Jackie and Neil Bygrave, Exeter, Devon, UK.
20th -21st December 2013.
Mick we just wanted to thank you for two amazing days birding. We cannot believe just how much there is to see in this wonderful part of Spain. Neil and I are newcomers to the delights of Andalucia and meeting someone that we can trust to help us to discover its delights has been a real find.
Within a very short amount of time we could see just how knowleadigble you are with regards to birdlife and nature more generally, just what we were looking for.
Seeing over sixty species on day one and in winter was a real surprise and then to add to that on day two was excellent.
We will most definitely share with others the value of hiring someone like you to make the most of an area, and will try to treat ourselves each year to more time in your company. Keep up the good work and thank you.
Gretchen Merrill, Utah, United States.
29th and 30th June 13.
Mick -- Thanks very much for two days of superlative birding around Granada last weekend! I know it wasn't the prime birding season for southern Spain, but it was the only time my schedule allowed, and the season did not hinder adding dozens of new species to my life list. I really appreciated your efforts to help out a mid-level birder (perhaps that is putting too good a face on my abilities) get some great looks at wonderful birds. From excellent views of the famous Bee eaters, Hoopoes, and Rollers to the Short-toed Treecreepers, Lesser Kestrels and Stone Curlews, to name a few, it was a great outing. In addition to your in-depth knowledge of the habitats and nest sites, I appreciated that you knew the best cafes for coffee stops and lunches. Best of luck with your new business and I hope to go birding with you in the future!
Jane Hibbert, Leicestershire, UK.
10th-12th June 2013.
Hi Mick, Arrived home safely yesterday after a great time in Spain. Wanted to say again a big thank you for the fantastic birding trip we shared, it was amazing. Out of 124 species to have 50 first time sightings is awesome! Also thanks to you and Jayne for making me feel so welcome in your home. The accommodation is first class and well set up for two people. The views from your terrace are fabulous.
Deb & Ian Hopton, Meadows, South Australia.
20th-28th May 2013.
Dear Mick and Jayne.
We can't thank you enough for such a fantastic stay, we will be back!! Mick your knowledge of the area and it's flora and fauna is amazing and your determination to get us the best views and photographs of the birds was incredible.Highlights were probably the Rufous Bush Robin hovering in front of the windscreen having a good look at the birders and getting so close to a Great Spotted Cuckoo we had to get out of the car to check it was alright!!! The Rollers, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture, Both Bustards and Alpine Accentors (ect ect) were also hard to beat. The flora was also stunning and our favorites were probably the Spanish Rusty Foxglove and Nigella Papillosa. The Butterflies and other insects were pretty special too. We have never used a guide before and to have someone who knew the area and it's flora and fana so incredible well was fantastic. Thanks for taking us to the local Tapas bars and for being such great company, we had a ball!!! The accommodation was perfect, we loved Jayne's cooking and all also the evening chats while watching the Red-necked Nightjars. Hopefully you will come and visit us in Australia!!
Cath (Shropshire, UK) and Heather (Loja, Spain).
8th March 2007
This was my first trip to Andalucia visiting Heather, who had recently moved to the area, and a day out with Mick was a great introduction to the nature of the area. He arranged the itinerary to show us a wide range of habitats and picked out species of particular interest to us both. We were keen to see some of the orchids found in the region, and despite being rather early in the season Mick located several species in flower, as well as some beautiful wide leaved iris. His expert guidance meant that not only did we see flowers we would have had difficulty in finding ourselves, but we also got to know some beautiful locations which we have since revisited independently at different seasons. I would highly recommend such an excursion to anybody new to the area – Mick has a depth of knowledge and a feel for the area that you can’t get from guide books.
One of my research interests at that time involved eagle owls, and Mick was assiduous in pointing out sites where the species had nested in previous years. On subsequent visits he has taken me to see occupied nest sites where the birds have been visible, and with the aid of Mick’s telescope I’ve enjoyed superb views of these remarkable birds.
Mick was even able to identify from my rather rambling descriptions several plants I had found the previous day and failed to name – this in the days before I had a digital camera, so a scribbled description in my field notebook was all he had to go on. The day out under his expert tutelage allowed me to ‘get my eye in’ - the notes improved thereafter!
All in all, I can’t rate Mick’s services highly enough. The day was arranged to suit the interests of both Heather and myself, despite our different degrees of knowledge and enthusiasm. He was careful of our comfort at all times, and both thoroughly professional and pleasingly engaging. Since this first day out with Mick an expedition with him has been the highlight of every visit I’ve made to Loja and my first question on arriving at Malaga has been ‘Where’s Mick taking us this time?’
