With the heat of midsummer fading, an autumn wildlife break exploring the varied habitats of Valencia is always an extremely pleasant prospect – not only for abundant and varied wildlife at every turn, but also for the gorgeous boutique hotel in which we base ourselves for the week! We always stay in comfortable accommodation on our tours, but this particular hotel, with its luxurious rooms and fine dining, takes things to another level entirely.
It might be hard to tear ourselves away from our hotel, but we promise it’s worth the effort. This tour combines several aspects of natural history, giving variety to every day, and something for all tastes.
Prominent at this time of year are dragonflies and damselflies, and we will visit a variety of locations to maximise the variety of species we encounter. We anticipate finding in the region of 20 species, including some that are scarce in a European context – amongst many examples of commoner species, we’ll look for African pioneers like Orange-winged Dropwing Trithemes kirbyi, Violet Dropwing Trithemes annulata, Desert Darter Sympetrum sinaiticum, and Black Percher Diplacodes lefebvrii; and range-restricted European species like the ethereal White Featherlegs Platycnemis latipes. At many wetland sites our steps will be dogged by persistent Northern Banded Groundlings Brachythemis impartita!
Our dragonfly-hunting will take us from lowland wetlands up into higher elevations and shaded, rushing waterways. With such a range of habitats, it’s inevitable that we’ll encounter butterflies on the wing too, and amongst their number this late in the season are some special species – we’ll make a particular effort to see the magnificent Two-tailed Pasha Charaxes jasius feeding on ripe fruit on a secluded, ancient fig tree and, amongst others, Mediterranean Skipper Gegenes nostrodamus, Plain Tiger Danaus chrysippus, African Grass Blue Zizeeria knysna, and Desert Orange Tip Colotis evagore.
Nor is this all! Autumn birding in Valencia is always a delight, and we’ll make sure we catch up with a good variety of the specialties of the region – including Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata, White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala and Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris, Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus, Great Bustard Otis tarda, Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura, Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis, Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia, and many more besides. Covering a range of habitats this week, including inland steppe, will serve us well in this regard. We’ll also take advantage of Pau Lucio’s involvement in the long-running ornithological research on the Pego Marshes, and join some of his colleagues during a morning bird-ringing session there – we’ll hope to see some notable passerines like Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon and Bluethroat Luscinia svecica here.
Coming after the northern European summer, and before the main impetus of autumn bird migration, this relaxing tour is perfectly timed to provide a last fix of summer butterflies and dragonflies, including some decidedly localised and scarce species in a European context, and a welcome hit of special southern European birds. We hope you return home with happy memories, many photographs to enjoy, and in time perhaps to catch up with some migrant birds close to home.