Birdwatching in the Aracena is a pleasure with the close proximity to the declared Biosphere Reserve “Dehesa de Sierra Morena” since 2002 and part of the Red Natura 2000 network the park was first declared an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is now a Special Bird Area (SBA / ZEPA). More than 170 different species of birds can be observed in the Park and a bird guide book has been written specifically on the birds in the park. It is a comprehensive guide to the species and habitats although currently only available in Spanish. The relatively benign climate, the chestnut plantations, the dehesa and the plentiful allotments and small holdings all contribute to provide ideal conditions from the Robin to the Golden Eagle making bird watching superb all year round. The park is wakening up to the fact that nature lovers and birders will travel far and wide to catch a glimpse of a bird they cannot easily spot elsewhere and are developing specific bird watching routes around the park. Angel has attended several informative sessions on the subject and as you can imagine we are trying our best to get up to speed on this fascinating area. As accommodation providers in the park we are part of the network set up to encourage visitors to come to our area and enjoy the diversity of bird life the area offers. San Marcos gardens will have bird boxes and feeders dotted around, the guide books will be on hand as will binoculars in the hope that something interesting will come along. All those bodies around the pool may just well attract a visitor or 2!
Of special interest are the endangered black vultures (107 pairs at last count) that reside here all year round. Their breeding ground is in the SBA protected area of the Sierra Pelada which is virtually inaccessible, however it is possible to access Las Contiendas through prior arrangement where controlled carcasses are left for feeding. And the black stork which usually arrives mid february to reproduce leaving again by September. There are about 20 pairs that return to the park and after the reproduction maintain the postnuptial rituals at the end of August where about 15 – 20 birds congregate at the edges of the reservoirs or at certain shallow river edges. Other interesting observation areas are the riberas (an hours stroll along the ribera de Alájar offers the opportunity to observe a wide variety of birds all year round as do all the other ribera walks within the park) the 2 reservoirs are both accessible for the largely aquatic species, the song birds are rife in the chestnut plantations and dehesas and the higher peaks offer us the opportunity for the raptors and other larger birds. We mustn’t forget our very own storks way up on the church tower which can be viewed from the front of La Posada and from the gardens of San Marcos.
While working hard at San Marcos getting it ready for opening this spring (2011) we have seen the swifts dipping in and out of the pool, the nightingales merrily singing away (night and day according to the neighbours), the stork came to suss us out and we even briefly saw an azure winged magpie heading down towards the rivera. A golden Oriole peeked out of the cork oaks behind us and the cuckoo certainly makes himself heard. We have been amazed at the deafening chorus of song all through the day and their joyful sounds have certainly helped us get through the arduous task of cement removal! We often see Bee Eaters sitting on the telephone wires on the way to Aracena as a new colony has just begun outside Fuenteheridos and there is a growing colony of falcons in Fuenteheridos too.
Should anyone wish to venture further afield then the Doñana National Park is just a 90 minute drive away.
Guided excursions can be organized with a minimum of 2 people and a maximum of 6 .
Depending on the time of year and what you are most interested in observing we can put together a series of walks/routes suitable both for complete beginners or more experienced birders. These routes aim to provide an opportunity to observe a variety of different species in their habitats. The walks will be guided by a leading, international ornithologist (English speaker) with many years experience and expert knowledge of the birds in the Sierra de Aracena. Naturally wild flowers from early March through to June add to the enchantment of your bird spotting and in Autumn we can combine observation with the hunt for wild mushrooms.
Days of the excursions are flexible, starting at 9.00 am untill 16.00-17.00 pm,with a possibility to start earlier for the early birds and during the hotter months. So why not include some birdwatching in the Aracena Natural Park and enjoy the experience on your doorstep.