Valencia remains something of a hidden treasure in Spain, overshadowed by the well-known and well-trodden wildlife destinations in Extremadura and Andalusia. However, it thoroughly deserves some attention, and when better to pay it a visit than at the end of a long northern European winter?
Valencia in early spring offers the enticing prospect of some excellent birding opportunities in varied habitats, ranging from wetlands to mountains, and saltmarshes to steppes. In addition to a burgeoning roster of herons, egrets, storks, ibises and flamingos, some of Spain’s most sought-after waterbirds are readily seen on this holiday, including Europe’s rarest duck, Marbled Duck, the charismatic Red-knobbed Coot, and the impressively statuesque and purple Western Swamphen.
We’ll take particular advantage of our popular local leader Pau Lucio’s involvement in the long-running ornithological research on the Pego Marshes – he knows this site better than anyone, and we’ll be hoping for sightings of notable passerines like Moustached Warbler and newly returned Savi’s Warbler.
Montane and steppe environments will greatly augment our birding prospects, and will yield chances for the likes of Black Wheatear, Rock Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush, Bonelli’s Eagle, Trumpeter Finch, Calandra, Short-toed and Thekla Larks, Great Bustard, Rock Sparrow, Lesser Kestrel, Stone Curlew… the list goes on and on!
At this time of year, the holiday is about more than just birds. The first wildflowers are coming into bloom and, foremost amongst them will be some orchids – colourful Sawfly and Yellow Bee, statuesque Giant and Naked Man, and maybe some surprises too – we’ll make a point of looking for the uncommon Ophrys dyris, a scarce inhabitant of North Africa and the southern half of the Iberian peninsula.
Butterflies will also be emerging now – Iberian Scarce Swallowtails and Spanish Festoons will be as eye-catching as ever, but keen eyes will hope for Lang’s Short-tailed Blue, Western Dappled White, Provence Hairstreak, and Provence Orange-tip, amongst others. Also on the wing should be some early dragonflies – everything is grist to our mill this week on a holiday that’s all about spring wildlife in warm, pleasant Spanish surroundings.
And speaking of pleasant things, did we mention our hotel? We base ourselves in a gorgeous boutique hotel that features luxurious rooms and fine dining every evening. This is the sister tour to our Autumn Wildlife in Valencia week so, if you’ve enjoyed one, you may very well enjoy the other!