The huge success of Birding In Spain’s Winter Wallcreeper Tours

More about Winter Wallcreepers???

Yes, and we make no apologies for having something quite unique…

For many years now we at Birding In Spain have been running “Winter Wallcreeper” birding tours, spanning from late October into mid-March.

Winter Wallcreeper tour

Winter Wallcreeper. Photo by Michael Vecht. Thanks Michael!

Wallcreeper tour group with Wallcreeper!

Wallcreeper tour group with Wallcreeper!

Crested Tit, somewhere on a bird tour in northeast Spain

Back when we guided bird tours for Ornitholidays we designed and led a week-long winter wallcreeper tour, the first edition of which ran in 2012. That birding tour was a great success in terms of public (it was a full tour) and the birds we saw – Wallcreeper of course, but so much more!

Riglos, Pre-Pyrenees of Aragón

That winter Wallcreeper tour ran for Ornitholidays in November for 6 consecutive years or more, and although the itinerary underwent modifications (eg incorporating the Ebro Delta in 2015) we never missed our main target, the wondrous Wallcreeper.

Ornitholidays bird tour brochure cover 2016

Winter Wallcreeper tour Ornitholidays 2016

Winter Wallcreeper tour Ornitholidays 2016

Ornitholidays changed hands, and then the services of most of the company’s guides were no longer required. Then though the time was ripe for Birding In Spain to offer our own version of the Winter Wallcreeper tour. This was to be a shorter birding break of 4 or 5 days, with of course still the same main target of the Wallcreeper, but also aiming at other birds such as Lammergeier, Citril Finch, Alpine Accentor, Iberian Green Woodpecker in the Pre-Pyrenees.

Citril Finch

Citril Finch

The plains of the Ebro Valley and Lleida are bird-rich and so cannot be ignored. So this birding tour does not ignore them! In November it’s the resident birds which are the pull of the area, with Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Eagle Owl, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Calandra Lark, Little Owl, Iberian Grey Shrike, Bonelli’s Eagle being the main birding attractions that most visiting birders want to see.

Loarre Castle, maybe a Citril Finch, or a Rock Bunting?

If the winter wallcreeper birding tour is in March Wallcreepers can be a little harder to find, as they tend to disperse over a large area during the winter. Nevertheless, with more than half a dozen pretty good Wallcreeper sites to check, we usually find at least one of these dazzling birds. What’s more, the first spring migrants have started coming in: birds such as Short-toed Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Alpine Swift, Western Subalpine Warbler ….

Monegros Ebro Valley plains for steppe birds

Audouin’s Gulls in the Ebro Delta

Abandoned boats in the Ebro Delta, Catalonia

Then, to finish the tour, what better than a day in the Ebro Delta, which is packed with birds! Birds, birds, everywhere! Bluethroat, Moustached Warbler, Penduline Tit, Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamphen, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin’s Gull, Booted Eagle …

Black-bellied Sandgrouse in the Ebro Valley

Winter wallcreeper birding ladies

Winter wallcreeper birding ladies

Lammergeier in flight

Lammergeier in flight – one of the special birds of the Winter Wallcreeper tour

This year we’ll be running two Winter Wallcreeper Tours in November.

You can see more information on request – email us.

Send us an email, introduce yourself, and ask us for more information.

Bear in mind, we have special group rates for groups of 5 or more.

Early spring Orchids in the hills of Andalusia

Here are some photos of the orchids we discovered on our 12-day sojourn in Northern Andalusia with Kath and Mick from the UK in late March 2024. 

Sawfly orchid, Ophrys tenthredenifera

Sawfly orchids were widespread and in their prime. Ophrys ficalhoana seems to be the name to use nowadays. The recent rains in Andalusia were a godsend for this and other species of orchid …

Yellow Bee Orchid, Ophrys lutea

We only encountered the Yellow Bee Orchid, Ophrys lutea, at one location, but, as usual with this species, when you find one you find a whole lot more!

Sombre Bee Orchid, Ophrys fusca

We only found the Sombre Bee Orchid, or Dull Ophrys, at one location, which is quite surprising. Were we too early, or too late?

