Spain Birding Holidays
Monthly Summaries

My Spain birding blog at:

birding in spain birding 2007 summary surfbirds blog

Trip reports, Latest sightings, Photos

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spain birdwatching in spain ring ouzel photo

In all, this year's birding tours and bird watching holidays have so far produced over two hundred and sixty species of birds, seen by clients from over a dozen countries around the world. Month by month summaries of the main period - it does not include all day tours - are detailed below.

Full reports and galleries for some bird tours and holidays, where clients have submitted content themselves, can be viewed by following the links where indicated.

If you require further information such as species lists for any of the tours or monthly bird check lists please feel free to contact me.

Ring Ouzel
The resident sub-species alpestris is supplemented on passage by numbers of the nominate torquatus

spain birding in spain wallcreeper photo

David, Jenny and Peter Linstead, UK

"Thank you so much for our holiday. We all enjoyed ourselves enormously and the range of birds we saw exceded my best hopes. We certainly picked the right person to lead us."

March 2007 - 203 species seen

spain birding in spain glossy ibis photo

The uniqueness of early spring was evident all week long as many winter visitors such as ducks, Lapwing and Common Snipe remained as a backdrop to a constant stream of summer arrivals such as Black-winged Stilt, Alpine Swift, Spanish Yellow Wagtail, Spectacled and Sub-alpine Warblers, Black-eared Wheatear, Wryneck, Purple Heron and, bisected in flight by a pair of resident Eurasian Spoonbill, two passage Common Crane.

Glossy Ibis

A surprisingly adept Hoopoe avoiding the attentions of a Sparrowhawk and a pair of displaying Red-billed Chough were early bonuses and a last day feast over a first winter Golden Eagle being mobbed by a Red Kite capped an impressive list of seventeen raptors for the trip (which also included Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Goshawk, Osprey, Lesser Kestrel and Montagu's Harrier).

The sparse vegetation at this time of year afforded superb views of Great and Little Bustard, Stone-curlew, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and Great Spotted Cuckoo but it was the Pyrenees that provided the week’s highlight.  After watching Alpine Accentors hopping along side the car we ventured into the rain to find a Wallcreeper catch and dismantle a huge caterpillar in front us before sheltering under a ledge and allowing us to soak ourselves in admiration.


Duncan and Sheena Chisholm, Scotland

"We saw many birds we would never have spotted on our own and you provided us with many fascinating facts about the wildlife of the area. We will recommend your guiding service to our birding friends."


Chris Saunders, Canada

"The trip was as great as I hoped it would be. I have assured my birding friends what a great time they'd have in NE Spain.

I'm off to Chile in December and if its half as good as my time in Spain, it will be a huge success."

spain birdwatching in spain little crake photo

April 2007 - 233 species seen

spain bird watching in spain blue winged teal photo

When you see Bee-eaters hawking over open fields and Whiskered Terns doing likewise over water, you know summer isn’t far behind.  In the Steppes, the fart-jump display of Little Bustard was suddenly everywhere to be seen and the Quail ‘whip-poor-whip’ everywhere to be heard.

Common Cuckoo, Nightingale and Golden Oriole all sang along to complete the cliché whilst sneaking up on shreaking Wrynecks, peeking in on a pair of courting Montagu's Harriers and the discovery of a rare Red-rumped Swallow nest in the Garraf all added a few moments to remember.

Blue-winged Teal
Little Crake

Lead by a voluminous flow of Wood Sandpiper, every make and model of European wader seemed to pass through at some point, and often in full summer plumage, whilst the landing of parties of the rather odd-looking Collared Pratincole created the most excitement among many.

The last of the winter’s Great Bustard and Great Bittern vanished and the Alpine Accentor and Snowfinch similarly moved on to their breeding grounds, leaving us with the majestic Lammergeier and flocks of Alpine Chough, ‘singing’ and floating alongside the car as we descended.

Rarities included a female Blue-winged Teal at Llobregat, a quite beautiful Black-headed ‘feldegg’ Wagtail at Vilaut and a rather captivating Little Crake giving the impression that it can walk on water as it scuttled over scraps of reed debris at Riet Vell.

guided birdwatching spain turtle dove photo

Don and Carol Downie, UK

"We had an excellent week with you. I have put together a DVD and I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed looking at some great birds."

