Pyrenees at bOletas and Ebro Delta

BEST SPANISH HABITATS

Dates

May 9th/18th 2018

Tour Cost

€ 1.750,.

Single room supplement

€ 300.-

Group size

8 or max 12 with two leaders

Tour leader

Cristian Jensen or Daniel Cazo

Airport

Barcelona-Barcelona

What´s included

All ground transport, all meals, services of guides and reserve entrance fees. Accommodation at Boletas Birdwatching Centre is always a bonus, superb food & wine. Few nice easy walks in flat terrain.

What´s not included

Transport to/ from UK and any overnight stay that may be involved, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.

Tour code

The best 10-day tour you can find in Spain exploring its most important nature habitats; coast, steppes, mediterranean woodland, inland lakes, rocky areas and alpine peaks.

Selected species list

Lammergeier, Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor, Collared Pratincole, Audouin´s Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Little Bustard, Squacco Heron, Savi´s Warbler, Black Woodpecker, Dupont´s Lark..

Introduction

A 10-day birdwatching tour, combining the Ebro Delta, the Ebro Valley steppes and the  Pyrenees, was our first tour and is one of our most demanded because of the superb birding and the experience to stay at Boletas Birdwatching Centre tasting its famous cuisine. The programme combines visits to the most representative spots of the Pre-Pyrenean "sierras" and High Pyrenean mountains (Riglos, S.J. Peña, Guara, Hecho and Ordesa), the wetlands in the south (Lower Cinca, Sariñena), the steppe areas (Monegros, Belchite) and optionally the wetlands in the Ebro Delta. This tour gives you the opportunity to observe 80 per cent of the Spanish avifauna in four most characteristic habitats of the Iberian Peninsula.

The order of these excursions is only directional and can be modified depending on climatic conditions at the time. The most advantageous conditions for our visit to the steppe area would be on a day of very little sunshine, on the other hand it is preferable to visit the High Pyrenees during hot sunny days. In order to achieve our objective we make a daily revision due to meteorological forecasts.

Itinerary

Day 1  – Welcome to BOLETAS - We'll meet you at Barcelona airport, birding en route with good chances for raptors and several species of steppe birds, followed by a welcome dinner and overnight at "Boletas" in Loporzano.

Day 2 - Loporzano, Vadiello and Guara Range - Walk from Loporzano to a nearby riverbed with good chances for a wide range of birds: from Lammergeier to Black Wheatear and Golden Oriole to Tawny Pipit. Walk along one of the most emblematic rock faces of the Sierra de Guara Natural Park. Several stops on the way at interesting spots situated in the heart of the park. Large groves of holm oaks, mediterranean scrub and pine woods. The ravines of the rivers Flumen and Mascún are regarded as the most rugged and inaccessible of all in the pre-Pyrenean ranges. Spectacular rock formations with abundant birdlife. Numerous raptors, mainly Bonelli´s (last pair in the central Pyrenees), Short-toed and Golden Eagle ,Lammergeier, a large colony of Griffon Vultures, Egyptian Vulture, Red-legged Partridge, Scops Owl, Eagle Owl, Alpine Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Thekla Lark, Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Thrush, Tawny Pipit, Firecrest, Dartford, Spectacled, Sardinian, Subalpine, Orphean Melodious, Olivaceous, Bonelli´s, and Garden Warblers, Golden Oriole, Southern Grey Shrike, Rock Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Red-billed Chough, Rock Bunting and Ortolan Bunting. Overnight at “Boletas” in Loporzano.

Day 3 – The famous Mallos de Riglos & San Juan de la Peña - Transition of mediterranean woodland to alpine woodland in San Juan de la Peña with good population of raptors and one of the best sites to watch Black Woodpecker & Citril Finch. Drive to the Mallos de Riglos. Mixed route which combines short walks and a visit to Loarre Castle (XI century). Holm oak woods, mediterranean scrub, reforested pine woods and huge towering cliffs (MALLOS) in one of the most spectacular panoramas of all the pre-Pyrenean range. Abundance of raptors with some of the most important vulture populations in all the Iberian Peninsula. Great variety of woodland birds. Black Wheatear, Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, and thrushes. Overnight at Hotel “Acher” in Hecho.

Days 4 - Hecho Valley   – High mountain areas. Narrow, winding valleys with large wooded masses, mainly pine and beech groves. In the open areas we find cultivated fields and grazing lands, Alpine meadows above 2,000 mts. The valley of Hecho, formed by the river Sobordan basin, turns into a deep gorge at the "Boca del Infierno", one of the most beautiful ravines in the Pyrenees. Most outstanding are rock loving birds Wallcreeper and raptors that occupy the rock cliffs, such as Lammergeier, Golden Eagle and Egyptian Vulture. Good opportunities to watch Alpine and woodland birds like Black Woodpecker, Red-backed Shrike, Dipper, Crested Tit, Firecrest, Ortolan Bunting, Rock Bunting. In this area, we can also spot the only population of White-backed Woodpecker in the Aragonese Pyrenees. A region still populated by the last of the Pyrenean bears, we will see Marmots and Chamoix. Overnight at Hotel "Acher" in Hecho.

