Trip report Spain and Southern France

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Trip report Spain and Southern France
From: "Peter Marsh" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2007 14:30:29 +1000
Dear Birders,
My wfe and I have just returned from a holiday in North and Central Spain with 
a brief diversion into the Tarn region of France. This was mainly a cultural 
and family oriented trip, with 8 days walking in the Eastern foothills of the 
Pyrenees, but was balanced by a bit of birding on the side. I used the 
excellent "Collins Bird Guide" and binoculars but not a scope. There are a 
number of books available on where to find birds in Spain but I did not avail 
myself of these, not wanting to hijack the holiday into a full-on birding trip. 
The trip started with a few days in each of Madrid and Barcelona. We then 
joined  friends for the walking section of the trip. We hired a car when the 
walking finished and drove into France for a few days to see family. We then 
drove back over the Pyrenees into Spain again. We drove south, touching the 
coast briefly at the Delta De L'Ebre, and then heading inland and circling 
Madrid while visiting the magnificent cultural centres of Cuenca, Toledo, 
Avila, Salamanca and Segovia.

I was surprised at how many birds were to be seen in Spain and how easy it was 
to see them compared with Italy and other parts of France in which I have 
birded in the past. The principle difficulty I encountered was that while the 
roads were generally excellent they typically had no verge at all which made it 
very difficult to pull over if an interesting bird appeared.

One absolute birding highlight was observing late one afternoon that a flock of 
around 40 white stalks had settled on the spires and crennelations of the 
gothic cathederal in Segovia that could be seen in the distance from our hotel 
room. They were still there in the morning when we awoke. Knowing that they 
were now in migratory mode I expected them to dissapear at any moment. We took 
a taxi into the centre of Segovia arriving around 10:00 with the sun shining 
brightly and the day warming up. The storks were all still in their roosting 
positions standing majestically on the seemingly tiny tips of carved stone 
crennelations around the cathederal. Soon a few of them started to take off and 
land (often displacing an already perched bird). Gradually the number flying 
increased and then suddenly they were all in the air and gracefully circling 
the cupola of the cathederal, obviously being carried upwards by thermals 
developing over the city. As they rose higher and higher a few Griffon Vultures 
glided into the thermal and the whole disorganised flock of soaring birds rose 
until they were but specks in the sky and then drifted south out of our view.

The full ist of birds seen follows :-

      Birds in Spain and Southern France Aug/Sept 2007

      Little Grebe
     Podilymbus podiceps

      Great Cormorant
     Phalacrocorax carbo

      Black-crowned Night Heron
     Nycticorax nycticorax

      Cattle Egret
     Bubulcus ibis

      Little Egret
     Egretta garzetta

      Great Egret
     Egretta alba

      Grey Heron
     Ardea cinerea

      Purple Heron
     Ardea purpurea

      White Stork
     Ciconia ciconia

      Black Stork
     Ciconia negra

      Glossy Ibis
     Plegadis falcinellis

      Greater Flamingo
     Phoenicopterus ruber

     Anas platyrhynchos

     Anas strepera

      Northern Shoveller
     Anas clypeata

      Common Pochard
     Aythya ferina

      Eurasian Griffon Vulture
     Gyps fulvus

      Black Vulture
     Aegypius monachus

      Golden Eagle
     Aquila chrysaetos

      Red Kite
     Milvus milvus

      Hen Harrier
     Circus cyaneus

      Common Buzzard
     Buteo buteo

      Common Kestrel
     Falco tinnunculus

     Tetrao urogallus

      Red-legged Partridge
     Alectoris rufa

      Common Pheasant
     Phasianus colchicus

      Common Moorhen
     Gallinula chloropus

      Eurasian Coot
     Fulica atra

      Common Sandpiper
     Tringa ochropus

      Black-tailed Godwit
     Limosa limosa

     Philomachus pugnax

      Black-headed Gull
     Larus rudibundus

      Yellow-legged Gull
     Larus cachinnans

      Lesser Black-backed Gull
     Larus fuscus

      Caspian Tern
     Sterna caspia

      Whiskered Tern
     Chilidonias hybridus

      Rock Dove
     Columba livia

      Wood Pigeon
     Columba oenas

      Eurasian Collared Dove
     Streptopelia decaocto

      Tawny Owl
     Strix aluco

      Red-necked Nightjar
     Caprimulgus ruficollis

      Common Swift
     Apus apus

     Upupa epops

      Common Kingfisher
     Alcedo atthis

      Great-spotted Woodpecker
     Dendrocopos major

     Alauda arvensis

      Crested Lark
     Galerida cristata

      Sand Martin
     Riparia riparia

      Eurasian Crag Martin
     Ptyonoprogene rupestris

      Barn swallow
     Hirundo rustica

      Red -rumped Swallow
     Hirundo daurica

      Common House Martin
     Hirundo daurica

      Tawny Pipit
     Anthus campestris

      Tree Pipit
     Anthus trivialis

      White Wagtail
     Motacilla alba

      Grey Wagtail
     Motacilla cinerea

      Winter Wren
     Troglodytes troglodytes

      White-throated Dipper
     Cinclus cinclus

      European Robin
     Erithacus rubecula

      Black Redstart
     Phoenicurus ochruros

      Common Stone Chat
     Saxicola torquata

      Common Blackbird
     Turdus merula

     Sylvia atricapilla

      Common Whitethroat
     Sylvia communis

      Sub-alpine Warbler
     Sylvia cantillans

      Savi's Warbler
     Lucostella luscinoides

      Willow Warbler
     Phylloscopus trochills

     Phylloscopus collybita

     Regulu ignicapillus

      Spotted Flycatcher
     Muscicapa striata

      European Pied Flycatcher
     Ficedula hypoleuca

      Great Tit
     Parus major

      Blue Tit
     Parus caerulus

      Crested Tit
     Parus cristatus

      Long-tailed Tit
     Aegithalos caudatus

      Eurasian Nuthatch
     Sitta europaea

      Short-toed Treecreeper
     Certhia brachydactyla

      Great Grey Shrike
     Lanius excubitor

      Common Magpie
     Pica Pica

      Eurasian Jay
     Garrulus glandarius

      Western Jackdaw
     Corvus monedula

      Red-billed Chough
     Pyrrhocorcorax pyrrhocorcorax

      Carrion Crow
     Corvus corone corone

      Common Raven
     Corvus corax

      Common Starling
     Sturnus vulgaris

      Spotless Starling
     Sturnus unicolor

      House Sparrow
     Passer domesticus

      Spanish Sparrow
     Passer hispaniolensis

      Eurasian Tree Sparrow
     Passer montanus

      Common Chaffinch
     Fringilla coelebs

      Common Linnet
     Carduelis cannabina

      European Goldfinch
     Carduelis carduelis

      European Green Finch
     Carduelis chloris

somewhat chastening to see how many of the birds are "Common" according to 
their name!
Peter Marsh

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