Castile-La Mancha: a world of bird watching
Walkway in a nature reserve in Castile-La Mancha
Spain is one of the best places in Europe to go bird watching. Its location on an important route for migrating birds means it is easy to spot a wide variety of bird life. Every year, many different species of birds choose the Region of Castile-La Mancha to rest or nest. Would you like to witness this wonderful natural spectacle? Then get your binoculars ready.
“They are wonderful because they come out with the dawn, they are brightly coloured, and everywhere… And if you don’t see them, they even sing so that you look.” These are the words of a bird watching enthusiast in Castile-La Mancha. There is no doubt that this region of inland Spain is an important refuge for birds. It has 38 ZEPA (Special Bird Life Protection) areas. Its nature areas are home to more than 200 autochthonous species and provide a stopping point for the great majority of migratory species over the course of the year. Cabañeros, Tablas de Daimiel, the Ruidera Lakes, the Tejera Negra Beech Forest and the Alto Tajo region are a few emblematic areas for bird watching. Not only will you discover the most diverse landscapes, but you will also get to know the vital role played by the birds of prey and water birds to be found in Castile-La Mancha.
A few recommendations
Binoculars, a field guide, comfortable footwear and suitable clothing for the time of year in neutral colours are vital elements if you want to spend a day bird watching. Remember that the animals you will be able to see vary according to the time of year and that the best conditions are during the hours immediately after sunrise and before sunset, especially in spring and summer. You will find observatories and itineraries in many nature reserves, and there are even guided routes available. Make sure you head to tourist offices and visitor centres to get information on all the available activities.
All kinds of landscapes
While you search out these winged animals in Castile-La Mancha you will also have the chance to enjoy a wide range of different landscapes. Cabañeros National Park, for example, is an excellent example of Mediterranean forest. Its trees are home to many different birds such as the black stork, golden eagle, black vulture or black-winged kite. The foothills of the Toledo Mountains and Sierra Morena are also excellent places to see them. Meanwhile, in the forests of the Hayedo de Tejera Negra Nature Reserve or the Alcaraz and Segura Mountains you can see finches, sparrow hawks, greenfinches and tits.
Fluvial systems and wetlands are highly representative of this region. The importance of areas such as the Tablas de Daimiel National Park and the Ruidera Lakes is recognised internationally – they are fundamental for the survival of aquatic bird life. The list of species you can see is long: great-crested grebe, red-crested pochard, mallard, purple heron, black-necked grebe, Eurasian wigeon, cormorant, flamingo, little egret… The lakes in Puebla de Beleña, Pedro Muñoz and Villacañas are other places where they can be seen in abundance.
Canyons, gorges and wild, rocky places are home to many birds, especially birds of prey. In Castile-La Mancha, Egyptian vultures, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, Griffon vultures and kestrels are commonplace in settings such as the Alto Tajo, Río Dulce, Serranía de Cuenca and Sierra de Alcaraz Nature Reserves. Bird watching is one of the most rewarding experiences offered by nature. In the Region of Castile-La Mancha you can see for yourself.