A3As fruit forests


A3As stands for The Association of Trees, Bees and Roots
(Translated from the Catalan: Arbres, Abelles and Arrels – see the 3 “A”s?)

Together these three things symbolize nature, tradition, belonging, sustainability, food, shelter, home…

A3As is a non-lucrative organization which has already started planting fruit forests. With help from people such as yourself they want to plant more. 

Click on this link to see a short presentation of who A3As is, and what they have already started doing 

A3As presentation eng

We’ll give you a clue: climate change, food, environment, social change, sustainability, nature, soil, pollinators…

… if ever there was a time surely it must be now. 

Who or what is A3As
A3As planting trees for people and bees
A3As working with municipalities
A3As where we plant

A3As: what trees we plant

A3As: well-planned projects

We have established a Tree Fund, and we are always on the look out for contributors, catalyzers or colleagues. Please contact Steve at Birding In Spain if you have anything to say or ask. 

Iceland gallery 1

We like photos of Iceland. It’s so photogenic!

Some more photos from our autumn 2018 tour. All things permitting, we’re running a June 2022 tour, with some special offers for bringing a friend/companion and for booking early. Contact Steve at info@birdinginspain.com if you would like more information.

Iceland: Whaling, or fishing? There’s the other half putting her happy face to her lack of fishing skills!

Iceland Red-throated Diver in breeding plumage. In autumn we saw them in more drab winter colours. Photo by Colin Bradshaw.

Iceland: just one of the amazing views

Iceland: Skogafoss waterfall – spectacular, but there’s more…

… Like … Gullfoss waterfall. It’s easy to get blasé about spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, so how about something different?

Like sulphurous fumaroles?

Want more…? Birds, beasts, landscapes, people? Because Iceland has plenty of that…

Iceland awakes 2022 tour

Iceland 2018 and 2022 – some comments by happy people

“We all enjoyed the trip and were awed by the scenery… spectacular. Speaking of spectacular we saw James’ video of the humpbacked whale – great sequence.” James

“Some great memories thanks and a lovely bunch of folk to tour with.” Janet

Iceland whale excursion

“Our trip to Iceland with you was hotly anticipated and it didn’t disappoint. The scenery was magnificent as were the birds, seals, whales, etc. The Golden Plover sitting on a little mound while we all took photos was a particular highlight for me as was the Gyr Falcon and Great Northern Diver close to shore, but there were too many great sightings to list them all. We enjoyed the local food and our accommodation in various beautiful locations was perfect. As usual you delivered, Steve. Thank you and Florinda.” Mary

Iceland Humpback Whale – one got so close that it blew salt spray into my face!

“I really didn’t know what to expect from my birding trip to Iceland, but I was delighted to find out how amazing it was. There are numerous species of birds to be seen, and Steve has a keen knowledge of them and where to find them. Best of all, you can do it all while traveling through one of the most beautiful and iconic landscape in the world – Iceland – a trip to experience.” Andy

Iceland Red-necked Phalarope – Photo by Colin Bradshaw

“In September 2018, together with my non birding son, I went on a 10 day tour of Iceland led by Steve West of Birding In Spain. Steve worked tirelessly to find the birds and we had a very successful birding trip. He also managed to incorporate all the important ‘tourist sites’ and general wildlife into our trip. A very successful tour on a magical island that catered for everyone. We even got the Northern Lights. This was my third birding trip with Steve, he remains my first choice for guided trips.” Ian

The Common Swift

The Common Swift,
A unique gift,
For us to contemplate.

It flies up high,
It’s home the sky,
That wondrous blue estate.


Common swift, Apus apus, in flight

Attracting birds to your backyard

Hi! Want to know more about …

Attracting birds to your backyard

Birding In Spain has contributed to the interesting article about how to attract birds to your backyard (read garden). From providing food for feeders, planting native plants and bushes, providing clean water and in general a safe haven where birds can feel secure and socialize.

Click on the link above to read the full article.

It’s written for an American audience, but the tips can be extrapolated to almost anywhere.

Hotspot birding 2020: The end

The rest of the year, July – December

Hotspot birding autumn

hotspot birding autumn

This period was mostly spent taking “potshots” at missing species that might be around. Summer waders don’t find much habitat in the region, with Mont-ral being the only realistic site to check. Then to look out for passage Dotterels on the drylands and keep an ear out for any scarce birds turning up at the Estany d’Ivars. I was fixated on finding a Yellowhammer in the north of the Hotspot and was delighted when I did! Missed out on passage Osprey though, and Black-necked Grebes are almost a thing of the past, it seems.

