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29

Jul

“TERUEL, THE UNDISCOVERED REGION”

  • By David Cayuela

We are located in the Gúdar mountains, in Teruel, the southernmost province in the region of Aragón. These limestone mountains are just an hour from the coast, resulting in a mix of habitats ranging from subalpine meadows, pinewoods (with all the species of the Iberian Peninsula present), holm and Portuguese oak woods to river gorges and Mediterranean scrub. In the nearby coastal regions almond, olive and orange groves, as well as coastal marshes can be found, whereas towards West and North dry agricultural plains, continental steppes and the interesting Spanish juniper woods predominate.

If you would like to discover one of Spains best kept secrets then our Birding Tour arround Teruel is ideal. We’ll visit every landscapes of Teruel’s province. The tour is focused on getting to know the región, with the splendid natural environment. Teruel is a wild and mountainous area as well as has some of the most picturesque villages and scenery in Spain. Teruel Province and especially the Gúdar mountains have undergone massive depopulation since the middle of the 20th century. People migrated towards the industrial areas and the large cities in Spain, leaving behind their small villages and traditional farms. The result is the conservation of the traditional landscapes, that have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages. Traditional farming practices, with stubbles, fallows, very little use of pesticides and fertilizers and extensive sheep, goat and cattle grazing give us an overview on how the Mediterranean agrosystems may have been in the past.

Birdingteruel offers a wide range of Birdwatching Tours to the main nature reserves in Teruel Province and around (Gallocanta’s and Cañizar’s Lagoons, Steppes of Belchite, Albarracin Forests, Mountains of Gúdar-Javalambre, Albufera of Valencia and its coastal marshes,…) or to track down a target species, guided tours for observation and photography of the Iberian ibex or interpreted itineraries that explore the rich natural and cultural heritage that treasures this province (the “Masadas” (Barns / Farm houses), traditional uses and crafts, transhumance …).

This original and unique tour combines wildlife, nature landscapes, culture and history as well as unique food, off the beaten track Spain.

Birding Tour Itinerary.

 

Day 1st “Wetlands and Coastal Marshes”

Arrive to Valencia Airport

Albufera's Lagoon

Albufera’s Lagoon

Arrive and spend the day visiting the Albufera Natural Park is a shallow lake separated by a sand barrier from the Mediterranean Sea with a high ecological ecosystems values like the beach, the dunes, the malladas (temporary small lagoons between the fringes of dunes), the wetland and the Mediterranean forest. Many migratory birds use the Natural Park as resting and also as nesting place, Some of the species that could be seen in this tour are: Purple Swamphen, Moustached and Savi’s Warbler, Bluethroat, Red-knobbed Coot, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, Common Tern and Gull-billed Tern, Slender-billed and Audouin’s Gull, Balearic Shearwater, Kingfisher,  Red-Crested Pochard, Collared Pratincole, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier and great number of wintering waders and ducks. Many of the birds are listened in the Red Book Birds of Spain.

During the day we’ll visit other interesting coastal marshes like “Marjal del Moros” or the “Marjal de Almenara”.

Transfer to Sierras de Gúdar y Javalambre. We stay the night in a local hotel in the charming medieval village of Rubielos de Mora.

 

Day 2 and 3 rd  “Birds of Gúdar- Javalambre”

 

We’ll spend two days arround the Sierra de Gudar mountain range,  located at the eastern end of the Iberian System and the Sierra de Nogueruelas is its easternmost prolongation. Its summits are usually covered in snow in the winter and the 2.020 m high of the Peña Roya is  the highest peaks of Teruel. Mora de Rubielos is the most important town in this mountainous zone. The range is named after the town of GúdarValdelinares, also a village in the area, is the highest town in Spain.

Depending on the season we can see interesting species like: Golden Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Short-Toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Egyptian Vulture Griffon vulture, Northern goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Peregrine Falcon, Scops Owl, Nightjar, Alpine Swift, Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Red-Backed, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, Citril Finch, Crossbill, Firecrest, Ortolan, Rock and Cirl Buntings, Golden Oriole, Tawny Pipit, Bee Eater, Hoopoe and almost all the warbler species.

During Winter we received migratory species like Red Kite, Alpine Accentor, Hawfinch, Brambling, Yellowhammer and the best populations of all thrushes (Turdidade) in Spain: Ring Ouzel, Fild Fare, Redwing, Mistle Trhush, Song Trhush and Black Bird.

Ring Ouzel

Ring Ouzel

This region its also one of the best locations for seeing butterfies like Graellsia isabellae, Pharnaius apollo or Erebia zapateri and Orchids Photography.

 

Day 4 and 5 th “Steppe Birds & Gallocanta’s Lagoon”

 Gallocanta lagoon is in a large valley and it is characterised by its salinity. It is the most important and the largest salt lagoon in Europe and it is the most important migration point in the Western Palaearctic Ecozone on the route of the crane, for which it has been named a RAMSAR site – the highest category for protection and world renown. The area is subject to serious water fluctuation. One of the reasons why the Gallocanta lagoon is well known is because of the vast number of either resident birds and migratory ones.

On the shores of the lake waders like Kentish Plover, Grey Plover and Greenshank may be present, while the birds on the lake itself depend very much on the water level (the lake may be virtually dry) and the time of year. In the winter months look out for Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Pintail, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and others, while summer or passage visitors may include Black-necked Grebe, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Montagu’s Harrier, Whiskered Tern, Gull-billed Tern and Dotterel.

Great Bustards, Little Bustards, Dupond’s Lark, Calandra Lark and Black-bellied Sandgrouse can be found arround the Lagoon, and Hen Harriers and Golden Eagles are frequent winter visitors.

Alondra ricotí / Dupont’s Lark

But, the principal “hot spot” of this área are the thousands of Cranes that, from November to March, fly singing over our heads watching the comings and goings of these impressive birds.

Transfer to Laguna del Cañizar and the área around the City of Teruel. The Cañizar Lagoon was one of the largest freshwater wetlands in Spain and is in the process of recovery. Their water levels fluctuate and therefore have great deal of influence in the birds you can find in it during different times of the year, especially in the time of reproduction. During the autumn / winter seasons, the lagoon concentrates a great density of raptors who find food and shelter between the reeds, the poplars and the surrounding fields of cultivation.

 

Day 6  Looking for the Bonelli’s Eagle before come back home

Transfer to Valencia Airport.

Before going home we’ll visit one of the best locations for seeing the Bonelli’s Eagle, one of the most endangered raptors in Europe. BirdLife International evaluates it as Endangered in Europe after a decline of over 20% over two generations.

Bonelli’s Eagle