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Picos de Europa - Western Pyrenees - Las Bardenas 17-24th May 2006,
This was a short notice trip that was originally pencilled in for 2007. I was initially going to Israel but the trip was cancelled through lack of participants. Chris was taking a year off from foreign birding. Dave decided to join us a couple of weeks before departure and had never birded Spain before.
It was the third birding trip to Spain undertaken by Chris and myself, which stretched back to 1986. The idea was to clean up on the mountain birds which were, for me, Alpine Accentor, Snowfinch, Alpine Chough, Wallcreeper, Lammergeier and Black Woodpecker.
Initial research and fact finding were carried out on the internet. Mostly trip reports from the Birdtours site. “A birdwatching guide to the Pyrenees” by Jacquie Crozier and “Where to watch birds in Spain and Portugal” by Laurence Rose was also used. The field guide used was the Collins “Birds of Britain and Europe”
The most useful information was provided by Karl Dutton, a South Yorkshire birder, to whom we are indebted. Karl is known by Chris and he has actually led a couple of tours to Northern Spain. He informed us that we would be more likely to get Alpine Accentor, Snowfinch and maybe Wallcreeper in the Picos De Europa than anywhere else. He suggested a place called Fuente De, where a cable car runs to the top of the mountain providing easy access to the high slopes throughout the year. He also had information on the Gabardito Wallcreeper site in the Pyrenees.
We decided that we would do the Picos, then drive over to the Pyrenees, basing ourselves near Jaca. If time allowed we would head south to the area of Las Bardenas. This would enable Dave to pick up more species.
Flights: - Easyjet-Stansted/Bilbao £39.50 return.
Car Hire: - Europcar, booked through Holiday Autos. An Opel Meriva, enough room for 3 people with luggage.
Accommodation- Hostals and Hotels, ranging from 12 to 22 euros per person per night. Nothing booked in advance.
17th May: Flew 07.15 hrs Stansted - Bilbao, and then drove to Picos d’Europa via Santander and Potes to Fuente De. As weather was fine and clear decided to go straight up in the Cable car. Up at 15.00hrs, returning down in last car at 18.00hrs. Overnight at Hostal Puente Deva, Espinama.
18th May: Awoke to heavy rain. Drove to coast at Pechon and along to San Vicente de la Barquera and then direct to Pyrenees. Birded at Vulture Feeding Station and alongside river at Lumbier and then on Rio Aragon above the Embalse de Yesa. Overnight at the Hotel Aragon, near Santa Cilla.
19th May: Hecho Valley - Gabardito - Anso Valley - Sta Engracia - Alastuey. Overnight at Hotel Aragon, near Santa Cilla
20th May: San Juan de la Pena - Embalse de la Pena - Riglos - Portalet - Alastuey. Overnight at Hotel Aragon, near Santa Cilla
21st May: Hecho Valley - Gabardito - Sta Engracia - Santa Cruz de la Seros. Overnight at Hotel Aragon, near Santa Cilla
22nd May: Lumbier - Laguna de Pitillas – Valtierra - Alguedas (Las Bardenas Reales). Overnight at Hotel Los Abetos, Valtierra
23rd May: Las Bardenas Reales to Embalse de El Feriel - Bermeo. Overnight at Hostal Aldatzeta, Bermeo
24th May: Flew 10.45hrs Bilbao - Stansted
Day 1—The outward flight was 45 minutes late arriving at Bilbao. This was caused by having to queue for take off at Stansted owing to fog. After picking up the car Chris thrashed it along the motorway, through Santander to the Picos de Europa. We arrived at the cable car station at Fuente De at 15.00hrs.
Our original planning was dependent on the weather. If the weather was fine it was to be straight up, and if bad on the mountain then we would try the next morning. The weather was good when we arrived, but the last cable car down was at 18.00hrs. We only had 3hrs, so we went for it, at a cost of 12.5 euros per person.
On top of the mountain it was blowing a gale and very cold. Large patches of snow were everywhere. The first birds we saw were a couple of Northern Wheatears and a Water Pipit. Red-billed Choughs were dancing in the wind and there were also a small flock of Alpine Choughs moving around. A small flock of Izard were observed on a patch of snow across a valley.
