|Lanius Bird Tours
|Spanish Pyrenees |
Wallcreepers & Cranes
23rd – 27th February 2012
Leader Dave Read
Later we arrived at our first base in the beautiful medieval town of Alquezar, a small village which has grown around the castle and the Colegiata de Alquézar first constructed in 1099. Here we checked into the very comfortable Villa de Alquezar, our base for three nights. After a short break we ventured back out, where just a short walk through the narrow cobbled streets saw us reach the promenade overlooking the Gorge and cliff top Colegiata for which the village is famous. It wasn't long before our first target, a stunning male Wallcreeper, was found on the gorge wall though it quickly flew across to the village where it was seen briefly on a house before being lost to view.
Moving around to the other side of the Colegiata gave a spectacular view over the Rio Vero as well as many sightings of Crag Martin, while a small play area nearby held 4 feeding Alpine Accentor and a Rock Bunting. Returning to the promenade we quickly relocated the Wallcreeper which was now feeding on the wall of the gorge giving prolonged good views. Overhead c120 Griffon Vultures were circling on thermals, a flock of c60 Red-billed Chough moved through and a ringtail Hen Harrier passed over.
It was now fast approaching lunch time so we moved a short distance to a suitable spot where on arrival we quickly found a nice male Dartford Warbler, followed by a pair of Black Wheatear. While eating lunch Blue Rock Thrush was added and two immature Golden Eagles drifted slowly by at close range.
Next we headed to a nearby reservoir and a favourite of ours, being a reliable site for both Lammergeier and wintering Wallcreeper. On arrival an adult Lammergeier immediately moved over though not everyone could get out of the car quick enough to see it. Nearby, careful searching of the numerous cliff faces soon paid when our second Wallcreeper of the trip was found. Later we walked to the dam where we waited and scanned, hoping the Lammergeier would reappear. Many Griffon Vultures and an Egyptian Vulture later it did just that and this time it was enjoyed by all.
Next we moved to the Monasterio de San Juan de la Pena, where we ate our lunches. Afterwards a walk though the mature woodlands to the viewpoint produced Firecrest, Crested Tit, Common Crossbill and Great Spotted Woodpecker but sadly not the Black Woodpeckers which also frequent the area. The view from the viewpoint was spectacular but raptors were few and far between, with just the odd Griffon Vulture passing distantly by.
Back in Alquezar we enjoyed the walk down into the village with the Colegiata and church lit up looking just as impressive as they do in the day. Yet again we enjoyed a beautiful meal and a very nice local wine as we reflected on the days highlights, while on the way back to the hotel Venus and Jupiter were both very bright in the dark sky.
Heading south it wasn't long before the landscape began to change and we were soon on the Plains. A quick walk to stretch our legs produced our first Calandra Larks, but little else so we opted to drive some of the myriad of tracks that crisscross the area. It wasn't long before we had found both Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, while further explorations also provided Thekla Lark, our first Lesser Short-toed Larks and Southern Grey Shrike.
We then visited Candasnos Lagoon where we ate our lunches while enjoying the sight of several Marsh Harriers over the reedbeds. Other highlights included Great White Egret and Penduline Tit, though it was the wildfowl that stole the show with 8 species of ducks present including several Red-crested Pochard. Careful searching through these bumped the tally up to 9 species when Dave found a nice drake Ferruginous Duck, though the excitement caused by this was short lived when Denise found a bird she was unfamiliar with. Pointing it out to Dave he immediately recognised the bird as a drake Blue-winged Teal, which took the total to 10. As in the UK this was a great find and represents only the second ever record for Aragon.
Afterwards a short journey onto the Plains further south rewarded us with up to ten Great Bustard before continuing to Lecera, where we checked into the Rincón del Cierzo for the night.
After breakfast we headed back to Barcelona where we could do a little birding at the Llobregat Delta, a coastal wetland bordering the airport. A few stops were made along way, producing another male Hen Harrier and a few Water Pipits. Once there we added Glossy Ibis, Purple Gallinule and Sardinian Warbler amongst others.
This proved to be a very enjoyable tour with an abundance of stunning scenery, good company and plenty of warm winter sunshine. The Birds were also first rate with 112 species recorded, an impressive total in just five days. We would like to thank everyone involved in this tour for their contribution.
|HOME / TOURS / GALLERIES / REPORTS / CONTACT US / LINKS
Copyright 2007 © Lanius Bird Tours