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Spain road trip - June 11-28 (1 Viewer)

3Italianbirders

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Italy
After three summer holidays in cool to cold climates, Sweden, British Columbia and Scotland, this year we opted for a change and chose Spain, targeting two main areas: Extremadura (although we knew that it wouldn’t be the best time to visit) and the Central Spanish Pyrenees.

We drove, taking the ferry to Barcelona on the outward journey and leaving the long drive for the return trip, with stopovers planned in the French Alpilles and Genoa. The planning of the actual itinerary in Spain was a long and painful process, and eventually we had to give up on several targets as we realised that we wouldn’t have time to see everything.

From Barcelona we drove west to Extremadura, stopping at Belchite and at the Hoces del Duratón to try for Dupont’s and Lesser Short-toed Larks. We then spent a week or so in Extremadura (we had planned a day trip to the Sierra de Gredos for Bluethroat, but then left it for “another time”), then drove north to the Pyrenees with another 5-6 days there before heading to the Alpilles, where we have a friend, and home.

As for accommodation, apart from the one night on the ferry, we used hotels from a well-known French budget chain for the shorter stays, a “Casa Rural”, run by a birding guide in Extremadura, and a mountain hotel in the Pyrenees.

We read a lot of literature on the web, Birdforum included, spoke to friends who had been there before us and to friends who live in Spain, and we also purchased The Gosney’s guide for Extremadura (the latest edition also includes the Sierra de Gredos area) and “Where to watch birds in Northern and Eastern Spain”. Our field guide was the latest Italian edition of the trusted Collins.

We saw all our main targets, excluding Bonelli’s Eagle which we didn’t really waste much time on given that we thought “oh well we can always see it in the Alpilles” (we had seen it every day during our last trip there in 2015) As it turned out, our friend from the LPO told us that this year the breeding season for Bonelli’s in the Alpilles had been a total disaster with no new young eagles fledged, and as it was already late in the season the adults had dispersed, making it extremely difficult to spot one during such a brief stopover.

We also only heard Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and didn’t see Little Bustard, but the heat made it very difficult to connect with the steppe species, so we were very glad with what we had managed to see (and we had seen Little Bustards very well in the above trip in 2015). We also saw species which we thought would be extremely difficult, such as Black Wheatear and Rufous-tailed Bush Robin, but saw less of what we thought would be more obvious, struggling to connect with i.e. Black-shouldered Kite because of the extreme heat during the day.

Towards the end of the trip we also gave up on trying to look for some species as we were getting tired after around 4000 kms on the road (the total would be just over 5000 when we got home), but altogether it was a memorable trip, with a checklist of 150 species, which we were very happy with, given the late timing of the trip.

We also didn’t see Red-necked Nightjar, but didn’t really try too hard. What surprised us most though was that we couldn’t see a single Montagu’s Harrier. It wasn’t a priority as we have them here, but it just felt odd, as some of the places we visited looked very well suited for Montys. How common are they? Just wondering. It was also a shame that the two fleeting observations of Green Woodpecker were only seconds long and always from the back, so we couldn’t really appreciate the difference with “our” Green Woodys.

Ubiquitous species (therefore not always mentioned): White storks (apart from the Pyrenees), Griffon Vultures (everywhere), Black Kites, Crested/Thekla Larks (not in the Pyrenees), Chaffinch in the Pyrenees.
 

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3Italianbirders

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Italy
June 11
home - Civitavecchia - ferry

In mid-afternoon we head south for the short (less than 2 hours) drive to Civitavecchia, a large port north of Rome. On the way the usual stuff (Magpies, Hooded Crows, Jackdaws, Italian Sparrows, Swifts etc.), plus Cattle Egrets and two Black Kites. Before boarding and then waiting to sail, all the gulls look Yellow-legged, then it gets dark, the ferry leaves the harbour and we settle for a good night’s sleep in the decent-sized cabin.

