Last week, we had the pleasure of providing a bespoke birding package for a great couple from UK. They had opted to take advantage of our 1 week accommodation package that includes 3 full days of guided bird watching and half-board accommodation at Villa Florencia.
Having arrived on the Saturday evening and enjoyed a leisurely dinner at Villa Florencia, we opted for a fairly early start on the Sunday to visit the Steppe & Lagoons of Castilla de la Mancha. After a pleasant drive to this very special area, our first sighting of the day was indeed of one of the key target species, the Great Bustard. As we enjoyed some great views of these huge birds strolling across the steppe in beautiful morning sunlight we were also fortunate enough to see a small flock of Calandra Larks, another classic bird of this area.
The first lagoon gave views of Gadwall, Greater Flamingo, and Ruff. A few Lapwings were also feeding close by. We then moved onto another lagoon where we spent the rest of the morning. As we relaxed by the water´s edge, we had good views of White Headed Duck, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Black Winged Stilt, Red Crested Pochard, Shoveler, Black Necked Grebe and Spotted Flycatcher. After a post lunch coffee break we visited the final lagoon of the day where we saw Cattle Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Skylark, Snipe and Pochard.
The species list for the day included : Great Bustard, Calandra Lark, Crow, Kestrel, Swallow, Lapwing, Gadwall, Coot, Greater Flamingo, Ruff, White Headed Duck, Pochard, Marsh Harrier, Little Grebe, Buzzard, Black Winged Stilt, Red Crested Pochard, Shoveler, Black Necked Grebe, Spotless Starling, Great Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Grey Heron, Snipe, Skylark, Little Ringed Plover, Cattle Egret.
The day after our trip to the Steppe, our clients enjoyed a free day, during which they visited the award winning Gandia beach. Fully refreshed, our second day of birding took us to the Valencian Coastal Wetlands. This trip involves a walk of some 7km and takes in varied habitat including coastal lagoons, reedbeds and pastureland. Our first sighting was of Kingfisher and Fan Tailed Warbler, almost as soon as we left the van. As we began the walk along the beach, we spotted Common Sandpiper and Little Egret. The first lagoon held Purple Swamphen, Water Rail, Little Ringed Plover and Greenshank.
We continued our stroll up the coast and had great views of Audouin´s Gull and Wheatear. Swallows, Swifts, House Martins and Sand Martins were all passing through in good numbers, all heading south on their autumn migration. As we walked through an area of reed beds we had views of Reed Warbler, Marsh Harrier, Iberian Grey Shrike and suddenly a huge flock of Bee Eaters, also on passage.
The next lake held Black Winged Stilt, Snipe and Ringed Plover. The trees around the shore gave views of Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Chiffchaff and Spotless Starling. After a walk through more pastureland and reedbeds, we visited the final lagoon of the day where the trip was brought to a great finale with views of Greater Flamingo, Avocet, Green Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper.
The species list for the day included : Kingfisher, Fan Tailed Warbler, Little Egret, Common Sandpiper, Moorhen, House Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Purple Swamphen, Coot, Mallard, Shoveler, Water Rail, Little Ringed Plover, White Wagtail, Greenshank, Audouin´s Gull, Wheatear, Kestrel, Stonechat, House Martin, Swallow, Sand Martin, Swift, Reed Warbler, Bee Eater, Iberian Grey Shrike, Marsh Harrier, Black Winged Stilt, Snipe, Ringed Plover, Chiffchaff, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Avocet, Greater Flamingo.
After our day at the Valencian Coastal Wetlands, our clients enjoyed another free day when they visited the village of Simat de la Valldigna with its beautiful monastery followed by an afternoon at the historical town of Xativa, the birthplace of both Spanish Popes and the first place in Europe to produce paper.
Our third and final day of birding was to Albufera de Valencia, a freshwater lake surrounded by rice fields. Our day began with a visit to one of the area´s nature reserves where we had great views of Black Tailed Godwit, Great Egret, Purple Heron and Iberian Grey Shrike. We were also fortunate enough to enjoy views of an Osprey. Albufera is often used by these spectacular birds as a stopping point for rest and feeding during the autumn migration. We also enjoyed views of Greater Flamingo, Snipe and Purple Swamphen. Another highlight of the day was a passing Honey Buzzard.
After a leisurely lunch by one of the reserve´s many canals, we headed out across the rice fields where we enjoyed views of Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Glossy Ibis, Cettis Warbler and Sandwich Tern. The day was brought to a close with a visit to one of the areas smaller reserves where we ended the trip with great views of Night Heron and Squacco Heron.
The species list for the day included : Black Tailed Godwit, Little Egret, Mallard, Coot, Marsh Harrier, Collared Dove, Great Egret, Osprey, Purple Heron, Iberian Grey Shrike, Black Winged Stilt, Kestrel, Snipe, Honey Buzzard, Cormorant, Purple Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Fan Tailed Warbler, Blackbird, Purple Swamphen, Sandwich Tern, Glossy Ibis, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, House Sparrow, Swallow.
Our clients had enjoyed their trip to this wonderful area of Spain, and vowed to make a return visit. It had been a pleasure for me to provide the birding trips and to enjoy both their company and some great bird species.
Written by David Warrington.
Bird Watching Guide at Valencia Birding.