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Birding La Mancha Tour - 6 Days

Birding La Mancha Tour

A Week's Birdwatching Tour in the La Mancha Region of Spain

This 6-day Birding La Mancha Tour, which is available on request, will show you the best of the region's avian life in a wide range of habitats and at a leisurely pace. All areas visited are within a 50-60km radiius of your accommodation so you spend less time travelling and more time enjoying the incredible birdlife in each habitat.

Ciudad Real province is one of the lesser known and most underrated areas of Spain. It has the distinction of being the only province in the country to have two National Parks. A La Mancha birding tour takes you to the Tablas of Daimiel  and the pristine mountainous Mediterranean forest in Cabañeros. It also visits the extensive volcanic steppe region of the Campo de Calatrava, just to the south of the national parks. As this area is less frequented by wildlife and bird enthusiasts, you can lose yourself on back roads and trails far from the madding crowd. All in all, La Mancha gives a more intimate experience of birdwatching.

The wetlands of La Mancha are a joy to visit year-round but they are especially interesting during the migration seasons of spring and autumn, when many birds that are passing through stop off to break their journey.

Many others come to La Mancha breed, birds such as Collared Pratincoles, Avocets and Black-winged Stilts. Some, such as Flamingos and White-headed Ducks, can be seen year-round. In the winter thousands of Common Cranes arrive almost like clockwork to roost in the area around the Tablas of Daimiel National Park.

To the west of the province are the Mountains of Toledo and Cabañeros National Park, known as The Spanish Serengeti. It is home to the second-largest colony of Cinereous Vultures in Europe. It is the realm of the Spanish Imperial Eagle and a wide variety of other raptors, such as Booted Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle and Lesser Kestrel. During the autumn deer rut, in September and October, there are spectacular scenes of stags guarding their harems and fighting off possible usurpers. Wild Boar and Egyptian Mongoose can also be seen while birding La Mancha.

To the south is the steppe landscape of the Campo de Calatrava, still classified as an active volcanic zone although there have been no recent eruptions. It is a gently rolling landscape where many steppe species can be found. These include the flamboyant Great Bustard, the clicking Little Bustard, the 'watch the rock until it moves' Stone Curlew, as well as Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. The background music is provided by Calandra Larks, whilst Montagu's Harriers and Black-shoulder Kites quarter the cereal fields.

Birding La Mancha Tour highlights include:

  • Hidden lagoons full of life where flocks of flamingos show off their colours.
  • A vast number of vultures circling and waiting for  thermals as they leave their roosts and nests in the morning
  • The incredibly flamboyant mating displays of the Great Bustard
  • Minimal travel between the habitats so you have more time enjoying yourself and savouring what is on offer

Interested in exploring La Mancha birding but don't have time for a 6-day tour? Why not try one of our 1-day La Mancha Birdwatching Trips?

Alternative Tour Name: The Best of La Mancha's Birds
Day 1
Day 1 - Arrival

To start your Best of la Mancha Tour, upon arrival at Madrid airport where you will be met, if time allows we can visit the Lagunas of Alcazar. An important part of the Wetlands of La Mancha, and just off the motorway, it offers excellent viewing of a number of shallow lagoons.

Here we can have spectaular views of large groups of Flamingos, and also White Headed Duck, Marbled ducks, Pochards, Marsh Harriers and a wide variety of waders.

If time does not allow a visit, we will have a brief stop at a fabulous gem of clamorous birdlife such as Flamingos, White Headed Duck, Purple Gallinule by the dozen, Reed Bunting and a large etcetera, the Laguna Navaseca in Daimiel will really whet your appetite. We will return again, not just because it's on the itinerary of Day 1, but because you would insist on it if it wasn't.

You will then be taken to your accommodation at Casa Oretani.

Day 2
Day 2 - The Wetlands of the Guadiana River

On your first full day we will visit the Tablas of Daimiel National Park, one of the two National Parks within Ciudad Real, and its surrounding areas including the Laguna de Navaseca.

The park consists of roughly 2000Ha of marsh and wetland where the confluence of the sweet watered Guadiana River meet the brackish water of the Giguela River. This mixing of the two types of rivers leads it to be a unique wetland in Europe and is reflected in the wide variety of plant, aquatic and most importantly, bird species. It is a favourite stopover for migrants, summer and winter visitors. The Tablas of Daimiel provide a veritable feast of passerines, waders and raptors, not to mention over 35 species of dragonfly.

We will also explore the surrounding area along the River Guadiana including the wonderful Laguna de Navaseca where up to 50 species can be seen including Flamingos, White Headed Duck, Purple Gallinule by the dozen, Reed Bunting, Cetti's Warbler, Eurasian & Great Reed Warblers and also the beautiful Bearded Tits hidden amongst the reeds.

Lunch will be either in a local restaurant with typical regional food or a hearthy packed picnic of local produce.

