Monday, 16 December 2013

Extremadura, The Spanish Steppes in Winter

Extremadura in November


19th – 26th of November 2013

Day 1.
Tuesday the 19th of November 2013

Stephen took an early flight from Seville to Barajas airport in Madrid join the group who arrived a few hours later from London. Flights ran to time and as the mini-bus paperwork was all ready completed we headed off through Madrid's intricate motorway system and headed south-west towards our destination outside Trujillo.
Stopping off en route to have some tapas and a drink we arrived just as the sun was setting after managing to see a host of birds from the airport to our hotel.

A lovely dinner was taken and we retired early as most had been up very early that morning.

Common Cranes feeding with Great Bustards

Day 2.
Wednesday the 20th of November 2013

It doesn't get light until around 8am in Extremadura in November and although a few Blackcaps and Robins were calling from the hotel gardens we weren't able to have a pre-breakfast walk.
Some Blue Tits, Great Tits, Blackcaps and a dashing Sparrowhawk were seen on the lane in front of the hotel before we departed
After we had finished our breakfast we headed off towards Caceres and the small winding country lanes that seemed to be full of Azure-winged Magpies, Woodlarks, White Wagtails and Meadow Pipits. A good number of Red Kites were already out scanning the countryside above the dehesa, that wonderful mix of meadow grazing land and light wooded area that sweeps across the rolling contours of this rich land. Here flocks of Merino sheep and many different breeds of cattle and black Iberian pigs feed on the acorn harvest that comes from the predominant Holm Oaks that offer not only the fruits in autumn but each tree provides a shaded canopy in summer for the many animals that olive there.
Taking a track away from the woodlands we soon found a large flock of over 25 Great Bustards that had lifted off a large field where one of the local farmers had been tending his sheep. These rather nervous birds took to the air crossing the track in front of us and flew over a ridge and eventually went out of sight. Another group of males were also watched nearby and as we walked and then drove back the way we'd come we watched a small party of Griffon Vultures with some Black Vultures passing effortlessly across the blue sky.


Common Cranes in the harvested rice-fields
Great Bustards
Common Crane

Serins and Goldfinches were feeding on the thistles and other dried out plants on the steppe and skylarks sang as the Iberian Shrikes kept watch with their amazing eyesight for any predators. Corn Buntings, Crested Larks were seen on the fences and a small flock of seven Pintailed Sandgrouse flew past, calling as they went.
Travelling through some holm-oak lined country lanes we came to the Rio Magasca where we stopped for lunch watching low flying Red Kites and high flying Black and Griffon Vultures.
Taking the road down to the rice fields at Madrigalejo we stopped to look for Stone Curlew and after a short search we found a flock of over 70 birds. Moving on through the flat landscape with rice-fields on either side of the road we saw pockets of Common Cranes in the air and on the ground. Finding a quiet land we stopped the mini-bus and watched wave upon wave of cranes come in to feed on a harvested maize field. The noise was incredible and the acrobatics as the birds flew in to land was a sight to witness. Along the canals and ditches we saw quite a few medium sized flocks of Common Waxbills and a single Kingfisher. A single juvenile male Marsh Harrier was seen close to the main road as we left the rice fields.
Moving through to higher ground we searched for title Bustards finding more Great bustards. In fact we almost doubled our score from the morning's tally and managed to see another 40+ birds on both sides of the road. A lovely male Hen Harrier was a treat and then our patience paid off when we spotted two Little Bustards fairly close to the road. After this we watched one group then a second group of Great Bustards take to the air when a framer and his dog went to round up some sheep that were lambing. The bustards flew right past us and some of us managed to get some wonderful flight shots!
We ended our day at the hotel and felt quite satisfied after a great day's birding!

