Birdwatching - 18 June 2016

by Lindsay Pheasant

Steppes, Wetlands and Sierras of La Mancha

This month, On Saturday 18th June 2016, the Andalucía Bird Society will be going to the La Mancha region of Spain to visit the area around Almagro. This is the Don Quijote part of the Spanish plain and is steeped in history. The town is surround by small mountain ranges and several important shallow creeks. It is also a volcanic region, one of the few in the Iberian Peninsula.
The visit will be led by the professional guide Vicente Malagón Sanroma and starts with a drive out to the Calatrava Steppes which are rolling arable areas with little tree or shrub cover. Here there can be seen the famous steppe birds: Great and Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Golden and Spanish Imperial Eagle, Lesser Kestrel and Montagu’s Harrier. With numbers dwindling in Spain, steppe birds have one of their last refuges here, just over the northern border of Andalucía, an exceptional area that extends to a total of 8,978 ha. Becoming increasingly isolated and threatened by numerous civil engineering projects such as motorways, recreational farms and airports, steppe birds concentrate in small areas where they still have a last chance for survival. Also, the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) threatens them, favouring the interests of large European landowners and against organic farmers and the maintenance of a rural world that respects the environment. Even the government of Castilla-La Mancha supports the harassment of steppe birds by joining those that demand authorisation for new large intensive vineyards in the insufficiently protected steppe areas. It is a bleak future for these last treasures of our biodiversity.
From there, we will drive to Laguna del Prado (a RAMSAR site) and look for water birds such as Flamingos, Pratincoles, Ducks and Terns. Lunch will be at the nearby river where there is an abundance of songbirds which can be seen as lunch is eaten. After the picnic, the visit will continue to the volcanic area near Almagro and then onto Jabalon Reservoir for another chance to see wading birds and Herons.
The Andalucía Bird Society is a not-for-profit group of bird watchers (visitors and residents) based in Andalucía. It holds monthly field trips for its members and hosts an informative website for the advancement of birding knowledge. Membership is open to all interested parties and all levels of experience are most welcome. For more details please contact the Field Trips Officer on 652 552 956 or simply email us on: Check out the website at:

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