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Extremedura, Spain, April-May 2005

Ibex in the Sierra de Gredos


24/04/05 : Flight with Easyjet from London Luton Airport to Madrid Barajas Airport. Picked up rental car from Hertz and drove to Trujillo. Realised it was difficult to camp in the immediate vicinity, so drove back up to Monfrague, and camped in the lovely campsite 5km east of Plasencia. Birded Arroyo Del Vid and Pena Falcon on the way.

25/04/05 : Monfrague. Did a loop walk from Villareal de San Carlos, stopped at the various "Miradors", and ended up at the Tietar Cliffs mid afternoon. Did a night drive around the Plasencia area.

26/04/05 : Monfrague. Walked from Pena Falcon along the river and then up to the Castillo de Monfrague. Returned to Trujillo, and found a room in a hotel overlooking the Plaza Mayor.

27/04/05 : Belen Plains in the morning (see photo below), Santa Marta de Magasca - Monroy area in the afternoon.

Stork and egret nests in a small groups of trees in the Belen steppe

28/04/05 : Santa Marta de Magasca road in the morning. Drove to Merida in th afternoon, camping on the outskirts of the city. Visited Embalse de los Canchales in the later afternoon -evening.

Black and Griffon Vultures, with Black and Red Kites on the fence in the background, watching a new born lamb, near Santa Marta de Magasca

29/04/05 : Drove north towards the Sierra de Gredos, visiting Embalse de Arrocampo on the way. Stayed in Campingredos, a campsite at Puerto el Pico.

30/04/05 : Walked to Laguna Grande, up a mountain in the Sierra de Gredos.

01/05/05 : Birded the river near the campsite early morning. Left Campingredos and drove to Madrid. Booked Hotel El Coloso on before arriving. It was adequate, but the A/C had broken, leaving us sweltering at night.

02/05/05 : Madrid.

03/05/05 : Flight home.

Bird List

Great Crested Grebe, Podiceps cristatus

c20 on the Grafham Water-like Embalse de los Canchales, near Merida.

Great Cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo

Occasional singles seen around Monfrague and by most large lakes.

Little Bittern, Ixobrychus minutus

One cracking male out in the open from the Roman river bridge at Merida early afternoon (see photos). Another male flew over the small reedbed and landed in view for a couple of minutes during the early evening at Embalse de los Canchales, near Merida.

Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax

A couple seen over the river at Merida and at dusk at Embalse de los Canchales, near Merida.

Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis

Very common.

Little Egret, Egretta garzetta

Seen in small numbers in wetlands south of Trujillo, with several at the river in Merida.

Grey Heron, Ardea Cinerea

Several singles seen around Monfrague.

Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea

Two seen on the river at Merida, including a close bird fishing alongside the road bridge.

Black Stork, Ciconia nigra

c25 seen in Monfrague, including three active nest sites. Four in flight together, plus 3-4 on the rocks at Pena Falcon was the highest count. One sub-adult seen over the river at Arroyo del Vid.

White Stork, Ciconia ciconia

Abundant. c30 nests seen in Trujillo. Largest flock, c200 individuals near San Luis Obispo, possibly flushed from a nearby refuse tip.

Spoonbill, Platalea leucorodia

19 together at Embalse de los Canchales, near Merida.

Mallard, Anas platyrhynochos

Common around all wetlands.

Gadwall, Anas strepera

Small numbers at Embalse de los Canchales, near Merida.

Black Kite, Milvus migrans

The commonest raptor, seen throughout the area. A large gathering of c20 early in the morning near Santa Marta de Magasca, and a large roost of c40 in trees at Embalse de los Canchales, near Merida, were notable counts.

Red Kite, Milvus milvus

Common around the steppe areas, although possible only a third as many seen as Black Kite.

Egyptian Vulture, Neophron percnopterus

Two occupied nests seen in Monfrague, plus several individuals seen.

Black Vulture, Aegypius monachus

Common around Monfrague and the steppe around Trujillo. No nest sites seen. Three individuals sitting in a field next to the road south of Santa Marta de Magasca in the early morning, near a new born lamb, was an impressive, if slightly intimidating sight.

Griffon Vulture, Gyps fulvus

Very common. Large nesting colonies seen at a couple of sites in Monfrague. Seen soaring over most sites.

