Extremadura, the least developed Spanish region, treasures some of the most spectacular birds in Europe. This is an extense region which borders on Portugal, and that you can reach in less of 2 hours of car from Madrid.
This is a land of lonely hills and plains, a place of hard climate with extreme temperatures both in winter and summer, and where the concentration of the land in few hands has kept the agricultural development (and the social development the same) at low rate. Often known with the dubiously honorific name of Land of Conquerors (Pizarro and others were born here), this wonderful region of endless dehesas (evergreen oak forests) and untouched grasslands, is probably the best place in Europe for raptors, and the density of Black Kites & Booted Eagles is simply impressive. Fortunately, the former threatened Spanish Imperial Eagle has increased its numbers and territories very much in recent years, but the area between Gredos and Northern Extremadura keeps being an important stronghold for this unique bird of prey. We shall enjoy also the wide array of birdlife living on the evergreen forests that cover most of these landscapes. Here we should find Woodchat Shrikes, Black-winged Kites, Western Ophean Warblers, Woodlarks, Spanish Sparrows, and the near-endemic Iberian Magpie.
Besides, we can expect Sandgrouses, Larks, European Rollers, Lesser Kestrels, Savi’s Warblers, and surprisingly good densities of Great Bustards (the heaviest bird on earth that is capable of flying!) and, if lucky, Little Bustard. This species is dramatically declining in Extremadura (and everywhere else in Western Europe), and we will count ourselves lucky if connecting with some of them!
But our journey will lead us beyond Extremadura, and we will visit the impressive Gredos Mountains looking for the unique form of Bluethroat nesting here, along with Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush & the magnificent Spanish Ibex. Our detour to the rich wetlands south of Madrid will provide our ambicious list with White-headed Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Moustached Warbler and, if very lucky, the very scarce Marbled Teal.
Carles Oliver has been leading tours to Extremadura for almost 10 years, and he keeps as enthusiastic for this land as the first time he visited the area with some friends of him. This is a tour of really short transfers, excellent accommodation, superb cuisine and local wine, and great cultural heritage. An approach to a land where traditional Spain keeps well alive.
A book to know more on Extremadura: “The Holy Inocents” (1981) by Miguel Delibes (1920-2010). Adapted to cinema (1984) under the same name for Mario Camus Garcia (1935).
Day 1. “La Mancha Húmeda” ponds. Meet and welcome in Madrid Airport or in another place previously agreed. This first day we will explore the variety of endorreical wetlands South of Madrid and called “La Mancha Húmeda”. Here we will look for White-headed and Ferruginous Ducks.
Depending on the year, Marbled Teals may be present as well! Penduline & Bearded Tits are common along with Western Swamphen and nesting Moustached Warbler, Black-necked Grebe and Little Bittern. Here Sandgrouses are likely to appear as coming to drink water from the cereal steppes around. Migratory birds can easily include Greater Flamingo, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Water Pipit, Black-tailed Godwit and Pied Avocet.
Days 2 & 3. Tiétar Valley & Arrocampo Reservoir. The Tiétar Valley is a huge valley covered by open evergreen oak forest. Here we will look for many good specialities such as Spanish Magpie, Cinereous Vulture, Spanish Imperial & Booted Eagles and Black Stork along with many other raptors.
Other really sought-after birds here include Great Bustard and Black-shouldered Kite. This is also the land of the wonderful Iberian Magpie! The Arrocampo Reservoir is probably the most productive wetland in Extremadura, and we will look for Little & Greater Bitterns, Western Swamphen, Great Reed Warbler, Penduline Tit, Eurasian Spoobill, Ferruginous Duck, Savi’s Warbler & Gull-billed Tern.
Days 5 & 6. Monfragüe & beyond. Monfragüe is one of the best birding sites in Iberia. Considered as one of the five best places in Europe for raptors, Monfragüe hosts good populations of Cinereous, Egyptian & Griffon Vultures along with Spanish Imperial, Bonelli’s & Booted Eagles. This is also a great place for Blue Rock Thrush, Black Stork and Subalpine Warblers. In the steppes will also enjoy Lesser Kestrels, Pallid Swift, Montagu’s Harrier, Rollers, Great Spotted Cuckoo, and the very scarce Little Bustard, if lucky. Common birds here include Wood, Crested & Thekla Larks; Subalpine & W Orphean Warblers and Spanish Sparrow. Really good birds here include White-rumped Swifts, Iberian Flycatcher and here there are some Rüppell’s Vultures and have even tried to nest in recent years!
On day 6 at midday final transfer to Madrid expecting to arrive at mid afternoon.
5 nights of accommodation in twin rooms, breakfasts, lunches and evening meals, guiding and tour leaders, ground transport, reserves entrances fees. All prices include VAT.
International flights to/from Madrid airport, drinks, any other item not listed as “INCLUDED”.
We will meet in your accommodation around Madrid. We recommend you to spend the night prior the tour start in a hotel close to Madrid Airport.
When exploring this land we stay in a modern local owned hotel surrounded by traditional open evergreen oak woodlands. It is usual to see Black-shouldered Kite or Spanish Imperial Eagle from the hotel orchards. We do only use one accommodation during this tour. All rooms have full equiped en-suite bathroom. All dinners are in the accommodation. All lunches will be packed and provided by our accommodation.
PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH
Citizens within Schengen area are not required for any Passport. Visas are not required for any UK, US nor Canadian citizens. All Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return date. We recommend you to contact your local health authorities to get updated information before travel.
2019 Tour Report (+ extension to Pyrenees)
Dates: April 15th to 26th, 2020
Number of species seen: 227