Day 5,6 – Ordesa Valley – Drive from Hecho valley to Ordesa Valley, the most spectacular Alpine scenery in the Spanish Pyrenees. We will walk all day  at an altitude of 2000 mts. (6000 fts.).  The views of the Ordesa valley are stunning and we will explore  the best nesting rocky areas searching for the most difficult alpine birds: Snow Finch, Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor, Citril Finch and Alpine Chough, having very good chances to see all them while raptors such as Golden Eagle, Lammergeier and Egyptian Vulture patrol the skies. Walking around our village will produce an interesting bird life where Wryneck, Red-backed Shrike and Rock Thrush are busy feeding their chicks. Overnight in Ordesa área.

Day 7 - Los Monegros; Ebro Valley Steppes - We leave the high Pyrenees crossing the pre-Pyrenees driving through the extensive cereal plains of Monegros, which includes the visit to the most arid land in the Ebro depression with chances to see the elusive Dupont´s Lark, amongst desert vegetation. Just before dinner we shall familiarise ourselves with the nesting area of Dupont's Lark. Before dawn on the following day we will return to this impressive steppe area where the spectacle of sunrise coupled with the mysterious song of Dupont´s Lark creates a unique magical ambience. Overnight in Belchite area.

Steppe birds: Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Stone Curlew, Little & Great Bustard, Montagu´s Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Calandra, Dupont´s, Short-toed, Lesser Short-toed & Thekla Larks.

Water birds: Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Bittern, Black-necked Grebe, Red-crested Pochard, and an important population of White Stork. Penduline Tit, possible Bearded Tit, Great Reed Warbler.

Mediterranean raptors: Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed, Booted, Bonelli´s & Golden Eagles, Goshawk, Black Kite.

Days 8 and 9 - The Ebro Delta – After the Dupont Lark experience, we'll drive from the Ebro valley steppes today, to visit the areas north and south of the Ebro Delta. Birding en route we'll have chances to see many migrants before arriving at the delta with its littoral wetlands, the third most important in the western Mediterranean, after La Camargue in France and "las marismas del Guadalquivir " (Coto de Doñana). It is an alluvial plain of about 32,000 hectares, which goes out 20 Km. into the sea. A large part of this surface is cultivated, with a predominance of rice fields (20,000 Hectares). The rice fields are of great importance as a feeding area for many waterbirds, and there are still large surfaces of natural environments (beaches, wide expanses of sand, bays, flood marshes, salty surfaces, small littoral lakes and riverside woods) with a rich and diverse birdlife – Herons, Egrets, Bitterns and Waders on migration etc. It´s not only important as a breeding area (about 28,000 pairs of waterbirds), but also has a wintering population of gulls. Eleven species of Gulls and Terns nest here regularly. For some species (Sandwich Tern), the breeding colonies at the delta are the only ones in the Iberian Peninsula. For others such as Audouin's and Slender-billed Gulls, they are of great importance. For Audouin's Gull it is the most important colony in the world. In recent years, a large population of Greater Flamingo has been nesting again in this area, and the Delta has become its third most important breeding site in the western Mediterranean. There are very good chances to see Pallid Swift, Glossy Ibis, Savi's and with luck Moustached Warblers. Overnight in Deltebre.

Day 10 - Time permitting, we can look for any birds we did not see previously, before driving back to Barcelona Airport (a couple of hours) for your return flight home.

Gallery

Testimonials

Hi Josele
We enjoyed our recent trip very much indeed, thank you for making it so interesting and enjoyable.
The Barcelona airport hotel was very good and made a relaxing end to the holiday. We are now trying to catch up with everything that needs doing in the garden.
Give our good wishes to Fernando, he was good company and so knowledgable.
Best wishes to you and Esther.
Marjorie and Neil

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Josele
On behalf of my wife Ann and myself many thanks for your guidance and care during our excellent Boletas week & Ebro delta trip, it was fantastic to see so many birds, but to have them so close was unbelievable.
A truly memorable trip – good birds, good food, good accommodation, good travel, good company, superb guiding from yourself and David.

Please send me the report of the trip (May15-24) when it is complied.

Best wishes for the future, take care. Alan Murphy - 2008

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Dear Josele,
We can not thank you enough for all you did to make our trip to Spain a huge success.  Your energy, patience, and enthusiasm carried us along and was much appreciated.  We thoroughly enjoyed every moment.  And we saw an incredible variety of habitat and the birds found in each.  You are an excellent guide but also a very nice person.  We look forward to seeing you again.  We will look for you at the Bird Fair.
Sincerely and with our best wishes for your continued success.
Mary & George Boletas week & Ebro Delta - 2006

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Josele,

I just wanted to drop you a quick mail to thank you for the wonderful time that we had with you and your family at Boletas last week. We are both still missing everything about our holiday and we have not stopped talking about the whole week that we spent at Boletas. We both want to still be there!...

