Saturday, May 11, 2013

Birding La Mancha!

Moustached Warbler - Paul French
I have reached the conclusion I have become staid, happy to spend my non touring days in my own area. Most people would sympathise given the local area for me is the Serranía de Ronda, a veritable heaven for wildlife. Who needs to travel further afield when your local patch is so rich in fauna and flora? These facts have very much contrived to make yours truly somewhat a couch potato, comfortable, unadventurous and hence denying myself the pleasures of new discoveries. An obligation to help with organising an excursion for the Andalucia Bird Society led me to recently visit Castile La Mancha, an otherwise unheard of destination and certainly an area whose natural heritage is so understated. What gems the areas around or close to Almagro are! With open steppe, small mountain ranges, wetland and rich Dehesa, the question remains, why did it take me so long to visit this area?

Estefania and Vincente
My introduction to the La Mancha fauna and flora came via the able and expert guidance of Vicente Malagón Sanroma and his lovely wife Estefania. Their passion and local knowledge conspired to make my visit a huge success and left me wanting a whole lot more. If ever you get to this area, and believe me you should, then take a look at the guide’s own website for an idea of the excursions on offer by these two most impressionable guides. Our day started with a visit to the lagoon Navaseca and gave great views of terns, wildfowl, waders and small passerines frequenting the extensive reedbeds surrounding the large open body of the lagoon. Greater Flamingo gave colour, whilst Little Bittern provided excitement. With so many birds, it was nice to see Red-crested Pochard, Black-necked Grebe and also Coots feeding their busy youngsters.

Greater Flamingo
It was such a nuisance only to have one day in the area, it became obvious in a short time that I would have to return to appreciate all that was on offer. So many sites and no time to visit them all, but I was determined to take a look at and walk around the wetland natural park of the Tablas de Daimiel. There are boardwalk routes here taking you through reedbeds, linking various islets and walks through some of the most ancient Tamarisk trees in Spain. The area is home to many aquatic plants and birds, the most notable bird for me was Moustached Warbler, but that would be cherry picking as so many birds attracted my attention. Rather than write more on this occasion, I leave you with a few photos taken on the day!

Coot with young
Great-crested Grebe
Poppies create an island of colour
Red-crested Pochard
Why not join Peter on one of the many day tours he makes throughout the region, please see our website for more detailed information.

You can arrange your own guided holidays or long weekend breaks that include airport collection and transport, to find out more visit our tailored holiday webpage.

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