Castilla y León

Hoopoe Upupa epops ©Joël Bruezière
Birding Castilla y Leon

Castilla y Leon is the largest region of Spain covering 9 provinces from Leon in the northwest, next to Galicia, to Segovia in the southwest only 50 miles from Madrid. Both were important centres of power in medieval history, and have many fine old cities, castles and palaces.

The dominating geographical feature of Castilla y Leon is the high central plain around the regional capital Valladolid, and rising from the plains on all sides are high mountain ranges, except to the west where the Duero river valley runs toward Portugal. But even among the cereal prairies can be found a surprising amount of wildlife – we have even seen a pack of wolves within 500 yards of a combine at work!

Then in the many sparsely inhabited areas you can find graceful beach woods, pine forests, and marginal farming lands now reverting to birch and pine that are being recolonised by both Roedeer and raptor. In the west are the Lagunas of Sanabria and Villafafila, important winter wetlands for migrating and wintering wildfowl, and moreover the Villafafila National Reserve also contains the steppes that are an important world site for Great Bustard.

To the north are the Cantabrian Mountains and the Picos de Europa whose stunning rugged scenery attracts many walkers, including those who follow the pilgrimage route toward Santiago de Compostello. The Picos, with their stunning rugged scenery form a part of one of Spain nine National Parks, Montana de Covadonga, with the largest chamois population in Europe, and home to Black Woodpecker, Wallcreeper, and Capercaillie.

In the south is the Cordillera Central including the Guadarama and Gredos Mountains. These wild crags rise to 8,900 feet at Pico Almanzor, and here it is easy to find Ibex, Black Vulture, Golden and Bonelli’s Eagles, and also White-spotted Bluethroat, Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting. To the south these mountains give way to the cork oak woodlands of Extremadura and beyond with their Azure-winged Magpies, Black-shouldered Kite, Citril Finch and Golden Oriole.

  • Julia Kemp

    La Lagunilla Cottage - Candeleda, Avila |

Useful Reading

  • Las Aves Esteparias en Castilla y Leon

    | (Distribucion, Poblacion y Tendencia) | by Javier Garcia & Joaquin Sanz-Zuasti | Junta de Castilla y León | 2006 | Paperback | 236 pages, colour photos, tables | Spanish Text | ISBN: 9788497180290 Buy this book from
  • Where to Watch Birds in Northern & Eastern Spain

    | By Ernest FJ Garcia & Michael Rebane | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2017 | Paperback | 384 pages, 30 b/w illustrations, 125 b/w maps | ISBN: 9781472936752 Buy this book from
  • Asociación de Estudios Ornitológicos del Bierzo

    The Association of Ornithological Studies of El Bierzo 'Tyto alba' was established in 1989 and is made up of more than a hundred people, mostly biologists, environmentalists, forestry engineers and many others with an interest in the protection of nature.
  • TRINO (Tourismo Rural de Interior y Ornitologia)

    TRINO was set up to promote responsible ornithological tourism in Castile and Leon. The project works with rural accommodation providers in the region to provide a quality service focused around the needs visiting birdwatchers. Their regional guide in English provides an excellent overview of the main habitats and bird species in the region, accommodation linked to the project and local contact organisations

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Arribes del Duero

    InformationSatellite View
    Covering 106.105 ha in the autonomous community of Castile and León. In this area the river Duero forms the national boundary between Spain and Portugal, and the Portugal side is also protected under the figure of International Douro Natural Park. The park is a Special Protection Area, recognised by European Union for birds such as the black stork.
  • NP Parque Nacional y Regional de Picos de Europa

    InformationSatellite View
    Spain's oldest National Park (1918); and the second largest in size, the Picos de Europa extends over three provinces: Asturias, Cantabria and León. This remarkable limestone range is Atlantic Europe's most extensive and is famous for its vertiginous slopes that go from 225ft above sea level to the highest peak, Torre Cerredo, 8100ft. These different altitudes and its proximity to the sea give rise to an impressive variety of flora and fauna…
  • NP Parque Natural de las Hoces del río Duratón

    WebsiteSatellite View
    El Parque Natural de las Hoces del río Duratón está situado en el noreste de Segovia, aguas abajo de la villa de Sepúlveda. En esta zona el río se ha encajado en un profundo cañon, que en algunos lugares alcanza más de 100 metros de desnivel. Al interés y belleza del paisaje hay que añadir la gran riqueza arqueológica e histórica que encierra en su interior esta garganta.
  • NP Parque Natural del Cañón del Río Lobos

    InformationSatellite View
    El Parque Natural del Cañón del Río Lobos constituye un singular espacio biogeográfico estructurado sobre el eje de un profundo cañón de escarpados farallones.
  • NP Parque Natural del Lago de Sanabria