We headed along the main path as instructed, taking the first turning left along a path across the scree. We were making for the Wallcreeper site. After about 500 metres, we turned a corner, and in the distance a large patch of snow was across the scree path. A hiker had just come across it and was taking off his snow shoes. Thwarted, we turned back. Luckily, through the wind we heard a call and searching on the slope below the scree path a male Snowfinch was found. This was only about 20 metres from us and was feeding amongst the small rocks and tussocks. Good scope views were had by all and the bird continued feeding oblivious to us. We watched it for about 15 minutes hoping we would get a flight view, but to no avail.
We were not going down off the mountain until the last cable car or until we saw an Alpine Accentor. Other birds we saw were a male Black Redstart, 3 Griffon Vultures and White Wagtail. Trying to get out of the icy wind, we finished up behind the cable car building on the left hand side and thought this was the best place to search. Soon a small brown bird with chestnut flanks was found – Alpine Accentor. Like the Snowfinch it was only about 20 metres distance on the grassy slope by the corner of the cable car building. The bird was busy feeding, going in and out of sight behind the tussocks. The bird flew off but returned five minutes later, giving good observations before disappearing. Elated, we went back down in the last cable car.
There are two large hotels by the bottom of the cable car station but these looked rather big for us so we motored down the mountain to the next village, Espinama. We booked into the homely “Hostal Puente Deva” for the princely sum of 12 euros each for the night, and ate in the bar of the restaurant whilst watching the European Cup final, Arsenal v Barcelona. The food was good. When we left the restaurant the church bell was ringing and fireworks were being let off. Guess who had won the European Cup.
Day 2—We had obviously made the right decision to go up the mountain yesterday. This morning, the clouds were very low, and the rain was bucketing down. As we motored down the mountain we had a flock of about 20 Wild Goats on a hillside. We drove under the motorway at the bottom towards Pechon on the coast and then headed for San Vicente. We had noticed some marshes yesterday on the way in. These turned out to be a huge estuary. We had Common Buzzard, Black Kite, Little Egret, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Whimbrels, Dunlin and Ringed Plover amongst other things.
We then started the long drive to the Pyrenees, via Pamplona, the city where they run in front of the bulls, which was a very clean city. Along the N-240, we stopped at the junction for Lumbier. (map 10, birdwatching guide to the Pyrenees). Here, there is a vulture feeding station, with a hide to sit in and watch. A couple of carcasses were visible and there were about 30 Griffon and one Egyptian Vulture hanging about, but none were feeding. We also had Red Kites, Black Kites, Stonechat, Melodious Warbler, Corn Bunting and Nightingale singing. This was the first of many.
There is a gorge at Lumbier named “Foz de Lumbier” and we decided to have a look. This is signposted from the village. Unfortunately, there was a car park with an entrance fee to pay so we gave it a miss. Retracing our steps back to the village, we stopped at a bridge over the river. This turned out to be a little hotspot, turning up 2 Cetti’s Warblers, Many Serin, Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Golden Oriole, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Goldfinches, Blackcaps, and a Red Squirrel. Nightingales were singing everywhere.
We motored back to the N-240, and carried on towards Jaca, passing the Yesa reservoir on our right. This was barren of birds. On reaching the end of the reservoir, we turned right over a bridge across the River Aragon and about 500 metres on, turned left down a track towards the river. Birds seen were Sand Martin, Grey Heron, Common Chiffchaff, Common Sandpiper, and Little Ringed Plover. We did see some nice orchids by the river, Early Spider Orchid, Lesser Butterfly Orchid, and some kind of Helleborine. Once more, we retraced our steps back to the N-240, and went on through Santa Cilla to the Hotel Aragon. We booked in here for 4 nights, and whilst the accommodation was ok, the food left a lot to be desired.
We ate there the first night choosing the “menu del dia”. I chose beef. What I got was about 4 ribs which appeared to have been cut very close to the spine, and a strip of fat with a thin vein of meat along the middle. I think the whole lot had been rescued from the stock pot, or wrestled off a Griffon Vulture. Chris didn’t fare much better. He had ordered Chicken and what he got he described as “the bit that goes in the dustbin back home”. We looked enviously at Dave who had chosen Ham and Eggs. We voted with our feet, and the next couple of nights we ate at a camping site back along the road through Santa Cilla.
