Tuesday 15 August 2023

The Spanish Tour for WINGS - Day 13 & Day 14 - 12th & 13th May 2023

13th May:

It had to happen… rain and lots of it for our final full day and even I refused to venture out pre-breakfast and made time for an extra coffee.  Our first stop was some wooded valley around Barreda where Middle Spotted Woodpecker was our target and some of us were fortunate enough to see and hear one bounce across to another piece of woodland but that was as good as we got.  Iberian Greens and Wrynecks were typically vocal but invisible but a Western Bonelli’s Warbler sang his little heart out above our heads despite the dampness. 

Jays and Choughs both gave good views but to be honest it was the Pink Butterfly Orchid that won most attention.

Pink Butterfly Orchid

From here we set out on a long and winding road that climbed up into and out of the cloud.  It was a little hairy at times but we eventually made it to the Puerto de San Glorio whose car park quite literally sat about 100m below the freshly settling dusting of snow.  Where we were it was blowing fine drizzly mist and was quite unpleasant but luck was with us and two of our quarry species were visible before we even ventured out with a small party of gleaming Yellowhammers feeding on the bare ground with at least two Tree Pipits and a few Linnets. 




John headed off with some of the group to look for Citril Finch but with no joy but there were Mistle Thrushes, Iberian Dunnocks, Coal Tits and Rock Buntings to be seen. A small patch of Elder Flowered Orchids was a refreshing splash of gaudy colour on a miserable day.

Meadow Saxifrage

Euphorbia sp

Elder Flowered Orchid - Dactylorhiza samucina

Elder Flowered Orchid - Dactylorhiza samucina

Wiggling back down brought us to La Vega where a much needed coffee was consumed while Redstarts and Grey Wagtails foraged along the river where a Wall Lizard sp was also seen. A break in the cloud caused an Egyptian Vulture to spiral up and we counted four Buzzards and three Sparrowhawks before we needed to move on.

Grey Wagtail - still my favourite bird

Wall Lizard 

Wall Lizard 

A Walnut grove above the village of Tudes was our next shot at MSW but we drew a blank although both Redstarts, Robins, Spotted Flycatchers and Red Squirrels were seen before a superb lunch in Potes where once again Black and Common Redstarts entertained, Firecrests sang in the gardens and a poor Wryneck was found underneath a window.

The local Tudanca cattle - I hope that I have got that correct1

Back in Tama we took a road up through the back of the village to Pendes and spent an hour walking the road with the woodland either side.  There were no MSWs and just a couple of Great Spotted along with Nuthatches and the odd Chaffinch.  Botanically it was more interesting although it was not warm enough to produce many insects.

Andryala integrifolia


Stinking Hellebore


Scabious sp

Nottingham Catchfly - Silene nutans

Sage Leaved Cistus - Cistus salviifolius

Spiny Golden Star - Pellenis spinosa

Thapsia villosa 

Valeriana angustifolia

Valeriana calcitrapae

Milk Thistle - Silybum marianum

Med Thistle - Galacitites tomentosus

Bell Heather - Erica cinerea

St Dabeoc's Heath - Daboecia cantabrica

I suspect Endothenia moth pupa in Teasel

Tired and damp we headed back to the hotel passing a wonderful rainbow in the valley below us.  I packed my bag and then went out and stood out of the rain in the shade of the pine trees squalls by the bridge and watched the Redstarts at their interesting choice of nest box, the local Booted Eagles hunting low overhead while Ravens and Short-toed Eagles sparred over the treeline and Griffon specks glided effortlessly towards the next meal.

Two different male Redstarts


Booted Eagle


14th May:

A final breakfast in Tama where dawn greeted us with significant fresh snowfall over the surrounding peaks. The looked fabulous and very imposing while in the meadow in front the Redstarts continued to forage with a family of White Wagtails, Goldfinches and Cirl Buntings.  All too soon it was time to hit the road for the four or so hour drive back to Madrid to catch our respective flights home. 

We climbed back out of the valley stopping once again at the Piedrasluengas Mirador where the view was vastly improved that on our first stop and descended past the last of the Daffodils to the plains below.  The drive was largely uneventful although we did at last get everyone onto a fine male Hen Harrier as he quartered some fields along with a male Montagu's and a singing Quail and Vultures, Booted Eagles and Black Kites followed us on our journey back south.

The drop offs went smoothly and I was soon bidding a final farewell to John so that he could begin his somewhat shorter journey back home.  It was a truly memorable adventure and we drove 2000 miles across this varied and dramatic country with frequent changes in altitude, habitat, weather and scenery and experienced an impressive 244 species of bird along with a very good selection of mammals, flora, butterflies and dragonflies.

I hope that I will get to do it all again next year...

I will add the bird list shortly!

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