Julian Sykes Wildlife Holidays

Valencia Wildlife Week

The Autonomous Region of Valenica is full of surprises, it isn't just the concrete jungle of the Costa Blanca and Costa Azahar. Just inland from a very productive coastal strip are reed-fringed lakes, karst limestone mountains, pine forests and farmland psuedo-steppe. Each day will be subtlely different and diverse as we head out each day from our base in the small Mediterranean town of Oliva. The week involves visiting the provinces - Valencia with it's wetlands, karst limestone valleys and coastal headlands, Alicante with it's salt pans, red sandstone valleys and sierras to the pseudo-steppe and inland lagoons of Castilla La Mancha. Your 'out of town' accommodation provides an ideal base for reaching these places along with some fabulous birdlife from the grounds with a cool drink on an evening.

One night we stay in the mountains for dinner followed by a visit to a colleagues casita where we hope one of the local Genets will visit the feeding station just metres away from where we will be sitting - potentially one of the highlights of the week .

Prepare to be pleasantly surprised!

Day 1:- After being collected from the airport we will make our way back to Oliva and your lovely new hotel situated just inland from 10Km's of quiet sandy beach. A walk here should produce Audouin's Western Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls. Sandwich Tern and Kentish Plover. The mature gardens that surround the hotel could also yield Serin, Spotless Starling, Sardinian Warbler, Hoopoe and White Wagtail.

Days 2 to 7:-  The next six days will be very different in their content and potential for species to be seen. Each day and site will be selected with thought given to the time of year and local weather conditions. One day will be spent in the local area of Oliva probably starting at the coast where 13Km of golden sands and sea attract good numbers of Balearic Shearwater's, Audouin's & Yellow legged Gulls, Sandwich Tern, and Kentish Plover. We shall visit the excellent Pego Marsh looking for the resident Marsh Harriers, Moustached & Cetti’s Warblers, Little & Cattle Egrets, Purple Gallinule, Kingfisher and Zitting Cisticolas. Next we drive up into the karst limestone mountains behind the town to the impressive and very scenic Vall de Gallinera. Resident Golden Eagles patrol the area being constantly harassed by Red-billed Chough. Eventually we reach the city of Alcoy where we will find the regions only colony of Griffon Vultures. The walk up to the feeding station is through Aleppo Pine forest and we could see Woodlark, Crested, Coal & Great Tit and Crossbill. Another day will be spent in Castilla La Mancha travelling the roads and tracks dissecting a fabulous area of pseudo-steppe. Here our target species are Great Bustard, Black-bellied & Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Stone Curlew, Calandra Lark, and Rock Sparrow. Surprisingly in this barren area there are several seasonal lagoons which are excellent for migrating waterbirds.

Plus there is always a chance of something a little different such as a Great Spotted Cuckoo, Black-eared Wheatear, Short-toed Eagle or Red Kite. One day will be in the south of the region looking for many of it's speciality species. We will visit a small wetland reserve with resident White headed Ducks, Purple Gallinules, Iberian Green Woodpeckers, Little Owl, Southern Grey Shrike, and Sardinian Warblers. Then go the short distance to the 'Santa Pola Salinas', this large area of commercial saltpans hold several thousand Greater Flamingos, various species of gulls & terns, waders and wildfowl all year round. After lunch we visit arguably the region’s premier bird reserve 'El Hondo', notable for its huge numbers of waterbirds. Other species regularly seen here include Booted Eagle, Stone Curlew, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Bearded Tit and Moustached Warbler. This day will also involve a lunch or evening meal near Crevillente, watching a pair of Bonelli's Eagles along with Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla Lark, & Raven.

One day we head north to the Albufera d'Valencia, a huge freshwater lake surrounded by productive ricefields and Moro Marsh to the north of the city. We hope to find many species of heron & egret including Glossy Ibis, and Great White Egret. We shall visit the a tower hide on the edge of the lagoon searching the wildfowl for Red Crested Pochard, Gadwall, Pintail and possibly Ferruginous Duck. The pine trees surrounding the reserve should hold Firecrest, Short toed Treecreeper and Blackcap, with the possibility of a raptor overhead such as Booted Eagle or Osprey. This site holds a few breeding pairs of Marbled Duck and there is always a chance of finding one amongst the lakeside vegetation. Finally we may drive to Moro Marsh the best place for Red-knobbed Coot in the area along with other wetland species.

Day 7:- Depending on flight times we should hopefully be able to visit another coastal site before transporting you to the airport in good time to catch your flight home.

NB The itinerary shown above is only representative and not all the species mentioned will be available at certain times of year. If you have any specific dates or targets please contact us or maybe arrange a Tailor-made Tour to the area.

Based in one of the best hotels in the La Safor area, with the added bonus of some fantastic birdlife in the mature grounds of gardens and orange groves. Your superb traditianally designed roomswith your own balcony and en-suite bath/shower room. Evening meals will be mostly in the hotel's restaurant with the possibility of one while watching an active Bonelli's Eagle eyrie - another fabulous experience.

