I’m just back from my holiday in the north of Spain after some time without going out birdwatching.
From the three weeks, I spent one with my dad in the Valle de Echo in the western Pyrenees and two more with both my parents in Asturias.
On the journey to the Pyrenees (14/07/12) we crossed the Lleida steppes (where I saw a White Stork from the car) and made a stop at the Mallos de Riglos. These are some very impressive walls in northern Aragón with birds like Red-Billed Chough, Griffon Vulture, Raven, Egyptian Vulture, Red Kite...).
Mallos de Riglos
We arrived at the Valle de Echo and made ourselves comfortable on the camping site some km far from Echo.
On Sunday 15th we made some “warm up” walks at the Selva d’Oza (a very interesting forest) and the Garganta del Infierno. At the Selva d’Oza (at a river of course) I saw my first Dipper of the year which flew past me like a bullet, in the river I also found Grey Wagtail and in the area I saw my first spanish Red-Backed Shrike!
Our first important excursion came on my birthday (16/07/12) with a walk to the Ibón de Estanés (1925m). It started at the end of the Echo Valley and got into a secondary valley called Aguastuertas. From Aguastuertas we continued to a mountain port from which you could see a really beautiful lake (Ibón de Estanés).
On the way up many Egyptian Vultures showed, some Black Redstarts and a Wheatear. We had been hearing Marmots all day and on the way down I finally saw one, I could even approach enough to take an acceptable picture.
Valle de Aguas Tuertas
The next day we decided to climb up to the Ibón d’Acherito (another mountain lake). This walk was shorter than Estanés but it had a bigger difficulty. In Acherito we didn’t see anything special, the usual mountain species (Black-Redstart, Choughs, Raven, Yellowhammer, Crag Martin).
Pyrenean Brook Salamander???
The following days were really hot, so we didn’t climb more, but I still saw some interesting species; at the village of Echo a Booted Eagle flew over us, we heard a Black Woodpecker from the campingsite and I observed a Crested Tit in a Pine Tree.
After almost a week at the Echo Valley we sterted our journey to the north. We had to stop in Bilbao cause my mother was coming by plane, but we had an entire day until that happened. We decided to sleep in Pamplona and to visit the canyons of Lumbier and Arbayún.
We started with the Foz De Arbayún, the most impressive one. From a plattform, we could easily watch Griffon Vultures, both Kites, Egyptian Vulture and Booted and Snake Eagles. There were also many Alpine Swifts and Crag Martins.
Foz de Arbayún
Short-Toed Snake Eagle
The Foz de Lumbier also produced very nice observations. The Vultures flew really close to people and many other raptors were present. Appart from the usual Kites and Vultures a Hobby showed quickly and another unidentified falcon (prob. a Hobby) flew past.
On the way back from Lumbier, across a bush landscape I saw a semi-lifer (already observed it but hadn’t identified it), a female Cirl Bunting from which I show you some photos.
We picked up my mum and headed west to the western coast of Asturias (Luarca), remaining there for five days. We spent a couple of days there visiting beaches mainly, but also did a visit to Cape Busto, with some observations of Shags, Kestrels and Gulls.
After the west coast we went back to the eastern coast (Ribadesella), also visiting beaches. The best observation from these days was a group of 20 migrating Curlews from a cape in a day where we also saw a quite big (40-50cm), unidentified snake.
The last part of our holidays were spent in the Picos de Europa, where I saw some alpine species that I hadn’t seen in the Pyrenees.
On the first day there, we climbed up from Poncebos to Bulnes (one of the last villages in Spain that hasn’t got a road). On this hike, I could see my first Citril Finch of the year and a very impressive scene: a Golden Eagle attacked by a group of aprox. 50 Alpine Choughs.
Picu Uriellu (Naranjo de Bulnes) 2519m
We didn’t like the hostel in Bulnes so we decided to get to Poncebos the next day and find a nice campingsite. We found one in Arenas de Cabrales and decided to do other hikes in the area the following days. At the camping site I had one of the best birds of the trip, a Nuthatch, my first for Spain.
Finally, on the 2nd and 3rd August we went to a place that I really enjoyed, it was called Vega de Sotres, and it had an important population of the best bird from the trip, Rock Thrush. Vega de Sotres is a little village which is only inhabited by a couple of cows and some Chicken. It’s walls and roofs are an ideal place to see Rock Thrush, Wheatears, Stonechats and even Red-Billed Chough. Alpine Choughs were also present but didn’t get too close to the village. I saw again the scene with the Golden Eagle and the Choughs.
LinnetI hope you enjoyed my report, now I’m spending two weeks in Germany with my grandma and then I’ll be one week at the Delta de l’Ebre doing some volunteer work.