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Old Wednesday 20th April 2011, 11:10   #1
Sandra (Taylor)
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Extremadura

Just back from a great holiday spent with a Scottish birding company in Extremadura, Spain. Wall-to-wall sunshine; beautiful villa in the hills a few miles from Trujillo; good food; loads of birds; very knowledgeable guides etc. etc...

We saw all the birds we would have expected to except Spanish imperial eagle and the guides were more disappointed than we were about that! Some magic moments were great bustards every other day - one day 3 males seemingly turning themselves inside out as they displayed to a very disinterested female; two male little bustards going at it hammer and tongues trying to outdo each other - chasing each other, running parallel or bumping chests which was great to watch; an eagle owl chick in its nest on a crag then a couple of days later we saw an adult roosting in a nearby tree;
a couple of lifers were Savi's warbler & Dartford warbler; swifts screeching round at almost table height as we ate outside in the square below the castle in Trujillo - magic; vultures in big numbers; eagles; beautiful lesser kestrels above the bull ring in Trujillo; a dozen white stork nests in 'appartments' formed by 3 trees growing close together; otters in the river near the huge crag in Monfrague national park; good views of 20 or more pintailed sandgrouse on the plains early one morning when we set off before dark before the heat haze was established.

An unforgettable holiday indeed...... the above are just a few of the wonderful experiences during that week.


Last edited by Sandra (Taylor) : Wednesday 20th April 2011 at 11:11. Reason: clarification
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Old Wednesday 20th April 2011, 17:15   #2
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Yes, isn't it a wonderful area. I went there last year and I can just imagine the feeling you must have had, spotting all these beautiful birds! We did see the Imperial Eagle, but then, no otters....
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Old Sunday 24th April 2011, 10:42   #3
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Extremadura & Andalucia

I'm just back from a 7 day club trip. we flew to Malaga and stayed at El Rompido near Huelva. Spent 3 nights based here to explore the Donana National Park then drove up to Extremadura, staying at Alonso de Monroy near Belvis de Monroy. This proved to be a good location for getting to Monfrague and the plains of Extremadura. Despite fairly wet and overcast weather we experienced excellent birding. Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Black Kite, Black Shouldered Kite, Spectacled Warbler, Short Toed Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, all 3 Vultures, Stone Curlew, Eagle Owl, Little Owl to name a few.

Our club the Northern Ireland Ornthologists Club have previous experience of these areas but it was my first birding trip to Spain. Excellent, I'll return but maybe fly to Madrid to pack in more birding and photography without the long drives.
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 09:19   #4
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Yes, we flew into Madrid, Richard. The rest of the 12-strong group + 2 guides had flown from Gatwick so we met up within 5 mins of us all arriving at the airport. The birding company had arranged for us to fly from Liverpool.

I keep remembering other magic moments - c20 Montague harriers in the air at once; bee-eaters everywhere; the constant sunshine (the weather must have broken on the day we left Richard); a beautiful moth - Spanish peacock - which roosted on the wall of the villa and which we were told only lives a few days as it doesn't have the mechanism to eat so therefore dies! Isn't nature wonderful - I don't think!! It was bigger thann the span of my hand. I have a photo but not the know-how to post one on here.

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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 10:06   #5
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Years ago Neil and I went to an evening meeting of our local RSPB Group and the talk was a slide show about Extremadura I loved it but Neil seemed to be completely blown away by it and ever since then, must be getting on for 10 years or so, he's talked about one day going to the area

I think it's time we got our passports sorted and just go!!!
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 10:52   #6
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Another option is to fly to Lisbon and then drive east from there. The drive to Extremadura is only about 4 hours, and can be punctuated by a stop at the highly productive site of Vila Velha de Ródão - lots of Griffons, Egyptian Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle, Black Stork as well as a long-staying Ruppell's Vulture. Also the marshes around Lisbon are a brilliant birding area too with Purple Swamphen, Greater Flamingo and Black-winged Kite to mention just a few.

I've attached my trip report from the week before last.

