Bee-eaters and black woodpeckers in Crémenes

Few weeks ago, we went to Riaño Mountain, León, for some days off. We decided to pay a visit to our friends from Aveshide Crémenes. They have a pretty good number of photographic hides, spread out along strategic locations, aiming to take pictures of a wide range of bird species. We visited two of them: one for bee-eaters, in Almanza, and one for black woodpeckers, in Crémenes.

The visit was completed by staying at Hotel El Sabinar, where Bernardo and his family treated us very well. In addition, Bernardo is one of the people responsible of taking you to the hide where you are going to spend a few hours taking pictures of everything in sight.

La Uña landscape
La Uña landscape, in Riaño Mountain (León)

If you haven’t been in the area yet, you should come: Leonese mountain can proudly boast about its astonishing, assorted landscapes. Precisely, this variety of habitats allows you to observe such a wide range of different bird species: from the tiny winter wren and Cetti’s warbler to golden eagle, Egyptian and griffon vultures, and iconic species like bluethroat and five out of the six woodpeckers present in the Iberian Peninsula: black woodpecker, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, middle spotted woodpecker and Eurasian wryneck. If you want to see/photograph any particular species, better thing to do is let them know what you want and follow their advice to settle down your visit.

Let’s go with our sessions…

First session was in the bee-eater hide, in Almanza, where Manuel (another staff member, responsible of showing your where the hides are) took us. The hide is a small tent with camouflage print, several openings covered with a thin mesh to lean out the camera and a camp chair to seat. No need to say how carefully and silent you have to move to avoid disturbing our winged fellows, who will be around and let us shoot them as many pictures as we wish.

One of the bee-eaters we saw in Crémenes
One of the bee-eaters we saw

Weather wasn’t that good and it looked like storm all the evening. Even so, we spotted lots of bee-eater, stonechat, corn bunting and yellow wagtail from the hide. Soundtrack was played, mainly, by Eurasian golden orioles and bee-eaters, who were chirping all the time.

Corn bunting singing at the top of its lungs.
Corn bunting singing at the top of its lungs.

At the end of the session we left the hide and took a walk, watching a few more species like great grey shrike, common linnet, Eurasian skylark, Dartford warbler, booted eagle and common kestrel.

Let’s get the black woodpeckers!

Next day we woke up early in the morning and Bernardo drove us to one of the hides for woodpeckers. We were eager to see the elusive black woodpecker and Eurasian wryneck. After a short drive we got into the hide, received the appropriate instructions, had a seat and waited. It didn’t take long and a male black wood pecker came in, with his bright colors! And there he wandered for quite a long time, pecking around at ants, looking for larvae and insects on the ground and giving us a wonderful collection of poses.

Black woodpecker
Black woodpecker, foraing for ants on the foerst ground.

Even though the Eurasian wryneck took a little longer to appear, we also had a couple around the hide, perching on the trees and pecking on the ground, looking for some bugs to eat. European greenfinches, great tits, blackcaps and a pretty busy couple of winter wrens, building their nest on an oak, completed the session.

Eurasian wryneck
An Eurasian wryneck blends in a branch in the forest.

After that, we went to the hotel for a good breakfast and a shower, delighted to have seen those birds from that close and without disturbing them.

Last stage of the weekend

To round off the day, we had a walk along La Uña fields. And we had a pretty pleasant surprise: a pair of red-backed shrike males claiming their dominion over the territory. They were perched on the top of the yellow-painted broom that cover most of the hills on these mountains. A male yellowhammer was also singing out loud, high up in a beautiful common hawthorn. Along the walk we listened to and saw great and blue tits, tireless European serins and rock martins, white wagtail, dunnock, rock bunting and, watching high above us, common buzzard and griffon vultures.

A male red-backed shrike
A male red-backed shrike is guarding his territory.

All in all, we really enjoyed the whole weekend and felt like sharing it with you. If you are nature lovers and you like birdwatching or hiking and enjoying landscapes, Riaño mountain and its surroundings offer you many possibilities.

Otherwise, you can always come to Asturias and contact us… 😉

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