Marsh Harrier
Great Bustards
Little Bustards
Golden Plover
Great Bustards
Common Cranes

Day 3.
Thursday the 21st of November

There was some ground frost as we left after breakfast and headed towards the National Park at Monfrague. Stopping en route at a section of the Rio Magasca we found Grey Wagtail and Green Sandpiper. A few Hoopoes were seen en route as we headed north. Common Buzzards were seen on posts by the roadside and already a few Red Kites were patrolling the skies over the dehesa.
At Monfrague we parked below the Castillo that sits on a high ridge overlooking the impressive peak of Pena Falcon. Mist shrouded the valley where the Rio Tajo has been held back with a series of hydro-electric dams and the peak sat clear of the mist with Griffon and Black Vultures peppering the guano covered rock face. Looking down on the forest canopy Robins, Song Thrushes, Hawfinch, Chaffinch, Blackcaps and Azure-winged Magpies chattered and called. The trees, a mixture of wild olives and hawthorns, were laden with fruits offering the resident and migrant birds winter food and there were certainly lots of passerines around.

Azure-winged Magpie
Black Vulture
Peña Falcon
Black Vulture
Griffon Vulture
Griffon Vulture

As the mist slowly cleared we had wonderful close views of both the numerous Griffon Vultures and the scarcer Black Vultures passing below us on the new observation platforms. Mistle Thrush, Black Redstarts, Wren Rock Bunting, Short-toed Treecreepers were watched and Jay and Firecrest were seen as we descended the staircase to the mini-bus.
We spent some time below at another viewing point at Pena Falcon watching the vultures and and Peregrine Falcon flying around the peak. Long-tailed Tits came through the trees and Cirl Bunting were seen.
After stopping off for a coffee at Villa Carlos we had some close views of Red Deer and Azure-winged Magpies near the Tietar dam and continued on to the head of the valley where we took our picnic lunch at one of the hides. Greater Cormorants and Rock Dove seemed in good supply and a single Blue Rock Thrush flitted across the rock face where more Griffon Vultures sat as others took off or landed. Raven called and we scanned the skies for Spanish Imperial Eagles to no avail.
induing our way back down through the network of park roads we continued down to Trujillo and to the hotel.
Later in the evening we went back to take a walk around the old town centre and took a meal in the Plaza Mayor beside the formidable statue of Fransisco Pizaro conqueror of Peru.
It was late when we returned to the hotel after a good meal.
Black-winged Kite
Golden Eagle, juvenile
Trujillo

Day 4.
Friday the 22nd of November

Another chilly start to the day we left the hotel to travel to the Siera Brava reservoir. En route we saw some of the early morning birds with quite a number of Common Buzzards and Red Kites either sitting on telephone poles or in flight. Quite a few Redwings and some Fieldfares were also seen in the dehesas under the oaks and wild olive trees. Meadow Pipits, Great Tits and Blackbirds came and went as did both Song and Mistle Thrushes.
On arrival at the reservoir we took a track along the western edge finding two Yellow-legged Gulls. There were lots of Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls there too but the biggest group of birds were the ducks at the far side of the water. Scanning with the telescope we picked out Gadwall, Widgeon, Mallard, Northern Shoveller, Teal, Common Pochard and Red, Crested Pochard. A few Great Crested rebus were seen diving and then watched preening and a flight of twelve Greylag Geese passed overhead. On the other side of the reservoir at the dam wall we watched two Thekla lark and a single Kingfisher which came in quite close, perching on a rock.
Following the small road around the main canal above Vegas Altas we watched thousands of Cranes above and below this huge rice and maize producing area. Some twenty or so Great bustards were seen with some of the cranes on the reservoir side of the canal and we saw good numbers of Cattle Egrets and about a dozen White Storks.
A little later on we saw Green Sandpipers, a lovely male Blue Rock Thrush and hundreds of Tree Sparrows. Linnets, Goldfinches, Serins a few Greenfinches and Spanish Sparrows were seen as we descended down for lunch over a small stream where there was a large growth of bullrushes and other aquatic planets, bushes and trees. Water Rail was heard several times and there were more than three different birds calling but didn't show themselves. Similarly Purple Swamphen also called a few times downstream but we did see Moorhen. A few Cetti's Warblers showed and there were lots of Chiffchafs to see. Some Red Avadavits and Common Waxbills eventually showed andCorn Buntings and Zitting Cisticolas war fairly abundant as were Common Stonechats, Meadow Pipits. We stopped a while later to see two close adult Hen Harriers, one male and one female.
Taking a drive down to Campo Lugar we found another group of forty Great Bustards, several Marsh Harriers including a lovely male before returning to Turjillo.
A wine tasting at the hotel literally went down well and after another lovely meal we retired for the night.

