Category Archives: Birdlife of Spain

Spain is a popular destination for birdwatchers, as the country boasts a rich diversity of birdlife, with over 600 bird species recorded. Some of the most iconic bird species in Spain include the Spanish imperial eagle, the Eurasian griffon vulture, and the common crane. Other notable bird species found in Spain include the flamingo, the hoopoe, and the bee-eater. Spain’s varied landscapes, which range from mountains and forests to wetlands and coastal areas, provide habitats for a wide range of bird species. Additionally, Spain is located on the migratory path for many bird species traveling between Africa and Europe, making it a popular spot for birdwatchers during migration season. Overall, Spain’s birdlife is a reflection of the country’s rich natural heritage and makes it an exciting destination for birdwatchers from around the world.

Cinereous Vulture Reintroduction Program Takes Flight in Spain’s Iberian Highlands

In an ambitious effort to restore the majestic Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) to its historic home, a collaborative reintroduction project has been launched in Spain’s Iberian Highlands. Once a common sight, this magnificent scavenger bird faced decline and extinction in the region due to shrinking forest habitats a century ago.

Organised by the Castilla-La Mancha regional government and Alto Tajo Nature Park. The initiative is a joint endeavor between Terra Naturalis association and Rewilding Spain. The project involves the reintroduction of the Cinereous vulture with seven individuals recently released after a meticulous seven-month acclimatization period in an aviary. These birds, equipped with GPS transmitters, are now becoming acquainted with their new environment.

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A wind farm project is halting the reintroduction of the bearded vulture in the Maestrazgo.

Environmentalists believe the Maestrazgo is an ideal area for the bearded vulture, but a wind farm project is halting the reintroduction of the bearded vulture in the Maestrazgo for the foreseeable future. Read about the Maestrazgo here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/maestrazgo-global-geopark/

The Foundation for the Conservation of the Bearded Vulture (FCQ), in agreement with environmental authorities, has decided to suspend the release of threatened species in the Maestrazgo region (Teruel) until the size of the planned wind farm is finalized.

The organization is highly critical of this wind farm project, stating that the high risk of collision and death for the vulture species makes it impossible to proceed. This is the first case in Spain where a moratorium has been imposed on a reintroduction project of a threatened species due to incompatibility with a wind turbine field.

Bearded Vulture in flight by Jaume Ventura Nualart
The birds will not be able to avoid the 125 wind turbines in eight municipalities of the Teruel Maestrazgo. Bearded Vulture in flight by Jaume Ventura Nualart (https://www.facebook.com/jaume.ventura.18)
Life Corredores Ibéricos por el Quebrantahuesos project

Founded in 1995, FCQ has successfully brought back the bearded vulture, which in the past century only survived in the wild in the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa, where it now breeds. Their objective with the Life Corredores Ibéricos por el Quebrantahuesos project was to replicate this success in the Sierra de Gredos and the Teruel Maestrazgo. Last year, they released four specimens, two in each area, with plans to continue releasing annually until 2027.

Juan Antonio Gil, general secretary of FCQ, describes the Maestrazgo as one of Spain’s best Mediterranean mountainous areas. He emphasizes its ecological value and suitability for reintroducing the vulture, with abundant resources and minimal threats to the species. Gil criticizes the approval of the megapark without considering these factors.

Almost 9,000 dead animals but the official data is inconsistent

The FCQ study collects official data on fauna mortality in wind complexes. However, they found “uneven levels of transparency” after requesting accident rate information from communities. Detailed reports from Aragon (5,264 birds and bats killed between 2017 and 2022) and Navarra (1,253 deaths in the same period), both with extensive wind installations, contrast sharply with those from Galicia, reporting barely five deaths despite adding nearly the same number of wind turbines as Aragon and Navarra combined in 2021. Some regions did not provide data. In total, the report records 8,823 animal deaths in wind complexes across seven communities in the last five years. The search for these bodies is irregular due to predation.

According to a recent study by two experts from FCQ, reintroducing birds is “incompatible” with turbine installations. After months of analyzing flight patterns and space usage in the Maestrazgo, they found that bearded vultures, along with griffon vultures, could have collided up to 745 times with the projected wind turbines within a year.

The Discord Wind Project

The discord wind project, managed by the company Forestalia, is the country’s largest authorized by the Ministry for Ecological Transition. It consists of 125 wind turbines spread across eight municipalities of the Teruel Maestrazgo, with another fifty projects planned in neighboring regions. These authentic giants, nearly 200 meters from base to blade tip, require access tracks and energy evacuation lines.

