We’ve one of the best Spanish Pyrenees holidays around - after over 30 visits we would say that, but check out the great things we see before booking anywhere else.
|* ||Stunning hotel in the heart of the Hecho Valley||* ||Lammergeier in the air, Wallcreeper on nearby cliffs||* ||We've perfected a hit-list of all the very best birds||* ||Mountain day with Alpine Accentor, Alpine Chough and Citril Finch||* ||Lowland day with Black Wheatear, Bee-eater, Blue Rock Thrush and more||* ||Incredible raptor list of over 15 species, plus owling trip||* ||Mammals, butterflies and alpine flowers too|
At the first opportunity we head to a walkers’ refuge in the mountains, where we hope to find Citril Finches picking seeds off the teasels. Then a walk through the stunning beech forest to a sheer cliff face, looking for our Holy Grail, the elusive crimson-winged jewel - Wallcreeper! Lunch will be taken looking out over some of the most stunning views in the region, along with a chance of finding a Golden Eagle, or even Southern Chamois grazing on the distant crags.
It’s a short drive to the Upper Hecho, where the remains of winter snows decorate the higher valley alpine meadows. Here, swirls of tumbling Alpine and Red-billed Chough can be seen and we’re always watching out for Lammergeier, Griffon Vultures and Short-toed Eagle. Small herds of Southern Chamois graze high up on the herb rich slopes, where Trumpet Gentian, Elderflowered Orchid and Pyrenean Snowbell bloom.
Driving to high alpine passes, the snowline is our quest and in such places, around the fabulous stunted krummholtz forest, there’ll be Crossbill and Ring Ouzel. It is higher still where we shall be particularly seeking out specialised birds such as Alpine Accentor and Citril Finch, as we wander through delightful alpine meadows of flowers - all a short walk from the road.
Some of the farmland meadows and arid escarpments have Rock Sparrow, Tawny Pipit and Woodchat Shrike, whilst in lush areas Nightingale sing from damp scrub and Cetti’s Warbler can be heard too. With Black-veined White and Scarce Swallowtail amongst the masses of butterflies on the wing, it’s a little overwhelming after the sparse alpine meadows!
Griffon Vultures sail around San Juan de la Peña cliffs – sometimes so close that we can hear the wind whistling through their enormous flight feathers. Here, ancient monasteries peer out from the pines, where Short-toed Treecreeper, Crested Tit and Firecrest forage, with always the chance of a clarion-calling Black Woodpecker.
We’re close here to Riglos, a tiny white village at the foot of towering puddingstone pillars of rock, where Blue Rock Thrush and Egyptian and Griffon Vultures nest amidst the rock climbers. We shall visit empty villages, where the surrounding scrubland holds Subalpine, Dartford and Melodious Warblers. Nightingale song fills the air, plus Western Orphean Warbler, Rock Thrush and Ortolan Bunting are all possible.
More warblers can be found at the impressive Castillo de Loare, birthplace of Catherine of Aragon, with Western Subalpine, Melodious, Sardinian and even Spectacled all possible, in the scrub that covers the rock on which the castle sits. Add to this an optional night drive to see Scop’s Owl, European Nightjar and a good chance of hearing Midwife Toad and Soprano’s Pipestrelle from the roadside.