Stone Curlews

White Stork

Hen Harrier, male
                           


Day 5.
Saturday the 23rd of November

A cold and frosty start soon cleared as the sun rose as we drove to Cabanas del Castillo. The drive through the Sweet Chestnut valleys was ablaze in autumnal colours and Black Vultures patrolled the ridges and valleys. Some Jays were seen as were Mistle Thrushes, Song Thrushes, Fieldfares and Redwings through the woodland stretches. Up at Cabanas we watched a Blue Rock Thrush sitting behind a  large boulder close to the village entrance. Some Hawfinches came past and there were a few Black Redstarts on the rooftops as Crag Martins fed on insects around the cliff face backdrop to the village. Griffon and Black Vultures were present along the valley to the rear of the village and the walk to this viewpoint is quite beautiful. We had been fortunate with the weather and the clear skies and warming sun made everyone feel good
We found another male Blue Rock sitting Thrush below the ancient ruins of the castle on the high ridge. There were many Robins in the olive and fig gardens and a single Dunnock was seen.
We drove down from Cabanas to have lunch at the old bridges below Jaraicejo on the River Almonte. Here were many White Wagtails and around six Grey Wagtails feeding on the pasture or in the shallows of river. More Crag Martins came and went as did some close vultures and the woodland strip above the river was alive with the sound of Blackcaps.
After lunch we drove across the long country road towards Monroy stopping a few time to look for the still scarce Spanish Imperial Eagle. Our efforts were rewarded near the junction to Torrejon del Rubio when we checked out a group of vultures above the dehesa and found a single adult Spanish Imperial and an adult Golden Eagle high in the sky. They circled a few times allowing us all to watch ad cop are size and structure of these two special creatures as the turned on their long wings effortlessly against a backdrop of blue winter sky.
After this we continued across country finding lots of Common Buzzards and around 40 Common Cranes. Reaching Monroy we treated ourselves to a coffee, sitting out in the town square enjoying the sun. Taking the country road towards Trujillo, not an easy task as signposts are not big on the village's agenda, we came across a dead cow at the side of the road with a small party of Griffon Vultures feeding on it. This was quite a special sight to see on any tour and those with cameras managed to get some good photos of adult and juvenile vultures threatening and posturing to each other, hissing and taking turns in the pecking order at the carcass.
Later, out on the rolling steppe we watched Red Kites, Marsh Harriers, a few Hen Harrier and a single Black Kite hunt across the open landscape. A Little Owl very close to the rad was another bonus and a dashing male Merlin was another addition to an excellent day out in the field.