Alex Vargas, Thailand

Report/Photo Gallery

spain birding in spain vargas trip report button

Turtle Dove

guided bird watching spain penduline tit photo

May 2007 - 222 species seen

spain birding in spain red footed falcon photo

Morning departures to the sound of European Nightjar and Golden Oriole signalled just how the breeding season was progressing and, with birds like Little Bittern, Tawny Pipit and a host of warblers all having settled in, it wasn’t long before typical observations were of a crackling juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo, a Lesser Kestrel delivering a large insect to its nest hole and a pair of Kentish Plover swapping nursery duties by urging their chicks to run from beneath one set of open wings to the other.

David and Chris Evans, UK

"The Steppes was one of the best birding sessions we've ever had and will stay in our memories for a long time. So many excellent birds in such a short space of time was exhilarating. We really enjoyed your excellent company and hospitality and picnic lunches will never be the same again.

We would thoroughly recommend your holidays to anyone. It was great to be able to enjoy birds rather than be rushed on before we were ready. The ID tips you gave us were really useful."

Red-footed Falcon

We even watched several pairs of Penduline Tit at various stages of nest-building so late arrivals like Rock Thrush, Red-backed Shrike and Red-necked Nightjar all had some catching up to do. A pair of Roller mating on a post then didn’t seem to be wasting any time, although I’m not sure what to make of a White Stork flying from a waste dump carrying a baby’s nappy!

The passage of Pied Flycatchers had ceased but the odd Wryneck and many Honey Buzzards, including a pair with an Osprey escort, were still on the move and very little can beat the sight of White-winged and Black terns dipping and diving a few metres in front of your hide.

Highlights though were my first Hooded Crow for Spain, thousands of Common Tern over the ocean, the encouraging presence of male Montagu’s Harriers at one particular site and watching male Red-footed Falcons hawking and hovering over a field containing Stone-curlew and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse.

Allen Moore, Isle of Man

"Thanks for a memorably great day's bird watching."

spain bird guides spanish yellow wagtail photo
birding in catalonia short toed eagle photo

June 2007 - 195 species seen

After a particular treat at the end of the migration period when four species of falcon, including Hobby and Red-footed Falcon, were hunting around the same field, it was time to hone in on the rather helpful summer activity of some of the endemic species.

A Reed Warbler feeding its chicks was typical of such behaviour with many of its cousins, among them Garden, Bonelli’s, Melodious and Great Reed, all putting in equally conspicuous performances.  At the Cap de Creus, another, the stunning Orphean Warbler, singled himself out in an adjacent cork oak like a siren as a nearby Wryneck scampered around a dead tree and a marvellous family party of Bonelli’s Eagles soared overhead.

Woodpeckers too seemed to claw for our attention with Black, Green and Great Spotted all showing up more frequently than usual and, in the Steppes, a Pin-tailed Sandgrouse sat next to the car, a pair of Roller failed in their attempt to raid a Lesser Kestrel nest and a Magpie struggled to feed its adopted juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo.

Adopted too, surely, were at least some of the twenty-four Red-legged Partridge chicks counted bouncing behind an adult in the Garraf as if on invisible strings.  Nearby, the sight and sound of an Ortolan Bunting proved to be a false hope but the presence of an immature Montagu’s Harrier near Lleida confirmed at least one success for the summer.

Jory Langner, USA

"I loved birding with Stephen. He knows his birds and where to find them. Great guide.. friendly and flexible.. and lots of birds."

Short-toed Eagle

Iberiae Yellow Wagtail

guided birding spain nightingale photo spanish birding trip spain ortolan bunting photo

Derek Charles, Phillip West, Ian Graham, Ireland

"You are certainly in one of the best areas in Spain for birding and that Ebro Delta is one of the best birding spots in Europe! All the best and I wish you continued success."

Photo Gallery

spain birding in spain charles june gallery button

Ortolan Bunting

spain bird watching in spain lesser kestrel photo

July 2007 - 188 species seen

From those still being nursed, as witnessed in a family of Spectacled Warbler and a rather demanding Great Spotted Cuckoo of its Magpie parent, to those already making it alone, such as the immature Mediterranean Shag on the cliffs of the Garraf, it seems that the world is full of juveniles.