    InformationSatellite View
    En el Pleistoceno Superior, hace 100.000 años, un impresionante glacial con lenguas de hielo de más de 20 kilómetros sirvió de origen al actual Lago de Sanabria.
  • NP Parque Natural del Valle de Iruelas

    InformationSatellite View
    En el límite más oriental de la Sierra de Gredos se descubre un pequeño y especial territorio: el Valle de Iruelas. Drenado por una serie de arroyos de montaña -el principal es el de Iruelas, afluente del río Alberche- sus laderas aparecen cubiertas por un valioso bosque formado por una gran diversidad de especies. Entre todas destacan los pinos negral y laricio, de los que aún se conservan unos grandes y milenarios ejemplares. En los límites del abulense Valle de Iruelas está instalada la colonia más numerosa (alrededor de ochenta parejas) de buitres negros de todo el continente europeo.
  • NP Valle de Iruelas

    InformationSatellite View
    The Valle de Iruelas is located on the easternmost side of the Sierra de Gredos. Along its edge (in the province of Avila) can be found the largest colony of black vultures in continental Europe (around 80 pairs) and other birds of prey such as the Imperial Eagle. The vantage point of Puerto de Casillas has been declared a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birdlife. …
  • NR Lagunas de Villafáfila (Villafafila)

    InformationSatellite View
    This is the most popular area for aquatic, steppe and migratory birds in Castile and Leon and one of the most important wetlands of northern Spain. The reserve is formed by three main lakes and other smaller wetlands and is surrounded by farmland. It is home to almost 2,000 great bustards, making it the largest colony of this species in the world. The reserve is also popular with wintering aquatic birds including around 30,000 Graylag geese…
  • NR Las Riberas de Castronuño (Vega del Duero)

    InformationSatellite View
    Riberas de Castronuño Natural Reserve - Vega del Duero The Riberas de Castronuño appear as a natural space located in the center of the province of Valladolid and whose territory encompasses the stretch of the River Duero, between the towns of Tordesillas and Castronuño. In this last town there is also the San José reservoir.
  • RP Sierra de Gredos

    InformationSatellite View
    The regional park includes some local endemismic fauna like the subespecies Capra pyrenaica victoriae, Microtus nivalis abulensis, Bufo bufo gredosicola and Salamandra salamandra almanzoris. There are also several mammals such as the European otter and the Iberian shrew, birds such as the Spanish imperial eagle, the cinereous vulture and the black stork, and reptiles such as the European pond turtle and the Vipera latastei.
Guides & Tour Operators
Places to Stay
  • La Casa de la Abuela Petra

    Situada en Solarana, Comarca de Arlanza Burgos - La Casa de la Abuela Petra se encuentra en un enclave ideal. En un cruce de caminos milenarios entre Santo Domingo de Silos, Lerma y Covarrubias
  • Molino del Canto - Barrio la Cuesta

    We found this exceptional spot in the Merindades region some years ago. It is hidden between the Ebro River and the mountains, and was formerly a flour mill and the millers' house. Both buildings have been restored with traditional local materials, and the inn has been perfectly adapted as accommodation, even in the coldest days of winter. We are outside the town, so just by going outdoors you find yourself in the middle of the countryside. The natural landscape is a delight to the senses; you can hear the sound of the river, you can see the griffon vultures wheeling on the wind, you can breath all that pure air with its fragrances, and feel the bark of the old trees, rooted to the ground since ancient times
  • Rinc

Other Links
  • Anuario Ornitol

    Bienvenidos a la edici
  • Aves de Burgos

    Website about birding and digiscoping in Burgos province
  • Javier Morala - Birds in the North of Spain

    Blog dedicated to the Birdwatching in the North of Spain, more concretely on the Burgos province, where t is located the Molino del Canto Inn, bases from which we made the trips that make us know the birds the north of Spain
  • Naturaleza de Quintanilla del Agua

    Aves, mam
  • Observacion Aves de Palencia

    A continuación te presentamos algunas rutas ornitológicas de pequeño recorrido que puedes realizar en la provincia de Palencia.
  • Andanzas por el p

    ste f
  • Aves del norte de Burgos

    Last updated 2015
  • Birding en el Este de Burgos

    Observaciones de aves realizadas en la zona Este de la provincia de Burgos (Spain): Sierras de la Demanda y Neila, Valle del Arlanza, Comarca de Lara y Pe
  • Helmantica Ornithology

  • La Atalaya del Falco

    Birding BLOG from Burgos (Spain)
  • Llanuras Castellanas

    Aficionado a la observacion de aves y a la naturaleza en general
  • Pajareando

    Impresiones de un naturalista aficionado
  • Quintanilla del Agua Fauna Salvaje

    Last Updated 2016
Photographers & Artists
  • Artist - Neil Allen

    Neil Allen won the title "BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year 2009" with his painting "Bee orchid", and the prize of a place on Wildlife Worldwide's Festival of Wildlife 2010 in the Pantanal, Brazil…

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