Cheers and good birding
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 11:55   #7
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Nice report, Rich. I visited Extremedua at the end of March and stayed at El Recuerdo run by British birder Martin Kelsey a few miles south of Trujillo. It was a lovely spot and good value and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the area. Martin has great knowledge of birds, orchids and butterflies and was very helpful with information. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker outside the bedroom was a bonus!

We had great bustards in groups of up to 80, little bustards displaying and in groups of up to 30. We saw up to 20 pintailed sandgrouse at the spot where you camped and further on saw up to 10 Montagu's harrier displaying. We had a day at Monfrague and the sight of black vulures ae eye level below the castle was stunning. We saw the eagle owl chicks at Tietar and had a major piece of luck when a Spanish Imperial eagle landed on the ridge. On the wayback we saw a black shouldered kite. We got good views of black bellied sandgrouse in the ricefields to the south of Trujillo. We only had 3 days unfortunately-I would love to go back.

We flew to Madrid and it was about 2 and a half hours drive. Fairly straightforward though you do have to go round the Madrid ring road. Coming back we had to negotiate it in morning rush hour-certainly added a few grey hairs!
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 14:09   #8
Sandra (Taylor)
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I think it's time we got our passports sorted and just go!!! [/quote]

Yes, it is Gill - we loved being with the birding company as there was no driving or planning involved. We just did as we were told!

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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 19:22   #9
Mick Sway
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Extremadura

Hi Sandra
Sounds like you had a great time, lovely to see your report.
I hope that we'll make it someday to.
Best
Mick & Tina
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Old Monday 25th April 2011, 20:09   #10
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Photos of my Extremadura & Coto Donana trip

I have posted some of my trip photos on my photo blog, follow the link below. More to follow.

Richard
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Old Tuesday 26th April 2011, 08:57   #11
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Have printed off your report Rich - and will enjoy reading it. I'm waiting for Speyside Wildlife to prepare the full report from our trip - that'll be much better than anything I can write.

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Old Friday 29th April 2011, 13:22   #12
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Next week I'm headed to Extremedura and the Gredos Mountains for a week with Naturetrek. I have birded extensively in England, and been to the Costa del Sol once, but otherwise have no experience with European birding. Your post, blog and photos have certainly whetted my appetite.

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Old Saturday 30th April 2011, 16:10   #13
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I'm thrilled to see how people enjoy birding in my country, Extremadura is certainly a wonderful area, very far away from my place (Spain is a bit big, you know, ) but I've visited Monfragüe in a couple of times and both experiences were fantastic, even for a Spaniard like me!

Best luck next week, Richard, hope your trip is very sucessful!!!

Cheers, everybody!!!
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Old Saturday 30th April 2011, 18:33   #14
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Originally Posted by Sandra (Taylor) View Post
swifts screeching round at almost table height as we ate outside in the square below the castle in Trujillo - magic;

I can hear them now, I spent some time trying to pick out a Pallid when I was there but no luck, all Common!

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I'm thrilled to see how people enjoy birding in my country,
Wonderful sentiments, thank you. I'll be taking my boys to Ubeda in the summer and I hope to get some birding in and maybe a trip out to the mountains to look for Iberian Lynx if it's not too hot. I can't wait.
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Old Saturday 30th April 2011, 20:00   #15
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Originally Posted by Sandra (Taylor) View Post
Just back from a great holiday spent with a Scottish birding company in Extremadura, Spain. Wall-to-wall sunshine; beautiful villa in the hills a few miles from Trujillo; good food; loads of birds; very knowledgeable guides etc. etc...

We saw all the birds we would have expected to except Spanish imperial eagle and the guides were more disappointed than we were about that! Some magic moments were great bustards every other day - one day 3 males seemingly turning themselves inside out as they displayed to a very disinterested female; two male little bustards going at it hammer and tongues trying to outdo each other - chasing each other, running parallel or bumping chests which was great to watch; an eagle owl chick in its nest on a crag then a couple of days later we saw an adult roosting in a nearby tree;
a couple of lifers were Savi's warbler & Dartford warbler; swifts screeching round at almost table height as we ate outside in the square below the castle in Trujillo - magic; vultures in big numbers; eagles; beautiful lesser kestrels above the bull ring in Trujillo; a dozen white stork nests in 'appartments' formed by 3 trees growing close together; otters in the river near the huge crag in Monfrague national park; good views of 20 or more pintailed sandgrouse on the plains early one morning when we set off before dark before the heat haze was established.