Common Waxbill

Day 6.
Sunday the 24th of November

Another wonderful dawn and deep blue sky with birds singing as we left the hotel. Azure-winged Magpies flitted across the roadway in troops as we drove towards the motorway and drove to Almaraz to see some of the wetland species. Unfortunately the fog was so thick that you could hardly see your hand in front of your face and we decided to take a coffee and wait until the flog lifted. The air was quite still and nevertheless the sun was managing to burn off some of the fog by the time we took the road to Sauceidilla. Along the edge of the reeds we did manage to peer through the mist at some Purple Swamphens, some Chiffchaffs and a couple of Cetti's Warblers but it was pretty difficult to find anything in the port visibility. Sunday is a day for fishermen and hunters with guns and dogs out in the country during winter and they were very much in evidence everywhere we went. Taking the road back towards Almaraz we saw a Black-winged Kite fly past the edge of the lake then disappear over a ridge. We drove around the edge of the power station perimeter and tried in vain to see the bird but to no avail.
We drove back towards Trujillo and then took a long look at the vast expanse of steppe landscape at Belen. Again we seemed to be destined to meet groups of hunters sweeping the rolling plain for hares, rabbits or partridge. Naturally all the bustards had left although we did take time to go through the larks again and sort our Short-toed from Thekla! There were also huge numbers of Calandra Larks and many finches and a Little Owl was watched which is always a lovely bird to catch up with.
On the outskirts of Trujillo we had lunch then drove up to the road to Santa Marta de Magasca, again watching lots of Azure-winged Magpies, Woodlarks and Tree Sparrows. We then took a walk through one of the country lanes that had no traffic and no hunters - we were sure that they were all having lunch by this time! Watching Red Kites wheel and turn over the pastures we heard the call of Black-bellied Sandgrouse from a distant ridge and walking up to the rise we scanned across the open undulating fields and found a pair feeding in the rough pasture.
A few minutes later a flock of sixteen Little Bustards lifted into the air in a tight group and flew off towards the setting sun. More Black-bellied were seen also in flight and after listening to their calls getting quieter and quieter, we called it a day and walked back the few kilometers to the mini-bus.
In the evening we talked about visiting Monfrague National Park one last time and all agreed that another visit would be wonderful, especially as the sunny clear skies were here to stay for a few more days.

 Blue Rock Thrush, male

Day 7.
Monday the 25th of November

As expected a cloudless sky greeted us after breakfast and although it was cold with some frost on the ground, the birds could be heard singing as we left the hotel.
At Monfrague we stopped briefly to watch the Vultures at Pena Falcon then drove up to the Tietar to the other colony to see if we could find a Spanish Imperial Eagle. Blue Rock Thrush were watched as were both Black and the commoner Griffon Vultures. Great crested Grebes and Great Cormorants swam and dived for food as some very pure forms of the local Rock Doves flew past.
There was some disturbance on the roadway with gangs of forestry workers strimming the edges of the road and the noise was fairly loud. We then left the area without seeing the big eagle and continued down the road towards Placencia for some kilometers stopping to check out some open areas where Common Snipe were seen. Red Kites were fairly common and we had a superb view of a low flying Black Vulture that was keen to see what we were up to!
We then travelled back through the Tietar valley following the reservoir to the dam and finding Crested Tit before having our picnic lunch.
After lunch we stopped to take in some of the sights down at Peña Falcon before travelling up the road that leads to the castle where the cliffs offered some protection from the cold wind and in fast it was very warm there in the sunshine. We stayed a while watching the griffons fly past and land on the cliff-face above us. Crag Martins also sun bathed and flew close to the cliff face catching flying insects that seemed to be plentiful. A few Hawfinches, lots of Chaffinches, Song Thrushes, a few Mistle Thrushes and a dashing Great Spotted and ground feeing Iberian Green Woodpeckers were seen in and under the oak canopy. There were lots of Blackcaps around and Serins, Tree Sparrows and Great and Blue Tits with the occasional party of Long-tailed Tits coming past. Looking down on the evergreen lower canopy of mixed wild olive and oak we could see and hear the troops of Azure-winged Magpies flying after one another. Ravens flew overhead calling and here and there a Grey Heron or cormorant went past.
Reluctantly we moved across country towards Monroy and the Santa Marta de Magasca area. Here we were fortunate to catch up with a sub-adult Golden Eagle that was circling with a mixed group of Griffon and Black Vultures. A short time later we watched a flock of Great Bustards flying across the steppe to feed in another area. Black-bellied Sandgrouse were also seen and heard.
We had travelled quite a distance during the day and decided to head back to the hotel as the light faded. It had been another great day 

