ABOUT US - SURFBIRDS REPORT. Ed booked a full birding trip with us in August. He was looking for 4 lifers: Citril finch, Eagle Owl, Red avadavat and Spanish Imperial Eagle (only around 150 pairs worldwide) as target species. We had a fantastic day.

Ed: "I spent a week in Madrid with my family and booked a one day trip with Birding in and around Madrid  as the highlight of my visit. The city and it's surrounding area holds a fantastic variety of habitat and birds to match. I read with great interest the article on Madrid by an American birder, Howard Youth of Bethsheda, Maryland and used this as a backdrop for birding around the city limits. I met this guys at my hotel. They had singled out four areas to try for my lifers.

Group of Great Bustards (Otis tarda)
[1] Guadarrama Range Mountains: This area proved very productive and we quickly found my first target bird Citril Finch drinking at a stream. Overhead were Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Common Raven, Alpine Swift, Kestrel, Black Kite, Peregrine Falcon brookeri, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, and a flock of 30+ Chough. We then took a walk along the stream and found Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Chaffinch, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Bluethroat, Wheatear. Moving a slight distance away by car we stopped at a car park where we observed Common Stonechat, Blackbird, Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit and Crested Tit. Further along the road we came across Woodchat Shrike, Common Magpie, Eurasian Jay, Jackdaw and Rock Bunting near a stream. After two hours of intense birding we stopped for lunch before beginning phase two of our plan.
[2] El Pardo Reserve: It's hard to believe that this site is only a few Km from the center of Madrid but because a large part of it is protected, it enjoys a wealth of birdlife. However in 37 degrees celsius in August birds can be hard to find even my guides felt the heat uncomfortable and they are locals! After a wait of 10 min a Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti) landed on a electricity stanchion about 150mt away and we were able to get superb views of this bird, using the scope, a second lifer for me. Once again it proved productive picking up Cattle Egret, European Bee-eater, Pallid Swift, Common Swift, Black-eared Wheatear, Azure-winged Magpie, Spotless Starling, Serin, Black and Griffon Vulture.

[3]  Madrid north-east plains: This is an area of agricultural plain with a small stream which adds to the habitat diversity. Once again the heat was intense and the possibility of seeing anything looked small but again I was amazed at what we found. Local knowledge is everything as they say and this was soon apparent. We turned off into a rough track and picked up several species, Rock Sparrow, Tawny Pipit, Montagu's Harrier, Common Buzzard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crested Lark, Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Southern Grey Shrike meridionalis, Common Linnet, Tree Sparrow and for me the highlight of this location was seeing a female and juvenile Great Bustard at very close quarters before they flew off. Goldfinches and House Sparrows were everywhere and as we were leaving we got a quick glimpse of a Lesser Kestrel. Before moving on to our final destination we stopped for some well earned refreshment and as we were pulling into a café area two Red-legged Partridges flew across the road. A Turtle Dove was on a telephone wire nearby.
[4] South-east lagoon: Evening was drawing in as we approached this area of natural marshland in south-east Madrid and the heat was diminishing, which was very welcome. There is a view point at the southern end of the marsh, from where you get excellent views over the marsh and the area surrounding it. Here we saw Purple Swamp-hen, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Common Coot, Moorhen, White Stork, Green Sandpiper, Sand Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Alpine Swift, Peregrine Falcon, Black Wheatear, Cetti's Warbler,Shoveler and Mallard.Several Marsh Harriers were in the vicinity and one flushed a Hoopoe from it’s roost. We scanned the reeds for Red Avadavats but in vain, however just before nightfall my last target species did appear. Aitor heard the call of an Eagle Owl and wthin a minute had located the bird sitting on the edge of the escarpment. A brilliant ending to a fantastic day's birding especially when you consider the time of year.
TESTIMONIAL : I would like to thank thus guys for being such good company, friendly, witty and knowledgeable. I have no hesitation in recomending them to anyone visiting Madrid and who wishes to see all the key species around the city and beyond. In all we saw 71 species in a single day in and around the city, in August, remarkable. Madrid certainly lived up to it’s reputation as possibly the best city in Europe to go birding in. I can only imagine what it would be like if you visited the area in Spring."


El Pardo reserve is located 13Km northern Madrid city, close to the Manzanares river. The reserve is named El Monte de el Pardo, and its mostly covered by mediterranean forest. It's a wildlife area so close to the city but remains wild for centuries.  It's considered national patrimony, where unfortunatelly, the entrance is forbidden to public people (because it´s a royal property), but, hopefully birds don´t know about royal walls and privilegies...

Incredible, few pairrs of Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti, are listed in El Pardo reserve. This large bird of prey is located only in Spain, and it is one of the worldwide most birds of prey at risk, with about 180 pairs worldwide, 24-29 listed in Madrid Province.

Spanish Eagle online website: click here

El Pardo forest is considered the most important "Mediterranean forest ans scrub" of Madrid's province, and one of the best of all Europe. There are 120 birds catalogated, many of them located only in Spain. Depending on the season, it's possible to observe raptors such as: Eurasian Black vulture, Griffon vulture, Egyptian vulture, Golden eagle, Bonelli's eagle, Short-toed eagle or Spanish imperial eagle. 

Reed deer, fellow deer and wild boar are often seen
Also, it is possible to observe mammals as: deer, wild boar or faloow deer, among other birds like rock bunting, azure-winged magpie, bee-eater, golden oriole, roller, kingfisher, treecreaper, iberian shrike  or stone curlew.
Rock bunting



Last December, it was a "hotty" (8ºC), sunny and brightly day in Madrid Province. A group of amateur birdwatchers including Juan Rivero, Loreto, Ignacio and I decided to visit some of the madrilean south eastern marshes.

Our first target was the PURPLE SWAMPHEN, and very luckely we found 4 of them, for a long time view.

Here it´s possible to see our sightseeing spot, on the top of a hill near the lagoon. 

Birds that can be seen here: purple swamphen, black wheatear, eagle owl, peregrine, white stork, western marsh harrier, kingfisher, shoveler, hoopoe, little bittern, merlin, red-crested grebe, little grebe and others...