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Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking Information131Despite its small size, the autonomousregion of Navarra offers starkcontrasts in scenery, from lushlyforested Pyrenean hillsides, broad rivervalleys and towering limestone canyons inthe north, to the plains of the Ebro Rivervalley in the south; the latter enjoying amore Mediterranean influence - a land ofscented maquis, olive groves andvineyards! A visit to this region gives onethe feeling of having stumbled across awell-kept secret, and Navarra offers somefine wildlife habitats, its arid semi-desertsand majestic rock formations, unspoiledwetlands and dense forests all providing ayear-round haven for an impressive diversityof birds. We begin our holiday in the 42,000-hectareBardenas Reales Natural Park, anextraordinary semi-desert landscape ofgullies, rocky outcrops and plateauxsculpted by erosion. This rather surrealgeology provides a splendid backdrop toour excursions within the park, where thesteppes and plains are home to many birdspecies including the shy Dupont's Lark,Stone Curlew, Great and Little Bustards,Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse,and many species of lark (Crested, Thekla,Short-toed, Lesser Short-toed, Calandraand Wood) and wheatears (Black, Black-eared and Northern). The park is also hometo one of the largest populations of GriffonVultures on the Iberian Peninsula.Having explored the dramatic landscapesof Bardenas we head north towards thePyrenees, stopping en route to explore themarshes and grasslands of the serenelybeautiful Laguna de Pitillas, a large salinelake where Bearded Tits and Bittern may befound, plus a host of migratory species inboth the reedbeds and surrounding steppe.A superb variety of birds is found herethroughout the year and by May the air willbe full of bird song. We'll listen for suchsummer visitors as Hoopoe, Turtle Dove,Bee-eater and Nightingale, as well as thesongs of resident birds, all proclaiming theirterritories among the reeds and surroundingwheat fields and woodlands. Egrets, Red-crested Pochard plus other duck speciesare among the many residents we'll findhere, while summer arrivals include Black-necked Grebe, Little Bittern, Purple Heron,the exotic-looking Black-winged Stilt andbirds of prey such as Short-toed andBooted Eagle.Before we leave the Mediterraneanlandscapes of south and central Navarra,we'll sample the excellent wines of the area.Bordering the world-famous Rioja region,the vineyards to the south and north-west ofthe River Ebro form the centre of Navarra'swine industry. Vineyards have been presentin the province since Roman times andNavarra boasts a fine selection of rosés,whites, both young and barrel-aged redwines, as well as sweet wines. As we headnorth we'll visit a couple of these vineyards,and also have plenty of opportunities fortasting a good variety of wines,accompanied by the area's manifoldgastronomic delights!For the remainder of our tour we will focuson the forested limestone gorges anduplands of northern Navarra. TheMediterranean influence of the plains andwine-growing south gives way to extensiveoak and pine forest as we travel northwardstowards our next location, the Foz deLumbier. This spectacular limestone gorge,cloaked in Beech and Holm Oak woodlandand low Mediterranean scrub, is home tosuch species as Blue Rock Thrush, Red-backed and Woodchat Shrikes, Melodious,Subalpine and Bonelli's Warblers, and Cirl,Ortolan and Rock Buntings, while overheadAlpine Swifts, Crag Martins and abundantbirds of prey may be seen. Lower down, inriverside poplar groves, Bee-eaters andGolden Orioles breed, and surroundingfields hold Crested Larks, Thekla Larks andTawny Pipits. Lastly, we'll explore the higher slopes of thenorth-western Pyrenees. Here we will focuson the magnificent Irati Forest, the secondlargest and best-preserved Beech andSilver Fir forest in western Europe.Presenting a vast green mantle of some17,000 hectares of pristine forest, this is avaluable refuge for a wealth of wildlife - aplace where mature trees tower to 40metres, making this a natural paradise forwoodland birds, especially woodpeckers(among them Black and the rare White-backed Woodpecker). Nearby, among therocky summits above the forest,Lammergeiers, Citril Finches, Snowfinchesand Alpine Accentors may all be found,together with Chamois and Alpine Marmotsand an abundance of glorious alpine flora.This tour to Navarra offers you an excitingand varied range of little-explored Europeanhabitats and their associated wildlife, allwashed down with some first-class wines.We're sure you're going to like it as muchas we do!Spain - Birds &Wines of Navarra A 7-day holiday to sample the heady mixture of birdlife and wines found among thedense forests, uplands, steppes, canyons and wetlands of Navarra in northern Spain. Tuesday 14th May - Monday 20th May Cost: £1,195ZARAGOZAIRATI FOREST/ISABAVALTIERRABARDENASREALESLOURDES TOULOUSE ANDORRA BILBAO MADRID ORDESSANATIONAL PARKFRANCE SPAIN Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Zaragoza; transferValtierra.Day 2/3Exploration of BardenasReales, Pitillas and Olitefrom Valtierra.Day 4/6 Exploration of theLumbier Gorge and IratiForest from Isaba.Day 7Transfer Zaragoza; flyLondon.AccommodationComfortable family-run hotels, allrooms with private facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. Easy day walks only.FocusBirds, other wildlife and localwines.LeadersByron Palacios and Julian Gayarre.Single room supplement£150.Web quick search: ESP24Pin-tailed SandgrouseBardenas Reales Natural ParkDupont's Lark