June 12
ferry - Barcelona

At dawn, the ferry docks at Porto Torres, on the north-western tip of Sardinia. More Yellow-legged Gulls and some distant Terns, probably Sandwich, but the scope is in the car, so we have no means of making sure. For the rest of the day (we are scheduled to dock at Barcelona around 8pm) we don’t see much, just the odd Cory’s Shearwater and more gulls. Things pick up in the afternoon, with sightings of a pod of Common Dolphins (spectacular!) and then another one of Bottlenose Dolphins. As we approach the Spanish coast, more Cory’s Shearwaters, plus a couple of Balearic Shearwaters and Audouin Gulls. In Barcelona, the first House Sparrows, Swifts, more gulls and a few Chaffinches around our hotel.

June 13
Barcelona - El Planerón (Belchite) - Sepúlveda

We have a very long day ahead of us, so an early start is needed. After a plentiful breakfast we leave our hotel and get on the motorway, seeing en route the first Spotless Starlings and Rose-ringed Parakeets. Also the first Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves and House Martins. A bit further along, approaching Lleida, the first of the plentiful White Storks, Carrion Crows, Cattle Egrets, Swallows, Kestrels (maybe Lesser?), and a Marsh Harrier.

We reach El Planerón with little hope of actually seeing a Dupont’s Lark, given the lateness of the season, the limited time we have and the fierce wind which is sweeping the Belchite steppes. The scenery however is breathtaking, Spain has had a very wet and colder than usual spring, which means that wildflowers are everywhere and the bright green of the vegetation contrasts with the red hills all around.

Hearing any song is out of the question, as every sound is drowned by the howling wind, so we resort to scanning the ground between the low vegetation, where there seems to be quite a lot of activity. Most obvious are Crested and Calandra Larks, then also Thekla and Short-toed Larks, and a Little Owl. Every now and then a Bee-eater and a Lesser Kestrel hurtle past. We drive back and forth along the dirt tracks of the reserve, seeing also our first Lesser Short-toed Larks, but no Dupont’s. We stop to chat with a man working for the reserve, who advises us to go to the hide further along the southernmost track. As we slowly make our way there, a lark carrying food walks in front of the car and we have a brief glimpse of a Dupont’s Lark, literally two metres away! We spend another ten minutes or so in the area, hoping to see it again, and, sure enough, it crosses the road again, this time a bit further away, but giving us enough time to savour the observation. Wow.

We still have a long way to go, so we take to the road again, heading west towards Sepúlveda and the Hoces del Duratón. On the way we clock Little Grebe, Hoopoe, the first of the many million Griffon Vultures we’ll see on this trip, Linnet, Buzzard, 2 Booted Eagles, more Griffon Vultures, Jay, and another lark: Woodlark.

In Sepúlveda, we dump our stuff at our hotel, and since we have a couple of hours or so before Spanish dinner time, we drive back to the bridge across the Duratón river just outside the town, park in a lay-by and gaze in wonder at the gorge below us and at its inhabitants. Griffons everywhere, Jackdaws, Crag and House Martins, fantastic Red-billed Choughs in noisy small groups, a Rock Bunting just below the bridge, Rock Sparrows going to and fro, a Red-legged Partridge calling from a rock on the other side of the bridge, White Wagtail. We also hear Wren and the first Cuckoo.

We have a lovely dinner in a restaurant with fantastic views over the gorge and then go for walk to the top of the village before retreating to bed with wide grins on our faces.
 

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3Italianbirders

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Italy
June 14
Sepúlveda - Hoces del Duratón - Embalse de Arrocampo (Extremadura)

Another early start, even if we don’t have to spend time looking for Dupont’s Lark (although another one would be very welcome), we still have to drive all the way to Extremadura and arrive in time for dinner, which we have booked at our Casa Rural. In town we add to the list Serin and Greenfinch, then we stop again at the bridge, where we see Linnet, Black-eared Wheatear, Stock Dove and more Rock Sparrows. On the way to the Ermita de San Frutos, at the heart of the Hoces del Duratón reserve, we see the first Woodchat Shrike of the trip and a Song Thrush.

When we reach the track that leads to the Ermita we are very glad to have already seen Dupont’s Lark, as the track is long and the vegetation offers more cover than in Belchite. We try to listen for its song, but all we can hear (and see) are Crested/Thekla Larks, Calandras and Skylarks. We leave the car in the car park and walk downhill towards the old church which overlooks a bend in the gorge. There are wildflowers everywhere, a real wonder to behold, Griffon Vultures circle overhead and Sand Martins whizz past. The gorge is like nowhere we have been before, like a smaller Grand Canyon, but with lots of greenery and birds everywhere you look. Egyptian Vultures, Booted Eagles, Ravens, Black Kites, Blue Rock Thrush, Cirl Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear, Bonelli’s Warbler, apart from the ubiquitous Griffons, are only some of the species we see.