Montagu's Harrier, Circus pygargus

Several singles seen around the steppe areas, with concentrations of 6 together over a cereal field south of Santa Marta de Magasca, and 6 over a larger cereal field between Santa Marta de Magasca and Torrejon del Rubio. An attractive melanistic male seen in the Gredos, was presumably on passage.

Marsh Harrier, Circus aeruginosus

A pair seen at Embalse de Arrocampo.

Common Buzzard, Buteo buteo

Fairly common around the steppe areas.

Golden Eagle, Aquila chrysaetos

One seen sparring with an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle at Arroyo del Vid was an impressive sight. Another adult was seen at Puerte del Pico in the Gredos.

Spanish Imperial Eagle,Aquila adalberti

One adult showed well over the ridge at Arroyo del Vid. Prolonged good views of a pair on a nest in Monfrague.

Bonelli's Eagle, Hieraaetus fasciatus

An adult soaring over the road near Villareal de San Carlos, in Monfrague on 26th.

Booted Eagle, Hieraaetus pennatus

Common. Mostly pale birds seen, although a pair displying over Campingredos included a dark phase bird.

Short-toed Eagle, Circaetus gallicus

Several seen around Monfrague, including a pair at La Tajadilla, and an exceptionally pale bird near Santa Marta de Magasca.

Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus

A couple of singles seen; in the Belen Plain, and in the Gredos.

Lesser Kestrel, Falco naumanni

Large numbers in and around Trujillo and Belen.

Peregrine, Falco peregrinus

A male of the brookei subspecies was seen powering over Castillo de Monfrague on 26th and another at dusk near Monroy.

Red-legged Partridge, Alectoris rufa

Commonly heard around Monfrague and elsewhere, with several singles seen.

Quail, Coturnix coturnix

One heard in a field next to the campsite in Monfrague, and another heard in grassland near Embalse de los Canchales.

Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus

Common in wetland areas.

Coot, Fulica atra

Common at Embalse de los Canchales.

Purple Swamphen, Porphyrio porphyrio

Three seen at Embalse de Arrocampo and others heard.

Great Bustard, Otis tarda

One single displaying male in a field just outside of Belen was shortly eclipsed by a flock of 19, which were all adult or subadult males, in various stages of display, further down the road. The following morning, a flock of 13 were seen a little more distantly, south of Santa Marta de Magasca.

Litte Bustard, Tetrax tetrax

Commonly seen and heard on the Belen Plains. Most individuals were solitary displaying males, although a party of three were seen and a couple of single females. Seen on the Belen plain and south and east of Santa Marta de Magasca.

Stone Curlew, Burhinus oedicnemus

Three in a field near Belen, plus a single flew over the road near Monroy. Elsewhere, a single was seen at dusk at Embalse de los Canchales and others heard calling nearby.

Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus

Several seen, including pairs by the lagoon in the northern outskirts of Trujillo (near the Belen turn).

Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius

Common on the river at Arroyo del Vid.

Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus

Three on the south shore of Embalse de los Canchales.

Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos

Common along the shore at Embalse de los Canchales. Others seen on the river next to Campingredos.

Green Sandpiper, Tringa ochropus

One seen at Embalse de los Canchales.

Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidon nilotica

A single over a small pool in the Belen plain. Six at a small lake near Merida, with a large colony of c200 on islands in the Embalse de los Canchales.

Woodpigeon, Columba palumbus

Common around Monfrague and in the Gredos.

Collared Dove, Streptopelia decaocto

Common, particularly around habitation.

Turtle Dove, Streptopelia turtur

Several singles seen and one or two heard.

Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus

Very common in the dehasa, particularly around Monfrague. A single seen on the first evening jumping around on the grass catching large caterpillars.

Great Spotted Cuckoo, Clamator glandarius

Three hopping about around a pool in the Belen plain, quite distant from any trees. Other singles seen near Santa Marta de Magasca.

Eagle Owl, Bubo bubo

A superb adult of the hispanus race was seen resting on a rock on a cliff face in Monfrague. Nearby it's two large fledged chicks were hopping around on the cliffs. These sightings were during the afternoon, so excellent views were obtained. Eye shine across the river at another view point that evening could well have been this species too.

Tawny Owl, Strix aluco

Heard during the nights at Campingredos.