This week-long holiday complementsour 'French Pyrenees' week whichhas proved so popular andsuccessful over the years. In a similarmanner, it is our aim to enjoy the richvariety of birds and plants in the SpanishPyrenees during a series of gentle walksfrom our base. We will be staying in adelightful 300-year-old property situated inthe pretty hilltop village of Berdún, with itsfine views of the Pyrenees, surroundingfoothills, and valleys of the Veral andAragón Rivers. Here, our hosts make usmost welcome, keeping us well fed onwholesome local cuisine, and providing amine of information that would not beavailable on a hotel stay in the region. Thisholiday focuses on both birds and botany,and we will also endeavour to look at andidentify some of the wonderful butterfliesand moths of this region.The Spanish Pyrenees, the southernslopes of the spectacular 450-kilometrebarrier between France and Spain, couldnot be more different from their northern,French, counterparts. Whilst the FrenchPyrenees are wet, green and thicklyforested, the Spanish side is dry, arid andgenerally more Mediterranean, as clearlyindicated by its very different list of plantand bird species. Whilst the Spanish sidealso supports good beech and coniferforests, it is the variety of scrub, maquis,arable farmland, wide river valleys, and the sheer spectacle of the cliffs,canyons and stunning limestone erosions, that so characterise these sunnysouthern slopes.This will be a single-centre holiday basedat Berdún, the most spectacular andtraditional of villages, situated between theAragón and Veral Valleys, in the southernfoothills of the central Pyrenees. Just tothe east is the small, historic town of Jacawith its 15th century fort and an interesting11th century Romanesque cathedral-the first, indeed, to be built in that style.Berdún occupies a truly prime position, forit is so close to so many wonderful andvaried birding and botanical sites, many ofthem within walking distance. During ourstay, we will explore the area aroundBerdún, where the Aragón and VeralValleys, and the spectacular Binies Gorge,are home to an excellent variety oflow-level birds and plants. Bee-eaters,Golden Orioles, Woodchat Shrikes,Crested Larks, Tawny Pipits, PendulineTits, Spotless Starlings, Rock Sparrowsand Ortolan Buntings may all be seen,whilst birds of prey may include Griffonand Egyptian Vultures, Red and BlackKites, and Booted and Short-toed Eagles.We will visit the beautiful Hecho Valley,enjoying the displays of flowers and theirattendant butterflies, and hopefully birdssuch as Alpine and Red-billed Chough,Lammergeier and Citril Finch will be seen;there is even a chance of the elusiveWallcreeper here! We will also explore the hills and limestone outcrops to thesouth, looking for vultures, Black Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush at thespectacular red pinnacles at Riglos, andfor Crested Tit, Rock Bunting and Hoopoeamongst the wonderful scenery around theCastillo de Loarre. We will head to theFrench border and visit the flower-richmeadows around Portalet, an area goodfor raptors, Water Pipit and Rock Thrushtoo. At all these sites we will also beenjoying the wealth of flowers andbutterflies that this area provides.We will end our holiday with a visit to thebeautiful Aisa Valley, situated to the north-west of Jaca. On a gentle walk up thevalley amongst some of the finestPyrenean scenery, we will concentrate onthe birds and plants. Lammergeier, GoldenEagle and Rock Bunting are amongst thebird species most typical of the area, andthe botanists in our party will additionallyfind carpets of gentians and PyreneanButtercups in the valley bottom, andnumerous saxifrages and otherrock-dwelling plants on the scree slopesabove. The Pyrenean race of Chamois alsooccurs here, together with Alpine Marmotand Wild Boar, though being rather shy thelatter are only seen with a little luck.JACAZARAGOZABERDÚNLOURDES TOULOUSE ANDORRA BILBAO MADRID ORDESSA NATIONAL PARK FRANCE SPAIN 132Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Zaragoza andtransfer to Berdún. Day 2/7Berdún. Day 8Fly Stansted.AccommodationA characterful 17th centuryAragonese dwelling, situated in adelightfully unspoilt village. Allrooms have private facilities.Food and wineAll included in the price.GradingDay walks only. Grade B.FocusBirds, plants and butterflies.LeadersGerald Broddelez or Byron Palacios(ornithologist) and Philip Thompson(botanist).Single room supplement£140.ExtensionsArranged on request.Web quick search: ESP16The Spanish PyreneesAn 8-day holiday of birdwatching and botanical walks in the Spanish Pyrenees.Sunday 19th May - Sunday 26th May Cost: £1,295Aisa ValleyQueen of Spain FritillaryLammergeier