I find the Ophrys orchids fascinating. They have evolved flowers to look like certain female insects to entice males to mate with them. Of course, the males do not get the sexual encounter they were betting on, but they go away with some of the plant’s pollen. This is called Pouyannian mimicry. Although visual, the key stimuli are often chemical and tactile. What follows is from Wikipedia …

Floral odors have been identified as the most prominent way of attracting pollinators, because these odors imitate the sex pheromones of females of the pollinator species. Male pollinators then track these scents over long distances. The proportions of such odor compounds have been found to be varied in different populations of orchids (in a variety of locations), playing a crucial role in attracting specific pollinators at the population level. The evolution of these interactions between plants and pollinators involve natural selection favoring local adaptation, leading to a more precise imitation of the scents produced by local pollinators.

Naked Man Orchid, Orchis italica

Naked Man Orchids were at their peak. Beautiful!

Pink Butterfly Orchid, Anacamptis papilionacea

Pink Butterfly Orchids were springing up all over the place!

Champagen Orchid, Orchis champaneuxii

Champagne Orchids. You know how it goes: you get all excited about seeing the first one, you rever it, take photos, and get all honeyed up thinking about it. Then you find another one, then a little clump, then a large cluster, then you start seeing them in so many places …

Conical Orchid, Orchis conica

The Conical Orchid was one of the most discreet of the orchids we saw and we only found it at a single site. It was a new species for Kath, so that in itself means it was a good find.

Mirror Orchid, Ophrys speculum

I remember when I found my first Mirror Orchid on the edge of the Utxesa reservoir in Lleida many years ago. I was so thrilled. Then, not long after that I went to the southern tip of Mallorca and was amazed to find dozens and dozens of Mirror Orchids growing in a little rough patch by the sea. When I see this species now I try to recall those feelings.

Narrow-leaved Helleborine, Cephalanthera longifolia

Another great birding tour with Heatherlea

Spain in early spring tour report

Heatherlea early spring in Spain tour participants

Heatherlea early spring in Spain tour participants

This was a fully-ascribed bird tour from 2nd to 9th March, starting off with 2 nights at the Ebro Delta – it was windy, but we managed, quite well, in fact: Bluethroat, Moustached Warbler, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin’s Gull, Common Gull, Booted Eagle, Whiskered Tern, Caspian Tern, hordes of Greater Flamingos, a roost of more than 100 Night Herons, Black-necked Grebe… there are so many birds here in this delta!

Ebro delta birding destination

Ebro Delta birding destination

Ebro delta birding: a flock of Avocets

Ebro delta birding: a flock of Avocets. Photo by Zane Davidsone. Thanks Zane!

Then it was on to bird the area surrounding Lleida, our home town, for one night: Golden Eagle, Bonell’s Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Eagle Owl, Little Bustard, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Dupont’s Lark, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Bearded Tit … Now that’s what I call quality birding! Thanks Lleida!

Now for the last leg, and the piece de resistance … would we see the Wallcreeper? Yes! Not one, but two Wallcreepers, and impossibly close-up. Then there were flocks of migrating Cranes in the sunshine, crossing northwards over the Pyrenees. What could follow that? Apart from birds such as Citril Finch, Rock Bunting, Lammergeier, Crested Tit…

Winter Wallcreeper tour

Winter Wallcreeper. Photo by Michael Vecht. Thanks Michael!

And then a visit for birding the high mountains of the Pyrenees and a foot in France for Alpine Chough and a few more bits and bobs, before a last day’s birding on the pseudosteppes of the Monegros, for Stone Curlew, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Hen Harrier, Golden Eagle, Mediterranean Short-toed Lark…

What a tour! Northeast Spain. What a way to kick off the spring birding season of 2024!

