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Festive greetings! & Christmas 2011 update on John's 2012 Iberian Wildlife Tours.

John Muddeman
28/12/2011 00:01:30

A summary of availability on John's Spanish natural history holidays in the first half of 2012

Posted in: Flora, Butterflies and Moths, Dragonflies and Damselflies, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, Mammals, Endangered Wildlife and Habitats | Andalusia, Canary Islands, Castile-La Mancha, Castile-Leon, Extremadura, Madrid | Mainland Spain, Northern Spain, Southern Spain, Western Spain, Central Spain, Spanish Islands

First of all I'd like to wish everyone a very Merry Winter-sunset-FdlO © John MuddemanA winter sunset over Madrid's Western Sierra© John Muddeman (albeit belated) Christmas and Happy and hopefully prosperous New Year! I have just returned from a fantastic week in the UK, celebrating Christmas in style with the children at my parents' house and seeing as many relatives and friends as possible. I sincerely wish you all an equally enjoyable end to 2011 and start to 2012!

With the winter sunshine here in Spain beaming down unbroken over the last few days, the temperature has gone up from around freezing to around 12 degrees celsius and returned to freezing again, around dawn, in almost dead still conditions. With this weather forecast for another week, at least, it reminds me of exactly why mid-winter with the Azorean anticyclone in place is such as great time to be here, even if stuck at home watching a spectacular sunset at the end of the day!

White-headed-Duck - Oxyura-le © John MuddemanAdult male White-headed Duck
Oxyura leucocephala
© John Muddeman
A Bohemian Waxwing, such as one we saw a couple of days ago in Southwold would be hugely out of place here, but perhaps not the odd Fieldfare which we also saw in numbers last week, and I'll see if there are any around during the next few days. Teresa also called yesterday to note she'd discovered a flock of over twenty Eurasian Dotterel Charadrius morinellus wintering in Almería, an excellent reminder of how north can meet south across the vast spread of habitats present in Spain. For anyone visiting in winter, don't think that Madrid is poor at this time of year, with some 10x10km squares supporting over 100 bird species, including both resident and visiting species.

Imminent changes to my Iberian Wildlife Tours web pages are in the pipeline, including major changes to the pages covering half- and full- day trips to C Spain. These include observing the wealth of birds, wildlife and landscapes of the Madrid area, plus one – two night options further afield such as in bird-rich Extremadura -plus orchids in late March and early April-, or in search of Iberian Lynx Lynx pardina and Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti in the Andújar mountains plus White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata and other steppic birds in La Mancha en route. In late winter and Houbara-300x-4web © John MuddemanMale Houbara Bustard
Chlamydotis undulata fuerteventurae
© John Muddeman
spring a one-night option to search for Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus duponti and other bird species of the gorges and páramos of the northern plain, where orchids also abound in early May makes a fine complement to visiting the historic cities of Madrid, Segovia, Ávila and/or Toledo.

Further changes are also about to be made to my webpages regarding the dates for longer tours. The late winter and spring season is getting very busy, and due to overbooking (!) and by request I’ve already modified a couple of trips and dates from those originally advertised:

The tour season kicks off mid-February with a 15-day trip to four of the main Canary Islands in an exploration of their extraordinary flora and fauna, and though originally billed as a principally botanical trip, this has been greatly widened to also include birds, reptiles, butterflies, dragonflies and hopefully, some cetaceans. I’m delighted to be co-leading this with my IWT colleague Teresa Farino, and with just a few places left, please get in touch soon if it’s of interest!

March sees the entry of spring into southern Spain and mid-month sees me leading a group to look for Iberian Lynx and Spanish Imperial Eagle in the Sierra de Andújar. A week from 19th will be spent combining Doñana with Extremadura, while from 30th I’m off to Morocco for 10 days with a Spanish group to the mountains and deserts for their resident birds and migrants.

Iberian-Lynx-4blog © John MuddemanA young Iberian Lynx Lynx pardina© John MuddemanThe terrific combination of Extremadura plus Gredos is proving to be a favourite for 2012, with a private group from 15 – 18 April, plus groups from 3 – 6 May and again from 7 – 13 May. With both latter trips confirmed, a few spaces are left on each and please enquire if either is of interest.

Other tours include guiding a Spanish group to Doñana and area from 30 April to 2 May and a private group in C Spain towards the end of may concentrating on regional bird specialities, including White-headed Duck, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Great Otis tarda & Little Bustards Tetrax tetrax, Black-bellied Pterocles alchata and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Dupont’s Lark and even possible White-rumped Swift Apus caffer. Regarding the latter, see a slightly offbeat article in Hemispheres Magazine from a trip last spring, though I also found the species in late September in the Cabañeros National Park in Ciudad Real.

The June trip to the Picos de Europa will be leading alongside Teresa again, though this time for Honeyguide Wildlife Holidays, and is already full, though I may also be making a quick visit or two to the area at other times during the spring with private clients in search Pronged-Clubtail - Gomphus300 © John MuddemanPronged Clubtail
Gomphus graslinii
© John Muddeman
of Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus medius, Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria and White-winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis amongst others. Being just 4.5 – 5 hours from Madrid means it’s just within reach for a 2-night trip from here!

But please remember that I am also always happy to look into requests for tailor-made options, be it for singles, couples or larger groups, at any time. So please feel free to contact me either by phone or email via my personal page, and I’ll reply with all the potential options as soon as possible. And while the following options are not visible on the website yet, I’m also keen to promote trips to look for dragonflies and butterflies around Madrid. Having personally recorded 43 species of dragon- and damsel- flies within 45 minutes of my home since June 2010 (and there are a few more present), including discovering the threatened Pronged Clubtail Gomphus graslinii for the first time in the region, the opportunities are good for seeing a fine selection of Iberian and Mediterranean species.

Finally, and thankfully, the pound has recovered a little against the Euro, and so it's a better time to look for somewhere in the Euro zone again!

With my very best wishes, John

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