Unfortunately we have a long drive ahead of us so we have to leave. On the way back we try again for Dupont’s Lark, but fail - good thing that we saw it yesterday!

We start the long drive south, then west, adding to the list Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear and a probable Black-shouldered Kite from the motorway.

The last stop before our B&B is the first hide by the visitor’s centre at the Embalse de Arrocampo, renowned for Purple Swmphens. We are not very optimistic as the heat is oppressive (and it will get worse!) and there’s very little activity around the reedbeds, apart from lots of Swallows. But, sure enough, after 10 minutes or so in the hide, a Purple Swamphen pops out from the reeds, in plain view just across from us. Another 10 minutes and another one appears. Who would have thought? In the meantime we see Little Egret, Purple Heron, Coot, Spoonbill, Sardinian Warbler and Moorhen and hear, but fail to see, a Savi’s Warbler.

The last sighting before reaching our home for the next week is the first of many Azure-Winged Magpies. Before dinner a Booted Eagle flies overhead.

Another fantastic day!
 

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3Italianbirders

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June 15
Extremadura: Santa Marta steppe and Monfragüe NP

At breakfast, our host advises us to go early to the steppe because later in the day the heat haze makes it impossible to see anything. That’s what we do and are rewarded with a flock of Black-bellied Sandgrouse in flight, plus several Spanish Sparrows, one Green Sandpiper, a couple Black-winged Stilts, Buzzards, White Storks and a huge eagle perched on a post right against the rising sun, which we take at first for a Bonelli’s, but looking at the bad dark photos later, with the help of our host, we identify as a sub-adult Spanish Imperial Eagle.

We then make our way to Monfragüe, stopping first at the Salto del Gitano (or Peñafalcon) where a whirlwind of Griffon Vultures awaits us, together with Black Kites, one or two Monk Vultures, an Egyptian Vulture, delightful chattering Red-rumped Swallows, Black Storks, Crag Martins. During the rest of the day we add to the list Golden Oriole, Long-tailed Tit, Subalpine Warbler and Grey Heron.

Back at our Casa Rural we decide that the next morning we’ll try to get to the steppe at dawn, before
breakfast, to try and maximise our chances of seeing the steppe species that have eluded us so far.

June 16
Extremadura: Santa Marta steppe and Monfragüe NP

At 6.30 we are in the same spot of the previous day and birdlife is indeed more abundant this early. We immediately locate a Southern Grey Shrike and then another, we also see a Lapwing, a couple of flocks of Black-bellied Sandgrouse and also hear Pin-tailed Sandgrouse very close, but despite trying hard we do not see them. What we do see instead is a Great Bustard! As we drive back to our lodgings for breakfast we stop at the Trujillo bullring, to have a look at its Lesser Kestrels.

Back in Monfragüe we see more of the same, plus Rock Bunting and some Red Deer at Peñafalcon, Cormorants, Turtle Doves, Egyptian Vulture and our first sighting, albeit at a distance, of Spanish Imperial Eagle at the Portilla del Tietar.

June 17
Extremadura: Alange, Almendralejo, Vegas Altas

Today we decide on a change of scenery, targeting two species which we had thought nearly impossible: Black Wheatear and Rufous-tailed Bush Robin, our host tells us, are actually pretty straightforward to see with a little luck. He advises us to try the area around the dam near Alange for the Wheatear and the olive groves and vineyards near the town of Almendralejo for the Robin.

The dam proves to be a real treasure trove: Booted Eagle, Blue Rock Thrush, Alpine Swifts hurtling past, often lower than us, Crag Martins, Rock Bunting and, sure enough, Black Wheatear!. We also hear but fail to see a Rock Thrush. It’s a Sunday and the area is becoming busier, it’s also getting really hot, so we get back in the car and head for the farmland around Almendralejo, where olive groves alternate with vineyards and chicken farms. It is on one of the tracks cutting through a vineyard that we hear a strange song: a Rufous-tailed Bush Robin, apparently indifferent to the heat, is perched on top of a vine. We watch it while it sings, displaying its beautiful tail feathers, then flies towards us, then flies again and disappears in the nearby olive grove. Fantastic bird.