Fantastic views of Great Bustards and Common Cranes

Day 8.
Tuesday the 26th of November

Steve and Lindsey were taking the bus back from Trujillo to Madrid for their early flight back to the UK from Madrid and Stephen took them to Trujillo’s bus station very early before breakfast.
The rest of the group said their goodbyes to the staff at the hotel and could spend the last few hours birding before they too had to leave Extremadura for flights later in the day from Madrid.
We headed down to the Vegas Altas area one more time to watch the mass of cranes for the last time. We stopped off near Madrigalejo to look at the Stone Curlew roost counting over 70 birds and admiring such a large winter flock some preening others feeding and walking around their site. After this great start we took a tour of the rice fields watching literally thousands of Common Cranes interspersed with views of Iberian Grey Shrikes, a dashing male Merlin, Common Kestrels, Hen and Marsh Harriers and a host of different larks. We took time also to watch both Common Waxbills and Red Avadavats in the reeds and grasses along the canals and ditches that feed this huge complex agricultural area. Great Bustards were next on the list and a huge flock of over 80 birds tad taken to the air with hundreds of cranes as tractors moved around the area. We followed a group which had landed a short distance away and stopped to admire such a great sight, then they were off again to look for somewhere quieter.
Time was passed quickly as we were enjoying the birds but sadly we had to make our way and join the main motorway to Madrid, after a coffee and a comfort stop of course!
Heading along the motorway we saw a Goshawk pass across the carriageway and a short time later we saw a Black-winged Kite hovering in the central reservation with another bird perched on wires on the other side of the road.
There were also many Griffon and some Black Vultures all along the route and when we pulled off to take our picnic in the countryside we saw many more as well as long lines of distant cranes flowing the snow capped mountains. Again larks and Northern Lapwings seemed everywhere with huge numbers of Skylarks mingling with huge mixed flocks of Spotless and European Starlings, Calandra, Crested and Short-toed Larks.
We arrived back at Barajas airport at an easy pace and in plenty of time for our flights. Stephen said his goodbyes to the remainder of the group as they checked in for their flight to London.
This year’s Spanish Steppes tour was really rewarding for all. The weather was wall-to-wall sunshine with a fabulous number of birds seen at beautiful locations in the wide open expanses of Extremadura. Thanks to all for your bird-spotting abilities good cheer and good company. Hopefully we can meet up some other time on another birding and wildlife adventure!

