Birding at the steppes

The steppes, an inmense dry land extending between Catalonia and neightbouring Aragón, is huge habitat where we can still find untouched steppes along with large areas of traditional farming, scrublands and pine woods. Here we find the same large plains where Great Bustards keep small populations, relict steppes where the extremely elusive Dupont’s Lark is still common, and open garrigue (Mediterranean scrublands) hosting one of the best densities of Ortolan Buntings in Europe. All around, flocks of Sandgrouses keep moving, with flocks of hundreds of Pin-tailed Sandgrouses flocking in winter and several species of warblers and raptors during nesting season.

This is an inmense, dry plain where all Iberian steppe specialities can be found all year round. Although most of the original steppe lands are now extensive wheat fields surrounded by small pine woods and other farmlands some authentic steppes can be found. All the area is in fact a huge mosais of landscapes, and despite irrigation plans Los Monegros is still a 1st class birding destination. Lleida Steppes has one of the larger densities of raptors wherever in Europe, and hosts what are the best densities of Little Bustards and Great Spotted Cuckoos in the continent.

Day 1. This first day we would explore extensive wheat fields expecting to good sightings of Lesser Kestrel and European Roller. Here we would find our firsts larks; Calandra and Crested. The area is also noted for Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and Stone Curlew. During the afternoon we would visit some wetlands in the middle of the dry landscape, incredible places for birding as they attract numbers of winter birds (ducks, Common Crane, etc.), passage birds (Red-footed Falcon, waders, passerines, etc.) and a fine selection of nesting specialities (Cetti’s Warbler, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, etc).

In the afternoon we’ll explore cereal steppes to have a first look to Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Great Spotted Cuckoo or Lesser Short-toed Lark. Raptors here are common and may include Eurasian Griffon, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Booted Eagle and Golden Eagle depending on the season.

Day 2. An early start to explore some corners looking for a great variety of birds. Today we shall contact with Ortolan & Cirl Buntings but also Hoopoes, European Rollers, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Eurasian Wryneck, Red-billed Choughs, Dartford & Spectacled Warblers as well as Thekla & Calandra Larks. Little Bustards nest here and their “chrreck” notes are easily heard in the quietness of the plain. Sandgrouses may be not so easy to find out, but their calls are a commonplace sound over the never-ending praries.

Day 3. Another early start to explore the awesome plains around Bujaraloz. The area hosts high densities of Pin-tailed & Black-bellied Sandgrouses, Tawny Pipit, Lesser Short-toed Lark and Stone Curlew. No promises, but this is the kingdom of Dupont’s Lark!!

In the afternoon we’ll explore limestone cliffs; Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle and Eurasian Eagle Owl all nest among these cliffs. Raptors share the rocky cavities and ravines with smaller species such as Red-billed Chough, Alpine Swift, Rock Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and the sombre but smart Black Wheatear.

Day 4.Last early start this time to explore some wheat fields hosting Little Bustard & Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. Here we will have another chance for the elusive Dupont’s Lark white the low bush areas around support strong populations of Orphean Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Subalpine Warbler and Thekla Lark. Later in the day we will spend some time in a small wetland that hosts one of the few populations left of  Moustached Warblerin Catalonia along with Reed Bunting (endemic race), Bearded Tit and, depending on the year, Savi’s Warbler. During the day we will visit excellent points for Bonelli’s Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier and Lesser Kestrel. Final transfer to Barcelona.

Even though this day planning schedule contains references to some winter birds, the itinerary above describes a standard mid-spring tour. This itinerary may have slight variations depending on the season. Please contact us for a seasonally updated tour schedule.

Tarifas

 

4 Days Itineraries                 4 personas 3 personas 2 personas 1 persona
Birding at the steppes 400€ 450€ 600€ 900€
Total Pyrenees 550€ 670€ 800€ 950€
Birding at Ebro Delta 400€ 470€ 625€ 900€
Gallocanta; Cranes & Bustards 500€ 570€ 700€ 950€

All prices include birding guide services; transport in comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle; itinerary transport expenses (fuel, road tolls); continental breakfasts; dinners & 3 nights of accommodation in twin room; travel insurance. VAT included in all prices.

Excluded: Personal items, lunches, any other item don’t listed as included.

Prices above are per person, not per itinerary.

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