Butterflies, dragonflies, mammals, birds and birding in Madrid, Extremadura, La Mancha and Andalucía, Spain
John is a professional tour guide, writer and scientific translator, with a lifelong interest in diverse aspects of natural history. He lives in the Madrid mountains and has guided organised groups and private trips throughout Iberia, Europe and further afield since 1997. Birding is his main field of expertise. More about John…
Please click on the tour name/s which interest/s you to go direct to the tour page/s. There you can find more details of what we might see, a provisional itinerary and, in the case of The Travelling Naturalist / Limosa Holidays / Sunbird, access to detailed reports of past trips. Bookings should be made directly with the company in question, but I am always more than happy to answer any queries that you might have regarding the tour. Please note that I am first leader, unless indicated.
|Morocco from Marrakech to the edge of the Sahara. Birds and culture of central Morocco from the middle Atlas, via the high deserts, to the Erg Chebbi dunes and back||14 – 22 Jan; Private tour|
|Iberian Lynx, Sierra de Andújar & Doñana in search of Iberian Lynx and other mammals in the bird-rich mountains and lowlands of Andalucía, plus the wildlife of the woodlands, wetlands and estuarine habitats of Doñana and nearby coast||28 Jan – 04 Feb|
|Trinidad & Tobago – The Asa Wright Experience Almost two weeks exploration of the wildlife treasures of the rainforest, lowlands and coasts of this exceptional Caribbean country.||09 – 21 Feb|
|AVAILABLE! Please enquire for Bespoke Tour and Day Trip options throughout Spain, including the late February common crane bonanza!||22 Feb – 09 Mar|
|Coto Doñana & Extremadura: the best of SW Spain in spring in search of a wealth of wildlife and landscape contrasts in the marshes and coasts of Doñana & steppes and mountains of Extremadura||25 – 31 Mar|
|Extremadura in spring: in Spain's secret wilderness A week looking for the remarkable variety of raptors, early summer and late winter migrants, and the resident steppe birds, including displaying Great Bustards, as well as orchids and other flora of this beautiful region at the peak time of year||01 – 08 Apr|
|Spain - the Grand Tour!A comprehensive birding tour of Spain from the Strait of Gibraltar to the glorious Picos de Europa mountains ||29 Apr – 12 May|
|Strait of GibraltarUniversity undergraduate field trip ||14 – 21 May; Private tour|
|Segovia, Gredos + Extremadurabespoke tour in search of rare birds and another wildlife of C Spain||24 – 29 May; Private tour|
|Bulgaria – Black Sea coast and Rhodope Mountains for a tremendous variety of E European birds. (Spanish group)||02 – 11 Jun|
|Spanish Pyrenees & Belchitea wealth of birds, including Wallcreeper, Lammergeier & Dupont's Lark, plus butterflies & flowers in the high Pyrenees and Ebro steppes||17 – 23 Jun|
|Canary Islands : endemic land birds, seabirds and other wildlifediscover the unique variety of endemic land birds, breeding seabirds, and a fascinating range of endemic reptiles, butterflies and other wildlife, including cetaceans||20 – 27 Jul|
|Armenia – Demoiselle Cranes in autumn The first tour of its kind, combining Armenia's remarkable landscape and habitat diversity, a smattering of its rich and unique culture, and an opportunity to see demoiselle cranes on their autumn passage amongst many other birds||29 Aug – 10 Sep|
|Strait of Gibraltar: W Europe's main bird migration funnel a week-long celebration of the raptors and other migrant birds on migration as they head S to Africa||16 – 22 Sep|
|Extremadura in autumn: in Spain's secret wilderness A week looking for the remarkable variety of raptors, autumn migrants, and concentrations of resident steppe birds, including bustards and sandgrouse, of this beautiful region||23 Sep – 30 Sep|
|Iberian Lynx, Sierra de Andújar & Doñana in search of Iberian Lynx and other mammals in the bird-rich mountains and lowlands of Andalucía, plus the wildlife of the woodlands, wetlands and estuarine habitats of Doñana and nearby coast||21 – 28 Oct|