Stephen Daly, December 2013



ANNOTATED LIST OF BIRDS RECORDED
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
 Seen in low numbers or heard most days
Greylag Goose Anser anser
 Seen in the Vegas Altas area feeding with Common Cranes and a few birds seen in flight over the Embalse de Sierra Brava on the 22nd.
Gadwall Anas strepera
Moderate numbers on the Embalse de Sierra Brava
Wigeon Anas penelope
Moderate numbers on the Embalse de Sierra Brava.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Large numbers on the Embalse de Sierra Brava and small numbers recorded elsewhere on wetland areas.
Shoveler Anas clypeata
Large numbers on the Embalse de Sierra Brava.
Teal Anas crecca
Sixty or so birds seen on the Embalse de Sierra Brava.
Pochard Aythya ferina Seen only on the Sierra Brava.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Moderate numbers on the Embalse de Sierra Brava and more birds at the Portal del Tietar.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia
Not so common as in some years but seen on three days with greater concentrations through the Vegas Altas area
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
 Large numbers at Vegas Altas and on a few other days in various locations during the week.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Small numbers recorded daily most around the agricultural areas and wetland habitats.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Seen most days in small numbers
Cormorant Phalococorax carbo
Common and seen daily with concentrations on the Monfrague & Sierra Brava reservoirs and at Almaraz.
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Fairly common throughout the week
Merlin Falco columbarius  Singles seen on four days.
Peregrine Falco peregrinus
A pair at Peña Falcon gave us a great flying display and later in the week three birds were seen at the Portal del Tietar.
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
 Fleeting views of a single juvenile bird at Almaraz then two birds seen on the motorway on the last day near Talevera.
Red Kite Milvus Milvus
Seen every day of the tour, fairly common.
Black Kite Milvus migrans Singles seen on two days.
Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus
Common, seen in good numbers everyday of the week with exceptional sightings at Peña Falcon and Portal del Tietar in the Parque Nacional de Monfragüe.
Black Vulture Aegypius monachus
Low numbers, seen every day of the tour with some excellent close views at Monfragüe.
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Seen on five days in small numbers, mostly in the rice-fields.
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus
 Seen on three days of the tour with some good views of males hunting.
Sparrowhawk  Accipiter nisus Seen on four days, singles.
Goshawk Accipiter gentilis One bird seen flying close over the motorway on the last day
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Fairly common, recorded in small numbers each day of the tour.
Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti
 One adult seen near Monfragüe. On the  5th day and a single sub-adult seen a few days later near Santa Marta de Magasca.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
An adult seen at Monfragüe and a single sub-adult was watched near Santa Marta de Magasca  later in the week.
Great Bustard Otis tarda
 Great views of some large flock of up to 90 birds on four days of the tour.
Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax
 Small flocks and pairs seen in flight on four days of the tour.
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Birds heard calling and seen briefly in the mist at Almaraz lagoons on the 26th .
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
One bird seen at Madrigalejo and more at Vegas Altas
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus One bird heard calling at Río Gargalligas.
Coot Fulica atra
Good numbers seen on the Embalse de Sierra Brava and again at Almaraz.
Common Crane Grus grus
 Seen every day of the tourThousands of birds seen within the Vegas Altas agricultural area. Good numbers of medium sized flocks in various Dehesas throughout the area. Extremadura has concentrations of Common Crane exceeding 140,000 birds most Winters.
Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus A flock of 70+ wintering birds were seen near Madrigalejo on two occasions. Great view were had by all.
Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Seen every day of the tour.
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Five seen feeding around a large compost mound near Puerto de Tietar.
Greenshank Tringa nebularia
One bird seen at Sierra Brava on the 25th
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Seen in small numbers most days of the tour
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos One bird seen on the 25th at Sierra Brava
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michaellis Several birds seen at Vegas Altas on the 23rd and a single bird on the 25th at the Embalse de Sierra Brava
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
Seen in low numbers on five days of the tour
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Good numbers feeding in the agricultural areas, seen on 5 days of the tour.
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata
A small flight of 7 birds were seen and heard calling at Santa Marta de Magasca on the 24th.
Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis
 Small groups seen feeding, heard calling and seen in flight on two days of the tour.
Rock Dove/Feral  Dove Columba livia
Recorded every day of the tour. There were some pure Rock Dove forms seen at Portal de Tietar.
Woodpigeon Columba palumbus
Seen every day of the tour, common.
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Recorded in smallish numbers throughout the week.
Little Owl Athene noctua
Recorded on five days.
 Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Single birds seen on two days.
Hoopoe Upupa epops
Fairly common throughout the week and seen most days in low numbers.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major  Seen only on one day at woodland around Monfrague Castillo. Hear calling on another day.
Iberian Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis
Fairly common on the steppes and on telegraph wires alongside roads.
Jay Garrulus glandarius
 Singles and pairs seen in the appropriate woodland areas throughout the tour.
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus
Very common and vocal with flocks seen daily. Good numbers around our hotel.
Magpie Pica pica
A very common species throughout the week.
Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Fairly common throughout the week with a resident flock of at least 20 birds at Las Canteras and bigger flocks in the square in the old square in Trujillo.
Raven Corvus corax
Recorded in small numbers throughout the week.
Coal Tit Periparus ater  Singles seen on a couple of days.
Great Tit Parus major
Fairly common during the week but only seen in ones and two’s.
Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
Small numbers seen most days and one seen most days in the hotel garden.
Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus  Good views of three birds in the pines at Monfrague.
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Six at the Peña Falcon on the 13th and ten at the Portal del Tietar in Monfragüe.
Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris
Seen in low numbers on five days. Larger concentrations at Peña Falcon and Portal del Tietar in Monfrague Parque Nacional.
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra
Quite numerous in selected meadows on the Magasca, Zorita and a large flock of over 300 on the Belen Plain on the 25th.
Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla  Small flocks watched feeding on open ground at Vegas Altas and a few seen and heard calling as they flew over Belen plain.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata
Very common throughout the week.
Thekla Lark Galerida theklae
Seen on three occasions with two birds seen to compare with Crested Lark on the Belen Plain on the 23th.
Skylark Alauda arvensis a few seen on the 22nd en route to Monnfrague from Placencia. On the 24th  6 were seen at Belen and on the 25th a few were seen and heard at Vegas Altas.
Woodlark Lullula arborea Seen most days around woodland in small numbers. Very vocal.
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Seen well on four days at Campo Lugar, Vegas Altas and other sites.
Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti
Seen or heard blasting out their explosive call most days.
Chiffchaff Phylloscopuus collybita Very common throughout the week.
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Common seen and heard most days. Present in the hotel gardens.
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
Skulking birds seen most days and heard as well. A fairly common warbler in Extremadura.
Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild  Seen a few times at various places in Vegas Altas
Red Avadavat Amandava amandava  Seen at Río Gargalligas and nearby Vegas Altas.
Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla
A few seen and heard calling on the 21st at woodland in at Monfrague Castillo.
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
A few birds seen and others heard in various locations. Present and calling from the hotel gardens
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla
Four birds seen at woodland in the dehesa at Monfrague.
Nuthatch Sitta europea
Brief views of this woodland species on three days.
Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Large flocks from the north seen every day in the company of Spotless Starlings
Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor
Very common throughout the week.
Blackbird Turdus merula
Fairly common throughout the week.
Redwing  Turdus Ilacus Small to medium flocks arriving throughout the week.
Fieldfare  Turdus pilaris Small to medium flocks arriving throughout the week.

