£380 per person sharing a twin/double room single supplement £50 - FLIGHTS NOT INCLUDED
This tour begins and ends at Barajas Airport, Madrid, flights are readily available from the UK and will cost approx £50-£80
This long-weekend break concentrates on an area well-known to hold many pairs of our target species, the enigmatic DUPONT'S LARK. We visit a relatively small Natural Park where 'steppe' dominates the landscape and larks abound. From day 1 to day 4 we will make repeated attempts to catch sight of this elusive ground nesting bird and hopefully go home happy with nice memories and some superb photographs!
EL PARDO – after the group have arrived we will load up the minibus and make the short journey to El Pardo. This huge ‘country park’ lies on the outskirts of Madrid and consists of ‘dehesa’ (open grassland with holm oak), it also has pine woodland, reed-fringed lagoons and streams.
We shall look for the prized Spanish Imperial Eagle as well as a number of other goodies including: Black Vulture, Goshawk, Red Kite, Green Woodpecker, Crested Tit, Firecrest, Azure-winged Magpie, Purple Swamphen and lots of others.
From El Pardo we travel directly to an area north of Madrid where, if we have time, we can look for Great Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and a few Larks. This ‘pseudo-steppe’ area can be very good in early spring when crops are still in their early growing stages and fields are easily scanned.
From there we drive to Sepulveda to our hotel which is found on the outskirts of this pretty town, there will be time to relax before dinner. Nights in Sepulveda.
An early morning trip to this natural park will give us the best opportunity to see the Dupont’s Lark, this will not be too early as it doesn’t get light until 7:30am!
This famous area is noted for its beautiful gorge where many Griffon Vultures breed but for our first visit we shall concentrate on the rocky steppe along the approach track to the gorge. We should hear the distinctive, strange call of this elusive Lark, usually delivered from a low perch at this time of the day.
After our Dupont’s Lark search we will then explore the surrounding habitats, the gorge itself should hold Griffon Vultures, Raven, Red-billed Chough, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin and several other species. We can look amongst the dry stone walls and grey-leaved cistus for Little Owl, Dartford Warbler, Rock Sparrow, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, and on the rocky plain there may be Crested, Calandra & Thekla Larks whilst overhead we may see Golden or Bonelli’s Eagle, as well as displaying Goshawk or migrant Booted and Short-toed Eagles.
The nearby landscape has pockets of woodland where we can find Crested Tit, Azure-winged Magpies, Southern Grey Shrike and a few common woodland species. Eurasian Hoopoes should have just arrived and may be heard calling whilst White Storks attend to their nest repairs and Lesser Kestrels reform their colonies in the old castle walls. Nights in Sepulveda.
Today will shall take a second stab at finding the Dupont’s Lark if we never had satisfactory views of it yesterday. Then we shall work our way across to Segovia stopping at several locations, adding to our growing bird list. A large parkland area with a lagoon may produce Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Short-toed Treecreeper, Serin and other parkland species, whilst the laguna may hold one or two interesting ducks and grebes.
After spending sometime in the beautiful town of Segovia where the historic and world-famous Roman Aqueduct passes right across the town we head off into the Guadarrama Mountains to look for a different set of species.
Scots Pine dominate the landscape of the Guadarrama mountain-range but there are also areas of cistus scrub where Ortolan Buntings and Bluethroat breed and the car parks around the top of the mountain passes may hold Alpine Accentor at this time of the year.
Despite the ever increasing human presence Birds of prey thrive in these mountains, there are good populations of Griffon and Black Vultures, Red & Black Kites, Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcon, Goshawk and Eagle Owl. The summer migrants; Honey Buzzard, Booted and Short-toed Eagles add to this plethora of hunting species.
We shall look for Citril Finch, Common Crossbill, Goldcrest, Eurasian Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Crested Tit and other species in and around the numerous ski-resorts, especially around Puerto de Navacerrada. We return to Sepulveda for our last night.
one last birding excursion in the early morning will complete our tour, we set off for the 1 1/2 hr. journey back to Madrid airport for an early afternoon flight home.
What is not included?