Day 3—Today, we headed up the Hecho Valley to the Gabardito Wallcreeper site. Along the way we picked up Black Redstart, Woodchat Shrike, Red-backed Shrike, Black Kites, Egyptian Vultures, and Corn Buntings.
On arrival at Gabardito, we were sorting ourselves out for the trek to the site when close by we heard what we took to be a Black Woodpecker calling. I saw a flash of black disappear behind the top of a tree. It never reappeared. That was the only thing we saw of what may have been a Black Woodpecker. Not enough seen to be conclusive. A couple of Citril Finches flew over as we made our way to the track to the Wallcreeper site.
We walked for about 45 minutes, onward and upward, across the scree until we reached the site facing the cliff face, with a gorge or chimney to the right of it. We walked on a little and sat in the sun with a good view of the cliff face and the Izard on it.
After about 15 minutes, a Wallcreeper flew from the direction of the cliff over our heads. We sat there for another hour during which time we had Alpine Swift, a Lammergeier which flew away from us across the valley, Coal Tit, Kestrel and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker. A Green Woodpecker was heard calling and the sky was full of Griffon Vultures.
Two birders from Nottingham came up the path and told us they had been having very good views of the Wallcreepers for 30 minutes or more. They had been stood on the path not far below us and looking straight into the chimney and gave us the info “if you are stood in the sunshine, you have walked too far and are less likely to see them”. They returned down the path with us and one of them and myself saw a Wallcreeper fly across the chimney and land on a cliff face. Unable to lower the binoculars to give a fix, the bird clambered about the rock face and then flew with everyone just seeing it then. All this took place in about 10 seconds. We waited around for another hour or so, but no more was seen. We had good views of Marsh Tit on the way down.
We drove back to the main road, and headed to Hecho. It was our intention to take the road to Anso, but this road was closed. We carried on down the Hecho valley birding as we travelled. At one farm there were 100+ Griffon Vultures milling around on the ground, but they didn’t appear to be feeding. At another farm, 14 Egyptian Vultures stood amongst the cattle. A Short-toed Eagle was also spotted at this site, giving good views. There were also both Black and Red Kites in the air.
We went all the way up the Anso valley to the village of Anso, with very little to show for it birdwise. On the way back, we turned onto a track that led to the village of Santa Engracia. From the village there is a road to Puenta la Reina. The two Nottingham lads had worked this road the night before and had 3 species of Harrier. We didn’t get any Harriers, but we did get Turtle Dove, Crested Lark, Mistle Thrush, Corn Buntings, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Stonechat, Red-legged Partridge, and 12 European Bee-eaters.
At night, we went to the Eagle Owl site on the road to Alastuey. This is about 2 kilometres down the road from the Hotel Aragon, turn left at the road sign, and continue for about 1 kilometre till you come to a little bridge. It is supposed to show flying across the top of the ridge. It hadn’t showed the night before, and it didn’t show this night. A Scops Owl was calling and a European Nightjar was seen by Chris and Dave whilst I was moving the car.
Day 4 - Today, we headed for the monastery at San Juan de la Pena and Riglos. The road to the monastery was just a left from Hotel Aragon and left again. Birds seen along the way were Stonechat, Spotted Flycatcher, Common Kestrel and a few Griffon Vultures.
The monastery was set in a huge pasture, with a huge dormitory like edifice in the process of being built. We walked the woods picking up Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Serin, Firecrest, and Great Tit. Cuckoo and Green Woodpecker were heard calling. No Crested Tit, this was a little disappointing
Along the way to Riglos, a singing Subalpine Warbler was picked up from the car and we stopped and had excellent views of this colourful little warbler. Just prior to the Embalse de la Pena there was a large reedbed and we were met by a chorus of singing Great Reed Warblers, if one can call it singing. Only one bothered to show itself atop the reeds. We also had Red-backed Shrike and European Bee-eater near here.
At Riglos, the rock pinnacles known as “Los Mallos” were awash with climbers. We bumped into the two birders from Nottingham again in the village. They had been working the patch around the base of Los Mallos for three hours. They had not seen the Black Wheatear and had very little else. We decided not to bother with so many people around, after all it was a Saturday.
We then drove back towards the Pyrenees taking the road to Portalet on the French border. It was raining for most of the way there and continued to do so whilst we were there. We stopped over the border and got a couple of French ticks, Northern Wheatear and White Wagtail.
