Sunday 6 August 2023

The Spanish Tour for WINGS - Day 11 - 10th May 2023

A pre-breakfast walk up into the scrubby meadow behind the Hotel Puerta SepĂșlveda was worth the slightly damp dewy feet with Melodious Warbler chattering merrily and Woodchats gleaming as they sat sentinel on the high points.  The latter attracted the attention of the Sardinian Warblers and Stonechats who saw then as a threat.  A Western Orphean Warbler was belting out from a fir tree and Serins, Black Redstarts and Cirl Buntings sang from roof tops and aerials.  If only all wake up birding was like this!

A small quarry had a pair of Rock Sparrows that showed very well along with two gleaming Greenfinches and Woodlarks were warming up above us.  One of our key birds to find here was Wryneck and some of us got very good views of two birds as they fed in the grass and sang from the Bramble.



Melodious Warbler 

Melodious Warbler 

Black Redstart

Rock Sparrow

There were loads of micro moths dancing up in front of us as we walked through but I failed to get any images but at least the Orchids were more obliging with Yellow Bee and what I think were Early Spider but I am happy to be educated!

Yellow Bee

Yellow Bee

Yellow Bee

Early Spider

Early Spider


Not entirely sure - a Senecio?

White Rock-rose

White Bryony

Dyer's Woad - Isatis tinctoria

Dyer's Woad - Isatis tinctoria

Euphorbia serrata

possibly Montpellier Milkvetch - Astragalus monspessulanus

Small Blood-vein

A quick breakfast and the on the road but only as far as the edge of town to look back into the sinuous gorge which was just being filled by the warming sunshine. It was full of song with Serins, Cirl Buntings, Blackbirds, Cuckoos, Hoopoes and our first Stock Doves that seemed to be nesting in the cliff face like Rock Doves.  This is quite a tricky species to pick up on these trips.

A delightful half hour was snatched back at St Frutos with the same suite of species and just a couple of Red-legged Partridge to add before moving on once again.

A coffee stop at the delightful river below the dam at Burgomillodo failed to produce Dippers but we did get great views of Common Sandpipers, both Grey and White Wagtails, Spotted Flycatchers, Wrens, Hawfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper and Golden Oriole.  



A different Wall Lizard to that in the Gredos - hoping John M can remind me of the id of both!

The fluff got everywhere

Spanish Speckled Wood


Calliphora - I think C vomitoria from the ginger beard

Grey Wagtail

Common Sandpiper

A Mallard brood was notable and Moorhens clucked in the edges while Sand and Crag Martins were amongst the usual other trio of species. The air was full of Poplar fluff as the mature trees were setting seed liberally in the breeze leaving drifts of fluff around any angle and lone bits made it into the vans, your hair and coffee cup.


A chap was leading a troop of Shetland Ponies to have a drink and a new foal put on a wonderful show for us before it was time to move on once more. 

It was a long and frankly dull journey onwards through vast plains of arable land but we did see two male Hen Harriers from our van and a single male Marsh Harrier along with an immature Egyptian Vulture and the usual selection of other raptors.  Lunch was taken at services on the outskirts of Burgos before we began to climb into the Picos foothills.

Two stops in and around the grounds of the Parador de Cervera de Pisuerga gave our first Common Redstarts and Tree Pipits along with Short-toed Treecreepers (sometimes doing Common TC calls…), Song and Mistle Thrush and a well hidden Firecrest nest.

Black Redstart

Song Thrush

There were plenty of Butterflies to check though with Adonis and Holly Blues, Small Tortoiseshells, Marsh Fritillaries and the delightful De Prunner’s Ringlets that were down on the Hawthorn blossom.

Adonis Blue - a bright female

Adonis Blue 

Holly Blue 

Marsh Fritillary 

Marsh Fritillary 

De Prunner’s Ringlet

De Prunner’s Ringlet

De Prunner’s Ringlet

Bluebells were in flower and spikes of Lizard Orchids were struggling with the very hot dry conditions of recent weeks. 

Stinking Hellebore

Mallow sp

Burnet-type Rose

With a type of Tumbling Beetle

Milkwort sp

Lizard Orchid


White Asphodel


Speedwell sp

Woolly Thistle?

Mountain cinquefoil - Potentilla montana

Mountain Sandwort - Arenaria montana

Eristalis hoverfly - possibly E horticola

Eristalis hoverfly - possibly E horticola

A woodland floor Cockroach sp

Broad Green-winged Grasshopper - Aiolopus strepens (thanks Fraser!)

Back down in the town the river was Dipperless and from here we embarked on the climb up through the high pass of Piedrasluengas. The higher we climbed the more amazing the roadside flora became with damp meadows lined with yellow and cream nodding Wild Daffodils - Narcissus nobilis var. leonensis along with Orchids and a very large flowered purple Viola but there was not the time or opportunity to stop for a closer look and the Mirador at the summit afforded magnificent views but none of the flora seen just mile back down the road.  I must return.

Three views in three directions from the Mirador

We wiggled down the hairpins into Potes and then to Tama and our lovely Pousada El Corcal de Liebana for our last three nights of this mammoth trip. It was getting late and rain was on the way in but there was still time to watch both Redstart species feeding around the farmer frantically harvesting his hay crop from the paddock around the hotel while Raven and Black Kites headed off to their respective roost sites.

Pousada El Corcal de Liebana

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