The autumn wader passage on the ricefields was quite disappointing and gave me nothing new.

Temminck’s Stint*
Kentish Plover*
Tawny Pipit*
Glossy Ibis*
Ruddy Shelduck*
Little Gull*
Ring Ouzel*
Common Whitethroat
Mediterranean Gull*
Citril Finch*
Barn Owl*
Grey Plover*
Red Breasted Merganser*
Black Winged Kite*

Total = 222 species

• Species that I was hoping to see but didn’t: Osprey, Long Eared Owl, Tawny Owl, European Nightjar, Black Necked Grebe, Yellow Browed Warbler, Spectacled Warbler

• Species that were reported but that I didn’t see: Common Gull, Flamingo, Spoonbill, Jack Snipe, Rosy Starling, Great Bittern, Pallid Harrier, Sociable Lapwing … (I’m sure there are a few more)

Hotspot 2020 summary cont: May – June – July

April – May – June

Hotspot birding summer

Hotspot birding 2020 – summer

Wood Sandpiper
Collared Pratincole* (around 1 or 2 sightings a year is normal)
Ringed Plover
Yellow Wagtail
Western Bonelli’s Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
Woodchat Shrike
Bee Eater
Willow Warbler
Black Eared Wheatear*
Tree Pipit
Red Rumped Swallow*
Reed Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Black Tern
Little Bittern*
Turtle Dove
Bar Tailed Godwit* (rare inland; this time a flock of 22!)
Common Redstart
Scops Owl*
Melodious Warbler
Pied Flycatcher
Golden Oriole
Wood Warbler*
Garden Warbler
Ortolan Bunting* (one on migration)
Short Toed Lark
Montagu’s Harrier*
Purple Heron
Spotted Flycatcher
Northern Wheatear
Whiskered Tern
Black Vulture* (from the balcony!)
Honey Buzzard
Red Necked Nightjar*
Lesser Grey Shrike* (only one site left in the Iberian Peninsula)
Red Footed Falcon*

Black Bellied Sandgrouse* (has almost disappeared from the zone)
Orphean Warbler*
Squacco Heron*
Spanish Sparrow* (a new breeding bird – will it stay?)
Common Tern*
Eleonora’s Falcon*
Little Stint

54 species added in this period.
Total so far = 205

Hotspot birding 2020: What a year!

Hotspot list 2020

Hotspot birding

25km hotspot birding around Lleida

In order of appearance:

January – February – March

Red Kite
Collared Dove
House Sparrow
White Stork
Rock Dove (domestica)
Crested Lark
Marsh Harrier
Wood Lark
Great Tit
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker *
Grey Wagtail
Great White Heron
Carrion Crow
Corn Bunting
Cirl Bunting
Little Owl
Black Redstart
Great Cormorant
Common Starling
Cattle Egret
Yellow Legged Gull
Lesser Black Backed Gull
Black Kite
Spotless Starling
Dartford Warbler
White Wagtail
Song Thrush
Grey Heron
Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Common Pochard
Black Headed Gull
Water Rail
Purple Swamphen*
Penduline Tit
Reed Bunting
Iberian Green Woodpecker
Mistle Thrush
Cetti’s Warbler
Blue Tit
Greylag Goose*
Water Pipit
Black Stork*
Iberian Grey Shrike
Meadow Pipit
Red Legged Partridge
Long Tailed Tit
Thekla Lark
Redwing* (large numbers this year)
Stock Dove
Red Billed Chough
Sardinian Warbler
Tufted Duck
Tree Sparrow
Spotted Redshank
Green Sandpiper
Short Toed Treecreeper
Mute Swan
Little Egret
Bearded Tit* (breeds at one or two sites in Catalonia)
Coal Tit*
Calandra Lark
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Rock Bunting*
Rock Sparrow
Crag Martin
Griffon Vulture
Peregrine Falcon
Wallcreeper** (our favourite!)
Black Wheatear*
Hen Harrier*
Night Heron
Blue Rock Thrush
Herring Gull* (rare, but somewhat overlooked. Not a big gull fan myself)
Little Bustard*
Stone Curlew
Golden Eagle*
Crested Tit*
Bonelli’s Eagle*
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse* (only one site in Catalonia)
Golden Plover
Eagle Owl*
Common Crane
Common Sandpiper
Red Crested Pochard
Ferruginous Duck*
Moustached Warbler* (breeds at 2? locations in Catalonia)
Zitting Cisticola
House Martin
Little Ringed Plover
Sand Martin
Black Tailed Godwit
Black Winged Stilt
Dupont’s Lark (the only site in Catalonia)
Lesser Short Toed Lark
Short Toed Eagle
Great Spotted Cuckoo
Egyptian Vulture
Lesser Kestrel
Alpine Swift
Booted Eagle
Common Swift