Back over the border on the Spanish side, we parked up behind some shops, and walked into a disused mining area. The first thing that we noticed was the profusion of wild flowers. Orchids, Fritillaries, Gentians, Daffodils and many more species carpeted the area. A pair of Alpine Choughs were giving good close views. Other birds seen were Black Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Water Pipit, Crag Martins and a pair of Ravens flew by. We also saw 3 groups of Alpine Marmots feeding outside their burrows. On returning to the car a Golden Eagle was circling high in the sky over the French border. We drove back down the valley pulling in from time to time when something was spotted. On one occasion we watched an unusual displaying Water Pipit. This had the characteristic flight behaviour and song but looked nothing like a summer Water Pipit, being still in winter plumage.
We dined at the campsite, and then again made our way to the Eagle Owl site at Alastuey, driving past for a couple of kilometres and picking up Red-backed Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Serin, and Common Buzzard.
We arrived back at the Eagle Owl site at 22.00 for the scheduled flypast, but he never turned up. We did get the European Nightjar again, and the Scops Owl was calling.
Day 5- A change of plan today. We decided to return to Gabardito. Chris and Dave wanted longer and better views of the Wallcreeper and I wanted Black Woodpecker. I should point out that in the past year, I had double knee replacement surgery and one trip up to the Wallcreeper site had been enough for me.
Enroute to Gabardito we picked up Woodchat Shrike, Collared Dove, Corn Buntings, many Black Kites and about 15 Griffon Vultures.
At Gabardito, Chris and Dave started up the track, and I hung around the pasture. I never did get Black Woodpecker. What I did get was 7 Citril finches, 2 Ravens, a singing Linnet, a few Griffons, a Lammergeier, and 2 flocks of Common Crossbills flew over.
They returned after a couple of hours, having had good views of the Wallcreeper and also Blue Rock-thrush, Green Woodpecker, Western Bonellis Warbler, Firecrest and a Lammergeier.
Whilst having a coffee at the Refuge, we got into conversation with Gillian and Derek, birders from Ipswich. They were staying at the Hostal Santa Cruz and said that the food was good there and that each night Scop’s Owls could be seen on the church opposite the Hostal they were staying in. We decided to go that night.
Bidding them farewell, we set off back down the mountain to the main road. We stopped at the bridge prior to the road and had Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Red-backed Shrike, Blue Tit, and Blackbird and then headed up the road, through the Boca De Infierno, and higher up the Hecho Valley. It was Sunday, and many families were having picnic lunches by the river. We had a few Grey Wagtail and another Dipper, but very little else.
We retraced our way back down the valley below Hecho village, where we had Short-toed Eagle, Egyptian Vultures, and Garden Warbler.
We decided to give the tracks around Santa Engracia another go. The first bird we saw was a Marsh Harrier, then a Quail flew across the road. We stopped by a patch of scrub when we heard a bird calling. The call was recognised as Orphean Warbler, which we had the previous year. All we got on it initially was a bit of black on the head and grey on the back. We hung around, and the bird surfaced in a dead tree on the opposite side of the road, still calling loudly and giving excellent views. While we were watching it, a Subalpine Warbler, appeared next to it, then a Greenfinch joined the show. Other birds seen were Crested Lark, Corn Buntings, 2 Turtle Doves and Nightingales were singing everywhere.
That evening, we motored up to Santa Cruz de La Seros and had a couple of beers and a meal at the Hostal Santa Cruz. After dusk we walked across to the church with Gillian and Derek and sat on a bench. Two minutes later the Scop’s Owls were calling. They were atop a builder’s crane across the road then they both flew into a Horse Chestnut tree in front of the church. From time to time one would fly onto the church. I might add that the church was floodlit, so there was no problem seeing them.
We said our goodbyes to Gillian and Derek and as we were pulling out of the Hostal car park, Dave saw a Scops again alight on the side of the church. We turned the car round and the Scops was standing in a recess, lit up by the floodlights giving views you only see in identification guides.
Day 6- Today we started journey south to Las Bardenas. The plan was to head west along the N-240 to Lumbier crossroads, then south to Carcastillo. From there we would work along the protected areas, “Enclaves Naturales” of the river Aragon. From the book, “ Where to watch birds in Spain and Portugal”, it says these are nesting places of Penduline Tits, Golden Orioles, Cetti’s Warbler, and Nightingale. From there we would then take in “Laguna de Pitillas”, and then down into Las Bardenas.
