General Info


Some members of the Bishops Stortford Bird group, (David Arch, Tony Moverley, Roy Goodacre, David Sampson, Stephen Patmore, Mark Hows and Andy Sapsford) flew with Ryanair to Zaragoza, the flight times are late morning returning early afternoon which only gives two full days and two half days birding. We hired cars National Ateza from Carjet organized in the UK. These were picked up right outside the terminal this was quite quick and we were out birding very quickly.


Saturday 18th June


From the airport we drove towards the area south east of Zaragoza along the A2 / E90 picking up Southern Grey shrike, black kites and white storks and a few bee eaters along the road. We came off at Osera and headed to a part of the plains north of Osera, turn towards Monegrillo. We quickly encountered black eared wheatears, woodchat shrike and a few bee eaters along the road. We then turned onto the track at the substation, and headed into the plains area. We stopped in a suitable area on top a small hill past the farm buildings. We walked around finding several Short toed larks and some Lesser short toed larks in a small ploughed area. Stone curlew and quail were also seen on the field and a few Thelka larks were conspicuous in the scrub. Dartford and subalpine warblers were in the scrub, northern wheatear along the road and several choughs flying around. We drove a little further almost halfway to the disused barn on the left. We left the car for some small larks, which were short toed, the other side of the road held a dupontís lark which was easily seen although ran down the small scrub bushes, there was possibly another bird with it. A brief search could not relocate them. We carried up to the disused farm, house sparrows and spotless starlings were here along with a couple of spiny footed lizards. We headed back to Zaragoza and then north towards Jaca where we were staying.


The road trip produced white storks, black kites, buzzards and kestrels. The most unusual bird was a coot on a small piece of water the only one of the trip. The hills halfway produced booted eagles, griffon vultures and an Egyptian vulture. Two ostriches in a roadside field provided some amusement.

We arrived at Jaca and found the Hotel Canfranc where we were staying, the view was excellent and we had hobby, serin and swifts from the balcony. We had a short walk to a restaurant by the citadel. After dinner we walked round the citadel we were unable to locate any scopís owls on our circuit. At the south end we lost one of the party and spread out to find him, the road I went down had several scopís owls calling one was flushed from the track. I located the rest of the group and we returned and heard several and pinned one down to a tree but could not see it. We headed back to the hotel where a scopís owl was calling from the local trees.


Sunday 19th June


The area behind the hotel produced griffon vulture and black kite along with several nightingales and quail singing. We headed off early to San Juan de la Pena. We parked in the car park and walked through the woods here we had great spotted woodpeckers, crested and coal tits and firecrests. Away from the thick woods we had citril finches calling in the trees but could not locate them, several bonelliís warblers. This area was particularly good for butterflies. Back in the woods there were lots of nuthatches were very conspicuous. A short toed treecreeper showed very well. The open area around the monastery provided Egyptian vultures, red kites over and several black redstarts on the fences. We could not find any black woodpeckers anywhere in the woods. The road down the hill held a large number of Griffon vultures that were leaving the cliffs as the sun warmed them.




Griffon Vultures


We headed into the mountains stopping at Binies river bridge, here we had lots of butterflies along with garden warbler, nightingale, great reed warbler, blackcap, white wagtail and many other common species. We headed up the gorge brief views of blue rock thrush was the highlight. Just north of Anso we had an unfortunate run in with a large rock and the lead car was undriveable. We contacted the relevant people and a tow truck was on the way. Here we had short toed and golden eagles. The lead car and its contents went to Hecho the other car headed further up the valley. While waiting for a replacement car the Hecho valley was watched, egyptian vultures, red kites, griffon vultures were common. The river held grey wagtails and the churchyard iberian grenn woodpecker. The second car encountered large numbers of alpine choughs, griffon vultures and alpine swifts on its way up to Zurita.0 The second car stopped on the pass between the Anso and Hecho valleys a Lammergier was picked up amongst the griffon vultures. The groups met up in Hecho and the personnel changed and the car headed up the echo valley the birds were similar to the Anso valley although a red backed shrike was seen briefly. The personnel was again changed and the car headed back to Jaca, booted eagle was of note. Back in Jaca a walk around the Citadel for rock sparrows proved very successful with over a dozen individuals being located along with a couple of bee eaters and numerous swifts nesting in the walls.

Some of the group had to return to Hecho to sort out the new car, quail was seen on the road. Those who stayed in Jaca searched for scopís owl near the citadel some were heard but none seen. There were two calling near the hotel.


Monday 20th June


We were heading for the Ordesa National park, but decided to make an early morning stop somewhere to find some scrub / farmland we picked a turn off the N260 and parked up. The place was the Olivan fish farm, it was ideal, it had farmland, scrub, fish farm, poplar plantations, river the first birds encountered were golden orioles then iberian long tailed tits we walked through the tracks to the fish farm nightingales and bullfinches and black kites were found here. The old farm building had rock and house sparrows. We crossed the road and headed into the scrub, more nightingales and several sub alpine warblers and a melodious warbler were showing well in the scrub. Stonechats were common and a male cirl bunting in full song was found. There were large numbers of herons around obviously using the fish farm as an easy meal.

