This book is a guide for birdwatchers who are visiting or residing in the Spanish Region of Murcia, an area which is probably better known as the “Costa Cálida”. This compact corner of Spain isn’t particularly well known by visiting birders and there is very little English language information about the birdlife or the best bird-watching sites. The author has lived in and explored this region since 2003. Based on his hard-earned knowledge, this is the guidebook he would have liked to have read back then.
Seventy per cent of the country’s regularly occurring species can be seen in the region, even though it forms only 2.9% of the Spanish landmass. This is mainly due to its diversity of habitats. These include high mountain ranges that go up to 2,000 m above sea level, forested hillsides, semi-deserts, dry ramblas (watercourses) with high cliffs, rice and cereal fields, citrus, olive and almond fields, steppes, reservoirs, the River Segura and its tributaries, a longish coastline with associated wetlands and the largest inland lake in Spain, the Mar Menor. The flow of passage migrants passing through the region, also contributes to the wide range of species.
The introductory sections give a brief outline of the region, its diverse habitats and also an explanation for its attractiveness to a wide range of species in this south eastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula. The bulk of the subsequent information is divided into two main sections: a guide to the best bird watching sites to visit and a checklist of all the bird species recorded in the region.
Included are 16 sites, 13 of which are within the regional boundaries and 3 in neighbouring provinces. One of the sites is so close to the border with Alicante province that it would have been pedantic to exclude it. The other two sites, the plains of Pétrola and El Hondo wetlands, are also relatively close and are included because their ornithological interest is of national importance. Each location is illustrated with relevant colour photographs of the landscape of the area. The site information provides details of the main ornithological interest and lists of the main species that are resident, summer visitors, winter visitors or possible passage migrants. There are comprehensive directions, including GPS coordinates, for readers to find and then orientate themselves around the site, to make the most of their visit.
Just over 200 colour photographs illustrate the comprehensive checklist of the 342 species that have been recorded in the region. A further 31 species that are officially classified as exotic or not naturally occurring are also included at the end of the section. The list gives a brief description of the status of each species within the Region of Murcia, to provide the reader with a clear understanding of what species can be seen and importantly, which species are unlikely to be seen.