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In the far north-eastern corner of Portugal on the Spanish border, Montesinho Natural Park covers an area of mountains, farmland and woodland that holds an interesting mix of Mediterranean birds and those from further north in Europe.
Much of the land consists of small grazing fields with stone walls and hedges. The woodland is a mixture of Pyrenean Oak, Sweet Chestnut and a variety of conifers.
White Stork and possibly still Black Stork nest in the park and there is a good range of raptors although only Common Buzzard and Montagu's Harrier are at all common. Scarcer raptors present in the park include Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle and Short-toed Eagle, Northern Goshawk and both Black Kite and Red Kite. Eurasian Eagle Owl is present but elusive and Eurasian Scops Owl is common.
A wide range of passerines breeds in the park with warblers such as Zitting Cisticola, Melodious Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Western Subalpine Warbler, Dartford Warbler and Iberian Chiffchaff. Tawny Pipit is common as are Red-backed Shrike, European Serin, Cirl Bunting and Rock Bunting and Spotless Starling. Golden Oriole is also present with Short-toed Treecreeper in lowland woods, Common Crossbill in conifers and Common Redstart in stands of chestnut.
In the more upland areas there are Eurasian Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush with Common Dipper and Blue Rock Thrush in river valleys. Water Pipit has bred in the park and is common in winter.
Birds you can see here include:
Black Stork, White Stork, European Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Red Kite, Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Hen Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Northern Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Common Quail, Green Sandpiper, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Great Eagle Owl, Eurasian Scops Owl, European Nightjar, Red-necked Nightjar, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Wood Lark, Eurasian Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Tree Pipit, Water Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Common Wren, Common Dipper, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Western Black-eared Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Dartford Warbler, Western Subalpine Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Garden Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Common Firecrest, European Pied Flycatcher, Crested Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Northern Raven, Spotless Starling, Rock Sparrow, European Serin, Common Crossbill, Common Bullfinch, Hawfinch, Yellowhammer, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Ortolan Bunting
History and Use
Areas of Interest
The central part of the park has some good upland areas including the Serra de Montesino and can be reached and explored via the N103-7 northwards from Braganca.
For the western sector of the park leave Braganca westwards on the N103 to Vinhais and from here take the N316 north into the park and the N308 from Tuizelo on to Moimenta. To explore the east of the park leave Braganca on the N218 east to Gimonde and then north on the N308 towards Deilao.
Access and Facilities
Branganca is the nearest major town with a range of accommodation and makes an ideal base from which to explore the park. The park headquarters is in Braganca and it here may be possible to arrange a stay in one of the refuge huts within the park.
Content and images originally posted by Steve