The plan is to drive towards the rice fields in the Vegas Altas area, to look for Collared Pratincoles and Terns. It’s a long, hot drive, with the only sightings being the ubiquitous Black Kites and White Storks. Things don’t change much when the rice fields start, but we do see one full of Collared Pratincoles and some unidentifiable waders. We don’t look for a way to stop and have a better look as we think that we’ll se more near Vegas Altas. Unfortunately this is not the case - the rice fields seem devoid of life, and the heat is becoming a bit too much. We stop for a welcome lunch and a cold beer and then start driving back towards the pool of our Casa Rural. The temperature reaches 40C and we stop at some of the places in the Gosney, but the only species we add to our list is the only (?) Roller of the trip.

Then it’s pool time and an evening visit to Trujillo.
 

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3Italianbirders

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June 18
Monfragüe - Portilla del Tietar - Saucedilla

Today we head back to Monfragüe to try to get better views of Spanish Imperial Eagle, since our host tells us that it’s easier to see them in the morning, whereas we have always been later in the day. We do stop briefly at Peñafalcon, where we add another bird of prey to the list: a nice Peregrine Falcon.

At the Portilla del Tietar two Spanish Imperial Eagles are circling overhead, this time much lower down, and after a while one of them decides to perch on top of a rock, so we get fantastic views. The nearby dehesa (field with cork oaks) holds Golden Orioles, Woodchat Shrikes, Cirl Bunting, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Green (Iberian) Woodpecker, while the vegetation near the water has Hawfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper and Cetti’s Warbler. The usual Griffon and Egyptian Vultures circle overhead.

In the late afternoon we head towards the Arrocampo area, which they tell us is the best bet for seeing Black-Shouldered Kites, which apparently at this time of the year tend to come out of hiding to hunt only at dusk. We drive along the many tracks and small road around the town of Saucedilla, seeing a Great Reed Warbler and a Nightingale, then finally, at 9.30 the first Black-Shouldered Kite appears on a post and a after a while, another one further along. As we head home, crossing the wetland area just before the nuclear power station we see a Great Bittern, Gull-billed Terns and the only Night Heron of the trip.

June 19
Castillo de Monfragüe - Portilla del Tietar

It’s our last day in Extremadura, and apart from the steppe species, which we have given up on, we still have two birds that we really want to see: Western Orphean Warbler and White.Rumped Swift. The best place to see the latter seems to be the Castillo de Monfragüe, at the entrance of the Park, where we had stopped the first day without seeing any swifts at all. Since, as with everything in this trip, morning is best, that’s where we head first thing. The 360° view from the Castle is breathtaking. Amidst the usual Griffons and a few Monk Vultures, two Booted Eagles circle below us and the odd Swift whizzes past. It is with a lot of effort and some luck that, after some time, a swift with an obvious white patch on its rump “passes through” my binoculars: White-rumped Swift! After another 10 frantic minutes the rest of the family manages to see it too. On the way down from the castle we try to locate another species that has eluded us: Ocellated Lizard, which we may have briefly seen from the road leading to the Portilla del Tietar but we have no luck.

We do have luck at the dehesa near the Portilla though: after hearing it call in the distance for a long time, a Western Orphean Warbler finally appears in a cork oak not too far, permitting good binocular views. The by now “usual” Imperial Eagles and Egyptian Vultures are there too, and as we drive back towards the entrance of the park, we also see a Crested Tit and another Green Woodpecker, along with a group of Long-tailed Tits. It’s bye bye to Monfragüe and Extremadura for us.

June 20
Extremadura - Madrid

It’s with regret that we leave Extremadura and our hosts, although the idea is to go back, possibly when it’s less hot. We are going to spend the night with friends in Madrid and do a little bit of sightseeing. Only the usual things are seen along the way, with more Rose-ringed Parakeets in Madrid. While resting in a small park after an hot afternoon in town we hear unknown bird noises, but unfortunately we haven’t brought binoculars so we’ll never know what it was.

