Birds and Birding in Extremadura, Madrid, La Mancha and Andalucia, Spain
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John Muddeman
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John Muddeman

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…

Where John is guiding in 2018

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.

Scheduled toursDates
Canary Islands (East + West) A relaxed bespoke winter break to the central and eastern islands for their special birds and other wildlife07 – 14 Jan; Private tour
Iberian Lynx weekend (Andújar) Special long weekend trip for BBC Wildlife readers to the core area for the endangered Iberian Lynx19 – 22 Jan
Iberian Lynx Quest (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 coast27 Jan – 03 Feb
Mexico Private tour12 – 24 Feb
Morocco : High Atlas, Sahara & atlantic coast From the edge of the Sahara to the beaches of the Atlantic, including the Erg Chebbi dunes, rugged High Atlas and bird rich coastal wetlands09 – 19 Mar
C Spain birding Bespoke tour to Madrid, Extremadura and La Mancha to search for its rarer birds20 – 22 Mar
Morocco (Atlas, Sahara & coast From the edge of the Sahara to the beaches of the Atlantic, including the Erg Chebbi dunes, rugged High Atlas and bird rich coastal wetlands26 Mar – 04 Apr
Strait of Gibraltar A week-long University MSc field trip course at the southernmost tip of Europe, featuring bird migration, cetaceans, buterflies, moths and flora14 – 21 Apr
Picos de Europa, Pyrenees + Belchite steppesBespoke birdwatching tour covering the Picos de Europa, W Pyrenees and Belchite areas for a variety of range-restricted species23 – 30 Apr; Private tour
Doñana, Extremadura + GredosBespoke tour to complement the N Spain trip for the southern specialties03 – 11 May
Extremadura + GredosFrom the hot lowland steppes of Extremadura to the montane scrublands of the beautiful Gredos mountains in search of their abundant birds and rich wildlife21 – 27 May
Rumania : Dobrogea + Danube Delta Bird-rich steppe and coastal wetlands, as well as the remarkable Danube Delta combine for a perfect E European bonanza03 – 10 Jun
Picos de Europa A late spring tour to the magnificent mountains of the Cantabrian Cordillera, combining birds, butterflies and flowers18 – 24 Jun
Canary Islands (Tenerife + La Gomera) A short break to discover some of the remarakably varied habitats and wildlife delights of Tenerife and La Gomera in the central Canary Islands20 – 24 Jul
Canary Islands (East + West) 26 Jul – 02 Aug
Austria : Around Lake Neusiedl A relaxed one-centre tour to enjoy a summer week among the local and migrant birds of the lakes, plains, forests and easternmost Alps.18 – 25 Aug
Armenia: Cranes, raptors & culture 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 birds28 Aug – 09 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 Africa15 – 21 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 region22 Sep – 29 Sep
Uganda25 Oct – 06 Nov
Wallcreepers and Cranes in Aragón plus a fine selection of other birds and a mammal or two!02 – 08 Dec
Extremadura at Christmas 22 – 29 Dec
Bespoke toursAvailability
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 AndújarAll year round
Birding and Wildlife Tours around Spain Tailor-made 4+ day birding or natural history packages for individuals, couples, larger groups, clubs or associationsSeasonal options; please enquire.
Extremadura: birds, wildlife and scenery galore! birds, butterflies, dragonflies and swathes of flowers in unforgettable surroundingsLate 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 SpainLate 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 ExtremaduraMostly 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 surroundingsLate 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.

2019 Tours

Scheduled toursDates
Iberian Lynx Quest (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 coast26 Jan – 02 Feb
The Asa Wright Experience: Trinidad & Tobago Almost two weeks exploration of the wildlife treasures of the rainforest, lowlands and coasts of this exceptional Caribbean country.07 – 19 Feb
Mexico : Butterfly, bird and whale migration Enjoy the contrasts of the astonishing concentration of millions of wintering Monarch butterflies in the interior mountains with a wealth of birdlife and whale-watching on the rich west coast20 Feb – 02 Mar
Morocco (Atlas, Sahara & coast From the edge of the Sahara to the beaches of the Atlantic, including the Erg Chebbi dunes, rugged High Atlas and bird rich coastal wetlands08 – 18 Mar
Extremadura 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 year30 Mar – 06 Apr

About John Muddeman

Silver-studded Blue male – Plebejus argus © 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 ciconiaWhite 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 MuddemanLarge 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 MuddemanOcellated 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 arctosBrown 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!

Contact John Muddeman

Office:(+34) 918 989195
Mobile:(+34) 649 608747
Address:C/ Alcocer 1, 1-C
Fresnedillas de la Oliva,
28214 Madrid
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