Monegros Desert Itinerary -
Starting point: Hostal del Ciervo, on the N-II
Time: half a day.
Take the track that leads from one side of the Hostal del Ciervo parallel to the N-II and then into the Retuerta, a fascinating area of relict yews. In the areas of open low scrub look for the Spectacled Warbler, and keep an eye on the skies for Booted Eagle. In the wooded areas and on the scrubby hillsides it is possible to see Dartford Warbler, Thekla Lark, Subalpine Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Turtle Dove, Common Redstart, Southern Grey Shrike and Great Spotted Cuckoo.
Follow the N-II eastwards through Bujaraloz and as you exit the town cross the road and take a track that runs parallel to the main road. This leads to a flooded hollow which attracts a good variety of waders on migration, and where it is also possible to see Stone Curlew, Black-winged Stilt, Yellow Wagtail and Black-headed Gull.
Head back to the town and take the A-230 to Caspe. Turn right at the first junction and follow this road for approximately 8 kilometres until you see a track leading to a large ruined building on the left-hand side of the road. This overlooks the huge salt lake Laguna la Playa and is a good viewing area for birds such as Golden Eagle, Kentish Plover, Lesser Kestrel, Red-billed Chough, Black-eared Wheatear, Little Owl, and with luck Little Bustard, Great Bustard and Black-bellied Sandgrouse.
There are a large number of tracks which traverse the general area and you may like to “follow your nose”. One recommended option is to head into the area to the west of the road and then to follow on more or less southwards, past the many salt lakes that dot this area. Search the salt lakes with salt-tolerant vegetation for the Lesser Short-toed Lark, while stony areas and field margins can offer Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Little Owl and Black-eared Wheatear among others. In the fields themselves you may see Montagu's Harrier, Tawny Pipit, Little Bustard, Hobby, Calandra Lark and Stone Curlew.
The itinerary can be completed by following southwards to the River Ebro at Alborge or Sástago, searching for Black Wheatear and Rock Sparrow on the way.