Birding in Spain’s Wild West
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In 2005 Vega Bermejo settled with partner Alfonso in her paternal province of Salamanca, Western Spain, fulfilling her childhood dream of living within nature. After training as a birding guide with the TRINO Castilla y Leon Project she set up the company Birding in Spain’s Wild West.
Over the years the company has designed birding and nature routes which bring together great birds, beautiful landscapes, butterflies, reptiles, wild flowers, trees and interesting ethnic architecture in a province which abounds in surprising geographical, botanical and cultural contrasts.
Birding in Spain’s Wild West offers guided birding for a day or more with transport and picnic included, and can also advise on where to book a stay in the area.
Salamanca’s richly diverse habitats encompass the canyons of the Arribes Natural Park; the Sierra de Bejar mountains; the cereal steppelands of the Campo de Alba area; the luxuriant Atlantic and Mediterranean forests of the Sierra de Francia and, in between, the hilly open woodland Dehesas of ancient Holm Oaks and granite tors.
Resident raptors such as Golden, Spanish Imperial and Bonelli’s Eagles, Black and Griffon Vultures, are joined in spring by Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Honey Buzzard and Montagu’s Harriers amongst others. Endemic race of Pied Flycatcher breeds alongside Crested Tit and Western Bonelli’s Warbler in the mountain woods, with Rock Thrush, Ortolan and Rock Bunting higher up. Whilst in the dehesa, European Bee-eaters, Iberian Magpie and a variety of warblers are plentiful and the elusive Black Stork is often seen circling the skies. Both Common Cuckoo and Great Spotted Cuckoo are easy to find in spring, along with Hoopoe and Turtle Dove. In autumn and winter lagoons, gravel pits and reservoirs attract migrating and wintering waders, waterfowl, and Eurasian Crane in their thousands. Medieval bridges and walled villages with towers, pastoral drystone wall constructions and pre-Roman hill forts provide habitat for cliff dwelling birds such as Crag Martin and Blue Rock Thrush.
Mountain and meadow wildflowers are prolific from early spring onwards, as are butterflies, terrapins and lizards, with mammals such as Wild Boar, Stone Marten and Common Genet making their presence felt through their tracks and scats.