (Pete Morris)

The dehessa habitat where we will spend much of our time (Pete Morris)

On damp nights other things appear, such as this Natterjack Toad! (Pete Morris)

On damp nights other things appear, such as this Natterjack Toad! (Pete Morris)

Lovely Bluethroats are not uncommon (Pete Morris)

Lovely Bluethroats are not uncommon (Pete Morris)

Penduline Tits winter in numbers (Pete Morris)

Penduline Tits winter in numbers (Pete Morris)

Great Bustard - the 'ostrich of the Spanish steppes' maintains a stronghold in central Spain  (Pete Morris)

Great Bustard - the 'ostrich of the Spanish steppes' maintains a stronghold in central Spain (Pete Morris)

If we are fortunate, we will come across large flocks of Little Bustards and sandgrouse in the steppes too... (Pete Morris)

If we are fortunate, we will come across large flocks of Little Bustards and sandgrouse in the steppes too... (Pete Morris)

Eurasian Eagle Owl is a distinct possibility at this time of year (Pete Morris)

Eurasian Eagle Owl is a distinct possibility at this time of year (Pete Morris)

Another view of the interesting local form of Tawny Owl (Pete Morris)

Another view of the interesting local form of Tawny Owl (Pete Morris)

Common resident species include Cirl Bunting (Pete Morris)

Common resident species include Cirl Bunting (Pete Morris)

Rock Bunting (Pete Morris)

Rock Bunting (Pete Morris)

Hawfinch (Pete Morris)

Hawfinch (Pete Morris)

Black Redstart (Pete Morris)

Black Redstart (Pete Morris)

and Short-toed Treecreeper (Pete Morris)

and Short-toed Treecreeper (Pete Morris)

The Iberian endemics Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pete Morris)

The Iberian endemics Iberian Green Woodpecker (Pete Morris)

and Iberian Magpie (Pete Morris)

and Iberian Magpie (Pete Morris)

Impressive Moufflon also roam the hillsides (Pete Morris)

Impressive Moufflon also roam the hillsides (Pete Morris)

The lynxes are local celebrities, even appearing on the road signs! (Pete Morris)

The lynxes are local celebrities, even appearing on the road signs! (Pete Morris)

A reminder of the focus of our visit... the magnificent and endangered Iberian Lynx (Pete Morris)

A reminder of the focus of our visit... the magnificent and endangered Iberian Lynx (Pete Morris)

Many of the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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