The tour was so much more than we expected. You have a lovely house in a great position. The tour was a brilliant mix of landscapes, habitats, birding, driving, good company, with excellent food and wine. We both really appreciate the effort that you put into designing the tour for us.
You really have a talent in understanding what people want from their visits. It was also great to meet Neil & Joan - they are such nice people.
We have so many great memories of Aragon and are both dearly missing Loporzano and want to return as soon as possible!

We were both totally impressed by your knowledge of birds and their habitats. Your enthusiasm for birds was really infectious and we now want to understand much more about birds. Before we left on Sunday morning, we walked around Loporzano and tried to identify as many birds as possible - using all the techniques that you had taught us in the week. It was a
wonderful morning and we started to put the bird songs, habitats and jizz all together so that we could ID the birds. We heard another Nightingale, saw a Buzzard, a Meadow Pipet, possibly a Serin?, lots of Corn Buntings, Spotless Starlings, Sparrows and a Warbler - not sure if it was the Dartford Warbler or the Sub Alpine. We cannot thank you enough for showing us
the different birds and helping us to identify them correctly by sight, sound and context. Your patience was brilliant and I hope the next time we see you we will be much better birders.
This morning, we were looking back over the photographs that we have taken in Aragon - they make us realise just how much we have seen of Aragon and just how beautiful it is – a truly wonderful part of Spain. I feel really lucky to have experienced it. I think the holiday has finally made Jennifer realise why I want to buy a property in Spain. I think she realises she too could also have her own "slice of paradise" in Spain, very much Like Neil& Joan.

Finally, please could I ask you to thank Neil & Joan for showing us around their house. It was absolutely wonderful. You have helped them to restore the house to its former glory. They are very lucky to have such a beautiful house in a quiet village in the country. We were very jealous and wouldlove to own such a property.Once again. Thanks, thanks and more thanks. It was great. Hope to see you again.

Kind Regards, Peter & JenniferPeter & Jennifer Tennant Huddersfield UK

Pyrenees at Casa Boletas 2006

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Dear Josele,
Am now back at work after a superb holiday.Sue & I really enjoyed the trip.You were true to your word in finding us
the 3 birds we wanted-3 Bonellis Eagles,5 Snow Finches and a brief Duponts Lark.
The food was excellent and the hotels were very good.We really enjoyed the long walk for the Snow finches.
We hope to see you at the Birdfair.
Muchos gracias -The trip was bueno!

Paul & Sue Murfitt 2006

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Dear Josele,

We can not thank you enough for all you did to make our trip to Spain a huge success. Your energy, patience, and enthusiasm carried us along and was much appreciated. We thoroughly enjoyed every moment. And we saw an incredible variety of habitat and the birds found in each. You are an excellent guide but also a very nice person. We look forward to seeing you
again. We will look for you at the Bird Fair.

Sincerely and with our best wishes for your continued success. May 2007 Mary & George

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Hello Josele

Our farewell at the airport did not allow us much time to tell you how much we both enjoyed the tour. The balance of the holiday was just right for us and it was good to see the various habitats from the mountains to the delta. Without this mix the holiday would not have been so interesting. We enjoyed every place that we stayed, for various reasons, especially Boletas and wish that we could have spent more time there. The location of Boletas is ideal and you have created a home with a lot of charm and character. There is such a welcoming feel to the place and we felt privileged to be allowed to share your home.
Overall the scenery was wonderful and the birding was fantastic especially the raptors. Peter saw 21 new birds and now feels better able to identify raptors in flight which was the main object of the holiday. Without your expert local knowledge and birding skills we would not have found such interesting places or seen as many birds. We appreciated the trouble that you took to may the holiday interesting for everyone, especially Vivienne for your interest in the flowers.
Apart from the birding we enjoyed seeing the real Spain away from the tourist areas. We also enjoyed sampling the food and wine and learning something about the culture in Spain.

Once again thank you very much for such an enjoyable holiday and we hope to see you again on a future tour, perhaps to Extremadura or at Boletas

Our best wishes for the future to you and your family
Vivienne and Peter Coleman - May 2007

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Josele-- Thanks so much for your email. The newspaper piece that I sent had been edited (that's what they do as newspaper editors) to fit the space requirements of the printed edition. So, I've attached the original piece that I sent to my editor; it includes a bit more about the Spain trip. Again, thanks for such a great experience—we all enjoyed your patience and assistance! Cheers.

Jerry Uhlman Nature Writer Sepetember 2007

2007

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Thank you and David once again for a very memorable trip.I will never
forget it,absolutely brilliant.Garry

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Hola Josele

What a great trip that was : 27 new species for my lifetime list (begun in 2008), of which I have photos of 20 for my album! Many thanks to you and Jauma - and not forgetting Esther - for making it such a memorable experience. I look forward to joining you again on another birding extravaganza.

You asked me to let you see some of my photos. I'm now going to send you 10, in two batches. They won't be up to the standard of Peter's or Roger's, but for one reason or another I'm pleased with them. 8 of them are of birds I hadn't seen before.

Un abrazo Robert 2011

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