_Jenny and Brian, Hampshire, UK.
7th-14th June 08.
We have enjoyed our stay in this very cosy apartment. You have thought of everything to make us feel comfortable. Thank you for your hospitality, Mick and Jayne.
Mick's knowledge of the local flora and fauna is encyclopedic and made our day trips most memorable. Nothing was to much trouble and the Roller were the highlight of our week.
_Pam and John, Norwich, Norfolk, UK.
24th-28th June 09.
Weather, hospitality and obliging birds made this return visit splendid. In particular, Golden Oriole, Wryneck, Hawfinch, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Eagle Owl, Bonelli's Eagle and Red-necked Nightjar were special treats. Very many thanks.
11th to the 15th May 2011.
It was a first class trip I had to your area with many great spottings. On the way back I came around to the following conclusion as to the ranking of the new species:
- Subalpine warbler - Red-necked nightjar
These stood out as the main twitches because they are rare birds to me and they were elusive, it required persistency, luck and a top-notch guide to book these species, and they would never be available to me in Denmark.
- Collared pratincole - Black-winged kite
These were beauties that lent themselves to lengthy observations so that you could enjoy them as long as you wanted.
- eagle owl
Honourable mentioning for the majestic way it ruled the cliff.
This was my 18th birding expedition outside Denmark and it set a record of 23 species, the former record of 19 species was from Poland in May 2007 (that was with a group of 7 people which is a bit of a handicap as each observation takes longer time than if you were alone with a good guide). So altogether our birding tour was a great success for which I am totally satisfied. Your intimate knowledge of areas and species coupled with a strong determination to show me what I wanted to see made it all unforgettable.
We will have to be serious about a possible follow-up to this as we have already started talking about.
Thanks very much and best regards Niels
Helen and Douglas Fulton, Scotland, UK.
Imagine 4 Eagle species on one day so early on in the season. Mind you the Cormorant trying to swallow a Carp nearly as big as itself was also a one off. Thanks again for such an informative and enjoyable day. Will send pic of cheetah's. Regards Helen and Douglas
Andrew and Naomi, Nottinghamshire, UK.
23rd November 2013.
Although the weather was rather against us, we had a great day out seeing quite a few new species for us.
Highlights for Andrew were the Violet Drop-wing, the Wasp Spider (which he's been hoping to see for a long time) and the white buzzard.
With Micks help, Naomi has finally worked out how to tell the difference between the Crested Lark and Thekla's Lark. Wood Larks sang for us and three Black-bellied Sandgrouse stayed in the air long enough to give us a really good view through the binocs.
It is quite obvious Mick is very knowledgeable in so many wildlife subjects and the places where they can be seen: birds, dragonflies, butterflies and moths, and he told us about some good spots where we might find orchids. I suspect he knows quite a lot of other natural topics, too.
Thanks once again Mick, we will be back!
Sue and Geoff Tucker, Milford on Sea, Hampshire, UK.
28th June 2013.
Dear Mick. Just a quick email to say thank you for a brilliant birding day last Friday. It was certainly worth the early start. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves (apart from those flies!!!) and it was great having someone so knowledgeable showing us the fantastic birdlife of this area. As you probably gathered we’re not hard-core birders and this area and its birdlife was totally new to us, however we do love seeing wildlife in all its forms in its natural habitat. We would consider coming back to the region another time and would have no hesitation in contacting you again to show us around. I’ll be sending the eagle photos one by one in the hope that they don’t clog up your system completely – they are big files. Please choose whichever you think is best for your blog. That was certainly a highlight at the end of day. Since we’ve been back at the Casita we’ve spotted a pair of Sardinian Warblers in the Holm Oaks, however the Golden Oriole is still as illusive as ever and keeps teasing us with his song. We’ve given our hosts feedback from our day and they’re happy to pass your details around. Thanks once again.
Pam and John, Norwich, Norfolk, UK.
31st May-7th June 2013.
Each time we visit I am amazed at the ability you both share to make a stay with you a real treat for the Bird / Butterfly / Dragonfly / Flowerwatchers, and equally for their other halves.
Thank you, Pam and John.
_Chris from Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, UK.
26th-28th March 08.
Congratulations on a lovely job, very well thought out and fitted. Hopefully subsequent visitors will have time to do it justice.