Scops Owl, Otus scops

Several heard in dehasa, including three around the Monfrague campsite. One spotlighted in a tree next to the tent showed well both perched and in flight.

Little Owl, Athene noctua

Common in the plains around Santa Marta de Magasca

Red-necked Nightjar, Caprimulgus ruficollis

One or two seen well during the evening from the track on the way back to the road from Embalse de los Canchales. At least three males calling simultaneously in the same area.

Alpine Swift, Apus melba

Common in Monfrague, with breeding birds noted at the large bridge downstream from Pena Falcon. Also seen around Plasencia and along the river at Merida.

Pallid Swift, Apus pallidus

Several seen around Trujillo.

Swift, Apus apus

Abundant, especially in the towns of Trujillo and Plasencia.

Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis

One seen at Embalse de los Canchales.

Bee-eater, Merops apiaster

Commonly seen in small groups throughout the week. Seen nesting in burrows in flat ground near Santa Marta de Magasca.

Hoopoe, Upupa epops

Commonly seen and even more commonly heard.

Wryneck, Jynx torquilla

One calling repeatedly from a small valley near La Tajadilla failed to show itself.

Green Woodpecker, Picus viridis

Heard frequently around the Castillo de Monfrague and seen at Campingredos.

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Dendrocopos major

Several seen, mainly around Monfrague and in the Gredos.

Skylark, Alauda arvensis

Common in the grasslands on the ascent to Laguna Grande, in the Gredos.

Woodlark, Lullula arborea

Common in dehasa and wooded areas, including 6 together near Villareal de San Carlos, Monfrague.

Crested Lark, Galerida cristata


Thekla Lark, Galerida theklae

Common, although identification difficulties meant some were undoubtedly overlooked.

Short-toed Lark, Calandrella brachydactyla

One singing male showed well on and next to the road east of Belen.

Calandra Lark, Melanocorypha calandra

Common around Belen and Santa Marta de Magasca.

Crag Martin, Ptyonoprogne rupestris

Common in Monfrague and the Gredos. Elsewhere, breeding in a number of bridges over rivers, such as at Merida.

Red-rumped Swallow, Hirundo daurica

Common in all locations, particularly around Monfrague and Trujillo.

Swallow, Hirundo rustica

Occasional singles seen.

House Martin, Delichon urbica

Abundant. Huge colony nesting under a large road bridge near Pena Falcon, contained several hundred nests.

Water Pipit, Anthus spinoletta

Several displaying males seen on the walk up to Laguna Grande, in the Gredos.

White Wagtail, Motacilla alba

Common in most open habitats, especially near water, such as Arroya del Vid.

Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea

Seen on many of the rivers in Monfrague and the Gredos.

Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava

Seen in the Gredos; all of the Spanish iberiae subspecies.

Dunnock, Prunella modularis

Common. Abundant in broom scrub on the way up to Laguna Grande, in the Gredos.

Robin, Erithacus rubecula

Common in all wooded habitats.

Nightingale, Luscinia megarhynchos

Very common and very vocal throughout the day, mainly in lush, damp wooded or scrubby areas.

Bluethroat, Luscinia svecica

About 20 White-spotted males, singing and song-flighting around the broom scrub on the way up to Laguna Grande. These birds were very confident and approachable and would even fly towards you if you encroached on their territories.

Black Redstart, Phoenicurus ochruros

Common in the Gredos mountains.

Whinchat, Saxicola rubetra

A male seen near Santa Marta de Magasca.

Stonechat, Saxicola torquata

Seen occasionally in all open habitats.

Northern Wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe

Very pale individuals seen in the Gredos mountains. The males were so startlingly pale that at first they were mistaken for Black-eared Wheatears! They were very white below with a tiny yellow throat patch. The upperparts were very pale grey.

Black-eared Wheatear, Oenanthe hispanica

Common in Monfrague.

Rock Thrush, Monticola saxitalis

Three males seen on the way up to Laguna Grande. All were singing and occasionally would carry out display-flights. The first was on rocks very close to the car park for the Laguna Grande walk, the other two being close to the lake itself.

Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola solitarius

Common in Monfrague.

Blackbird, Turdus merula


Mistle Thrush, Turdus viscivorus

A couple seen in the Gredos.

