DAY 1 THURSDAY 1ST MARCH
DAY 1 THURSDAY 1ST MARCH
Keith and I had planned a Trip to Spain some months ago and now the time was upon us to descend on Extremadura flying from Liverpool airport using Easy Jet for £75 Quid each and landing in Madrid. Once landed we picked up our hire car from Europcar and headed to our first location our Accommodation at the fantastic Casa Babel in Torrejon El Rubio (Facebook Page). We did have some afternoon light left so managed a little bit of birding on the way down. A big flock of birds were spotted in the distance so we stopped at la Bazagona but the birds were just Lesser Black backed Gulls. We were hoping for migrating Cranes. It was a good stop however as it was our first taste of Spanish birds. Serin, Spotless Starlings, White Stork, Hoopoe, Southern Grey Shrike, Corn Bunting and a handful of Skylarks and Chiffchaffs.
Back onto the Auto-via and we made our next stop the small village of Malpartida de Plasencia where a huge storm was brewing and landed on us, incredible sight. Our first Thekla Larks were showing well as were a mix of Hirundines including a couple of Red Rumped Swallows. House Sparrows were obvious but we were gonna have to wait for the Spanish ones. Back onto the main road and a fly over Griffon Vulture was a great start to our trip. By the time we reached our accommodation at Torrejon El Rubio its was completely dark, so all we had to do now was check in meet our Host Jose and go get some supper..
|Casa Babel Accommodation|
DAY 2 FRIDAY
Keith had planned this trip to perfection so today's Route was through the Carceres Plains, via Monroy doing a circular via a minor sand track back to Torrejon El Rubio. It would be an early start before dawn to make the most of our days in Spain.
This was to turn out a fantastic route picking up Singing Hoopoes, Crested and Thekla Lark, Corn Buntings, my first ever Azure winged Magpies amazing!!.. Black Redstart, Rock Sparrow and our first Spanish Sparrow. Spanish Sparrow would have been another lifer for me had I not seen one in the UK a couple weeks before..
White Storks seemed everywhere as did Black and Red Kites. An early surprise was in the form of a Black Vulture (lifer) sat on a hill fairly close to the road but then a Griffon Vulture came and joining it.. SUPERB! We then stopped after hearing a strange loud call, only for a Stone Curlew to come flying out of the Oak Woodland bingo a nice surprise. We drove on a bit and spotted a raptor on power lines so just had to stop and check, we noticed a nest fairly close by too on the struts of the pylon, the raptor on the line was at first we thought female Goshawk with the male just visible on the nest, its red eyes peering at us menacingly, but after some help from the real experts this bird is in fact a Bonelli's Eagle and a lifer. So i don't mind messing the id up for a Bonelli's...
Once we finally got to the Plains I got my next lifer in the form of a Calandra Lark and whilst watching these I spotted what looked like Sandgrouse briefly as they landed out of site. We picked a vantage point up a sandy track only to find our first target of the day, Little Bustard, 60 of em Bingo.... After our fill of these and the larks we moved on a few more km and picked up our second target species 10 Great Bustards.
|Adult Male Little Bustard (honest)|
|Calandra lark (honest)|
Could this day get any better.. Oh yeh coarse it could. We Finally got to a dirt track 20km or so long and decided to have a slow drive along here, couldn't go fast the road was appalling. Over head our next quarry species 5 Black Bellied Sandgrouse and not thinking we would get all our target species our last one popped up in the form of 50+ Pin-tailed Sandgrouse,these flew over calling and landed in fields but all too brief. A few Little Owls were in the area too. What a start to out trip the route to the Carceres Plain's and the Plains itself proved superb. We judged the day to perfection landing back on the main road home to Torrejon in the dark.