|Gambia & Senegal : Superb West African Birding!||03 – 17 Nov|
|Northern Spain : Wallcreepers and Cranes in Aragón plus a fine selection of other birds and a mammal or two!||03 – 09 Dec|
|Birdwatching trips in central Spain Tailor-made 1/2-day to 3-day trips in search of bustards, eagles, vultures and much, much more! Madrid, Extremadura, Castilla La Mancha, Castilla y León or Andújar||All year round|
|Birding and Wildlife Tours around Spain Tailor-made 4+ day birding or natural history packages for individuals, couples, larger groups, clubs or associations||Seasonal options; please enquire.|
|Extremadura: birds, wildlife and scenery galore! birds, butterflies, dragonflies and swathes of flowers in unforgettable surroundings||Late Feb – mid Oct; please enquire.|
|Extremadura and Gredos: in the wild west of Spain! spring birds, butterflies, wildflowers and other wildlife of the plains and mountains of the wild west of Spain||Late Apr – mid Jun; please enquire.|
|Dragonfly and Butterfly watching in C Spain Custom-made day trips and short tours in the Regions of Madrid, Castilla y León and Extremadura||Mostly May – Sept; please enquire.|
|Dragonflies, Birds & Butterflies: Extremadura with a difference! A terrific opportunity to watch and try to photograph these winged jewels in impressive surroundings||Late May – early July; please enquire.|
|Brown Bears, Birds & Butterflies in Somiedo Natural Park|
& the Alto Sil a two centre tour of the Cantabrican mountains in search of the brown bears, birds and butterflies of this beautiful region
|Mid Aug – mid Sep; please enquire.|
|Extremadura : Winter birding bonanza! come and enjoy the remarkable number and variety of wintering birds in Extremadura – 120 thousand+ Common Cranes can't be wrong!||Late Oct – mid Feb; please enquire.|
|Birding in Madrid & La Mancha Eagles, Bustards, Cranes and Culture!||Oct – Mar; please enquire.|
About John MuddemanSilver-studded Blue male Plebejus argus© John Muddeman
A naturalist at heart, I have been interested in wildlife, and particularly birds, quite simply since before I can remember, and have now accrued over 40 years of birdwatching experience. Following my first trip as a guide to Islay in W Scotland in October 1996, I rapidly became 'hooked' and have had the immense pleasure of leading over 250 group tours on five continents since. This has been mainly as a principal guide for The Travelling Naturalist, but periodically for a number of other highly respected UK-based companies too, including Limosa Wildlife Holidays, Honeyguide Wildlife Holidays and Island Holidays. In addition to mainly leading English-speaking visitors from the UK and the US, I have also co-led Swiss, Austrian, Japanese and, of course, Spanish groups too, and I strongly believe that good communication skills as well as adaptability are fundamental and integral requirements of guiding.
Having been drawn to central Spain in early 1997 by a Spanish señorita, to whom I am now married, I rapidly fell in love with the diverse landscapes, White Stork Ciconia ciconia© John Muddeman huge horizons, extraordinarily rich wildlife, language, culture, the people, food and generally good weather of the Iberian Peninsula! While forming an integral part of Iberian Wildlife Tours since its foundation a few years later, since summer 2012 my main focus has concentrated on being a principal guide for Spainbirds Nature Tours, Spain's first specialist wildlife travel agency. Apart from offering a series of week-long tours for English-speaking visitors to most of the major birdwatching destinations in Spain, this has also involved establishing and guiding a variety of different excursions for SEO/BirdLife (the Spanish Ornithological Society), ranging from day trips in central Spain, through long weekends in Doñana and the Pyrenees and up to longer tours in Morocco, Scotland and Romania.