Zitting Cisticola, Cisticola juncidis

One seen by a petrol station near San Luis Obispo, others seen at Merida and Embalse de Arrocampo.

Cetti's Warbler, Cettia cetti

Heard singing in a number of wet, scrubby areas, including in Monfrague, at Tietar, and at Embalse de Arrocampo.

Great Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus arundinaceus

Singing males present at the river in Merida and at Embalse de los Canchales.

Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus scirpaceus

One male singing at Embalse de Arrocampo.

Melodius Warbler, Hippolais polyglotta

A singing male in the campsite at Monfrague, early morning on 26 April.

Subalpine Warbler, Sylvia cantillans

Common in scrub around Monfrague.

Whitethroat, Sylvia communis

One singing bird heard near the car park for the walk to Laguna Grande, in the Gredos.

Blackcap, Sylvia atricapilla

Very common.

Sardinian Warbler, Sylvia melanocephala

Common in scrubby areas, around Monfrague and elsewhere.

Orphean Warbler, Sylvia hortensis

Three males seen near Villareal de San Carlos, all from the La Tajadilla trail. The first bird was singing from large trees in a small lush valley whilst collecting nesting material.

Western Bonelli's Warbler, Phylloscopus bonelli

Present around Campingredos, although only one seen briefly in the morning of 1 May.

Goldcrest, Regulus regulus

Common around the Gredos.

Firecrest, Regulus ignicapillus

Three heard and one seen on the morning of the 1 May around Campingredos.

Pied Flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca

A male of the Spanish subspecies seen in lake-side scrub at Embalse de los Canchales. Seen and more frequently heard around Campingredos.

Crested Tit, Parus cristatus

Fairly common around Campingredos.

Blue Tit, Parus caeruleus


Great Tit, Parus major


Coal Tit, Parus ater

Common, especially in pines in the Gredos.

Long-tailed Tit, Aegithalos caudatus

A few seen, mainly in Monfrague.

Nuthatch, Sitta europaea

Common in the vicinity of Campingredos.

Short-toed Treecreeper, Certhia brachydactyla

Individuals seen at the campsite in Monfrague and near Campingredos.

Southern Grey Shrike, Lanius meridionalis

Seen regularly in the steppe areas, but not as frequently as Woodchat Shrike.

Woodchat Shrike, Lanius senator

Very common in dehasa areas and less so in open steppe. A pair watched displaying at the campsite in Monfrague.

Starling, Sturnus vulgaris

A large flock feeding on the grass at Madrid airport.

Spotless Starling, Sturnus unicolor

Very common throughout the area.

Golden Oriole, Oriolus oriolus

Two males flew over the road between San Luis Obispo and Trujillo on the first day. Singles heard at three or four sites including Pena Falcon.

Jay, Garrulus glandarius

Several seen, notably around the Castillo de Monfrague and at Campingredos.

Magpie, Pica pica

Common in steppe areas.

Azure-winged Magpie, Cyanopica cyana

Very common in dehasa.

Chough, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

A pair seen on cliffs near the Castillo de Monfrague.

Jackdaw, Corvus monedula

Very common, breeding commonly in towns such as Trujillo.

Raven, Corvus corax

Common around Monfrague and elsewhere.

Carrion Crow, Corvus corone


House Sparrow, Passer domesticus

Common throughout the area.

Spanish Sparrow, Passer hispaniolensis

Occasional small colonies around Trujillo and Monroy, and a huge colony along the Trujillo-Santa Marta de Magasca road. Small numbers seen elsewhere.

Chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs

Very common.

Serin, Serinus serinus


Greenfinch, Carduelis chloris


Goldfinch, Carduelis carduelis


Linnet, Carduelis cannabina

Seen regularly in small numbers.

Crossbill, Loxia curvirostra

A single female seen near Campingredos on 1 May.

Corn Bunting, Militaria calandra

One of the characteristic sounds of Extremedura, this species was very common in the dehasa and in steppe areas where there were some bushes.

Ortolan Bunting, Emberiza hortulana

A small number of individuals, including a singing male, seen near Laguna Grande, in the Gredos.

Rock Bunting, Emberiza cia

Common around the Gredos, especially in the car park for Laguna Grande, where reasonably tame. Fairly common in Monfrague, at Pena Falcon, for example.


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