DAY 3 SATURDAY
Today the plan was Arrocampo Embalse de via the Embalsie De Torreyon Tietar Dam and then into the mountains of Sierra De Gredos y Valle Del Jerte. . We were driving past Penafalcon crag in the Monfrague National Park which wasn't a planned stop but we just couldn't drive past hearing the Vultures in the dark. So we waited for it to get light at only to get amazing views of The Griffon Vultures and a few Black and Egyptian Vultures. To our surprise our first Rock Bunting and Female Black Wheatear with a few more Black Redstart seen.
|Female Black Redstart|
|Male Black Redstart|
|Angels Tears or Rock Daffordil (Narcissus triandrus Pallidulus)|
A Black Stork landed on the shoreline and a couple more flew past. We moved onto the Dam at Embalsie De Torreyon Tietar for more amazing views of Griffon and Egyptian Vulture. Also great views of Red Rumped Swallow more Azure Winged Magpies and many Hawfinch's. A Singing Golden Oriol was a nice surprise. Hoopoe were everywhere we went, i had never seen so many.
|Azure Winged Magpie|
Arriving at Arrocampo a large reservoir with a few hides we were a little disappointed to see no wader areas which we had planned to see. The day got better however with good views of Purple Swamphen, Fan-tailed Warbler more Spanish Sparrows, White Storks and more Larks. Returning to the car a small bird flew into the reeds that I immediately thought was a Bluethroat, as we were speaking to some other Brits we all got together to see if we could re find it. We waited about 5 minutes when I spotted it again as It landed on top of a Bramble bush for all to see (except Keith booo) it then moved into another reed bed where it was seen once more before we had to move on. Our target here however was Black Shouldered Kite best spot in the area apparently but we were struggling, was this to be our first dip... Naaaa just as we were leaving Arrocampo Keith spotted the Black Shouldered Kite Bingo! and what a bird, decent views as it headed off. Phew!
We Made our way to the Sierrra De Gredos y Valle Del Jerte Mountains and on the way spotted our second Black Shouldered Kite.. When we finally reached the tops of the Mountains we found Woodlark, nice views of Dartford Warbler and even better views of Rock Bunting, but surprisingly no Eagles just more distant Vultures. On the way back down the mountain we stretched our legs around some of the woodlands but there wasn't a great deal special. White Wagtails and Serin showed well in the car park. We checked the river valley on our return to base, Greenshank was the most unusual wader.
Again we had used all the available light and headed back to base in the dark.
DAY 4 SUNDAY
Today's route was to Trujillo and through the Madrigalejo Rice Fields back to Tujillo.
At Trujillo our target species was the Lesser Kestrel. Trujjllo is an amazing quaint village in the hills with amazing views over the town from the Castle. Back to the Kestrels yes we found at least 3 pairs and what cracking looking birds too. We walked up onto the castle grounds to watch them from there and whilst there the White Storks were looking stunning on all the buildings, more Serin and Black Redstart but the star of the show were 2 Flyby Great Spotted Cuckoos lifer.... A Hoopoe showed well in the gardens. Pallid Swifts were excellent to see flying around the village.
|Male Lesser Kestrel|
|Male and Female Lesser Kestrel|
|Great Spotted Cuckoo|
The the mist dropped so we moved onto the Rice Plains. On the way we found another pair of Lesser Kestrel and an Egyptian Vulture sat in a field hoping the lamb in there was on its last legs..
The Target species for today were Waders and Cranes. We found a dozen Common Cranes sat in a field getting ready to migrate no doubt, in the same area we were surprised to find large flocks of Red Avadavat wow what colorful birds. We drove around the area seeing plenty more Avadavats, Kites and Vultures.
|Spanish Imperial Eagle|
|Blue Rock Thrush|
|Southern Grey Shrike|
|El Rocio the street our hotel was on.|
|Fantastic shot of the Egyptian Mongoose take by Keith.|
|Carbonell's Wall Lizzard (Podarcis carbonelli)...|
|European Pond Terrapin/turtle|
|Red Knobbed Coot|
|Great White Egret|
|Sunset over Donana Lagoon looking from El Rocio|
|Sunset over Donana Lagoon looking from El Rocio|
|Iberian Yellow Wagtail|
|Black Winged Stilt|
|White Headed Ducks|