At the Lumbier crossroads we called in at the Vulture feeding station. This time there was a bit of action, with up to 200 Griffon Vultures on the ground, and a lot of them feeding and milling around. There were also 2 Egyptians, 5 Black Kites and 2 Red Kites.
Along the way to Carcastillo we also had 4 Crested Lark, Black Redstart, Goldfinches, Woodchat Shrike, 3 Stonechat, 2 Turtle Doves, Subalpine Warblers, Serin and a Woodlark.
From Carcastillo, we worked the area south of the River Aragon looking for the “Enclaves Naturales”. We tried 3 tracks, but couldn’t get anywhere near the river through the dense and high vegetation. Nightingales were calling everywhere. All we got were 3 White Storks at their nests with young and a Bee-eater.
We crossed the river at Melida, and headed north to the Laguna de Pitillas. This was a large expanse of reedbeds, intersphere we found a bit of shade to set the scopes up. At last we found some birds. Marsh Harriers, Purple Herons, Grey Heron, Cattle Egrets, Little Egret. Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe and loads of Black-necked Grebes. Red-crested Pochard, Mallard, Shoveller, Common Pochard. Hundreds of Coots. Eurasian Skylark, Tawny Pipit, 2 Black-winged Stilts. Good views were, hawking dragonflies and eating them on the wing. One came so close you could see the bits of dragonfly he was discarding.
After departing Laguna de Pitillas, we retraced our route to Melida and headed south to Alguedas, via Valtierra, checking in at the Hotel los Abetos.
We were now in Las Bardenas which quoting from “Where to watch birds in Spain and Portugal” - “ is one of the most interesting steppe areas of Spain.” “Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, can often be seen flying in small flocks during the evening” “There are smaller numbers of other steppe species including Great and Little Bustards and Stone Curlew. The most characteristic small birds are Lesser Short-toed Lark, with around 1000 pairs and Duponts Lark”.
With great anticipation we headed through Alguedas, and took a track heading for “Emitris del Yugo”. The first bird we picked up was a Black-eared Wheatear, then Bee eater and Crested Larks. After a few kilometres we were asking ourselves where does the steppe start. The Emitris del Yugo was set on top of a hill giving panoramic views for miles around. Alas, there were no steppes. The whole area had been put under the plough. Piped irrigation systems were everywhere. “Where to watch Birds in Spain and Portugal” was published in 1995, So sometime during the last 11 years the area had been cultivated.
We continued along the track picking up Stonechat, Northern Wheatears sitting on irrigation pipes, Tawny Pipit and more Crested Larks. Eventually, we came to a stone littered field. A relic of the past, just the place for a Stone Curlew. Within seconds of stopping Dave picked one up. A Calandra Lark also got up. In this area we had a few Short-toed Larks and also two Thekla Larks. Somewhat despondently we motored back to the hotel.
Day 7- This is our last full day. We had time for about 6 hours birding, then we had to drive up to the Bilbao area, and find somewhere close to the airport for our early morning flight.
Yesterday, we had passed a sign on the N121 indicating a track to “Parc Natural de Bardenas Reales” so today we took this and followed signs for the “Embalse de El Ferial”. We were in a cultivated area and started to pick birds up around the piped irrigation systems and on the track in front of us. These were Hoopoes, Northern Wheatears, European Bee-Eaters, Common Buzzard, Tawny Pipits, Crested Larks and many Corn Buntings. The number of birds seen had risen and it was more like Spanish birding as we knew it.
After travelling for a while, we picked up a ribbon of reed beds on the left with the occasional tree and patches of scrub. Marsh Harriers started to appear over the reed beds and all together we had 10 made up of both sexes. We also had Reed Warbler, Red-legged Partridge, Spotless Starlings, Short-toed Lark, Rock Sparrow, Goldfinches and Serin.
We arrived at the Embalse, which is a large reservoir in a concrete bowl in the middle of nowhere with a large and empty hospitality area alongside. The only bird on it was a single Great Crested Grebe. As we were coming away we also saw Dartford Warbler, which gave us good views.
It was our intention to pick up a track for the “Emitris Del Yugo” on the way back, but somehow we took the wrong turning and finished up back on the N-121 some way from where we went on. The only other birds we had, other than seen earlier, were Woodchat Shrike, Stonechats, and a couple of Black Kites.
