Trip report: Southern Spain: The Europe Introtour (March 2015) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Ken Behrens and Scott Watson. This was a set-departure tour..

Spain is perhaps Europe’s best-known birding destination, and for good reason. It offers some of the continent’s finest birding, on top of charming and historic towns, beautiful landscapes, and wonderful food. For someone looking to make a first birding trip to Europe, Spain is an obvious choice. You can rack up a large proportion of the continent’s birdlife in a single short trip. For this reason, we consider this trip a sort of “Europe Introtour”.

This short Tropical Birding trip takes in some of Spain’s most storied birding destinations: Monfragüe National Park and the semi-steppes around Trujillo, in Extremadura; and the famous Coto Doñana National Park and surrounds in Andalucía. Despite being only seven days long, we racked up 184 bird species! Highlights ranged from steppe specialties like Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Great Bustard, and Calandra Lark, to cliff-dwelling Spanish Imperial Eagle and Eurasian Eagle-Owl. In the wetlands of Doñana, we connected with a rich range of waterbirds, including species like Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, White-headed Duck, Audouin’s and Slender-billed Gulls, and Red-crested Pochard.

One of the great things about this tour is that we are based in only two hotels, for three nights each. One hotel is a beautiful and castle-like structure set in a vineyard, while the other is on the shores of the Doñana wetlands, with birding literally on the doorstep. Another great thing about this tour is that it is short, and that Spain can be reached by a relatively short cross-Atlantic flight, making it accessible for people with limited vacation time, or limited willingness to take long-haul flights. For those interested in a longer, two-week trip, this Spain trip can be combined with our short Morocco set-departure tour, which immediately precedes it. These two tours in combination give an incredible introduction to the habitats and birds of the Western Palearctic, from the edge of the Sahara Desert to the rich wetlands and pine forests of Andalucía.

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