Visit your favourite destinations
Western Europe
North America
Eastern Europe
South America
Middle East
East Indies

A Report from

Pyrenees and Los Monegros, Huesca, Spain, 1st July to 4th July 2013,

Hilary MacBean

A short social trip to Laguarres near Graus, in the Somontano area of Huesca, led to an interesting discovery of a variety of habitats, in the widest part of the Central Pyreneen range and Los Monegros. The Pyrenees Exteriore (the front range) rises in a series of wooded and plateau ridges, interspersed with agricultural and scrub and woodland, with wide braided river valleys, many cliffs and gorges and a very varied geology. The location also gives good access to Los Monegros, the steppe area between Huesca, Lleida and Zaragoza, in the Ebro Valley, to the South.

I was aided on two days by Angel Sancho of Graus, (, who is seeking to make his mark as a local bird and mountain guide. I spent two days exploring the local area of Laguarres and la Rio Isabena and two days with Angel and his open truck. First we visited the Pyrenees Exteriore, in the area of the Isabena and Esera. We climbed to the high plateau towards Merli and then passed through the gorge above Campo, on the Rio Esera. At Castejon de Sos, in the Valle de Benasque we took the hill road to Porto de Sahun, a coll at 1989m, overlooking the high Pyrenees, towards Ordesa. This area produced a range of habitats and Angel’s local knowledge of sites, the mountain specialities and not least, an excellent pair of eyes produced great views of Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Lammergeier, Griffon and Egyptian Vulture, Alpine Chough, Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Water Pipit, Citril Finch and breeding Ortolan Bunting, Northern Wheatear amongst many others. Time alone prevented us from walking into known Alpine Accentor and Wallcreeper sites. 

Our second location, the steppes of Los Monegros are notoriously difficult to negotiate due to a warren of small tracks. Angel engaged the local knowledge of his colleague, Alberto and we had a fun day out driving the tracks in his open-topped vehicle, an ideal viewing platform.  Alberto was able to take us directly to good sites for Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Little Bustard, breeding Long-eared Owl, Roller, Lesser Grey Shrike, Lesser Kestrel, Goshawk, Hobby, Red-billed Chough and Stone Curlew. He also knew of some interesting small wetlands where Water Rail turned up. Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Goshawk, Lesser Kestrel, Little Owl and Long-eared Owl were all seen but a highlight was close views of a Montague’s Harrier coursing over the fields. Other birds of note were Calandra Lark in notable numbers, Corn Bunting (common throughout Huesca), breeding Rock Sparrow, Woodchat Shrike, Black-eared Wheatear, Dartford Warbler and Short-toed Lark, with Alpine Swift and Peregrine Falcon in the Esera Gorge, en-route home. Time prevented an evening search for Dupont's Lark.

At Laguarres and on la Rio Isabena River, a number of additional birds were noted in the traditional mix of small fields and Mediterranean Holm Oak and Poplar woodland. Nightingale, Corn Bunting, Melodious Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler and Blackcap were all common. Quail and Red-legged Partridge were calling in the fields and Honey Buzzard, Kingfisher, Little Ringed Plover, White and Grey Wagtails, Stonechat, Golden Oriole, European Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, Turtle Dove, Spotted Flycatcher, Short-toed Treecreeper and Nuthatch were all found to be breeding in a short stretch of the river valley. Higher up, in a small oak wood in the fields, a singing Western Orphean Warbler held territory and was well seen.

A total of 93 species were recorded over 4 days.

Bird List

Alpine Chough

Alpine Swift

Black Kite



Black-eared Wheatear

Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Tit

Booted Eagle

Calandra lark

Carrion Crow


Chiff Chaff

Cirl Bunting

Citril Finch

Common Buzzard

Common Swift

Common Whitethroat

Corn Bunting

Crag Martin

Crested Lark

Dartford Warbler

Egyptian Vulture

European Bee-eater

European Nightjar

Garden Warbler

Golden Eagle

Golden Oriole



Great Crested Grebe

Great Tit

Greater Spotted Woodpeaker

Grey Heron

Grey Wagtail

Griffin Vulture


Honey Buzzard


House Martin

House Sparrow



Lesser Grey Shrike

Lesser Kestrel


Little Bustard

Little Owl

Little Ringed Plover

Long-eared Owl



Marsh Harrier

Melodious Warbler

Montague's Harrier


Northern Wheatear

Ortolan Bunting



Red Kite

Red -legged Partridge

Red-backed Shrike

Red-billed Chough



Rock Sparrow

Rock Thrush



Short-toed Eagle

Short-toed lark

Short-toed Treecreeper


Spotted Flycatcher


Stock Dove

Stone Curlew



Turtle Dove

Water Pipit

Water Rail

Western Bonelli's Warbler

Western Orphean Warbler

White stork

White Wagtail

Wood Pigeon

Woodchat Shrike



Yellow-legged Gull

Zitting Cisticola


Total 93


Why not send us a report, or an update to one of your current reports?