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
Fairly common and seen in low numbers most days
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Seen in wooded dehesas and meadows on five days
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Recorded fairly regularly throughout the week.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Common around buildings and rocky areas and roosting at local buildings around our hotel.
European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
Fairly common, recorded daily throughout our week.
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Seen on the three days at Monfragüe at Peñafalcon and Portel del Tietar and Cabañas del Castillo.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus Common, recorded daily.
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
A flock of at least 200 around Vegas Altas with smaller numbers recorded at other locations.
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Small flocks seen on three days of the tour.
Grey Wagtail Moticilla cinerea
Recorded in ones and twos each day along streams, at reservoirs and on flooded rice fields.
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Encountered regularly in quite good numbers.
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
Very common on the steppes and on agricultural fields.
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Common, recorded in good numbers each day.
Serin Serinus serinus
Recorded on four separate days in smallish numbers.
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Recorded on four separate days in smallish numbers.
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Common, recorded in good numbers throughout the week.
Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Reasonably common, recorded in smallish numbers on four separate days.
Hawfinch Ccocothraustes ccochothraustes Singles seen at Monfrague and other birds heard calling in or over the woodland canopy.
Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra
Very common on the steppe and surrounding open areas.

Iberian Fox 
MAMMALS

Red Fox Vulpes vulpes

Red Deer Cervus elaphus
Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
Iberian Hare Lepus granatensis
Common Pipistrelle Bat Pipistrellus pipistrellus

REPTILES/AMPHIBIANS
Marsh Frog Pelophylax ridibundus

BUTTERFLIES

Small White Artogeia rapae
Large White  Piersis brassicae
Clouded Yellow Colias crocea
Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
Wall Brown Lasiommata megera
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui

OTHER
Red-winged Grasshopper

Red Admiral














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