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Extremadura - latest news

John Muddeman
07/05/2009 14:12:39

Three days birdwatching and some news from here and C Spain

Posted in: Birds | Extremadura | Spanish Mainland, Western Spain

Cream-spot Tiger  - Arctia villica © John MuddemanCream-spot Tiger Arctia villica© John MuddemanA quick early May trip to Extremadura, despite clear, sunny and sometimes VERY hot conditions netted a whole bag of fine birds. Light E winds had helped drift birds to W Iberia, including three adult White-winged Terns near Palazuelo two days before (Martin Kelsey pers comm).

Monday saw plenty of Whinchats on the move in C Spain, especially between Calera y Chozas and Alcañizo, plus a single Yellow Wagtail and my first Tawny Pipit of the year there. Three or perhaps four adult male Hen Harriers and two female Marsh Harriers highlighted the total and somewhat worrying absence of Montagu's as we passed through. A flock of 22 male Great Bustards were a bit distant and hazy, but still good! A superb Cream-spot Tiger moth was a beauty.

A late lunch near Oropesa saw us sitting outside watching passing raptors amongst the White Storks, which included Eurasian Black and Griffon Vultures, Common Buzzard, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Lesser Kestrel and Black and Red Kites.
Narrow-leaved Cistus  - Cistus monspeliensis © John MuddemanNarrow-leaved Cistus Cistus monspeliensis© John Muddeman
A final stop en route to our accommodation, the C.R. El Tenado in Aldea del Obispo saw us working hard to spot a well hidden Eagle Owl chick in a small cliff - good news considering we missed two in Monfragüe!

We rounded off with a trip out at dusk for Red-necked Nightjar, one of which flew up the road towards us before veering off, and we heard several others along with calling Eurasian Scops Owls and a calling Barn Owl.

Tuesday before breakfast was out on the steppes near Trujillo, with a couple of pairs of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse close in flight, single male Great and several male and female Little Bustards, calling Great Spotted Cuckoo, an immature male Hen Harrier, adult male Monty's, and heaps of Calandra Larks. Another nearby track yielded calling (but unseen!) Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse and several fine Greater Short-toed Larks.

The rest of the day was taken by heading S via White-rumped Swift  - Apus caffer 2 © John MuddemanWhite-rumped Swift Apus caffer© John Muddeman the Emb. de Sierra Brava and Madrigalejo: 20 Black Terns, 2 pairs of Red-crested Pochard, 2 pairs of European Rollers and single pair of Black-eared Wheatears the highlights, except for a pair of perched and then flying Black-bellied Sandgrouse. And then back via Pico Villuercas, with Rock Bunting and a pair of Bonelli's Eagles en route, and 19 Red-billed Chough, Dartford and Subalpine Warblers, Black Redstarts, singing Dunnock and a very elusive male Rock Thrush were the highlights around the peak, though the drive back was superb, punctuated by various short stops for a few birds. The flowers were also superb White-rumped Swift  - Apus caffer 1 © John MuddemanWhite-rumped Swift Apus caffer© John Muddeman today, being at their peak after a very dry

late winter and spring, with little chance of continuing without a significant change in the weather from now on.

Wednesday was (thankfully!) more relaxed, being 'just' Monfragüe, but with a perched 'checkerboard' immature and then an adult female Spanish Imperial Eagle, the realistic wish-list was complete. Numerous Black Storks and plenty of Egyptian vultures, plus a Peregrine were among the numerous raptors, but the icing on the cake was the continuous observation of a pair of White-rumped Swifts in the park for over an hour, then coming down to just 20-25 m at one point in the dead still and extremely (34ºC in the shade) hot conditions.

Female Red-footed Falcon  - Falco vespertinus © John MuddemanFemale Red-footed Falcon Falco vespertinus© John MuddemanMy return to Madrid was punctuated by a stop in some interesting mixed agricultural land in Toledo, where apart from lesser Kestrel, Little Bustard and Black-eared Wheatear, a perched female Red-footed Falcon was my first for mainland Spain! OK, the picture is poor, but it was phonescoped by hand-holding the mobile to the scope!

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