Spain - Extremadura in Springtime
Tuesday 19th April - Tuesday 26th April 2016
Extremadura in Spring is simply brimming with birds! It represents one of the best birdwatching areas in Europe, and justifiably so, as it is the last stronghold of some of Europes rarest and most endangered species. We will journey from the spectacular Monfrague National Park, where raptor watching can be truly outstanding, giving us opportunities to see, amongst others Spanish Imperial Eagle, Eagle Owl, Black Vulture and Black-shouldered Kite, to the "Spanish Steppes" one of the most important areas in the world for grassland birds. Here we should see the spectacular breeding display of the Great Bustard, together with other specialities such as Black-bellied & Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and Little Bustard.
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We will meet at Madrid Airport and drive to La Serena plains where we will explore one of the most important areas in the world for grassland birds. It is here that we hope to see the impressive Great Bustard performing its incredible breeding display. The males almost turn themselves inside out and look like huge white balls of feathers. Here too are many other exciting species, including numerous Little Bustard, Stone-curlew, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Collared Pratincole, Calandra Lark and Montagu's Harrier in good numbers performing its attractive display in the sky.
The “sierras” around La Serena are also well known as an excellent site for rock loving birds and we will walk to an old Moorish castle, now in ruins, where the views of the plains are stunning and birds we will find are unmistakable: Golden Eagle, Bonelli´s Eagle, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Alpine Swift and Red-rumped Swallow. The stunningly beautiful European Roller also breeds here in good numbers and are easy to find as they like to perch on electric wires by the roadside.Other species we hope to see include Little Owl, Eurasian Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Woodlark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Southern Grey Shrike, Tawny Pipit, European Serin, Spanish Sparrow, and Rock Sparrow amongst others. Overnight in La Serena.
Early on Day 4 we will drive north towards the wonderful Monfrague National Park. We will stop at a river bed where Penduline Tit breeds, Little Owl and raptors are abundant but the exciting birding is the stunning nesting colony of Sand Martins and the colourful European Bee-eaters. We will also visit Trujillo with its large breeding colony of Lesser Kestrels, and birds are everywhere, but in the middle of the plains we will find an spectacular spot where Cattle Egret, Little Egret, White Stork and Jackdaws breed together in “perfect harmony”. After lunch we will will move to Monfrague, crossing the best agricultural areas of Extremadura. A short visit to a huge reservoir can produce some interesting wildfowl. Monfrague National Park is an area of truly dramatic scenery, and regarded by raptor watchers as one of the most outstanding sites to see birds of prey in Europe. We will explore the north side of the park which is excellent for raptors, here specialities like Black Vulture breed, together with Eurasian Griffon and Egyptian Vultures. Eagles are well represented with Golden, Booted, Bonelli's, Short-toed and the impressive Spanish Imperial. Around the rocky pinnacle of Portilla del Tietar, which holds Rock Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin and Alpine Swift we will look for breeding Black Stork in one of the easiest sites in Europe to watch these shy birds at the nest. Eurasian Eagle Owls can also be found at their day-time roost here. Near our base in Jaraicejo there is an important marshy area where some interesting specialities breed such us Purple Heron, Purple Swamphen, Little Bittern and Savi´s Warbler. Amongst a great selection of warblers we hope to see Western Orphean, Western Olivaceous, Sardinian, Subalpine, Dartford and Melodius Warblers. One evening we will visit a superb area for Red-necked Nightjar with good chances for several mammals as well. Overnight in Jaraicejo.
After some final birding we will return to Madrid Airport for our return flight back to the UK and conclusion of a wonderful tour.
Ground Price: £1250.00 - Madrid/Madrid
Airfare: £250.00 - £350.00 (Approx) - UK/UK
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 4 and maximum of 12
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals (including bottled water), transport in air-conditioned minibus throughout the tour, all reserve entrance fees and services of the leaders.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: We will stay in good quality rural hotels serving delicious local food.
Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour where early mornings are necessary to see species when they are most active. April is a wonderful month to visit Extremadura, although in some years midday temperatures can be a little hot!
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