Birdwatching in Spain - La Mancha and Castilla y Leon
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Birds and birdwatching in
La Mancha and Castilla y Leon

Birds of Castilla La Mancha, central Spain - Greater Flamingo © John Muddeman Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus major © John Muddeman

La Mancha húmeda ('humid La Mancha'), and the páramos and gorges north and east of Madrid in the Provinces of Segovia, Soria and Guadalajara are important areas in central Spain for birds as well as butterflies, dragonflies and wildflowers. The former, a series of large shallow lakes dotted across the seemingly interminable dry plains and innumerable vineyards of Don Quixote country, provides excellent habitats for a wealth of breeding and migrant wetland species, and the latter for a range of dry country species, including being the core area in the distribution of Dupont's Lark in Spain and very important for its raptor and inland cliff-nesting bird communities.

Indeed, adding several sites which lie within an extra 1-2 hour's drive from Madrid, many of the bird species more-or-less restricted to the Iberian Peninsula in Europe can be reached. Of particular note, White-headed Duck, Lesser Kestrel, Purple Swamp-hen, Great & Little Bustards, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and Dupont's Lark are all present Birds of Castilla La Mancha, central Spain © John Muddeman Black Stork
Ciconia nigra
© John Muddeman
in good number, with Black Wheatear very local, and further species of special note include Black-necked Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Black-crowned Night, Squacco & Purple Herons, Red-crested Pochard, Egyptian Vulture, Osprey, Collared Pratincole, Temminck's Stint, Gull-billed & Whiskered Terns, Eurasian Bee-eater, European Roller, Calandra, Lesser Short-toed, Short-toed & Thekla Larks, Eurasian Crag Martin, Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Savi's, Great Reed, Spectacled, Subalpine, Sardinian, Western Orphean & Bonelli's Warblers, Bearded Reedling, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Southern Grey & Woodchat Shrikes, Iberian Azure-winged Magpie, Red-billed Chough, Spotless Starling and Spanish & Rock Sparrows.

The La Mancha area is notable in inland Spain for attracting migrants, from Black Stork, European Honey-buzzard and Common Crane to a plethora of small passerines, and in particular is famous for its wader passage, including large flocks of Dotterel, and as the lakes act as magnets, has even attracted such rarities as Lesser Flamingo and Lesser Sand and Kittlitz's Plovers! The gorges in Segovia and Soria are particularly noted for their breeding Eurasian Birds of Castilla La Mancha, central Spain - White-headed Duck © John Muddeman White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala © John Muddeman Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Golden Eagles and Red-billed Choughs, with larks and Stone-curlews on the surrounding dry páramo, and with a great deal of luck, wintering Alpine Accentor and Wallcreeper in the gorges too.

These areas can also be combined with a visit to Extremadura, where there are much better chances of Bonelli's Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite and White-rumped and Pallid Swifts in addition to many of those species already mentioned, along with up to 70 000 Common Cranes in their main wintering area in western Europe.

Related information…
Birdwatching trips to La Mancha and Castilla y Leon
Madrid - Birds and Birdwatching
Read about John Muddeman
Wildlife holidays and tours in Spain and Portugal

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