The vast majority of course will succumb, if not to the weather then to predation, and when you see young, bush-top Bullfinch and Rock Thrush naively chirping a breakfast call to their parents its not surprising. Although, even predators can be nervous of their first few steps with a pair of Lesser Kestrels observed for twenty minutes squealing an ‘its-time-to-go’ call at a fledgling perched at the entrance to their nest hole (the same one the Rollers tried to invade!).

Elwood Hain, USA

“I was delighted at how many great birds Stephen could locate in three and a half days even though I had missed the main migration period. We saw nearly all the special birds of the Steppes and Ebro Delta. I didn't expect to see so many warblers and other 'little brown jobs' that are such a challenge for North American birders.

Stephen not only knew all their calls and songs, he had a knack for helping me see them well. I am looking forward to a return visit.”

Many don’t even make it this far of course with several raided Penduline Tit nests bearing testimony.  Thankfully however the failure of many waders to even find a partner creates a bird watchers’ paradise at this time of year as a stream of colourful Knot, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin and Spotted Redshank arrive early as if all dressed up but with nowhere to go.

Its not all doom and gloom though with a gusty day at a municipal dump, complete with a cast of hundreds of White Stork, thousands of Cattle Egret and a fistful of Griffon Vultures, staging the unlikely performance of dozens of Black Kites playfully catching, dropping and stealing plastic bags blowing about in the wind.

spain birdwatching in spain great spotted cuckoo photo
juvenile Great Spotted Cuckoo

spain birdwatching in spain dotterel photo

August 2007 - 203 species seen

birding in catalonia red necked nightjar photo

Ron Lockwood, USA

"Stephen is a fantastic guide. I had very limited time to bird around Catalonia and was particularly interested in some of the more difficult birds such as Lammergeier and Black Woodpecker.

Stephen knew exactly where to go was extremely knowledgeable about habitats, behavior and vocalizations.

In just three days of birding we saw about 150 species during the last week of July, not an optimal birding time."

The build-up of herons is synonymous with August and was typified by hundreds of Little Egrets perching like Christmas tree lights on leafless trees along the Vidala at Llobregat.

Night Heron, Squacco Heron and Little Bittern all landed within arm’s reach at some point, the latter being upstaged by a fierce-looking Moustached Warbler, which ventured even closer in search of insects amongst the reed stems in front of the viewing screen.


Spectacled and Garden Warbler, amongst others, seemed to hold pre-migration parties in every patch of blackberry bushes available whilst Red-rumped Swallow and Sand Martin were doing the same on the telephone cables.

Dotterel, Temminck's Stint, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Whitethroat started to turn up in small numbers and the disappearance of Rock Thrush, Roller and Collared Pratincole provided further evidence of the start of autumn migration. Kingfishers, having moved down to the coastal wetlands from the rivers, were everywhere and Black-necked Grebe and Common Snipe had already begun arriving for the winter.

And the raptors were at it too with juvenile Montagu’s Harrier and Osprey seen quartering their respective habitats, a flock of forty Honey-buzzard lazily flapping into the twilight of the southern skies and a stunning Eleonora’s Falcon hawking overhead in the Garraf Massif.

Stewart Abbott, England

Photo Gallery coming soon

September 2007 - 205 species seen

September was like august, but more.  More birds left.  In conspicuous flocks like Bee-eaters and Hirundines, or low-key, like the Golden Oriole and Red-back Shrike.  More birds passed through, like the Osprey and Pied Flycatcher (one was observed eating a stick-insect). And more birds arrived for the winter.

Of these the Lapwing, Common Snipe and Common Teal were the most conspicuous, all arriving in vast numbers to carpet Catalonia’s wetlands but a single Bluethroat, still in that remarkable plumage and singing as if it were spring, was the most welcome.

spain bird guides black necked grebe photo

The most anticipated of course were the migrating raptors and with good reason as Honey-buzzard were seen everywhere but most reliably, together with Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Hobby and the rest, from the watch points in the Collserola and Foix Parks.

