Back in October I was lucky enough to spend 5 days in the Monfragüe National Park in Extremadura. I had never been to Spain before, nor had I really birded Europe outside of the UK, so there were plenty of new experiences to be had!
Before I go any further I must say a massive thanks to David Lindo (@urbanbirder) for inviting me on the press trip, the good folks at Diputación de Cáceres (@Turismo_DipCC) for making the trip possible, Martin Kelsey (@casaelrecuerdo) for all his local knowledge and to the other trip participants, Sorrel Lyall, Emma-louise Cole, Niki Bloom and Miriam Darlington, for their great company! It really was a brilliant trip and I hope it won't be too long before I get to return to Extremadura to explore it some more...
Day 1 (15th): I arrived at Madrid Airport where I met David, Martin and Niki and had a beer or two to chill out while we waited for the others to arrive. A little while later Sorrel, Emma and Miriam arrived and we soon began the 3 hour drive to our accommodation. On the drive we saw 19 species, including a rather incredible juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle (the first of so many lifers)! On arrival at the accommodation it wasn't long before bins were donned and scopes unpacked. We were soon treated to brilliant scope views of hundreds of Griffon Vultures swirling around on the thermals and some Crag Martins whizzed over. A short walk with Sorrel produced Hoopoe, Zitting Cisticola, Grey Wagtail, Great White Egret, Crested Lark and a large roost of House Sparrows. The day ended with our first taste of traditional Spanish cuisine.
|Beautiful Gothic (Leucochlaena oditis)|
Day 2 (16th): After a traditional Spanish breakfast of meats, cheese and pastries we made our way to Castillo de Monfragüe. On the way we stopped to look at some geology where you could see ripples in a rock which used to form the seabed near Australia - pretty neat indeed! At Castillo de Monfragüe we saw lots more Vultures, both Griffon and Black, a Red-billed Chough, some Crag Martins and a stunning Hawfinch! The views were spectacular out over the River Tagus and the surrounding dehesa.
|View from Monfragüe Castle overlooking the River Tagus|
|View from Monfragüe Castle overlooking dehesa|
|Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)|
|Large Psammodromus Lizard (Psammodromus algirus)|
|Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus)|
|Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus)|
|Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti)|
|View from the hide at Arrocampo|
|Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)|
|My Swarovski ATS 65HD and 25-50W eyepiece are an epic combo for birding!|
|Moorhen and Purple Swamphen|
|Inside the Orchydarium|
|Iberian Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis)|
|The information centre in Toril|