Top birding locations

 NATURA INDÓMITA The Birding specialist in La Mancha & Sierra Morena (SPAIN)  

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The north side of the vast Sierra Morena, stretching from the Guadiana River to the border of Andalusia, holds the biggest Holm Oak Dehesa Valley of Europe (110 km. long, 20 km. wide) and some of the best patches of Oaks (Quercus pyrenaica) of Spain, in which is the southern border of this unique specie in Europe.

Located in just one hour by road from Almagro, this place, very difficult to traverse due the lack of roads and bad tracks conditions, is the newest jewel of the Spanish Natural Parks and one of the most beautiful surprises when visiting La Mancha.

Inside this space we can distinguish two very different parts:

1- The Valle de Alcudia itself. Over one hundred and ten km. long from the Sierra de San Lorenzo to the old mining town of Almaden (oldest mercury mines in the world) covered with thousands of Holm Oaks in a savanna like landscape that is considered the most wonderful vision of La Mancha. This unique place is home of a brilliant plethora of birds that uses the valley for hunting or eating, such as the big three Eagles of Spain: Golden, Spanish Imperial and Bonelli’s, or three species of Vultures (Black, Griffon & Egyptian). Rupell’s Vultures & Lamergeiers have been recorded inside the park, but are rarely seen.

Large extensions of the valley were converted in grasslands for cattle (mostly sheep & cows), so these places are now considered as steppes areas where you can find several lark species such as Skylark, Calandra, Wood, Crested & Thekla. There is a very small population of Great Bustard, but encounters are not easy in the great plains of the valley. Two species of Shrikes (Woodchat & Southern Grey) and several species of Corvidae (Raven, Red-Billed Chough, Jackdaw, Jay, Spotless Starling and the endemic Azur-Winged Magpie) are the most common birds that can be seen in the area, though the highlights of the park are small and medium size raptors such as Black-Shouldered Kite, Short-Toed & Booted Eagles, Black & Red Kites, European Buzzard, Common & Lesser Kestrels, Sparrowhawk & Peregrine Falcon. The Montoro, Tablillas & Cabra rivers are feeding sites for Black Storks, birds that, on migration, may be concentrated by hundreds in the western side of the valley.

2- The Sierra Madrona and all the chains of mountains that surrounds the valley. With the highest elevations of all Sierra Morena (over 1.300 m.a.s.l.) and some of the deepest valleys of the center of Spain, this breath-taking mountain range covered with ancient Holm, Gall & Pyrenean Oaks (Quercus pyrenaica) is the nesting place of mostly of the birds of prey that uses every day the stunning Valle de Alcudia for feeding.

High & abrupt cliffes host all the eagles species of Spain, but are also home of very interesting mammals species such as Iberian Ibex (endemic subspecie of Sierra Madrona), Roe Deer, Muflon, Red Deer (endemic subspecie of Sierra Morena), Red Squirrel, Wild Cat, Wild Boar, Red Fox, Otter, etc.

Just in the border with Andalusia, Sierra Madrona ends and begins the Sierra de Andujar & the Sierras de Cardeña y Montoro, natural places for the most endangered wild cat in the world: the Iberian Lynx.

Though encounters with the big cat are very difficult, there are clear evidences that Lynx uses the southern side of Sierra Madrona as game ground or as transit territory to the most favorable fields of Campo de Calatrava and Campo de Montiel.

The very impressive range of Sierra Madrona can provide other treats to birders such as Great Spotted Woodpecker, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Dipper, Kingfisher, Alpine & White-Rumped Swifts, Short-Toed Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Great, Blue, Crested, Coal and Long-Tailed Tits, Cirl & Rock Buntings, Firecrest and Bluethroat, besides the others raptor species mentioned for the Valle de Alcudia itself.

Apart from the impressive number of animal species that can be found into the park (179 birds in a place with no wetlands, 45 mammals, 21 reptiles and over 29 fish and amphibians), the number of plants is also unparalleled in Spain, with over 1.000 species that includes endemism as the Sierra Madrona Narcissus (Narcissus muñozii-garmendiae), the Sierra Morena Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea subsp. mariana) or the Iberia & North Africa endemic carnivorous plant called Drosophyllum lusitanicum.

Dragonflies, Damselflies & Butterflies are other specialities of the rivers and forests of Sierra Madrona, a place where the naturalist can find the gorgeous Two Tailed Pasha -one of Europe’s largest butterflies- in any of the thousands Strawberry Trees of the sierra.

Other common inhabitants of the mountains that can be easily found in its deep valleys and rivers are the Marsh Frog, the Southern Common Toad, the Spanish Terrapin or the Ladder Snake.

All of this vast natural area is complemented by unique landscapes and outstandings spots such as the set of very impressive gorges of Hoz de Rio Frio, Hoz del Jandula & Hoz de Valdoro, the Cereceda River & the Batanera Waterfall, the Robledillo river or the volcanic remains of Sisapum (ancient roman village) and the Alberquilla Volcanic Lagoon.

The park is punctuated by dozens of old mining towns and buildings (for lead & silver) like the ghost town of Minas del Horcajo or the set of old buildings of La Gitana & El Burcio, but the open-mouthed visitor can also discover old “ventas” (guesthouses famous by Cervantes novels) and ancient rock paintings like the Batanera Waterfall, the Cueva de la Venta Waterfall or the Pena Escrita Rocks, last one are the earliest discovered rock paintings in the World!

Contact

C/ Ejido de San Juan, 39
13720 - Almagro (Ciudad Real)
Phone: 926-860806
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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