Read the full tour report on the following link:


Some positive feedback from participants on Birding In Spain’s Winter Wallcreeper Tours

Our Winter Wallcreeper Tours are a big hit among participants. See for yourselves …

Winter Wallcreeper tour participants

Winter Wallcreeper tour participants 2023

  • Geoff, Republic of Ireland, Winter Wallcreeper Tour November 2022

    Thanks very much for a fantastic Winter Wallcreeper tour. It was a great success. The pick-ups, drop-offs, accommodation and food, and the lunchtime picnics and transport from site to site were all organised very well and very relaxed, comfortable and enjoyable. … And the birds were even better than expected. Fantastic views of Wallcreeper and Lammergeier on several occasions. Watching the Lammergeier preening for over an hour was very impressive and your ability to find it on the rock face even more impressive. Great views also of Golden Eagles, Little Bustards, Ferruginous Duck, Goshawk. We missed out on the Bonelli’s Eagle but were compensated with the Long-legged Buzzard.

Winter Wallcreeper tour participants 2023

Winter Wallcreeper tour participants 2023

  • Ros, UK, Private Winter Wallcreeper tour with friends, November 2023

    Thank you so much for such an amazing trip .It was everything and more than I expected. Such beautiful scenery and light as well as so many birds. All expertly found by yourself by taking us to so many different places. It was all so well planned, so that even though we had some long drives, you had planned a stop with some birds and a coffee (we won’t mention that we had some food shopping!)The hotels were great – comfortable and good food particularly at Hostería de Guara.Great trip-just the right length. I think the girls were as happy as myself with everything. When you are responsible for organising a group there is some apprehension about the response. I needn’t have worried.

Winter Wallcreeper tour participants 2023

Winter Wallcreeper tour participants 2023

  • Alan and Kay, UK, Winter Wallcreeper Tour November 2023

    Steve, – Thanks, that was a truly splendid few days, mostly due to your prodigious knowledge of the subject. The super weather, lovely hotels, and of course the birds all played their part. Only slight downside for me was a “black lady” and her hearts. The few days we had in Tarragona were enjoyable given an attractive old part to the city and some wonderful Roman bits.We’ve been home a couple of days and still waiting to see the sky.

Chiffs that don’t chaff?

Sweeoo vs tuuit chiffchaffs

If, like us, you do a lot of birding by ear then you may have noticed that last autumn there was a passage of Common Chiffchaffs, a considerable number of which were using different calls from the typical “tuuit” call that we are all used to.

This was documented by a number of observers in Spain, including myself one day in October, when I heard what I thought must be a Yellow-browed Warbler. I hastily pulled out my phone and activated the Merlin app and it gave me “Common Chiffchaff”!

Common Chiffchaff

Common Chiffchaff – sweeo or tuuit?

“What? No!” I said to myself, and tried again, with the same result. Merlin was telling me again that that “sweeoo” call I was hearing was from a Common Chiffchaff. The truth is that when I set eyes on what I thought must be the bird making the call it looked just like a Common Chiffchaff.

So … Merlin 1 Steve 0

Obviously I was not the only observer to be taken in, as later this was published as something particular to that autumn, and quite widespread. The most likely explanation was that there was a larger than normal passage of juvenile birds which had not yet acquired the use of the typical “tuuit” call.

So, there you go. Be careful out there!

Another Iceland Tour? YES!

Another Iceland Tour

Autumn Northern Lights and Birds Combo Iceland Tour

Dates: 30th September to 6th October 2024

Come with us and enjoy the Northern Lights in Iceland

This year is predicted to be a good one for viewing the Northern Lights, from the autumn equinox onwards. So what have we done at Birding In Spain? We’ve arranged a Northern Lights and Birds Combo Tour for a return trip to Iceland.

Take some dark nights, like those around the new moon; add the autumn equinox, which is naturally a good time for the northern lights to make an appearance; take the year 2024 predicted to be a good one for the northern lights; join a northern lights cruise out of Reykjavik; and then leave the rest to the weather, because a cloud-free zone is all that you need!

However, we all know that Iceland is more than the Northern Lights. The things that don’t move too much include the amazing volcanic features, the waterfalls, glaciers, cliffs and headlands, in general – the amazing scenery of Iceland (and perhaps with the first snowfalls it can look even more striking).

White-tailed Eagle

White-tailed Eagle, Iceland

Then the birds. The birds! The breeding season is over, but winter has not yet arrived, so many birds have moved to the coast, or are passing through and getting to them is not usually an issue the way it may be in the winter. What birds? Well, think of Harlequin Ducks, Barrow’s Goldeneyes, flocks of Geese, waders, Gyrfalcon, White-tailed Eagle, Ptarmigan, loons, ducks, waders and more!

