Valencia

Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus ©Michel Idre Website
Birding Valencia

Birdwatching in the Valencian Autonomous Region

The Valencian Autonomous Region is a privileged place for birding. It has a long coast and in the interior there are still some wild and well protected steep, rocky and wooded mountains with rivers crossing the terrain creating a diverse mix of habitats. On the coastal plains is another important ecosystems with wetlands and farmland (mostly vegetables and orange groves). The mild climate, and the clear influence of the Mediterranean sea, form a specific and diverse fauna, very interesting for Europe.

The imaginary trip described below starts from the north and crosses the region to the south. We start in the mountainous northwest sector of Castellón around Morella. This site is a good area for woodland and rocky terrain birds and others species, and is very important for Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus, being the only locality in Valencia where they breed. In the foothills of these mountains it is possible to see one of the most typical Mediterranean raptors: the Bonelli’s Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus relatively easily. In the most rocky areas you can find breeding Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis and the more common Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius as well as Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura. In the wooded areas live various species of tits and others beautiful birds.

The next stop comes after a drive to the Sierra d’Espadàn Natural Park. This is a well-preserved wooded mountain with Cork-oak trees among other trees and plants with very restricted ranges in the Valencian Autonomous Region. This site is the best area in the Castellón province for Bonelli’s Eagle, with other raptors easy to see such as Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus, Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus and Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus. On the hillsides in the plains’ wasteland where trees are widely dispersed one can find the European Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus and, with luck, close to the orange farms in the fields it is possible to see Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis. A rarely seen bird is the Roller Coracias garrulus, but one of the recommended sites to find this scarce species is around the Sierra d’Espadàn Natural Park.

Going South in the interior you come to one of the most wild mountain regions in all Valencia. The Rincón de Ademuz is a top site for birdwatchers to find Spanish specialities. At the Rincón de Ademuz it is still possible to go into some of the most natural areas of the region. The best places for birdwatching are to be found alongside the Turia river’s branch with its wooded banks and rocky places. Some of the most interesting villages are: Vallanca, Val de la Sabina, Mas del Olmo, Sesga, Puebla de San Miguel – These sites are good for some specialities: Egyptian Vulture Neophron pernocterus, Alpine Swift Apus melba, Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica, Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura, Olivaceus Warbler Hippolais pallida, Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata, Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis, Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli, Crested Tit Parus cristatus, Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla, Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus, Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra and Rock Bunting Emberiza cia.

In the wheat-fields of the high mountains of the region (over 1400 meters) the Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia is very common and in some places with areas of low and dispersed vegetation, its possible to see Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris. In the sky the raptors can frequently be seen soaring (especially Short-toed and Golden Eagle, as well as Sparrowhawk, Peregrine and Hobby). Leaving behind the Rincón de Ademuz the next area for birdwatching is to the south coast of Castellón at the Prat de Cabanes-Torreblanca Natural Park. This is a coastal wetland of flooded meadows with some areas of permanent water (peat-bog). At the Prat Montagu`s Harrier Circus pygargus, Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola and Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon have their most important breeding colonies in Valencia.

To the South, in the Valencia province’s north-eastern border is the Moro Marsh in Sagunto. This little marsh is a surprisingly important wetland for some of the most threatened waterbirds in Spain. The best period for birdwatching at the Moro is spring (April); with the migration of some thousand of waders and ducks. Here breed Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca and Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata. This nature reserve is also good for Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis [up to 5,000 birds roost here], Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus, Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus, Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus [distributed across all of Valencia’s sandy seashores], Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus [an important breeding colony], breeding Savi’s Warbler Locustella luscinioides [one of the most common passerines in mid-spring] together with Moustached and Great Reed Warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus. The Moro Marsh is the best place for Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina in the breeding season.

Our next stop is the symbolic Albufera’s Natural Park on the central coast of Valencia (to the south of the city). This internationally important wetland is good for herons, ducks, waders and gulls. Thousands of ducks over-winter at the Albufera, feeding by night in the rice-fields and resting in the daylight hours in the La Mata del Fang protected area. During migration thousands of shorebirds can be seen stopping over in the neatly arranged rice-fields. The Racó de l’Olla is another reserve, which is very important for breeding terns (Common, Sandwich, Little and Gull-billed) and some waders (such as Avocet). The heronries with Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax, Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides, Cattle Egret, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea and Purple Heron Ardea purpurea at the quietest reedbed islands are simply spectacular. On some reed-bed islands it is possible to surprise a beautiful bird – the Bearded Tit Panurus biarmicus.

A little to the south, the coast of Cullera is an interesting Mediterranean site for seabirds. The winter and migration periods are the best times to see some pelagic and rare birds. From here, in winter, it is possible to see Balearic and Mediterranean Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus & Puffinus yelkouan and some sea ducks (Common Eider and Common and Surf Scoter). In spring Cory’s Shearwater Caleonectris diomedea fly past and, throughout the year, the omnipresent Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans rests on the beach or loafs on the sea.

Adjacent to the northwest of the Alicante’s province at the Carrascal de la Font Rotja we can to see a variety of evergreen and deciduous forest species; the area is interesting for woodland birds. This Natural Park is a relatively well protected site for conserved mountain forest with typical Mediterranean plants. Warblers (specially of the genus Sylvia); Tits and Treecreepers share the habitat with some diurnal and nocturnal raptors (Golden, Short-toed, Booted and Bonelli’s Eagles and Scops, Eagle, Little, Tawny and Long-eared Owls). The area also is recommended for European Roller, Golden Oriole, Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica and the secretive Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin Cercotrichas galactotes.

