Tour Details

Dates:22nd of Mar - 29th of Mar 2024
Group Size:Minimum 4, maximum 12
Grading:Easy gentle paced walks
PricesFull price: £1,475.00 / person Single room supplement: £175.00 / person Deposit: £150.00 / person
Price includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transportation, services of your guides, and a holiday report.
Not included: International travel, drinks and other personal items, holiday insurance.

Tour Highlights

  • A magnificent week of birding in a variety of habitat types ranging from coastal to montane and steppe
  • Spring orchids will be coming into their own, with charismatic Ophrys bee orchids prominent, including scarce Ophrys dyris
  • Insects will include early dragonflies and spring butterflies, with some scarce and near endemic species amongst them
  • A donation will be made to Zerynthia, for use in the creation of local butterfly micro-reserves in Valencia province

Tour Description

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!

Tour Leaders

Pau, from Gandia in Spain, has a lifelong interest in wildlife. He’s a professional ornithologist and wildlife guide, but finds time to work as a professor at the Universitat Politècnica de València, teaching Zoology and Wildlife Management.

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Tour Location


Tour Itinerary

  • DAY 1: Arrival at Valencia airport.* Transfer to Villalonga and our comfortable hotel for the coming week.

  • DAY 2: Pego marshes and San Antoni Cape
  • Today will be spent exploring some local coastal sites, with seabirds, waders, waterbirds and some choice passerines very much our primary focus. At the coast, we will be looking for Balearic Shearwater and Audouin's Gull; inland, at the extensive reedbeds of the Pego Marshes, we will hope to encounter Little Bittern; Night, Purple and Squacco Herons; Black-winged Stilt; Whiskered Tern; iberiae Iberian Wagtail; resident Moustached Warbler at one of its best sites in mainland Spain; and newly returned migrant Savi's Warbler. In the afternoon, we turn our attention to the orchid prospects of the headland of Cabo de San Antoni, where we will be hunting for Sawfly, Woodcock and Giant Orchids. We may get distracted, however, by Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush and Pallid Swifts...
  • DAY 3: El Fondo Natural Park and Salinas de Santa Pola
  • Heading south of Alicante this morning, we'll explore the extensive wetlands of the area, starting at the Santa Pola Salinas which holds, in addition to thousands of Greater Flamingo, a good variety of waders and wildfowl, and gulls, in particular Slender-billed Gull. Such a magnet for birds means almost anything is possible here, so we'll keep our eyes peeled for something out of the ordinary. In the afternoon we'll visit the Natural Park of El Fondo, home to over 70 breeding pairs of White-headed Duck, some Red-knobbed Coots, and best of all, the rarest duck in Europe, Marbled Duck. This is probably the best site in Europe for seeing the latter species, and while we're watching that we may also notice our first early dragonflies, such as Lesser Emperor, Red-veined Darter, and Blue-tailed Damselfly.
  • DAY 4: Clot de Galvany and Monnegre
  • A mixed day today will pick up in the morning where we left off the previous day, in wetland habitat at the Clot de Galvany, a seasonal wetland that holds breeding White-headed Duck, Western Swamphen, and some quality passerines including Iberian Green Woodpecker and Iberian Grey Shrike, Dartford Warbler, and Sardinian Warbler. The afternoon, will mark a change of habitat as we head into the gorge of the Monnegre River. This rocky landscape boasts a very different array of birds, including a pair of magnificent Bonelli's Eagles, and a supporting cast of Black Wheatear, Rock Bunting, Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, and Griffon Vulture. Peregrine and Red-billed Chough are, unsurprisingly in such an environment, distinct possibilities, and we'll also aim to find some of the small local population of Trumpeter Finches. Butterflies should be on the wing too, and we'd hope to see the likes of Provence Orange-tip, Lang’s Short-tailed Blue, Long-tailed Blue, Western Dappled White, and Bath White.
  • DAY 5: Albufera de Valencia Natural Park
  • Today will be spent exploring the extensive surroundings of Albufera de Valencia Natural Park, the third largest wetland in Spain. This area encompasses 14,000 hectares of paddyfields that are flooded throoughout the winter and drained from mid-Feburary onwards in preparation for rice-planting later in May. When we visit, in March, there are only a few flooded fields on the reserve that hold teeming masses of many thouands of Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, and waders including Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, and Golden Plover. In recent decades a small number of Black Stork have also opted to winter in the Natural Park, so we will keep our fingers crossed for a sighting of one or more of their number too. This many birds can only act like a magnet for birds of prey, so we'll be hoping for some encounters with Booted Eagle and Marsh Harrier at the very least.
  • DAY 6: East Albacete

    Heading inland and away from the coast, we will spend today exploring the vast horizons of the steppes and temporary lagoons of East Albacete. This Special Protection Area retains a traditional farming approach, where some special birds continue to flourish - most notable of all is the mighty, 20kg+ Great Bustard, but we'll also hope for Stone Curlew, Lesser Kestrel, Rock Sparrow, and a bevy of lark species - Calandra, Short-toed and Thekla should all be found here. The steppes are studded with temporary lagoons of varying size and, on these, we'd hope to see still more White-headed Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Black-necked Grebe, and good numbers of refuelling northbound migrant waders.

  • DAY 7: Vall d’Ebo
  • Our final full day in this wonderful region of Spain will be largely devoted to orchids and butterflies - though we'll never stop looking for migrant birds, of course! In the beautiful Vall d'Ebo we will wander the abandoned valley terraces that usually support a good variety of orchids, including Naked Man Orchid, Orchis olbiensis, Neotinea conica, Ophrys dyris, and more besides. With any luck we'll bump into some attractive and intriguing orchid hybrids here! Butterfly possibilities here abound, and we might hope for Provence Hairstreak, Green Hairstreak, Adonis Blue, Spanish Festoon, and Iberian Scarce Swallowtail. Should the season be a little advanced, this will all take place to a backdrop of many hundreds of cherry trees in full blossom.
  • DAY 8
    Return to Valencia airport, and tour concludes.
    Should time permit in the morning, we will visit some coastal marshes en route to the airport for one last chance at some new birds, or at the very least to renew our aquiantance with some favourites from the week just gone.
  • As with all of our tours, we want our guests to enjoy the very best views of the very best wildlife and, as such, we think it’s important to retain a little flexibility in the holiday itinerary. This means that we may choose to swap days around to take into account local weather conditions, or the timing of the flight or flowering season we find upon arrival at our holiday destination. Rest assured, we will ensure you visit all the best sites, and we have your best interests and comfort at heart!

    *We’ll meet at the airport as this is a convenient travel hub for many. However, we appreciate that some guests may have chosen to come overland via rail to Valencia. The main railway station in town is Estació del Nord, and there is a frequent aerobus service linking the city centre with the airport.

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