Meet at the Plymouth Ferryport where we catch the 1645 sailing to Spain. A 2-berth cabin is provided and upgrades are available as detailed below. Once on board, our marine Guide, Paul Burley, will have a chat with you about the crossing and the possible sightings. Enjoy the cruise , it’s very much part of the holiday.We will be crossing the English channel and on to the Bay of Biscay where we will be looking out for some of the Pelagic seabirds such as Manx shearwater and possible Great skua among the more regular seabirds that can be seen at this time of the year. It is at this time in the Bay of Biscay that we often see good numbers of Fin whales and Common dolphins and possibly the Cuvier’s beaked whale. Striped dolphins, Pilot whales and Bottlenose dolphins are regularly seen along with the possibility of Sperm whales and Sowerby’s beaked whales.
On Monday we reach Santander at 1400 and meet our Spanish Guide, Javier Gil Vaquero, at the port where the coach awaits. We set off southwards through Cantabria and La Rioja and thus into Navarra. We check into the 3* Hotel Alfaro in Alfaro for three nights on half-board with wine. On our daily outings we will be supplied with a packed lunch.
Before dinner, we will have enough time to visit the colony of storks at the “Colegiata de San Miguel”. This colony is made up of a hundred stork settled on the roof of this Baroque temple, built between the 16th and 17th centuries, and which has a special plan for their maintenance, in order to the birds return each year to the municipality after spending the autumn and winter in Africa.
This is the biggest colony in the world located in a single building and an amazing place to be visited just with a short walk from the hotel.
On Tuesday our location is The Bardenas Reales Natural Park
The Bardenas Reales is one of only a few dry deserts in Europe and is definitely the most impressive of them all. There are several unique geological formations and some lovely landscapes. Occupies an area of 42,000 hectares and is situated in the southeast corner of Navarre along the border with Aragon.
We will visit the White Bardena. This is the central plain of the park and the one that is most desert-like. It is characterized by deep gorges and white ground, due to the large presence of of salt. This area is one of the best places in Spain to find as special birds as Black Bellied Sandgrouse, Pint-Tailed Sandgrouse, Black Weathear, Dupont´s Lark, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Lesser Short Toed Lark, Thekla´s Lark, Iberian Grey Shrike, Rock Thrush, Short-Toed Lark, Tawny Pipit, Black-Eared Wheatear...etc
On Wednesday we’ll be Birding in the Pitillas Lagoon and surroundings.
This natural area, is a Nature Reserve, a Special Protection Area for Birds and a Wetland of International Importance, which gives an idea of its exceptional environmental value. The nature reserve offers shelter to around a hundred species, which represent almost a third of those that can be observed in Navarre, and this makes it the second most important natural reservoir in Navarre in terms of the diversity of nesting birds.
But not only the lagoon is an interesting place in the area. All the easy walks in the surroundings with scrubs and some trees bring the best environment for the nesting of hundred species of birds. In May, all of them defend their breeding territories by using defensive calls and display courtship behaviour to attract the mates. This is the best moment to find all of them.
The most interesting birds in Spring are: Cattle Egret, White Stork, , Skylark, Cetti´s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Dartford Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Western Orphean Warbler, Western Bonellis Warbler Firecrest, Bearded Reeding, Penduline Tit, Red-Billed Chough, Rock Sparrow, Cirl Bunting, Purple Heron, Little Bustard, Black-Winged Stilt, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Bee Eater, Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Kestrel, Alpine Switf, , Iberian Chifchaf, and some raptors like Golden Eagle Grifon Vulture Black KIte, Egyptian Vulture, Short Toed Eagle, , Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Montagu´s harrier . A paradise for all kinds of birders!
We leave the hotel on Thursday but before we get on the road there'll be a short stroll in the area to have a final look at the activity before setting off to Santander where we once more board the Pont-Aven for our 1545 sailing to England. We will then be sailing through the Bay of Biscay to once more look for birds and cetaceans.
We spend our last day sailing through the waters west of the French coast and on to the English channel where we will be looking for more Pelagic seabirds, Common dolphins, Harbour porpoise and Minke whale.
Friday 21st May. - We reach Plymouth at 1045 this morning.
Ferry crossing with 2-berth;transport in Spain;three nights 3* hotel accommodation with breakfast and dinner with wine; two packed lunches;English and Spanish experts to guide your visit.
Single supplement £120 (Room and cabin)
Meeting point : Plymouth Ferryport