Travelling along backroads along the river we will find Common and Lesser Kestrels, perhaps a Rock bunting or two, but we will keep a sharp eye out for Little Owls and Stone Curlews hidden among the stone piles and rocky Manchegan Fields. This journey will lead us to sundowner drinks to view the wonderful roosting area of the Vicario Reservoir renowned for the quantity of Grey, Purple, Squacco and Black-crowned Night Herons. The area around it also a favourite breeding site for Collared Pratincole. Raptors include Marsh Harriers, Goshawk and Sparrowhawk and during migration season the occasional Osprey.

Day 3
Day 3 - The Steppe

Day three is a visit to the Manchegan steppe, a rolling hinterland of cereal and fallow fields created in the past by the volcanic forces of nature. It is the realm of the majestic Great Bustards, the nobles of the plains. We will explore the areas north and south of Ciudad Real where this steppe habitat is defined by vast cereal fields, rough ground and gently rolling countryside. Driving along dirt roads seldom frequented, you will encounter Great and Little Bustards, Stone Curlews, Golden Plovers, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Calandra Larks, Red-billed Chough and a whole host of raptors such as Black-shouldered Kites, Buzzards, and Common and Lesser Kestrels. At certain times of the year the wonderfully colourful European Bee-eater can be seen in their hundreds and their call is a common sound in the summer. It is also the best place to find the stunning European Rollers, and Northern and Black-eared Wheatears.

Lunch will be a picnic at the extremely impressive and well preserved Castle of Calatrava where as you try to eat your lunch you will be distracted by Black Wheatear, Blue Rock-thrush and Red-rumped Swallow as well as vultures passing by on a similar altitude to the castle.

Day 4
Day 4 - The Mountains and Mediterranean Forest

Today we will visit the second National Park in Ciudad Real which is Cabañeros nestled amongst the mountains of Toledo. Once destined to be an airforce bombing range, it is now luckily famed for its mountainous terrain, pristine Mediterranean Forests, and it’s Raña the flat plain in the middle. This plain is also known as the Spanish Serengeti, which once you see it you will understand why. It is home to Red Deer, Wild Boar, Spanish Imperial Eagles and the second largest breeding colony of Black Vultures in the Europe.

Although general access to the park is restricted, it can be visited in 4×4 vehicles where you will be taken to the various sites with myself and park rangers where the best viewing is to be had. If your visit is in the Autumn, the sight of thousands of Red Deer in the Autumn Rut guarding their harems with their bellows and antlers is impressive. During late afternoon drives, Wild boar and Egyptian Mongoose can be seen. During the winter vast numbers of Common Cranes can be seen in the surrounding fields. We can also visit the either of the two visitors centres to get an in-depth view of the the history and flora and fauna of the park.

Lunch will be at the fabulous Casa del Cazador in a tiny hamlet, where the homemade and hearthy Gazpacho and various stews and homemade desserts are a delight for the palate. Prepared with local ingredients and by generations of the same family, you will be well fed.

Day 5
Day 5 - The Dehesa and Sierra Morena

On our fifth day we will find ourselves in the Natural Park of the Alcudia Valley which extends east-west for a length of 75km with an almost African landscape. This is a haven for raptors. Here you will have unparalleled views of Griffon and Black Vultures and also Egyptian Vulture soaring overhead. Buzzards and Kestrels will be seen surveying their area for prey from pylons and posts. There will be Hen and Montagu's Harrier, Red and Black Kite, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden, Bonnelli’s, Short-toed and Booted Eagle, as well as Larks, Wheatears and Redstarts amongst many others. Just to the south is the mountain range of the Sierra Morena where we can visit the pine forests to look for Crested Tits and other woodland species.

Lunch will be in a restaurant on our route.

Day 6
Day 6 - The Wetlands of La Mancha

The La Mancha Wetlands are an important habitat for a great many species of birds. Although the centre of Spain is not generally associated with by many with water, they are surely a jewel within the regions crown.

We will visit the incredible Lagunas of Ruidera with its 15 lakes connected by cascading waterfalls. Arriving into Ruidera, after an hours drive through the plains of La Mancha, is a sight that will stay with you forever as the turquoise lakes come into view. Surrounded by reeds and pine forest we will drive up along the lakes looking for wading and dabbling ducks as well as riparian species. In the trees are Crossbills, Golden Orioles, Hawfinches and Long-tailed Tits. The raptor opportunities are also as good here as anywhere else on our tour and also for Short-eared Owl, Scops owl, Eagle Owl.

After lunch, if time allows we will make a stop at The Alcazar Lagoons, or if you have had enough of birding the Windmills of Campo de Criptana, as we make our way to Madrid to drop you off and say goodbye.

After lunch, the many Lagunas in Alcazar de San Juan deserve more consideration and some excellent wetland birding could be done here time permitting, after which you will then be taken to your point of destination whether it be Madrid Airport or your prearranged point of departure or hotel if you are staying on in Ciudad Real province.

