March 5, 2021

The best places to observe wildlife in Spain


“May the wolf live where it can and where it should live, so that the beautiful howls of the wolf will not stop being heard on Spanish nights”, said Feliz Rodríguez de la Fuente. We follow in the footsteps of the charismatic naturalist from Burgos to find the best corners where today, 40 years after his death, we can enjoy the most characteristic wild fauna of the Iberian Peninsula.

We travel to protected natural spaces where the most emblematic and threatened species are still visible, not without some misgivings. Bears, wolves, lynxes, deer, cetaceans or a multitude of birds are there, in their natural habitat, ready for us to enjoy their observation under the most rigorous respect. A task that is not always easy, but that with patience, good binoculars and the help of an expert guide can offer us an experience that is difficult to forget, both for adults and children.

We are fortunate that Spain is the European country with the largest number of spaces declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, with 15 National Parks and a good number of well-differentiated habitats. This and the conservation efforts mean that we only have to search a little to find the wild animals in their home, be it forests, mountains, pastures, seas, cliffs or skies.

Where to see bears in Spain

Knowing how, in Spain it is possible to find the elusive brown bear. A species that is on the way to recovery after being on the verge of extinction at the end of the 20th century and whose territory is concentrated in the central area of ​​the Cantabrian Mountains, between León and Asturias. To observe them, the Somiedo and Fuentes de Narcea natural parks are the most suitable places, since this is where their population is greatest, hovering around 280 specimens today. The Brown Bear Foundation takes care of its recovery and will be of great help to carry out a correct observation of this plantigrade, as well as to resort to specialized companies that can guide you in your exploration. The best time to find them is between the months of April and September.

Where to see wolves in Spain

Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente would like to know that on Spanish nights you can continue to hear the beautiful howl of the wolf, you just have to know where to go to look for it. The Iberian wolf’s relationship with humans has always been compromised, it has been persecuted to the point of almost ending it a few decades ago and today it only lives in a third of its former territories. With the invaluable help of experts, today you can see the mythical Iberian wolf in the Sierra de la Culebra, in Zamora, as well as in the Cantabrian mountain range and in Picos de Europa. Contact with ASCEL, the Association for the Conservation and Study of the Iberian Wolf, will be of great help to you to better know the canis lupus signatus.

Where to see lynxes in Spain

The Iberian lynx is another of ‘the greats of Spain’. It is one of the most threatened felines in the world but, after touching its disappearance, it can be said that today the Iberian lynx is recovering from the brink of extinction. Twenty years of work and a successful reintroduction program have multiplied the number of lynxes that inhabit Spain and Portugal by nine, and if in 2002 there were less than 100 specimens, now there are more than 800 living in freedom in the Iberian Peninsula. So the lynx pardinus it has gone from being ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’. Through specialized companies they can be found in the Doñana National Park and in the Cardeña y Montoro natural park, in Córdoba. You can learn more about his recovery through Iberlince.

Where to see deer in Spain

The deer is one of the largest mammals in Spain that is easier to locate. In fact, the bellowing is a spectacle that every year between September and October can be found in many parts of the country. It is not difficult to see them in the Montes de Toledo and the Cabañeros National Park, in Castilla-La Mancha; in the Sierra de San Pedro or the Monfragüe National Park, in Extremadura; in the Reserva del Saja, in Cantabria; in the Sierra de Cameros de La Rioja; in the Picos de Europa National Park, in Asturias; in the Doñana National Park, the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas Natural Park, the Hornachuelos Natural Park or the Alcornocales Natural Park, in Andalusia; in the Sierra de la Culebra or the Montaña Palentina Natural Park, in Castilla y León; or in the Boumort Nature Reserve, in Catalonia.

Where to see cetaceans in Spain

You don’t have to go far to see cetaceans along the Spanish coast. Of course, coinciding with the time of passage becomes crucial in this case. In Mazarrón, in Murcia, you can see dolphins, pilot whales and pilot whales, and in the Strait of Gibraltar, in Cádiz, even killer whales if you are lucky between the months of March and October. In the Gulf of Bizkaia you can find beaked whales and fin whales between July and November, and in the Canary Islands, between Tenerife and La Gomera, it is easy to find pilot whales and dolphins, and occasionally whales and sperm whales.

Where to see birds in Spain

Bird watching in Spain is rich and varied, and depending on what you want to see, you should go to one place or another. In the Monfragüe National Park the protagonists are the griffon vulture, the black stork and the imperial eagle. In the Doñana National Park there are more than 300 registered species, some sedentary and others migratory, and it is home to flamingos, imperial herons, coots and bee-eaters. The Hoces del Duratón Natural Park, in Segovia, is home to the largest population of griffon vultures in Europe, and the Delta del Ebro Natural Park, in Tarragona, is ideal for seeing waterfowl. The Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, in Huesca, has the privilege of hosting the largest population of bearded vultures in the entire continent. Of course, your first sighting should be done on the website of SEO / Birdlife, the Spanish Society of Ornithology.

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