We headed up to the visitors centre (Casa Olivan) red backed shrike on the way. We had a quick look around the visitor centre and got some info on Lammergier. We found lots of butterflies in the car park and its immediate vicinity.



Fritillary Species


The cliffs above had griffon vultures and a lammergier was located flying around the cliffs before it landed giving good views though a little distant. We headed up the valley to the car park and from here walked up the steep hill to the south; this although giving excellent views only gave a few common woodland birds. It would have been better to walk up the river but the coach of school children put us off. We headed back to the visitor centre and had excellent views of lammergier and a large numbers of butterflies, black woodpecker was heard but could not be located, a few alpine chough were around the cliffs but not much else of note. We headed back towards our first stop of the day at Olivan, stopping briefly for bonelliís eagle.




View from the hills south of car park


We again visited the Olivan fish farm first by the river for crag and sand martins, common sandpiper and grey wagtails, then into the wood and open area around the scout camp we had blackcap, Iberian green woodpecker, and spotted flycatcher. The scrub again held melodious warblers, sub alpine warblers, dartford warbler, cirl bunting, rock sparrows, stone chat and all the other species we had that morning. We had a black kite carrying a fish which after landing it proceeded to eat, although harassed by magpies.


Tuesday 21st June


Having checked out of the hotel the previous evening we made an early start and headed for the plains south east of Zaragoza the area North and North east of Belchite. We took the road from Quinto towards Codo and Belchite.

The first stop was a disused building, here several little owls, black eared and northern northern wheatears, stone curlew, crested, lesser and greater short toed larks and large numbers of calandra larks in the surrounding fields. Other roadside stops produced more larks of all four species, tawny pipits and more little owls as well as black kites and white storks using the sprinklers to good effect. We took the first El Planeron reserve track, more of the same birds, we turned off to the left towards the reservoir which we could not locate, but did pick up some sandgrouse in flight towards the other track. We headed back to the road and went down the second track, black eared wheatears were easily picked up along with more tawny pipits. Further down the track pin tailed and black bellied sandgrouse were by the trackside and on the track, at least 20 odd of each species, allowed good views. The farm building had a hoopoe and a southern grey shrike on the wires. We located reservoir which was bone dry hence not spotting it earlier but there obviously was not much there. We headed down to Codo there is a reserve with hides overlooking reedbeds, a moorhen was present here and an orphean warbler was seen briefly in the olive groves along with a woodchat shrike. We headed north to La Lomanza a brief spectacled warbler, rock sparrows and pin tailed sandgrouse were present during a short stop before heading back to the airport.




El Planeron




Directions and more info on the birding sites can be found in the following books


Finding Birds in Northern Span, Dave Gosney Ė Gostours ISBN 1 898110 15 8 Ė Useful but a little out of date.


Where to watch birds in North and East Spain, Michael Rebane Ė Helm ISBN 0 7136 4700 0 Ė Very useful.


We used the AA road map Pyrenees, Catalonia and Balearic Islands Ė ISBN 0-7495-3765-5 -

A slightly more detailed map would have been useful but we managed.

Species List


Birds 96




White Stork

Grey Heron


Griffon vulture

Egyptian vulture

Golden eagle

Short toed eagle

Booted eagle

Bonelliís eagle

Red kite

Black kite





Red legged partridge


Pin tailed sandgrouse

Black bellied sandgrouse


Scops Owl


Alpine Swift


Bee eater

Iberian Green Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Crested Lark

Thekla Lark

Calandra Lark

Short toed lark

Lesser Short toed Lark

Dupontís Lark

Sand Martin

Crag Martin

House Martin


Tawny Pipit

White Wagtail

Grey Wagtail




Black Redstart


Black eared Wheatear


Blue rock thrush



Orphean Warbler


Subalpine warbler

Dartford Warbler

Great Reed Warbler

Melodious Warbler

Bonelliís Warbler


Garden Warbler

Spectacled Warbler


Spotted Flycatcher

Blue Tit

Coal Tit (ssp ater)

Crested Tit

Long Tailed Tit (ssp irbii)


Short toed treecreeper

Woodchat Shrike

Red Backed Shrike

Southern Grey Shrike




Alpine Chough


Spotless Starling

Golden Oriole

House Sparrow

Tree Sparrow

Rock Sparrow







Cirl Bunting


Corn Bunting


Common Sandpiper


Black Winged Stilt

Stone Curlew

Little Owl

Common Sandpiper



Heard Only 2


Black Woodpecker

Citril Finch





Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians 8



Red Squirrel

Marsh Frog

Common Toad

Spiny-footed Lizard

Slow Worm

Lizard sp

Bat sp




Butterflies 38



Scarce Swallowtail


Clouded Yellow

Large Tortoiseshell


Black Veined White

Southern Orange Tip


Dark Green Fritillary

Heath Fritillar

Silver-washed Fritillary

High Brown Fritillary

Provencal Fritillary

Chestnut Heath

Violet Fritillary y

Small Copper

Wall Brown

Small Skipper

Red-underwing Skipper

Marbled White

Wood White

Small White

Large White

Ilex Hairstreak

Green Hairstreak

Southern White Admiral

Common Blue

Green-underside Blue

Idas Blue

Reverdin's Blue

Holly Blue


Small Tortoiseshell


Brown Argus

Large Skipper

The Dryad


Plus Many more unidentified species