Del Atlántico a los Pirineos (un viaje organizado para VENT), 25 Abril - 11 Mayo / Parte IV
From the Atlantic Ocean to the high Pyrenees (a tour for VENT), 25 April - 11 May / Part IV

Next up was the spectacular range of the Picos de Europa, but first we had a night of luxury at the Parador Cervera de Pisuerga. The gardens often host a few Eurasian Bullfinches; this year was no exception, as a pair was building a nest in a tree on the front lawn. On the way to the Picos we stopped and visited a Romanesque church from the twelfth century, San Salvador de Cantamuda, where a Black Redstart sang from the vein on top of the bell tower. Piedrasluengas Pass gave us our first proper view of the ragged snow-capped peaks of the Picos de Europa. From Fuente De we took the cable car up to 1,800 meters where a seemingly barren alpine landscape awaited us. While we saw just 14 species of birds, we added some fantastic quality to our list. Alpine Accentor, Yellow-billed Chough, White-winged Snowfinch, Water Pipit, and the incomparable Wallcreeper all put in appearances for us. Also lounging around the snow fields at the top were Chamois, trying to stay cool. Near Potes we finally caught up with the Middle Spotted Woodpecker and a bonus Green Woodpecker with scope views of both, as well as an unexpected Tawny Owl peering at us from the tangles of a gnarly oak.We took the northward exit out of the Picos via the spectacular La Hermida Gorge. Once we got down to sea level we birded the marshes around Santoña. Here we added several nice shorebirds and waterbirds—Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit, Temminck’s Stint, Ruff, and Common Loon refreshed our memories of some of the birds we had seen already near Doñana. We still had a long haul to the Pyrenees so we were off again.

Text by Brian Gibbons (Victor Emanuel Nature Tours)
Photos: Santi Villa (Spainbirds Nature Tours)

Treparriscos / Wallcreeper

Acentor alpino / Alpine Accentor

Chova piquigualda / Yellow-billed Chough

Gorrión alpino / White-winged Snow Finch

Pico mediano / Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Pico mediano / Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Observando pico mediano / Watching Middle Spotted Woodpecker

Colimbo grande / Great Northern Loon

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