P.S. about the second photo below: where else can you get an Egyptian Vulture "accidentally" entering your photo of a SIE?
 

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3Italianbirders

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June 21
Madrid - Mallos de Riglos - Hecho

We leave our friends in the morning and head north. As we approach the Pyrenees the Kites become Red and the White Storks less frequent.

We stop at Riglos, a well-known rock-climbing destination, famous for its “Mallos”, spectacular towering cliffs behind the village. Besides the usual Griffons, and Egyptian Vultures, the site should hold Black Wheatear, but we fail to locate it, seeing instead Rock Sparrow and Black Redstart around the church.

After the heat of Extremadura and Madrid, the cool mountain air that greets us as we disembark from our dusty car at our hotel in the Hecho Valley is a welcome relief. We have a fantastic room in the eaves of the hotel with magnificent views of the mountains around. Robins call from the garden and a stream bubbles nearby. Can it be the same country?

June 22
Hecho Valley - refugio Gabardito - Aguas Tuertas

After breakfast we drive to nearby Refugio Gabardito and make the short hike to the “Wallcreeper” rock face. We don’t see any Wallcreepers, nor we will in the following days, but then we have them at home in the winter so we aren’t really trying. We do see Ravens, Egyptian Vulture, Lammergeier, the usual Griffons, Golden Eagle, Alpine Swifts and Red-billed Choughs. We have lunch at the Refugio, then drive downhill and then up the valley through the Boca del Infierno along the stream, where we see Grey Wagtail and Dipper. We drive all the way to the end of the road at the car park of the Aguas Tuertas trail, but it’s too late to attempt it, so we leave that for another day and slowly make our way back to the hotel, never stopping to wonder at the scenery, and adding to the list Garden Warbler, Mistle Thrush and Coal Tit.

June 23
Hecho - Ansó - Hecho

Since it’s a Saturday and all the main sites in the Hecho and Ansó valleys will be very busy, our host suggests a walk in the little valley between the two main ones that starts behind the hamlet of Siresa. We drive part of the way, then park and walk, at first in the trees, crossing a couple of streams, then the valley opens up in a mountain meadow with the usual fantastic views on the surrounding peaks. There’s several Firecrests, a Buzzard, the first Sparrowhawk of the trip, Marsh Tits and a probable Citril Finch, which we only glimpse. But the real surprise comes as we are driving back towards the main road, along a low stone wall: there’s a huge lizard on top, and yes, it’s an Ocellated Lizard! We had given up on seeing one and never thought we could see it in the Pyrenees.

We get back in the car and drive through the quaint village of Ansó, then proceed up the valley until we reach the Refugio de Linza, but there’s hundreds of cars, campervans and people, so we do a quick u-turn and stop a bit further down the road, where it meets a track the crosses the stream. We park and eat our sandwiches and the fruit the we have bought in Hecho this morning. While we eat a woodpecker calls: Black Woodpecker! Unfortunately we don’t see it, even when, after lunch, we walk along a forest trail that has sign advertising several species of woodpeckers.

Driving back towards Ansó, as we pass the Zuriza campsite we hear a Yellowhammer, but fail to locate it.

As we reach the hotel a Red-backed Shrike greets us on top of a bush and we think we hear a Bullfinch, but the song stops after a while and it’s impossible to find it.
 

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3Italianbirders

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June 24
Hecho - Ansó - Valle de Roncal - La Pierre St. Martin (FR)

Since we want to avoid the Sunday crowds and to look for high mountain species we ask our host and he advises us to drive back to the Zuriza campsite in the Ansó valley and from there take the road that leads into the Roncal valley, in the neighbouring region of Navarra, and then up a mountain pass into France.

As soon as we take the turn-off for Roncal we hear again a Yellowhammer. It seems to be calling from behind the campsite, so we retrace our steps, drive around the campsite and stop exactly in the same place where we had heard it the previous day. This time we locate it in a shrub about 20 metres away, then it flies off.