Wildlife species expected to see:

Eared Grebe, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, Little Bittern, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, White Stork, Black Stork, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Greater White-Fronted Goose, Greylag Goose, Common Shelduck, Ruddy Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Wigeon, Marbled Duck, Common Teal, Garganey, Common Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, White-Headed Duck, Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Osprey, Golden Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Short-Toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Red Kite, Black Kite, Western Marsh Harrier, Black-Shouldered Kite, Northern Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Common Buzzard, European Honey Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Northern Goshawk, Common Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Eurasian Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Red-Legged Partridge, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Purple Gallinule, Common Crane, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Pied Avocet, Black-Winged Stilt, Stone-Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Golden Plover, Northern Lapwing, Sanderling, Dunlin, Temminck’s Stint, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Common Greenshank, Black-Tailed Godwit, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Common Snipe, Ruff, Black-Headed Gull, Yellow-Legged Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Gull Billed Tern, Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black-Bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-Tailed Sandgrouse, Rock Dove, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Common Wood Pigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, European Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, Eagle Owl, Long-Eared Owl, Short-Eared Owl, Barn Owl, Little Owl, European Scops Owl, European Nightjar, Red-Necked Nightjar, Common Swift, Hoopoe, Common Kingfisher, European Bee-Eater, European Roller, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Wryneck, Eurasian Skylark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Wood Lark, Greater Short-Toed Lark, Lesser Short-Toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-Rumped Swallow, Common House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Water Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Tree Pipit, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Winter Wren, White-Throated Dipper, Dunnock, European Robin, Common Nightingale, Rufous-Tailed Scrub Robin, Bluethroat
Common Redstart, Black Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Black-Eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Whinchat, Common Stonechat, Blue Rock Thrush, Rufous-Tailed Rock Thrush, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, Common Blackbird, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Western Orphean Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Spectacled Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Savi’s Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Western Olivaceous Warbler, Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Bonelli’s Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Iberian Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Crested Tit, Long-Tailed Tit, Bearded Reedling, Eurasian Penduline Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch Short-Toed Treecreeper, Woodchat Shrike, Southern Grey Shrike, Azur-Winged Magpie, Magpie, Eurasian Jay, Western Jackdaw, Red-Billed Chough, Common Raven, Common Starling, Spotless Satrling, Eurasian Golden Oriole, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, Brambling, Common Linnet, European Goldfinch, European Greenfinch, European Siskin, European Serin, Hawfinch, Common Crossbill, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting, Rock Bunting

What is included?

  • Pick up and drop off from Madrid Barajas Airport or Ciudad Real train station.
  • Accommodation based on 2 people sharing in our guest house, Casa Oretani.
  • All transport during the tour.
  • Fees and entrance to sites on the tour.
  • Breakfast and a midday meal (either a packed picnic lunch with local produce or a meal in a local restaurant).
  • Complementary sundowner drink on Day 1.

What is not included?

  • Flights or travel costs, visa fees etc. to or from the pick up point by a third party at Madrid Barajas Airport or Ciudad Real train station.
  • Personal travel insurance.
  • Tips or food and drink not included in the tour except water.
  • Evening meals.
  • Personal items.
  • Other unspecified costs in the itinerary or what's included.

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Why book with Oretani Wildlife?

You are looking for less travel and more time birding. You don't want hours of driving at the end of a day to get to another plac, You want a base to which you can return and relax. You want a truly local experience. But you also want to experience different habitats within a small radius. That's what we provide. And of course, you want real local knowledge of the hidden places or places away from the beaten track. You want top get intimate in your birdwatching in a friendly and relaxed way. Mike has always been praised on his knowledge of the area by clients and his friendly demeanour. Maybe it's his smiling Irish eyes or the assimilated relaxed attitudeof this region.

What is the weather like? Isn't it hot?

Central Spain has a climate similar to a continental climate. In winter it can be cold at night but can also reach 20C at times during the day. On the steppe it can get windy and be quite chilly. Spring and Autumn are fabulous. These are the prime times to visit central Spain. Lows are normally 10-14C and with highs of 24-28C. These are temperatures that allow for comfortable and excellent birding without heat-haze. There may be some showers but rarely prolonged rain. We'll not lie, the summer is hot ranging from 32-38C and sometimes 40C. During the midday sun there isn't much activity both for humans or wildlife.

What is my accommodation like?

You will be staying at our family run self catering guest house, Casa Oretani, in the quiet village of Picón. It's a modern house on an old property and still retains some of it's past. It's right across from a shady park with a small stream that has plenty to interest the avid birdwatcher, or, not far away, is the Guadiana River or the hils of the Sierra de Picón. Both are within walking distance and have their own respective wildlife. There is a pool and a garden and the village is made even more charming by the friendliness of the locals. They don't mind if you don't speak Spanish, they'll talk to you anyway.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

6 Days

Price & Availability

EUR1,050 / per person
Based on twin/double room
This tour is operated by: Oretani Wildlife

Quick Enquiry Form

Tour Facts

  • Ciudad Real Province, Castilla la Mancha, Spain
  • On Request
  • Multi-Day Tour
  • Birds
  • 2 to 8 pax
  • 6 days
  • March to May, September to November
  • Leisurely
  • +15 years
  • No
  • English, Spanish
  • Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport
  • Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport