When to go birding in Spain

Right, so now we’ve focused on why birding in Spain is such a great idea, and also what areas of Spain are best for your bird tour to centre on, the next question arises: when to go birding in Spain?

Short-toed Eagle in flight

Well, spring birding is hard to beat anywhere, and that includes Spain. The weather, the flowers, the butterflies … Go on a spring birding tour to catch up with some of the summer migrant birds that may only be passing through, maybe a late winter visitor or two, and of course the migratory and resident birds of Spain, which are busy displaying and defending territories.

So, when is spring in Spain? That question is not as innocent as it may seem, as for one thing, early and peak migration in the south of Spain (Andalucía) can be between one and two weeks in advance of northeast Spain (Catalonia, Aragón and Navarra). That could be interesting to bear in mind if planning a longer tour to visit two separate regions, such as our Spring Across Spain tour.

So, generally speaking, the best spring period is throughout April and up to mid-May.

However, you can’t be everywhere in spring, so are there any other times suitable for your bird tour to Spain? Summer, for example?

Ordesa National Park in the Pyrenees of Spain

Hmmm, summer… Summer can be very hot, with temperatures reaching up to 40ºC in some parts. However, if you’re planning to spend most of your time in the mountains – the Pyrenees, the Sierra de Gredos, the Picos de Europa, etc – then you can usually escape the worst of the heat and get a good variety of birds, especially some of the high altitude birds such as Wallcreeper, Alpine Accentor, Snowfinch, Alpine Chough, Citril Finch and more.

The autumn means migration for most. While wildfowl, waders and songbirds migrate through Spain on a broad front soaring birds such as birds of prey (Egyptian Vulture, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and others) and Black and White Storks are funnelled through to the shortest sea crossing over to Africa, at the Straits of Gibraltar. The area around Tarifa then becomes the main focus of birders’ attention, from August until October.

Admiring the views over the Straits of Gibraltar

The short, colder days of winter may not appeal for a bird tour to Spain, at first sight. However, it is a good time to catch up with wintering species (flocks of Common Cranes, waders, wildfowl and gulls) and, above all, those altitude migrants, which descend from the high mountains, especially the Wallcreeper and Alpine Accentor. On the plains there are flocks of larks, sandgrouse and bustards too. In this period the best months would be November and February to March. So if you’re looking for a winter birding break this is an excellent option, above all to combine with an extension for a bit of culture in Barcelona or Madrid, for example.

Wallcreeper in flight

When to go on a birding tour in Spain? When it’s most convenient for you. 


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