Other raptors were merely dispersing away from breeding grounds of course and, amongst the carnival of Sparrowhawks chasing Kestrels, Kestrels chasing Golden Eagles and Peregrines chasing just about everything else, we even found time to marvel in the secret subtlety of a final Wryneck creeping through the Garraf scrub.

Andy Strouthous, UK

"I think it was the raptors and Choughs I loved the most, so many kinds of Eagle and Lammergeyer circling in the Pyrenees - it was wonderful. There again the sheer number of Herons, Egrets and Bitterns was incredible, as were the seabirds, terns and waders, so many kinds in so great number.

I had my doubts of coming in August, however, I have never seen so many birds in one week, not even in Africa. Each different habitat had its surprises, every habitat supplied ever increasing numbers for my wish list, birds I had always wanted to see.

However without your guidance I would have probably only found fifty percent of what was there, I certainly would not have got within 3 yards of a Nightjar. Every time I enquired about a bird it turned up, almost immediately; I began to suspect you had an assistant beating them out of the shrub at prearranged signals. I would recommend your birding tours without reservation."

October 2007 - 212 species seen

birding trip spain bar tailed godwit photo spain birding in spain buff breasted sandpiper photo

The first day of the month provided the surprise of the year when, after a long-awaited trip to Los Monegros to see the returning Great Bustard, wintering Stone-curlew and migrating Dotterel, a fortuitous encounter with a group of birders presented us with a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, a very rare vagrant to Catalonia and even more so to the dry lands of Lleida!

Bar-tailed Godwit

Elsewhere the peak of the raptor migration came and went with highlights producing twenty or more Common Kestrel perched up on sticks in one field of olive saplings and a half-dozen Honey-buzzard settled in the trees behind them.

A trickle of Greylag Geese and Wigeon signalled an approaching winter before Meadow Pipit, Robin, Black Redstart and Blackcap arrived en mass and post-breeding flocks of passerines such as finches, Woodlark and Rock Sparrow grew ever-larger in the open fields.

Spoonbill seemed to be outside every wetland hide with five together at Llobregat, where the winter’s first Great Bittern flew out of the reeds and crossed the lagoon.  A surprising Little Bittern, in the hands of a ringer on the Ebro Delta, was one of a number of stragglers, which also included several species of warbler and a much-appreciated Turtle Dove.

Mark Dawson and Lorna, UK

"A superb trip. We found you knowledgeable and thoughtful, not to mention those wonderful picnics!"

November 2007 - 173 species seen

A wintering Wallcreeper fluttering out from a cliff-face and returning like a flycatcher signalled that the cold season was going to be just as good as the rest of the year.

In the two days following we also felt the magnificent presence of a Lammergeier floating low over our heads and, but for a freak sand storm blowing any chance we had of Great Bustard, now wintering in good numbers, completed a full set of Steppe birds with Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse.

spain birding in spain northern lapwing golden plover photo

As for the rest, ground-feeders such as finches, buntings, pipits, larks and wagtails filled up the fields, Black Redstart, Blackcap and Firecrest returned to the garden and Common Scoter, Mediterranean Shag and even a rare Eider Duck bumped up and down with the swelling tides.

To cap it off a sea-diving Kingfisher and a pair of Alpine Accentor, at the same local spot where we found the Wallcreeper, left us with a sense of anticipation to warm us ready for the months ahead.

Kerstin and Kurt Nederlanden, Sweden

"Your thoughtful arrangements from our hotel to the richly rewarding excursion was such a good experience to us! We enjoyed a lot your intense watchfulness to call our attention to birds.

We would be happy to contact you again! Also the trip list of birds you sent has already been of good use for us. We will be happy to give your name to friends and travellers!"

Golden Plover and Northern Lapwing
spain birding in spain alpine accentor photo

Phil Hardwick, Wales

"I could not have hoped for a better guide or company.

Stephen obviously knows his birds but as important to me was the fact that he is easy to get on with, passionate about the area he birds in and very keen to give you the customer what you want."

December 2007 - 176 species seen

spain birding in spain great bustard december summary photo

Finally everything had settled down into the predictability of winter. Thankfully, what was predictable was also pretty amazing.