An unforgettable holiday indeed...... the above are just a few of the wonderful experiences during that week.

Glad you had a great time, it is an amazing place for birding. Visited for the first ime in early April and hope to get a report together shortly.

Gi
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Old Monday 20th June 2011, 17:35   #16
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Extremadura must be the most outstanding birding area in Europe. This is my day list for 16 June - visiting Calera y Chozas, Monfrague, Embalse de Arroyocampo, Sierra Brava and plains S of Trujillo......

Black Kite 113
Red Kite 1
Griffon Vulture 57
Black Vulture 3
Egyptian Vulture 1
Booted Eagle 7
Short-Toed Eagle 2
Bonelli's Eagle 2
Marsh Harrier 2
Montagu's Harrier 1
Lesser Kestrel 14
Hobby 1
White Stork 185
Black Stork 1
Purple Heron 28
Black-crowned Night Heron 50
Great White Egret 1
Little Bittern 1
Collared Pratincole 12
Gull-billed Tern 4
Alpine Swift 8
White-rumped Swift 2
Crag Martin 2
Red-rumped Swallow 16
Woodlark 2
Southern Grey Shrike 3
Woodchat Shrike 14
Roller 6
Bee-Eater 26
Azure-winged Magpie 4
Blue Rock Thrush 1
Great Reed Warbler 2
Savi's Warbler 2

....probably my best ever birding day in Europe.....!
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Old Monday 20th June 2011, 19:31   #17
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Flying in to Lisbon

[quote=Rich Bonser;2124501]Another option is to fly to Lisbon and then drive east from there. The drive to Extremadura is only about 4 hours, and can be punctuated by a stop at the highly productive site of Vila Velha de Ródão - lots of Griffons, Egyptian Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle, Black Stork as well as a long-staying Ruppell's Vulture. Also the marshes around Lisbon are a brilliant birding area too with Purple Swamphen, Greater Flamingo and Black-winged Kite to mention just a few.

We flew into Lisbon in May 2008 when we went, it it worked nicely. We could visit the Tagus Estuary and a nice marsh on the way to Castela Branco the same day, spent the night in Castela Branco. We birded our way to Extremadura by way of Idanha i Nova, a lovely walled town where we saw our first Black Vultures. There was still plenty of time to drive to Manfrague after a two-hour lunch in that town, with linen and nice wine and all. Renting a car and driving around Northwest Iberia was a whole lot of fun.

Jeff
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Old Friday 8th July 2011, 13:45   #18
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Good report Sandra! You clearly fell for the place - How would you rate the place in "Lesvos" terms - higher or Lower (or just different)?
We have decided that Extremadura could well be the place for next Spring - I know you went with Speyside. Anyone have any thoughts about other travel companies going there - say NatureTrek, for instance (although they also go up into the hills I believe)?
Like to see your Spanish peacock photos!

Regards, R&S
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Old Friday 8th July 2011, 17:44   #19
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Good report Sandra! You clearly fell for the place - How would you rate the place in "Lesvos" terms - higher or Lower (or just different)?
We have decided that Extremadura could well be the place for next Spring - I know you went with Speyside. Anyone have any thoughts about other travel companies going there - say NatureTrek, for instance (although they also go up into the hills I believe)?
Like to see your Spanish peacock photos!

Regards, R&S
Would say in second place to Lesvos, but we know Lesvos so well and of course we had guides to take us round Spain! And Spain is so big compared to the island. What made the holiday unforgettable too was the great accommodation we had. It was near Trujillo but in the countryside and the hosts couldn't have done more for us. The food was Spanish and our packed lunches were chosen each evening. Needless to say, mine was usually "surprise me" but always interesting and delicious.