Driving to Villena you can see Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni, where a project to reintroduce this falcon has already started in the village. On the seacliffs of the Penyal d’Ifac and in the Montgó Natural Parks in Calpe breed Pallid Swifts Apus pallidus and some pelagic seabird species (European Storm-petrels and Shag). On the South coast of Alicante one can find the El Hondo de Elche and the Salinas de Santa Pola Natural Parks. El Hondo reservoir is the best place for two globally threatened ducks, the Marbled Duck (with 90% of the European population) and the White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala with recent peak counts of 4.000 birds during the breeding season. This wetland is also important for wintering ducks and other waterbirds and for breeding herons, waders and terns. Here is another place to see that elusive Passerine the Bearded Tit. The neighbouring Salinas de Santa Pola (salt extraction) is best for migrating and breeding shorebirds, terns and gulls (Slender-billed Gull); with permanently high numbers of Flamingos Phoenicopterus rubber, which nest in some years.

Contributors
  • Marcial Yuste Blasco

    Conselleria de Medio Ambiente | Birder@TeleLine.es

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 394

    (As at May 2019)
Useful Reading

  • 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 NHBS.com
Organisations
  • InterNatura - Anuario Ornitologico de la Comunidad Valenciana

    Website
    Con el fin de potenciar la actividad que vienen desarrollando los distintos grupos locales directamente relacionados con las aves y su entorno, la redacci
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Desert de les Palmes Natural Park

    InformationSatellite View
    he name of the so-called Desert of the Palm Trees does not refer to an actual desert, but historically relates to a Carmelite monastery where a spiritual refuge was sought. The area is home to numerous pine trees, cork oaks, shrubs and aromatic plants. Les Agulles de Santa Àgueda is a site richly endowed with reddish cluster pines.
  • NP WII Albafura Valencia

    InformationSatellite View
    Since 1990, the Valencian Albufera Nature Reserve has been included as a Ramsar Site in the list of wetlands of international importance for birds, established in the Ramsar Convention of 1971. Since 1991 the Parc Natural de l'Albufera de València has also been included in the Special Protection Areas (Zepa in Spanish).
  • NR Amics de la Marjal de Massamagrell-Rafalell-Vistabella

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Pretenem donar a conéixer esta xicoteta marjal de l'Horta Nord de València. Té, i tenen totes, una gran riquesa biològica que, possiblement, és desconeguda per molta gent. A més, volem concienciar a tots sobre la conservació d'estos espais naturals…
  • NR Santa Pola Salt Flats Nature Park

    InformationSatellite View
    Today's Nature Park preserves various habitats: the salt flats close the sea, the freshwater pools in the marsh area and periphery, and the bordering farmlands. Flora and fauna have adapted to the wet conditions and high salt content. Spectacular concentrations of greater flamingos, including thousands of birds, can sometimes be seen here.
Guides & Tour Operators


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • Valencia Birding

    Tour Operator
    We provide guided Bird Watching Tours throughout Eastern Spain, encompassing Valencia, Alicante and Castilla de la Mancha. This area is blessed with an incredibly diverse range of habitats and excellent birding sites, many of which are virtually unknown! We cater for all levels of bird enthusiasts and provide a bespoke guiding service at very reasonable cost. Our local knowledge can ensure that our clients can make the absolute most of their time in Spain by depending on us to take them to the very best sites
Trip Reports


Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

  • 2016 [03 March] - Chris Durdin & Pau Lucio

    PDF Report
    ...We moved on within El Fondo Natural Park to another viewing platform over a smaller reedbed lagoon and we were blessed by 10 close white-headed ducks. So, having already seen the greater spotted eagle, for a second time we had turned up and there was the celebrated rarity: this globally-threatened species is now showing a marked upturn in numbers and spread in range within Spain...
  • 2016 [11 November] - Pau Lucio - Mammls and Birds in Valencia

    Report
    ...The fields were packed with Linnets, Skylarks and Crested Larks. We continued driving to the next stop finding on the way Marsh Harriers, Iberian Grey Shrike and a superb Golden Eagle! It was flying over the ridge and being bombed by a Kestrel....
Other Links
  • Aus i anellament Massamagrell L'Horta

    Website
    Aus als tarongerars de Valencia
  • La Safor Birders

    Website
    La Safor Birders are a small group of Birdwatchers based in the mountain village of La Drova in the La Safor region of the Valencian Community
Blogs
  • Bird...GI (cuaderno de campo)

    BLOG
    In this blog, halfway between field notebook and naturalist journal, I intend to share my experiences and observations as an amateur ornithologist, with those who also love nature and enjoy observing.
  • Birdman of Alcossebre

    BLOG
    Last updated 2016
  • Rafa Muñoz - Aves en Requena Utiel

    BLOG
    Personal blog about Ornithology in the Requena Utiel region.
Photographers & Artists
  • Jose Antonio Sencianes Ortega - Artist & Photographer

    Facebook Page
    Jose Antonio Sencianes nace en Madrid aunque se traslada muy joven a M

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