We then started the long drive back to Bilbao. At some place near Legrano, we had Booted Eagle from the car, surprisingly the only one of the trip. We stopped and had good views of it. Skirting Bilbao on the motorway, a Peregrine Falcon swooped in front of us.
We drove past Bilbao, and headed to Bermeo on the on the coast for the night. We stayed overnight at the “Hostal Aldatzeta” in the old part of the town. This is a working fishing port and the only birds we saw were Yellow-legged Gulls.
Day 8- We awoke bright and early, keen to be on our way to the airport where the plane left in 3 hours. On exiting the hostal to our horror we discovered the car had been clamped. Our “Charge de Affaires”, Chris, swung into action and shot off and within 30 minutes the police were taking the clamp off. Total fine between the three of us was 116 euros. What a start to the day - that put paid to the duty free shop. We had new bird on the drive to the airport, a female Bullfinch.
To summarise the trip, we got the most important birds we came for, namely, Snowfinch, Alpine Accentor, and Wallcreeper. On reading trip reports Black Woodpecker is always hit or miss, depending on the time you have.
Las Bardenas was a disappointment and it shows you the importance of having the latest information. The book was published eleven years ago. That must have been soon after Spain joined the Common Market and we think that accounts for all the cultivation. It is a big area and maybe we only scratched the surface, but we were in “Parc Natural de Bardenas Reales de Navarra” for several hours and saw no signs of access anywhere that looked liked producing the goods.
Black-necked Grebe: 30+ at Laguna de Pitillas
Little Grebe: 2 pairs at Laguna de Pitillas
Great Crested Grebe: 4+ at Laguna de Pitillas and one at Embalse de El Feriel in Las Bardenas Reales
Cormorant: One at Laguna de Pitillas
Cattle Egret: 20+ at Laguna de Pitillas
Little Egret: A few seen along coastal estuaries
Grey Heron: Odd birds seen throughout
Purple Heron: c10 at Laguna de Pitillas
White Stork: Several seen in lowland areas, often with young on nests.
Mute Swan: A nesting pair on the estuary at Pechon
Mallard: c100 at Laguna de Pitillas and odd ones throughout
Shoveler: 2 at Laguna de Pitillas
Gadwall: 2 at Laguna de Pitillas
Pochard: A male at Laguna de Pitillas
Red-crested Pochard: Several at Laguna de Pitillas
Lammergeier: At least 2 seen at Gabardito, both immatures.
Griffon Vulture: Seen in good numbers at most sites, with 200+ recorded at Lumbier.
Egyptian Vulture: Many seen regularly, with 20+ together near Hecho
Golden Eagle: One soared high over Portalet
Short-toed Eagle: Singles at Hecho and Gabardito
Booted Eagle: Surprisingly only one seen, near Miranda de Ebro
Red Kite: Common throughout
Black Kite: Common throughout
Marsh Harrier: One at Sta Engracia, 6+ at Laguna de Pitillas and 10+ at Las Bardenas Reales
Common Buzzard: Several seen, generally whilst traveling.
Honey Buzzard: Five passed high over Gabardito
Sparrowhawk: A single at Gabardito
Kestrel: Several seen, mainly whilst traveling
Hobby: Two hawking dragonflies at Laguna de Pitillas
Peregrine: One near Bilbao
Red-legged Partridge: Seen in Hecho Valley and Las Bardenas Reales
Quail: A very obliging individual seen well at Sa Engracia
Coot: Numerous at Laguna de Pitillas
Black-winged Stilt: 2 at Laguna de Pitillas
Stone-curlew: A single seen at Las Bardenas Reales
Little Ringed Plover: A pair on the Rio Aragon above Yesa
Ringed Plover: 3 at San Vicente de la Barquera
Dunlin: 20+ at San Vicente de la Barquera
Common Sandpiper: Singles at Pechon and on the Rio Aragon above Yesa
Redshank: Two at Laguna de Pitillas
Whimbrel: 6+ on the estuary at San Vicente de la Barquera
Black-headed Gull: One near Bilbao
Yellow-legged Gull: Seen regularly at suitable sites
Lesser Black-backed Gull: Two at San Vicente de la Barquera
Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon: Common
Wood Pigeon: Seen regularly
Collared Dove: Seen regularly
Turtle Dove: Seen and heard regularly
Cuckoo: 3-4 recorded throughout
Scop’s Owl: At least two seen well in floodlights at the church at Santa Cruz de la Seros, with odd ones calling elsewhere.