We reach the Roncal valley, and we drive towards the French border, seeing en route Red Kite, Red-backed Shrike, the usual Griffons and Kestrel. The road is pretty straight at first, then towards the top it twists and turns through rocky outcrops covered in alpine vegetation and then through mountain meadows. This is Capercaillie country, as the signs in three languages (Spanish, Franch and Basque) tell us, but after dipping in Sweden three years ago and in Scotland last year we are not very optimistic and in fact we do not see any.

We stop in a lay-by soon after the French border and look around. Two juvenile Lammergeiers circle not too far away, small flocks of Yellow-billed Choughs pass overhead, and often also a Red-billed or two. There’s also a lot of small bird activity: Dunnock (unusual for us seeing it singing from the top of the tree, as we only see it in winter), Snowfinch, Wheatear, Linnet, Water Pipit, and most importantly, Citril Finch, such a pretty-looking bird, fantastic. We have our lunch in a large lay-by next to some trees and add Goldcrest to the trip list.

June 25
Hecho - Aguas Tuertas

It’s our last full day in the Pyrenees and we tackle the hike to Aguas Tuertas. The most common bird in the valley seems to be Egyptian Vulture, with several sightings in the few hours that we spend in the area. We also see another Yellowhammer and hear, but unfortunately fail to see, Ortolan Bunting. We also hear a Garden Warbler in a bush just next to the trail, but it’s impossible to see it. The last bit before we get to the hut is steep and the sun is blazing down, but we are rewarded with a mind-boggling sight, a bright green valley full of wildflowers between snow-capped rugged peaks, with a snaking stream lazily making its way through it. An Egyptian Vulture flies back and forth, there are Black Redstarts, Linnets, Yellow and Yellow-billed Choughs, G also sees a pair of Snowfinches and we can hear Marmots whistling, we look but can’t see them and t’s getting late so M and I head downhill while G takes a “a few more pictures”. We wait for him for a while after the first steep bit and when he finally joins us he tells us that the Marmot was actually much closer than we thought and that it wasn’t at all shy and didn’t mind having its picture taken! We are devastated to have missed it, but it’s too late (and too steep) to go back, so we hope to see one along the trail, since all of a sudden we can hear them everywhere. Unfortunately we don’t see any, but we do see an Alpine Accentor, which was missing from our list.

Time to get back to the hotel and pack.

This will turn out to be the last real day of birdwatching as apart from more Griffons, Buzzards etc. seen from the car we won’t stop for birding proper anywhere else.

June 26
Hecho - Saint Martin de Crau

June 27
Saint Martin de Crau - Genoa

June 28
Genoa - home

P.S. I just love the Basque sign!
 

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3Italianbirders

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Italy
Full checklist:

1. Little Grebe
2. Cory’s Shearwater
3. Balearic Shearwater
4. Cormorant
5. Shag
6. Bittern
7. Night Heron
8. Cattle Egret
9. Little Egret
10. Grey Heron
11. Purple Heron
12. White Stork
13. Black Stork
14. Spoonbill
15. Mallard
16. Lammergeier
17. Griffon Vulture
18. Monk Vulture
19. Egyptian Vulture
20. Golden Eagle
21. Spanish Imperial Eagle
22. Short-toed Eagle
23. Booted Eagle
24. Red Kite
25. Black Kite
26. Black-shouldered Kite
27. Marsh Harrier
28. Buzzard
29. Sparrowhawk
30. Kestrel
31. Lesser Kestrel
32. Peregrine Falcon
33. Red-legged Partridge
34. Moorhen
35. Coot
36. Purple Swamphen
37. Great Bustard
38. Black-winged Stilt
39. Collared Pratincole
40. Lapwing
41. Green Sandpiper
42. Yellow-legged Gull
43. Audouin’s Gull
44. Gull-billed Tern
45. Black-bellied Sandgrouse
46. Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (h)
47. Stock Dove
48. Wood Pigeon
49. Collared Dove
50. Turtle Dove
51. Cuckoo
52. Little Owl
53. Swift
54. Alpine Swift
55. White-Rumped Swift
56. Bee-eater
57. Roller
58. Hoopoe
59. Rose-ringed Parakeet
60. Green (Iberian) Woodpecker
61. Great Spotted Woodpecker
62. Black Woodpecker (h)
63. Skylark
64. Crested Lark
65. Thekla Lark
66. Woodlark
67. Short-toed Lark
68. Lesser Short-toed Lark
69. Calandra Lark
70. Dupont’s Lark
71. Sand Martin
72. Barn Swallow
73. Crag Martin
74. Red-Rumped Swallow
75. House Martin
76. Water Pipit
77. Pied Wagtail
78. Grey Wagtail
79. Yellow Wagtail
80. Dipper
81. Wren (h)
82. Dunnock
83. Alpine Accentor
84. Robin
85. Nightingale
86. Rufous-tailed Bush Robin
87. Black Redstart
88. Stonechat
89. Song Thrush
90. Mistle Thrush
91. Blackbird
92. Blue Rock Thrush
93. Rock Thrush (h)
94. Wheatear
95. Black-eared Wheatear
96. Black Wheatear
97. Zitting Cisticola
98. Garden Warbler
99. Blackcap
100. Western Orphean Warbler
101. Sardinian Warbler
102. Whitethroat
103. Subalpine Warbler
104. Cetti’s Warbler
105. Great Reed Warbler
106. Savi’s Warbler (h)
107. Chiffchaff
108. Bonelli’s Warbler
109. Goldcrest
110. Firecrest
111. Great Tit
112. Coal Tit
113. Marsh Tit
114. Blue Tit
115. Crested Tit
116. Long-tailed Tit
117. Short-toed Treecreeper
118. Treecreeper
119. Red-backed Shrike
120. Southern Grey Shrike
121. Woodchat Shrike
122. Blue-winged Magpie
123. Magpie
124. Jay
125. Jackdaw
126. Red-billed Chough
127. Yellow-billed Chough
128. Carrion Crow
129. Hooded Crow
130. Raven
131. Starling
132. Spotless Starling
133. Golden Oriole
134. House Sparrow
135. Italian Sparrow
136. Spanish Sparrow
137. Rock Sparrow
138. Snowfinch
139. Chaffinch
140. Linnet
141. Goldfinch
142. Greenfinch
143. Serin
144. Citril Finch
145. Hawfinch
146. Cirl Bunting
147. Yellowhammer
148. Ortolan Bunting (h)
149. Corn Bunting
150. Rock Bunting
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Those landscapes do look fantastic!

Some very good birds too - love the Lammergeyer shot.

Cheers
Mike
 

PeterBird

Well-known member
Netherlands
Many excellent photos, both scenery and birds! We also visited the Planeron and the Pyrenees in June, though nearer to Huesca. You did well with the Dupont’s, we dipped on that one. We thought about driving on to Extremadura, but, like you, we hesitated about the area in June. You still managed an impressive number of species there, so your decision to go definitely paid off!
 

Sandra (Taylor)

Registered User
Supporter
What a fantastic trip, brought back many fond memories.


I agree Robin. We too have fond memories of a trip to that area , being guided by the late John Butler - what a lovely man - and his wife Rebecca. This was a wonderful holiday.

… and also a trip with Speyside Wildlife to the area, though I seem to remember the trips were completely different - one to Extramadura and the other was the Pyrenees.
 

3Italianbirders

Registered User
Supporter
Italy
Thank you, all.

Peter: we hesitated too. In fact we had ruled it out at first. I had been to Extremadura before, eons ago, but the others had never been. And when I mentioned skipping it because of the heat, my husband said: "you mean we are going to Spain and NOT to Extremadura?". So that was it. We knew the steppe species were going to be difficult, but also that it wouldn't make much difference for the BOPs. And, being extremely dry, it was much more bearable than we had thought.

And with the Dupont's it was pure luck!
 

dragnil

Home Rule for Yorkshire
Supporter
Super report, brings back many happy memories for me too. Just curious where you stayed in Extremadura - sounds as if it might have been Casa Babel?
 

3Italianbirders

Registered User
Supporter
Italy
Super report, brings back many happy memories for me too. Just curious where you stayed in Extremadura - sounds as if it might have been Casa Babel?

We had considered Casa Babel but ended up at El Recuerdo. Excellent place to stay, as even if a 45-ish minute drive from Monfragüe, it makes for easier access to southern Extremadura. Food was also very good and the birding tips were top of the range.
 

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