Our trip report from the travel company has come through now but it wasn't on their website the last time I looked. The previous week's report was there and that will be worth a read as it was like our week in lots of ways. They seemed to have better views of Spanish Imperial Eagle but I can live with that...............

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Old Monday 11th July 2011, 17:58   #20
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Hi Sandra

Thanks to birds taken from Extremadura the Pyrenees now have 4 breeding species of vulture.

You might like to see this video of a Black Vulture - essentially a bird from Extremadura, but now also flying in the Pyrenees.

http://youtu.be/MNwPAOAboGg

Perhaps one day the Spanish Imperial Eagle will follow suit, although not in the way that some would have it...but that's another story!

Steve
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Old Tuesday 12th July 2011, 08:23   #21
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Hi Sandra

Thanks to birds taken from Extremadura the Pyrenees now have 4 breeding species of vulture.

You might like to see this video of a Black Vulture - essentially a bird from Extremadura, but now also flying in the Pyrenees.

http://youtu.be/MNwPAOAboGg

Perhaps one day the Spanish Imperial Eagle will follow suit, although not in the way that some would have it...but that's another story!

Steve
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Old Sunday 17th July 2011, 10:49   #22
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Good report Sandra! You clearly fell for the place - How would you rate the place in "Lesvos" terms - higher or Lower (or just different)?
We have decided that Extremadura could well be the place for next Spring - I know you went with Speyside. Anyone have any thoughts about other travel companies going there - say NatureTrek, for instance (although they also go up into the hills I believe)?
Like to see your Spanish peacock photos!

Regards, R&S
I'd place it above Lesbos (which we also love) simply based upon its expanse, variety and landscapes. My preference far and away is to travel independently, although I do understand why some have misgivings, and you will need a little bit of Spanish to get by. Once you're away from Madrid the roads just get quieter and more peaceful.

I would recommend a couple of Nights in the Gredos before moving down to Trujillo (El Recuerdo is great) for a few nights then up to stay in Monfrague (try Puerta de Monfrague) before tackling the Madrid Ring Road once more.
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Old Sunday 17th July 2011, 11:38   #23
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Quote --Good report Sandra! You clearly fell for the place - How would you rate the place in "Lesvos" terms - higher or Lower (or just different)?
We have decided that Extremadura could well be the place for next Spring - I know you went with Speyside. Anyone have any thoughts about other travel companies going there - say NatureTrek, for instance (although they also go up into the hills I believe)?
Like to see your Spanish peacock photos!

Regards, R&S

Indeed, Naturetrek go there, and I went on their tour of Extremedura and the Gredos in May. An excellent trip, with loads of birds, many with superb looks and photo ops, good leaders, good food and good accommodations. If people want to see some photos, I have a gallery here -
http://richard-s.smugmug.com/Vacatio...507491_WZb2Qgh . (several pages).

Richard
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Old Monday 18th July 2011, 08:54   #24
Sandra (Taylor)
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Quote --Good report Sandra! You clearly fell for the place - How would you rate the place in "Lesvos" terms - higher or Lower (or just different)?
We have decided that Extremadura could well be the place for next Spring - I know you went with Speyside. Anyone have any thoughts about other travel companies going there - say NatureTrek, for instance (although they also go up into the hills I believe)?
Like to see your Spanish peacock photos!

Regards, R&S

Indeed, Naturetrek go there, and I went on their tour of Extremedura and the Gredos in May. An excellent trip, with loads of birds, many with superb looks and photo ops, good leaders, good food and good accommodations. If people want to see some photos, I have a gallery here -
http://richard-s.smugmug.com/Vacatio...507491_WZb2Qgh . (several pages).

Richard

Great set of photographs Richard. We went to lots of these places too. And there was one photo of our villa too - near Trujillo.

Sandra
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Old Monday 18th July 2011, 12:15   #25
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The Madrid ring road(s) is the pits, but Extremadura well makes up for the trial!

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