Nightjar: Two seen at Alastuey
Swift: Seen regularly
Alpine Swift: 6+ at Gabardito
Hoopoe: 10+ at Las Bardenas Reales
Bee-eater: Several seen, generally in single numbers.
Black Woodpecker: Heard calling once at Gabardito
Green Woodpecker: One seen at Gabardito
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Seen at San Juan de la Pena and near Puente la Reina
Skylark: Only one noted was at Las Bardenas Reales
Crested Lark: Seen regularly throughout.
Thekla Lark: At least two were seen at Las Bardenas Reales
Woodlark: Two singing near Aibar
Short-toed Lark: Several seen at Las Bardenas Reales
Calandra Lark: At least two singing at Las Bardenas Reales
Sand Martin: Seen on the Rio Aragon above Yesa
Crag Martin: Seen regularly at suitable sites
Barn Swallow; Seen regularly
House Martin: Seen occasionally
Tawny Pipit: Several recorded at both Laguna de Pitillas and Las Bardenas Reales
Water Pipit: Present at Fuente De and Portalet, where a bird in full winter plumage was watched displaying.
Spanish Wagtail: Seen regularly throughout
Spanish Wagtail: 2 present at Laguna de Pitillas
Grey Wagtail: Common along all rivers
Wren: Heard regularly throughout
Dipper: Seen in the Hecho valley
Dunnock: Several in the Gabardito area
Alpine Accentor: One seen well at Fuente De, near the Cable car station
Nightingale: Very common
Black Redstart: Seen regularly throughout
Northern Wheatear: Many seen at several sites both in mountain and steppe areas.
Black-eared Wheatear: Only seen at Las Bardenas Reales
Blue Rock Thrush: A singing male seen at Gabardito
Song Thrush: Seen and heard regularly
Mistle Thrush: A few seen at various locations
Cetti’s Warbler: Heard at varying sites where expected.
Great Reed Warbler: Two seen at Embalse de la Pena and one at Laguna de Pitillas
Reed Warbler: Several present at Pechon and Las Bardenas Reales
Melodious Warbler: Seen regularly throughout
Dartford Warbler: One at Embalse de El Feriel in Las Bardenas Reales
Subalpine Warbler: Seen regularly at several sites
Garden Warbler: A few at Gabardito
Blackcap: Plentiful throughout
Orphean Warbler: A singing bird showed very well near Sta Engracia
Western Bonelli’s Warbler: Heard at Gabardito
Common Chiffchaff: Heard near Yesa and at Gabardito
Firecrest: Seen at San Juan de la Pena and Gabardito
Spotted Flycatcher: Singles at Sa Cruz and near Puente la Reina
Great Tit: Regular
Blue Tit: Regular
Coal Tit: Regular
Marsh Tit: Two at Gabardito
Nuthatch: Two at San Juan de la Pena
Wallcreeper: One seen on both visits to the regular breeding site at Gabardito
Short-toed Treecreeper: 1-2 seen and heard at San Juan de la Pena
Red-backed Shrike: Seen regularly at several locations
Woodchat: Seen regularly, with several near Puente la Reina
Magpie: A few seen throughout.
Jay: Singles seen daily at varying sites
Jackdaw: Only ones recorded were at Las Bardenas Reales
Chough: Common in mountain areas.
Alpine Chough: c10 at Fuente de and Portalet and flocks of up to 40+ at Gabardito
Carrion Crow: Common
Raven: Seen regularly
Spotless Starling: Common
Golden Oriole: Two alongside the river at Lumbier
House Sparrow: Common
Rock Sparrow: c10 seen at Las Bardenas Reales
Snowfinch: A single male gave close and prolonged views at Fuente De.
Chaffinch: Seen regularly
Linnet: Seen occasionally.
Citril Finch: Several seen around the Refuge at Gabardito
Bullfinch: A single near Bermeo
Common Crossbill: Present in flocks of 40+ at Gabardito
Cirl Bunting: Several seen at various sites
Corn Bunting: Common