Vultures in Europe means vultures in Spain

Black or Cinereous or Monk Vultures in the snow

Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture, in flight over the Pyrenees, Spain

Griffon Vultures in action

Egyptian Vulture in the Pyrenees, Spain

Rüppell’s Vulture, Tarifa, Spain

Spain is clearly the European stronghold for all of these species. Here’s a quick look at the essentials:

Bearded Vulture (times are tough when I feel obliged to phase out the use of Lammergeier, but, oh well…)

Spanish population = 163 breeding “pairs” (moderate increase)

Total European population = 465 breeding pairs (estimate)

The Spanish population represents   about 35% of the European total.

Black (oh, Cinereous) Vulture

Spanish population = 2550 breeding pairs approx. (moderate increase)

Total European population = 2750 breeding pairs

The Spanish population represents  about 93% of the European total

Egyptian Vulture (no name change here?)

Spanish population = 1400 to 1600 breeding pairs (stable)

Total European population =2688-2931 breeding pairs

The Spanish population represents about 55% of the European total

Griffon Vulture

Spanish population = 30100-36500 breeding pairs (large increase)

Total European population = 35000-42000

The Spanish population represents about 87% of the European total


Rüppell’s Vulture

Spanish population = up to 5 breeding pairs (mixed) but no confirmation of breeding. This is the total of the European population.

Click on this link to download the pdf  by the Vulture Conservation Foundation with a very interesting summary of the populations, distribution etc of all five European Vultures (Bearded Vulture, Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture and Rüppell’s Vulture).

New! Announcing the Birding In Spain Bird Sudokus!

Here’s another good reason for you to subscribe to our newsletter! Have you ever done a bird Sudoku before? Well, you can now.

Watch birds by Birding In Spain

Featuring some of the avian stars of our bird tours in Spain the sudoku principle is the same, but instead of numbers you have birds. Much more pleasing, we think, especially for those of us who are less “number-oriented”.

In future newsletters we will be including the occasional bird sudoku among the art, links to interesting articles, bird and tour news, etc.

Birding In Spain’s Winter Wallcreeper sudoku

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Len and Lucy’s review of their time with Birding In Spain

Len and Lucy’s review of their time with Birding In Spain

Len and Lucy came to us in March 2022, after booking in late 2019, and then having to wait for more than two years because of the pandemic. Well, they made it from North Carolina and our 12 days together was a very pleasant and productive tour of some of the possibilities of Birding In Spain.

This is what their hand-written review reads:

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Those words seem hardly enough to express Lucy and my true satisfaction with our birding trip.

Your expert guiding and the friendship developed over the past 12 days has made this such a memorable experience for us. It has given us lots of stories to be retold with our friends, both birders and non-birders.

Your knowledge of the birds, their habitats, behaviour, calls, size, shape and overall gizz are amazing. While your up close eyesight is suspect (Ha!Ha!Ha!) your distance vision is outstanding. Many times you spotted our target through your bins when the bird was so far off we needed the scope to verify.

You helped fill the hours of driving by your knowledge about Spanish history (eg Civil War) or town vs city (it’s not a city unless it has a cathedral).

We have enjoyed hearing about your life (background, pre-Spain, pre-marriage, etc) plus learning about Florinda, Alex and David. We feel we know you much better for that.

Positive review on your driving too as Lucy often gets motion sick and needs to be a front seat rider.

The choices of lodgings were excellent. We enjoyed the unique features of each.

Rest assured that we will spread positive reviews of your services to our friends and on social media.

We want you to know that we truly appreciate all you did in the pre-planning of our trip so as to meet our expectations. In fact we can say you exceeded them!

We hope we can travel with you again should the occasion arise, such as another cycling trip next year.

Best wishes to you and all your family for health and prosperity.

Len and Lucy.

What can we say? People like Len and Lucy are what makes our job a pleasure.

Griffon Vultures and Bonelli’s Eagles

Griffon Vultures and Bonelli’s Eagles

Hunched up and scowling like old crones on their narrow, guano-carpeted ledges small numbers of Griffon Vultures watch the acrobatics of the Bonelli’s Eagle couple with ill-concealed envy, letting out derisory hisses and scornful squawks. There’s no love lost between these two species; the eagles look down on these cumbersome carrion-feeders with disdain, and the vultures in turn eye the eagles with wary distrust.

