Spanish Birds of Prey Make a Killing in Valencia This is a guest post by UK expat birdwatcher Martin Teasdale. The rugged mountainous terrain in the Valencia region and its remaining Mediterranean pine forest make an ideal habitat for birds of prey and I am lucky, as I like to photograph these birds, and also as I live in the area and have done for over twenty years. Although I have been photographing this type of bird for less than twenty years I have spent alot of time walking in and exploring the mountains and whilst I am not a real expert I do have a lot of local knowledge. Dark Booted Eagle If you like birds of prey, Valencia is an ideal place to visit. I am not referring the capital or the province which both have the same name but the region as a whole. It is an area that is comprised of three provinces: Castellon,Valencia and Alicante. It’s mountainous and varied terrain makes it ideal habitat for all types of raptors. Short toed eagle One of the most common species here are of course the kestrel and then also the sparrowhawk. Both can be seen relatively easily. In terms of eagles, the most common is probably the short toed eagle which specialises in reptile hunting and populates large parts of this Mediterranean area as it takes advantage of the rocky and dry mountains where reptiles are aplenty. Almost whenever I go out on the mountain I see examples of this magnificent eagle. Booted eagle The booted eagle is also a reasonably common inhabitant of Valencia and I have spent many happy hours watching them hunt above forests in the west of Valencia province. Here they are normally white with black trimmings on the wings but can also be dark brown/mottled in colour. They typically hunt pigeons and mountain thrush in the areas where I see them, and almost any medium sized bird in general. Being of such diverse flora and fauna, Valencia offers the opportunity as ideal habitat to all types of birds. Consequently it is also relatively easy to see Golden Eagles which increasingly live in accessible places as they are pushed out of their wilder mountain top habitats by wind turbines. And in the drier areas, the Bonelli Eagle is one of the most prized residents. Although relatively scarce, they can be found along the Murcia/Alicante border and in Castellon. And at this time of year the normally very shy and difficult to see Goshawks can occasionally be spotted doing their courtship flights over forested valleys and mountains. Other birds of prey that I have personally spotted are: Pallid Harrier, Red Kite, Black Kite, March Harrier and of course the Peregrine falcon which is common in the more remote mountain gorges and valleys. Although access to these remote areas is sometimes difficult it is well worth it. Some of The Spanish Thyme Traveller tours in this part of Spain offer the opportunity to see some of these birds in their natural and beautiful habitat. Amongt other inhabitants we also get Vultures and Egyptian Vultures, although the later tend to more in Teruel and Cuenca, and the northern part of Aragon. What is a shame is that the pressures of urban growth, persecution by hunting estates and pigeon fanciers has meant that the population of these birds is perhaps not at a level it should be. However, it is amazing to see these birds in their natural habitat with their majestic flight and their acrobatic abilities. Good weather almost year round means that some of these birds (golden eagles, peregrines) can be seen almost at any time. Others such as the Short Toed and the Booted eagles are migratory and can be seen from the end of April until September. And of course,it is not just birds of prey that inhabit this great region. But the diversity of birds is amazing; from golden oriols to nightjars. From the blue rock thrush to the red rumped swallows.The amount of species is what makes this area so special. The Valencia countryside is unique and has something to offer all year. See for yourself!