Ask us for more information. No compromise.

Just don’t regret passing by this unique tour!

Birding in Spain advent calendar December 25th

Merry Christmas!

Now why would you be reading this on Christmas Day?

I called this image “blood”. It’s an alert Goshawk (is there any other kind?) with a full crop and a blood-stained bill.

The Goshawk is a mean, aggressive predator, a real bird of prey, a feathered Velociraptor. It’s an image which doesn’t appear to have much to do with the Christmas spirit, the message of “Love and peace to all mankind”, or anything close to that.

Well, I could postulate that red is the colour of holly berries, and that holly has been a visible feature of this festive season in northern Europe for many years; or that red is the predominant colour of Santa Claus’s outfit, the red of gift-wrapping paper, Christmas tree baubles and tinsel, and so on. I could, and that might be a nice way to end this advent calendar series. However, if I did I think I’d be straying too far from what brought us all here in the first place: the birds.

Birds are beautiful. Birds can fly, soar, glide, swim, run, walk, float, climb, dive, hop, jump, dance and sing. And the beauty of birdwatching is that we can actually see the birds doing many of those things.

In any other world birds would be impossible. But they exist – in this, our, world. Enjoy birds. Enjoy life.


Blood – a festive Goshawk?


Bird, and be free

Birding In Spain

Birding in Spain advent calendar December 24th

Good morning birders from all over!

I hope you have a nice tomorrow’s eve!

Today’s offering is a slightly risqué image of a Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture (as they keep reminding us). Risqué because of the foot-dragging diversion away from the conventions of bird portraiture: the clipped wingtips, the visible narrow white border separating the bird from its background, and the very artificial background of scratches and grunge patches.

I often wish that I could go much further than this and apply some measure of real artistic ability to create nature-related images capable of captivating the audience, surprising or shocking them even, while still distilling some or all of what the bird is, what I’ve seen it to be after countless encounters in the field.

How many of us can see and feel, and would like to share, but lack the ability to communicate what we feel or see or hear?

Did you know that adult Lammergeiers don’t get that orange-yellow coloration on their underparts from plumage moult or anything of the kind? Maybe some of you didn’t, so I’ll continue: they actually get it by “bathing” in ferruginous springs – think iron oxides or ochre – to acquire what is termed “cosmetic colouring”.

Incredible, huh? Why they do that is another story, but like many things in the natural world it’s probably related to sex.

Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture

Advent calendar – December 24th – Lammergeier

Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.

Protected: Birding in Spain advent calendar December 23rd

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Birding In Spain Advent Calendar December 22nd

This one is close to me.

For a good number of years now the Bonelli’s Eagle has been one of my favourite “home” birds.

Just look at that expression: this bird has character, and plenty of it.

The Bonelli’s Eagle is only a medium-sized eagle, but I’ve watched it chase off a considerably larger Golden Eagle encroaching on its territory, and it still had plenty of fight left in it. The Golden Eagle did the right thing by getting out of there pretty fast.

It’s an eagle with bright white underparts, so you’d think it would be easy to spot, wouldn’t you? Well, when it wants to show off to a potential mate or rival it will sit on an exposed perch and you might happen to be there too to observe it. However, if it doesn’t want to be seen you can spend hours in a known eagle territory and leave frustrated after seeing nothing, or worried that the territorial pair will have abandoned the area, or even worse, suspecting that they have fallen prey to some human-induced mortality factor.

As means of illustration: I’ve watched a pair of Bonelli’s Eagles sitting virtually motionless for almost an hour on secluded perches and then briefly take flight only to move to another even more secluded perch where they remain for at least another hour. If I had the whole day to spare I might wait then to see them take another brief flight over the nearest ridge, not to be seen again for the rest of the day.

And that look; that scrutiny. To me that expression alone makes the Bonelli’s Eagle more like a Goshawk than an eagle. It’s hungry, insatiable, unpredictable. It’s wild – still. As it should be.

Bonelli’s Eagle on perch

A negative mind will never give you a positive life

Page 1 of 45
1 2 3 45