Griffon Vultures in a snow storm

That has always been the nature of their relationship, although the dynamics of eagle-vulture interactions have recently taken on a new turn: currently embarked on a roller-coaster recovery from an all-time population low in the 1970’s and 80’s Griffon Vultures are proving to be unwelcome rock mates in the places where they coincide with Bonelli’s Eagles. The latter have become the unsuspecting victims of the vultures’ recent success story in that, ever the opportunist, the Griffon Vultures have started occupying Bonelli’s Eagle nests. Rather than pretending to build their own nests, which at the best of times could be greatly improved by copying the layout of a half-finished game of Chinese Straws, some Griffon Vultures have discovered that it’s much easier to gang up and oust the Bonelli’s Eagles from theirs, to then claim ownership of what must feel like the equivalent of a stately home.

Bonelli’s Eagle

To their everlasting credit the eagles are no pushover; their aerial prowess, power and speed, and their aggressive nature mean that they are well-equipped to put up a good fight. However, in the end the eagles succumb to the overpowering odds stacked against them by the number game and must retreat; perhaps to better prepare the defence of the nests that are still left to them.

Hunched up and scowling like old crones on their narrow, guano-carpeted ledges small numbers of Griffon Vultures watch the acrobatics of the Bonelli’s Eagle couple with ill-concealed envy, letting out derisory hisses and scornful squawks.

Icemen and Lammergeiers

Excerpt from the book “Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains”

Lammergeier, Gypaetus barbatus, or if you like “Bearded Vulture”

Actually, Bearded Vulture is another English name for the Lammergeier, although its use has not yet become as universal as the more pedantic would like it to be. For the dictionary buffs there is also the old English term “Ossifrage”, meaning “bone-breaker”. This name, somewhat inexplicably, was later transferred to the image of the Osprey or “Ospray” as it was known centuries ago. “The Ossifrage … or dispised eagle …” begins one scholarly elucidation of the term by a 17th Century author; leaving the reader to wonder which of the two raptors would be most “dispised” at the time: Ospreys for stealing fish from rivers and ponds, or the Lammergeier, notorious for its maloevelent dedication to searching for climbers looking for eggs on the crags, to knock them off the ledges and to watch them plunge to their deaths.

Lammergeier or Bearded Vullture

Additionally, those who suffer from a certain degree of alopecia would be well advised to heed the warning implicit in another legend, which asserts that the Greek playwright Aeschylus was killed by a tortoise dropped on his bald head by a Lammergeier which had mistaken it for a stone. Hmmm.

Highlights from Vreni’s 4 days in Lleida

When Vreni came from Switzerland in March (for the second time) to spend 4 days birding from Lleida, what did she see?


A confiding Spotted Crake, Bluethroats and Moustached Warblers in the Ebro Delta

2 Wallcreepers on an inland cliff, shared with a party of Lesser Kestrels

On one day a Little Owl, an Egyptian Vulture, 5 Golden Eagles, Hoopoes, and many waders

Plenty of raptors, but in particular a pair of Bonelli’s Eagles

On another day 30 Hawfinches, a Blue Rock Thrush, Iberian Green Woodpeckers, a Dupont’s Lark, Penduline Tits, Purple Swamphens and a Common Kingfisher

So did she go home with fond memories?

What do you think?

Contact us if you want us to arrange your own private birding tour in Spain.

November is Wallcreeper month tours summary

We ran two Wallcreeper tours, one from the 6th to 9th November, and the other from the 13th to 16th November. Both were a great success in terms of the birds seen, and client satisfaction, or so they told us!

Winter wallcreeper tour: photographing the Wallcreeper

• Tour 1 exclusive highlights were 6 Wallcreepers, 1 Bonelli’s eagle, 1 Penduline Tit, 1 Golden Eagle, 1 Little Owl, 1 Hen Harrier, 4 Little Bustards and 2 Citril Finches. 106 species in all.

• Tour 2 exclusive highlights were 5 Wallcreepers, 20 Stone Curlews, 4 Ferruginous Duck, 4 Golden Eagles, 9 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, 6 Little Bustards, 1 Brambling, 1 Osprey, 1 White-throated Dipper. 102 species in all.

• Common to both tours were Alpine Chough, Alpine Accentor, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Bearded Vulture, Calandra Lark, Common Crane, Crested Tit, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Iberian Grey Shrike, Long-legged Buzzard, Northern Goshawk, Sardinian Warbler, and more.

Admiring the views on the Winter Wallcreeper Tour

We’ll be running a final Wallcreeper Tour to mark the end of the winter 2022-2023 season in early March 2023. We’re studying the possibility of extending it from 4 days to 5 days, in order for us to get a better chance at the steppe species, which should include Great Bustard, both sandgrouse, Mediterranean Short-toed Lark, Dartford Warbler and maybe even early migrants such as Spectacled Warbler, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Egyptian Vulture, etc.

Please send us an e-mail if you would like further information.