Forestalia wind turbines
The company in charge of the project, Forestalia, state some incredible green aspirations on their website with their views of a better renewable future. Its not all “green sailing” though: https://forestalia.com/

The original plan for the so-called Maestrazgo Cluster included the construction of 22 wind farms with a total of 161 turbines and two solar farms. The Spanish ministry for the ecological transition, which was in charge of environmental permitting, left 125 turbines in the project design and eliminated 36. In a previous step, Forestalia, acting in response to public consultation, changed the position of a different group of 36 turbines to lessen the environmental and visual impact and make the most of the wind resource, the company said.

“They want to implement an industrial model with serious repercussions for biodiversity, leading to the loss of other more sustainable activities such as ecotourism. It is a missed opportunity for the species and the region,” says Gil.

The FCQ has already informed the ministry, the Government of Aragon, and the European Commission, upon which all Life programs depend. Gil goes on to explain that the Commission has left the decision in their hands, and if the megapark proceeds, they will have to reconsider whether to continue releasing specimens. Meanwhile, the FCQ plans to redirect the young to the Picos de Europa national park and the Sierra de Gredos, where they will face fewer threats.

The FCQ has filed an official appeal against the discord wind project.

The article “A wind farm project is halting the reintroduction of the bearded vulture in the Maestrazgo” has been translated from the original in Spanish here: https://www.lavanguardia.com/vida/20230724/9128789/parque-eolico-frena-reintroduccion-quebrantahuesos-maestrazgo.html and has also been published (in Spanish) here: https://quebrantahuesos.org/un-parque-eolico-frena-la-reintroduccion-del-quebrantahuesos-en-el-maestrazgo/

Ronda Today

Everything you need to know before you visit Ronda “The city of dreams” in Andalucia. https://www.rondatoday.com/

Visit Cádiz

Planning on visiting Cádiz? Tourist information. Monuments. Hotels. Activities. City guides: https://visitingcadiz.com/

The Caminito del Rey

Find tickets for the Caminito del Rey: https://www.caminodelrey.es/

Wildside Holidays – Spain

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.

Iberia Nature Forum

Struggling with identifying those bugs and beasties? Why not check out the Iberia nature Forum! https://iberianatureforum.com/

The Iberian Imperial Eagle: A Success Story in Conservation

Conservation efforts have been successful in keeping the Iberian Imperial Eagle, A Mediterranean endemic species, from extinction. Between 2021 and 2022, there were 821 pairs in Spain and 20 in Portugal, an increase of 53% since 2017.

(Above photo by Photo by José Antonio Lagier Martin – https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74215438)

The LIFE Imperial project

The Iberian Imperial Eagle Working Group, made up of representatives of environmental agencies from Spain and Portugal and with the advice of experts and specialized entities, has presented the results of the monitoring and conservation work carried out in favor of one of the emblematic species of the Spanish fauna, and the only endemic raptor of the Iberian Peninsula.

Between 2021 and 2022, a minimum of 841 pairs of Iberian Imperial Eagle were recorded, 821 in Spain and 20 estimated in Portugal. This data represents an increase of 53% of the population since 2017, the previous year in which a coordinated census at the Iberian level was compiled, which then offered 536 pairs.

The Iberian Imperial Eagle
The Iberian Imperial Eagle: A Success Story in Conservation – Photo by Baldo Carrillo from the Portuguese Imperial eagle project: https://lifeimperial.lpn.pt/en/
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Finding wildlife photography hides in Spain

Discover the best hide photography opportunities in Spain with our guide to wildlife photography hides. These popular photo hides offer the chance to capture stunning shots of Spain’s most iconic wildlife species, from the comfort of a small, exclusive hide. With capacities for just 2-4 people, reservations are essential to secure your spot. Prices for a day’s photography typically range from €80-€150, with some peak times costing up to €300.

The Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve

One of the finest places to visit in Spain, The Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve has excellent accommodation and spectacular hides to keep birding photographers and wildlife enthusiasts very happy! Nestled in the picturesque province of Salamanca, close to the border with Portugal, this enchanting haven offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the wonders of unspoiled Mediterranean forests, lush meadows, and thriving ecosystems. Read more here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/campanarios-de-azaba-biological-reserve-salmanca/

Check out the accommodation here
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