This year myself and two friends – Borja and Josemi – have been busy establishing a bird photography hide in the desert steppe area of Monegros near Zaragoza. We have dug a small pond which we keep replenished with water and two hides – one for the morning light and one for the evening. The work is gradually bearing fruit as birds begin to trust the site and some fantastic specimens are coming to drink.
I spent an evening there this week and saw some great birds – the highlight were Rollers and we also enjoyed watching hundreds of Starlings coming to drink and wash and saw our first Black Bellied Sandgrouse (sorry no pics) which bodes well for the future. We´re hoping for Bonelli´s and Golden Eagle plus Hen and Montagues Harriers – we´ll keep you posted!
Please get in touch if you´d like to try hide photography and/or birding with us in Monegros. Among other species we see Great and Little Bustards, 4 Eagle Species, Black Bellied and Pin tailed Sandgrouse and many Larks including the elusive Duponts Lark!
Red Billed Chough
©Richard Cash, Alto Aragón. 2018
The Pyrenees, The Foothills and The Desert Steppe
Long Weekend & 1 Week Birding Trips
Wallcreepers, Lammergeier, Great Bustard, Raptors,
Northern Spain has an astonishingly diverse range of unspoiled habitats and a correspondingly huge number of bird species. We have led many birding trips and our local knowledge helps birders see plenty of species at most times.year. We´ll typically see more than 100 species in a week.
The 3000+ metre peaks, alpine meadows, forests and glaciers of the high Pyrenees The desert steppe of Monegros is less than 120km from Each habitat has it´s own specialist birds – from Wallcreepers, Ptarmigan, Snow Finch and Lammergeier in the high mountains to Duponts Lark, Great and Little Bustard and Bonellis Eagle in the steppe areas.
The scenery is fantastic throughout and the flowers and butterflies add an extra dimension to our birding excursions.
The area is a mecca for raptors with Golden, Bonelli´s, Booted and Short Toed Eagles plus the majestic Lammergeier, many Griffon and Egyptian vultures and possibly a few Black Vultures which are beginning to return to the Pyrenees. Harriers are well represented with Marsh, Montagus and Hen Harriers.
We have a hide in the Hecho Valley which is ideal for raptor photography.
In the alpine meadows we´ll see Alpine Accentor, Water Pipit, Dipper, Rock Thrush, Northern Wheatear Chough – red and yellow billed – while in the high Beech and Silver Fir forests there are Goldcrests, Black Woodpecker and a very few White backed Woodpecker. We may also see Goshawk and the pines are home to Coal and Crested Tits.
Further down the high valleys we´ll see Alpine Swift, Crag Martin and Rock Bunting near the cliffs plus Bonellis Warbler, Ortolan Bunting and Iberian Chiffchaff in valley woodland. Kestrels and Hobby are often seen.
Descending the Valley we´ll see Cirl Bunting, Black and Red Kites, Eagles, Hobby, Kestrel, Red Legged Partridge, Red backed Shrike, Black Redstart, Corn Bunting and we´ll often see Little Owl perched on ruined barns. In the Juniper scrub Dartford Warbler are often flitting around.
Along the River Aragón there are colonies of Bee-eaters, many Golden Orioles, Woodchat Shrike, Zitting Cisticola, Cettis Warbler, Hoopoe, Whitethroat, Woodlark, Spotted and Pied flycatchers, Grey and White Wagtail, Kingfisher, many Black Kites, Booted Eagle, Sand Martin, Grey Heron and Marsh Harrier.
The arable farmland nearby has many Crested Lark, all three Harriers, Short toed Eagle, Whinchat and Stonechat, Iberian Grey Shrike, Tawny Pipit in the dry ´badlands´, Rock Sparrow, Great Bustard (in the Fall) and during Spring and Fall migration we see a huge variety of birds including European Crane, Lapwing, Black Stork, Curlew, Snipe and Osprey.
Descending to the foothills with its Almond and Olive orchards, mediterranean scrub and majestic conglomerate rock pinnacles we find many of the same species plus Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Hoopoe, Serin and good chances of seeing Bonellis Eagle and many other raptors.
Further South we reach the desert steppe area of Monegros, a unique dry habitat with arable fields and stands of ancient Spanish Juniper trees. Here we´ll see the huge Great Bustard often in large groups, the Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, many eagles – Bonelli´s, Golden, Booted and Short toed, many Harriers and several species of larks including the hard to spot Duponts Lark and the more apparent Calandra Lark, Short toed and Lesser Short toed Larks. Another highlight are the stunning desert specialists the Pin-tailed and Black bellied Sandgrouse
For hide photography the drinking pools made for sheep are perfect spots to see many of the above birds close up as they come in to drink and wash. We know some excellent locations!
Please see the bird list from a long weekend in the Pyrenees