Apart from specialising as a guide in Spain –with extensive personal and guiding experience throughout the area covered from Doñana and the Strait of Gibraltar to the Balearics, the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa, plus the Canary Islands, several of these in conjunction with Teresa Farino–, I have also led groups in such 'classic' European destinations as Scotland, Finland, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Lesvos, as well as further afield in Canada, Galápagos & Ecuador, Trinidad & Tobago, South Africa and New Zealand in direct collaboration with local guides. This has also included numerous trips for individuals and small groups, particularly to see such key species as Cinereous Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, White-headed Duck, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Houbara Bustard, White-rumped Swift, Balearic Warbler, Fuerteventura Chat, Dupont's Lark and Blue Chaffinch, and can legally offer completely tailor-made tours for any group size through Spainbirds Nature Tours.
Large Pincertail Onychogomphus uncatus© John Muddeman Birds have remained as my principal focus since the very beginning, but I have wide natural history interests, especially regarding identification, including botany (particularly orchids), mammals, reptiles, amphibians, dragonflies, butterflies and moths. Following post-graduate research work on passerines at Oxford University, extensive volunteer work on the Birds of Armenia Project in Armenia in 1995 led to almost a year in the United States helping write, correct and give advice on production of the Field Guide to the Birds of Armenia, and subsequently to edit the Handbook of the Birds of Armenia. As a Spanish-English translator and writer too, my highly successful "A Birdwatching Guide to Extremadura" was published in 2000 (please note that this is finally being updated for publication this winter!) and I continue working on The Birds of the Balearic Islands in the hope of eventually publishing it sometime in the future, too! The extraordinary region of Extremadura continues to hold a particular fascination for me and apart from the remarkable bird life, it is also rich in special dragonflies and butterflies, which formed part of a new Dragonflies, Birds and Butterflies tour in 2014. As an honorary member of GUIDEX I am also an officially recognised and accredited Wildlife and Birdwatching Guide for the region.
Ocellated Lizard immature Timon lepidus© John Muddeman A side-line of these natural history interests is digital photography, including digiscoping, and I have begun to build photographic databases of Iberian dragonflies, butterflies and moths. However, please note that I don't have or carry around expensive photographic equipment, so this is not a terribly 'glossy' site! A few of these pictures are shown here and elsewhere on the site. I am also an 'Expert' on birds for Fotografía y Biodiversidad (Photography & Biodiversity), a citizen-science, Spain-based website but with worldwide scope, where users can upload digital images of anything related to the natural world to get identification opinions from the experts in each group. With over 1 million geo-referenced images posted to date, it is one of the largest banks of its kind and a remarkable conservation resource.
A firm believer in supporting regional, national and international conservation bodies, I am also a paying member of FyB, the RSPB, formerly SEO/BirdLife – including as an expert bird ringer from 1999 to 2013 –, the British Trust for Ornithology, the Fundación Oso Pardo and a former long-term subscriber to Birding World and also Quercus, the foremost wildlife magazine in Spain. Brown Bear Ursos arctos© John Muddeman I also contribute when possible to the phenological records program of SEO/BirdLife and voluntarily participate in some of their other census projects when time allows.
While obviously always endeavouring to get the most from each of the areas visited, I am also a firm believer that a holiday should be just that, with time for rest and relaxation and the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of the surroundings. Naturally, our tours are planned around the very best times to try and observe the different wildlife phenomena in the country, so please see the tours, listed by date, in the table below. Let's hope that one of these trips is for you!
Please take a look at further details of the trips listed above, either in the relevant web pages (just click on the tour titles), or by contacting me directly (see below). But if you can't make the dates, please also remember that all these tours (and tailor-made variants) can be made as private options – please just drop me a line!
|Office:||(+34) 918 989195|
|Mobile:||(+34) 649 608747|
|Address:||C/ Alcocer 1, 1-C|
Fresnedillas de la Oliva,
Accredited Birdwatching and Wildlife Guide in Extremadura