What's been said...

, Many thanks for a great week. We both came home very happy with the lifers we amassed; and the juv Spanish Imperial Eagle was as good as a new one, to see it soaring above us for 20 mins plus was an unforgetable experience - the icing on the cake! Hopefully see you again soon


Thankyou for your assistance during our brief stay, our task of finding our target birds would have been almost impossible without it. Mrs Sykes senior was a perfect and caring host, and we were made most welcome. We will definatley look at using your excellent expertise again if your are able. Failed to locate birding area close to Gran Alicant, but a blind man with a chair leg could find the salinas alongside the N332, these added Grey Plover, Slender billed Gull, Greenshank, Greater Flamingo and Common Redshank to our trip list. You displayed a top rate ability to locate and identify birds, as well as being very good company for 9hrs when out for a proper full days birding. Thankyou very much for a great two days, best of luck. Not withstanding the economic downturn, will ask to use your services again, if you will help us again!

W. & S. Foster

Just a quick note at this stage to say thank you for such a wonderful holiday. It was just the break I'd hoped for and needed. The company and birdwatching was superb.

D & H Clarke

Many thanks for another wonderful trip; the Red-necked Nightjars were just sensational - bird of the trip, for me. I've seen Honey Buzzards before but not 22 in one day! So many quality moments packed into four superb days. Just itching to come back and get that Moustached Warbler

J. Thorogood

Hi mate, just letting you know we are home safe and well, and thanking you very much once again for a great time you showed us both birdwatching. Please thank Jill for us and also give her our love. I will keep in touch and we hope to join you again in the not too distant future. All the very best once again (even if you are from bloody Yorkshire!).

J & J Murray

Brilliant area, great birds and excellent local knowledge from Jules, since he managed to find me all my target species. SUPERB.

D. Starkey

We've had a fantastic time (again). It's always great to use your knowledge of the area, and the champagne was a lovely thought, thank you.

G & G Smith

Thank-you once again for a great trip, and thanks for the photo's mate they look great in my report, could I be cheeky and asked for the other picture of Eagle owl that appears in your diary too. Best of luck for the trip or if I missed you and you've already been I hope it was a success. Thank you once again as it was you that made it.

J Starie


Cost £1250
Based on sharing a twin/double room.

Single Supplement - £100
Deposit - £200
Maximum Group Size - 6

Price Includes:

  • 7 nights accommodation with en-suite facilities
  • All meals
  • All transport costs
  • Information pack
  • Daily check list
  • Use of field guides & maps

Price does not Include:

  • Flight to Alicante or Valencia
  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Extra refreshments to normal meal times
  • Travel & contents insurance
  • Items of personal nature
  • Tips/gratuities

Flights are not included in the prices quoted, however we are more than happy to help with finding suitable flights.

Train Travel - Train travel possible

14th - 21st April 2018
22nd - 29th April 2018

(see icon guide)

Highlights -

  • Fabulous wildlife in different habitats along the Med.
  • Coastal wetlands for waders, terns and gulls galore
  • Inland limestone valleys with Golden Oriole, Bee-eaters and Wryneck
  • Lunch or evening meal under an active Bonelli's Eagle nest
  • Psuedo-steppe for both bustards and both sandgrouse plus larks etc.
  • Night visit to a mountain casita for Genet

Target Species:

  • Black-necked Grebe
  • Balearic Shearwater
  • Squacco Heron
  • Purple Heron
  • Great White Egret
  • Little Bittern
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Marbled Duck
  • White headed Duck
  • Red-knobbed Coot
  • Griffon Vulture
  • Montagu's Harrier
  • Bonelli's Eagle
  • Golden Eagle
  • Short toed Eagle
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Lesser Kestrel
  • Purple Gallinule
  • Great Bustard
  • Little Bustard
  • Stone Curlew
  • Collared Pratincole
  • Slender billed Gull
  • Audouin's Gull
  • Gull-billed Tern
  • Whiskered Tern
  • Pin tailed Sandgrouse
  • Blk bellied Sandgrouse
  • Little Owl
  • Scop's Owlr
  • Bee-eater
  • Golden Oriole
  • Roller
  • Wryneck
  • Ibe. Green Woodpecker
  • Alpine Swift
  • Pallid Swift
  • Calandra Lark
  • Short toed Lark
  • Lesser Short toed Lark
  • Thekla Lark
  • Black Wheatear
  • Black eared Wheatear
  • Moustached Warbler
  • Savi's Warbler
  • Great Reed Warbler
  • Melodious Warbler
  • Sub-alpine Warbler
  • Dartford Warbler
  • Western Bonelli's Warbler
  • Firecrest
  • Red-billed Chough
  • Rock Sparrow
  • Cirl Bunting
  • Genet
  • Red Squirrel
  • Iberian Hare
  • Serotine Bat
  • Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat

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