Red-breasted Merganser, Black-necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Bluethroat and Booted Eagle made up the winter contingent on the Ebro Delta, with bonuses including Squacco Heron and a Crested Coot. In the Steppes, driving through a flock of over five thousand Common Starlings eclipsed the usual highlight of bustards and sandgrouse which, with the help of the seasonal lack of vegetation cover, were easy to find. In the Pyrenees, Fieldfare, Alpine Accentor and Alpine Chough dominated the landscape with a few Citril Finch showing too.

The Garraf was where it was at though, with favourable winds bringing in an oceanic spectacle comprising Gannets, Balaeric Shearwater and Great Skua on the one side whilst the local Wallcreeper continued to creep on the rock face behind us.

Steve Mandel, USA

"Thank you again for everything, I had a terrific time and you were great company."

Red-breasted Merganser

Joan Brenchley, USA

"A great birding day! Both my husband and I really enjoyed it - many lifers for me and we loved the landscape."

January 2008 - 179 species seen

guided birding in spain dipper january 2008 summary
guided birding in spain siskin january 2008 summary

Birding in Spain is supposed to be best in spring but just one local day tour produced 97 species alone including Wallcreeper, Brambling, some very showy Moustached Warbler, displaying Bonelli’s Eagle, Great Bittern and even a rare over-wintering Little Bittern.

Equally unusual, in the Steppes we found a small party of Dotterel that had, it seemed, decided not to continue their migration south and flocks of returning Stone-curlew and over-wintering Brambling added a little more excitement to the resident gatherings of Little Bustards and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse!

The winter flocks of passerines in the Garraf continued to include Rock Sparrow, Woodlark and four bunting species and in the Pyrenees, a large tower of circling Alpine Chough entertained us in the melting snow whilst two of their corvid cousins, Ravens, mobbed a passing Lammergeier. 

But a single binocular field of view containing Red-throated Diver, Red-breasted Merganser and Black-necked Grebe was perhaps the highlight of the month for me in the Ebro Delta, where Bluethroat, Water Rail, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Crested (Red-nobbed) Coot and a long-staying Pectoral Sandpiper also obliged with great views.

Peter Backman, Sweden

"Thank you for a very nice day. I give you a very good recommendation both as a guide and a very nice person."

(White-bellied) Dipper
guided birding in spain peregrine january 2008 summary

K. B., India

"Thanks for a wonderful trip.

Your precise knowledge about locations for specific birds was remarkable.

Your deep knowledge about the birds and their calls made the trip most enjoyable and the birding experience truly enriching.

Lastly, your culinary skills helped us overcome some very cold weather!"


February 2008 - 180 species seen

Wallcreeper, Lammergeier, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Dotterel - need I say more.

Birding in winter may not have the quantity of birds but you can't deny it has the quality.

Mark Dawson and Lorna, UK

"We would like to thank you for a really great trip [their second of the year] and we both hope to bird with you again in the future."


First off, the local Wallcreeper, which was been extremely obliging lately wing-flicking and butterflying over the crags and cliffs of the Garraf.  Even the spectacle, available by rotating 180o to face the sea, of Gannets, Balearic Shearwater, Audouin’s Gull and Shag was relegated to ‘time-filler’ and the Black Wheatear, Alpine Accentor and mating Peregrines hardly got a look-in.

Just down the road at Llobregat the long-staying vagrant Eider Duck and White-fronted Goose continued to show, the latter shadowing a wintering Greylag as if it had imprinted at birth.  The gradual withdrawal of wintering Wigeon, Golden Plover and Reed Bunting was as apparent as the arrival of Garganey, Wood Sandpiper and Whiskered Tern but the sighting of the first Barn Swallow, on the 26th, is always emotional.

A peregrine-like stoop from a Booted Eagle on the Ebro Delta sent Northern Lapwing splashing everywhere whilst soaring Lammergeier, lark-chasing male Merlin and a ghost-grey Hen Harrier flapping off into the twilight proved February is a good time for raptors.  This same day also brought a full set of Great and Little Bustard and Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse but continuing flocks of Siskin and Brambling and a pair of Redwing near the house were too reminiscent of the U.K. not to earn them my personal ‘moments of the month’.

Roger Bartley, UK

"I really enjoyed the trip and was pretty impressed when I added up all the birds we had seen and how many firsts were in there for me."

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