PS: The birding wasn’t bad either!!
Dennis Coutts (The Shetland Birder). Lerwick, Shetland Islands.
30th March -3rd April 08.
I greatly enjoyed wonderful birding in a delightful area, easily accessible to magic areas of scenic beauty. I've never encountered a bird leader who tried harder to ensure the most was made of a tour. Fantastic birds, even from the cosy accommodation so well catered for by Jayne. I wish her and Mick well, their care for detail and hospitality deserves the best.
Pam and John, Norwich, Norfolk, UK.
27th Sept-2nd Oct 08.
In England the table against the wall would be called the breakfast bar and would have been just that. Here, not only can you eat at it, but make notes at it, clean your optical equipment, refer to books, but primarily use it as your own personal wildlife hide.
Mick and Jayne have created a great place to stay. Very many thanks.
David Jackson, Norfolk, UK.
28th April -2nd May 09.
Visited Southern Spain twice now, on both occasions contacting Mick Richardson on his Birding In Spain tours and found him a very knowledgable guide, not only about birds and where to find the target species, but about every aspect of wildlife in the region. He takes in all types of habitat to maximise the species total, and is a very accomodating and friendly host, making you welcome straight away with his easy-going style. I'm planning to visit again this year, and will have no hesitation in contacting Mick to arrange another birding holiday which is as always excellent value and a memorable adventure, whether for just a few days or a whole week.
Cath (Shropshire, UK) and Heather (Loja, Spain).
12th-14th May 2009 – Coto Donana
It was with some excitement that Heather & I embarked on out trip to Coto Donana. Mick had made all the arrangements for accommodation and route-planning, and all we had to do was to get up early and pack our binoculars. The early start meant that Mick could turn the whole morning into a bird-watching road trip, and we’d ‘birded’ across the Osuna Plains before morning coffee, clocking up steppe species to start the list. Plenty of stops allowed good sightings of collared pratincole, Montagu’s harrier, lesser kestrel, bee-eaters and many other species. Arriving in Donana at lunchtime, a plethora of wetland species greeted us. Greater flamingo, spoonbill, little egret, kingfisher, Iberian pool frog, black-winged stilt and whiskered tern were added to the list to a background of calling reed warblers and greater reed warblers.
The whole trip continued in the same tone – birds everywhere, flowers, lizards, butterflies, stops for coffee, more birds. Mick organised the itinerary to show us as many different aspects of Coto Donana as possible, and tirelessly drove us in pursuit of new species and new landscapes. Top of my ‘wish list’, the purple gallinule –what a strange and magnificent creature – was spotted on the first afternoon with great excitement, shortly followed by Spanish imperial eagle and a flock of common waxbills. Could it really get any better?
The value of a knowledgeable guide is impossible to quantify. Mick arranged an all-day tour for our second day in Donana, picking out black-shouldered kites, nightingales, hoopoes, woodchat shrikes, pin-tailed sandgrouse, short-toed eagles, night herons and squacco herons, glossy ibis and more purple gallinules for our delectation. Visits to the visitors’ centres helped to get our bearings and provided welcome cups of coffee, and a non-birding break in El Rocio with its sand streets and shops full of flamenco dresses showed us another side of the region.
Returning to Loja was another full day, taking in cork oak forest where a wryneck, Spanish iris and wild gladioli were added to the tally, and calling at Fuenta de Piedra where lesser flamingos and white headed duck (a species we’d failed to find in Donana) were in residence. From there to the Teba Gorge for alpine swift, crag martin blue rock thrush and black wheatear, peregrines and eagles, and on home past lagoons with black-necked grebes and curlew sandpipers, and the final buzz of a little bustard, another species we’d missed out on earlier in the trip. Mick surely does his best to find everything you really want to see!
All in all, the trip was magical. Mick is excellent at tailoring his outings to the interests and abilities of his clients, and allows plenty of time to take in the whole atmosphere of the area, as well as the particular species you want to see. He shares his knowledge and experience generously and elegantly.
High points of the trip? Purple gallinules, definitely; a stubby little lizard with a blue tail; sharing a beer in the evening while going through the species list of the day; more egrets, herons and glossy ibises than you could believe; adopting the cattle egret as my totem bird. Low points? Very few – only that Mick & Heather wouldn’t let me collect the mortal remains of a road-kill Egyptian mongoose. But it was early in the trip & the weather was hot, so perhaps they should be pardoned. Would I go again? Tomorrow. But I know Mick has more and different places up his sleeve!