- Fly from London to Barcelona and then it is a three or four-hour drive through increasingly rugged landscapes until we reach the Aragón Valley and the small town of Jaca, where we stay for the whole week. Even on this day, largely of travel, we are likely to see some of the griffon vultures that abound in the area, for Aragón has perhaps the highest density of this species anywhere in the world.
- Accommodation: Jaca, 7-nights on a full board basis.
- Where the last patches of winter snow are still retreating, spring gentians enliven the scene as we scan the skies above for birds of prey. Our main quarry here is lammergeier – the mighty ‘bonecrusher’ – which scours the slopes for fallen sheep and the endemic Pyrenean chamois.
- At this time of year, the high pastures are in full bloom, with endemic species like Pyrenean fritillary, Pyrenean lousewort and Pyrenean bluebell in flower, as well as elder-flowered and broad-leaved marsh orchids, dragonmouth and narcissus-flowered anemone in flower – plus many, many more.
- Moving lower, we find ourselves enveloped in majestic alpine forests, dominated by beech and silver fir. Many of the birds here – such as marsh tit and nuthatch – are typical of those seen at home (although in Spain this is their main outpost).
- Over the millennia, the rushing water courses have carved deep grooves and such places hold lively western Bonelli’s warblers, while the flat terraces alongside provide good habitat for fluting woodlark, secretive Dartford and subalpine warblers. The bare rock faces here will be of the greatest interest to us, for here we have our best chances of finding the remarkable wallcreeper.
- We shall have lots of chances to explore these high valleys, but also the foot of the Pyrenees, where the flat alluvial Aragón plain bustles with avian activity. Birds here are characteristic of the Mediterranean region and include hoopoe, Sardinian and melodious warblers, tawny pipit and serin.
- June can be an excellent time for butterflies too, and given sunny weather we have recorded over 70 species in a week in the past.
- As an added bonus, our hotel in Jaca is ideally situated for early morning strolls, and nightingales serenade almost every turn, with bee-eaters, spotless starlings and golden orioles among likely companions.
- We return to Barcelona and catch our return flight to London.
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
We stay in a 3-star hotel in the small town of Jaca, in the Aragón Valley. All rooms are en suite.
All meals are included. Breakfast and dinner are taken at the hotel’s restaurant, which offers original and varied cuisine. Lunches will be taken as picnics at some wonderfully scenic spots.
Our tour takes us into one of the best areas in Europe for raptors, and we look for red kites, griffon vultures and golden eagles soaring over the hillsides and mountain peaks.
- Black kite
- Egyptian vulture
- Sardinian warbler
June can be excellent for butterflies, with Apollos drifting over flower meadows, Duke of Burgundy flitting through sunny glades and southern gatekeepers, Cleopatra and black-veined whites cluster on flower filled banks.
- Spanish fritillary
- Spanish swallowtail
- Camberwell beauty
- Purple emperor
We explore alpine meadows and rocky chasms looking for trumpet gentian and endemic Pyrenean saxifrage, whilst limestone scarps reveal lady’s slipper orchid.
- Pyrenean bluebell
- Broad-leaved marsh orchid
- Spanish broom
- White pasque flower
Typically warm and sunny, with temperatures in the range of 12°–26° Celsius, but the early morning can be chilly. As with any upland area, periods of rain or showers, low cloud or poor visibility are possible. In summer, it is often possible to avoid localised bad weather by moving to a different altitude.
Easy. No more than five kilometres in any one day, over easy terrain, there may be shorter walks on steeper slopes. Walking boots are recommended for the mountains, comfortable walking shoes are suitable at lower elevations.
Snow-capped mountains, wide river valleys and rugged forested hills all make a spectacular and exhilarating setting for our wildlife tour.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Barcelona – London.
Ground transportation is by minibus, with driver.