Total for period = 151 species

* Most noteworthy species; either not expected every year, site specific or generally rare
Notes: Visits to Estany d’Ivars, Utxesa, Alfés, Mont-ral, Aiguamolls de Rufea, Lleida dump, Clot de l’Unilla, Santa Anna, Serra Llarga, Lockdown and Torre-ribera

Hotspot reflections: pigshit and glyphosate everywhere


  • Cattle farms where rice fields used to be, surrounded by maize and bulldozers flattening land, as well as combine harvesters and tractors.
  • Pig, poultry or sheep farms in otherwise quiet places, where cattle trucks rush past the stroller seeking contact with nature
  • And all that animal shit? It must go somewhere. Biogas plants? There are a handful in the region, and livestock units number in the thousands (at least). So again, where does the shit go?
  • On the fields … Into the water … Up your nostrils
    Those are just some of the direct effects; then there’s intensification of arable land to supply animal feed, widespread pesticide (glyphosate) use, loss of fallow, field margins, and overall landscape diversity
  • Inevitably, we lose even more contact with nature, unless you see a glyphosate-soaked field of barley as nature.
    I don’t, and there are many more like me. Just now and then our voices are heard above the din.
  • But we’re all too meek. Perhaps this is the world we inherit because of our conformity. Now I understand a little bit more: leave the world full of shit and let the meek take care of it.

Hotspot Birding: In and out of lockdown

After strict lockdown was partially eased I had justifications for being out and about: our allotment needed watering, weeding and sowing, and that was in Bovera, some 40 kilometres from our apartment in Lleida. Furthermore, the self-employed were allowed out to go about our business. Now although clients – and hence paid work – were going to be rarer than Black Vultures from our balcony I could still make observations and take photos for publicity reasons and social media, and carry out my own bird counts and check out new areas. That at least is what I was going to explain if stopped by the police!

Late April and early May just had to be good for wader passage, and that meant checking out 3 main sites: (i) Lo Clot d’Unilla to the north of Lleida, as just enough rain had fallen to keep this temporary lagoon with an area of open water; (ii) the muddy patches around the edges of Estany d’Ivars; and (iii) the ricefields of Fondo de Llitera.

Collared Pratincole

Collared Pratincole photo by Tom Verhuist

However, best laid plans … and all that. (i) Lo Clot d’Unilla had a smallish area of water that SHOULD have attracted more waders, but despite a Collared Pratincole and 22 Bar-tailed Godwits (a rarity for the area), Little Ringed Plovers and a few Wood Sandpipers I came away feeling disappointed. (ii) Even more disappointing was the Estany d’Ivars, with virtually NO good wader habitat. (iii) Checking past notebooks and making several dashes for the ricefields had me frowning and scratching my head: Why hadn’t they flooded the fields yet, even in early May?

On the positive side my search for passage Wood Warblers was successful, with 2 in a tree on the edge of the Alfés aerodrome, along with Bonelli’s Warbler and Willow Warblers, and a nearby Garden Warbler thrown in for good measure! And on what must have been the latest date possible to see the Wood Warblers.

Western Orphean Warbler

Western Orphean Warbler photo by JM Breider

Just half an hour later I had seen a handsome male Ortolan Bunting on the edge of the aerodrome too, so it was a memorable day indeed. Then for most of May I was pretty inactive, until Florinda convinced me to go for a walk with her on the outskirts of Lleida, and we managed to set eyes on one of the country’s rarest breeding birds: the Lesser Grey Shrike. That was followed by a roadside Red-footed Falcon near Alfés, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Western Orphean Warbler in the north of the Hotspot, a couple of Squacco Herons in the heron and egret colony at Rufea, 2 Eurasian Jays in the Sierra Llarga, a male Spanish Sparrow and a Common Tern at Alfés, and a brief flyby Eleonora’s Falcon in mid-June.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

Black-bellied Sandgrouse photo by Jordi Bas

Running total 205 species. It wasn’t going to be a record year, but at least some of the difficult target birds had made it onto the list. And perhaps I could still pick up Little Stint, Common Whitethroat, Tawny Pipit and Osprey in the autumn migration period.

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