Tour At A Glance

Cost:

1499.00

Deposit:

350.00

Single Room Supplement:

175.00

Tour Code:

Intermediate with very little walking but some long days in the field

Group Size:

Seven plus leader

Spectacled Warbler Thekla Lark Short-toed Eagle Great-spotted Cuckoo Lesser Kestrel Gull-billed Tern European Bee-eaters

Extremadura - Land of The Conquistadors

Date: 24th - 30th March 2020 (SPACES)
Leaders: Paul Roberts

Itinerary

 

DAY ONE
Fly London/Madrid.
On arrival, we drive south-west into Caceres Province towards historic Trujillo. En route, we will break the journey of approximately three hours with a coffee break at a motorway service area. Our first Griffon Vultures, Booted Eagles, Red and Black Kites and White Storks will be evident, plus the ubiquitous Spotless Starling and Iberian Magpie. Arriving early evening at our hotel, we will get time to explore the environs of the hotel, where a large White Stork colony is present, with steppe species possible in the surrounding habitat.
 
DAY TWO
There is no better introduction to the region than the area of steppe at Belen, just a few km from where we are staying. As well as Little Owl along the walls and Hoopoe flitting ahead of the van, Little Bustard is likely to be seen by the roadside. Calandra Larks display their bat-like flight above the fields and raptors often sweep across the grasslands. Thekla's and, Crested Larks are likely, with Yellow Wagtails possible among the cattle. Heading out from Trujillo, where Lesser Kestrel and Pallid Swift compete for our attention in the skies, we head along the ‘Santa Marta Loop’, one of our favourite sites in Extremadura. Raptors are very common here, and everywhere you look the sky is filled with circling Griffon and Black Vultures, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Kites, and even Golden Eagle is seen here occasionally. Great-spotted Cuckoo chase noisily amongst the trees and Little Bustard will be ‘blowing raspberries’ as they display to one another. The mighty Great Bustard is very regular here, and Stone Curlew are present though take some spotting, as they crouch in the grasslands.

DAY THREE
The variety of Extremadura comes from the presence of its reservoirs and waterways that help add the wetland species to our list, and there can be no better such site than Arrocampo-Almaraz, where a small marsh with reeds and a large reservoir provide memorable birding. Savi’s Warblers greet us as they reel from the bulrushes, Sedge and Cetti’s Warblers sing from surrounding vegetation. Purple Heron and Little Bittern are sometimes found, often giving stunningly close views, but the real stars are the Purple Swamp-Hens that usually show superbly. We have seen Squacco Heron and Eurasian Spoonbill here, though we will need some luck to match Ashley’s find of Extremadura’s second Little Crake on a previous visit here! Heading into the northern mountains of Monfragüe National Park, we will spend the afternoon searching for raptors and hopefully, Spanish Imperial Eagle, which is endemic to Iberia. Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes and even Black-shouldered Kite may be seen as well as the usual mass of eagles and vultures.
 
DAY FOUR
Heading south today, we will drive to the vast expanses of steppe in the area known as La Serena. Here, it is possible to get away from the main roads to look for bustards, and flocks of Great Bustards numbering up to 60 have been seen previously. This is our best chance of Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse which roam these plains in cackling flocks. With luck, we may encounter an early Montagu's Harrier, attracted to one of the cereal fields, with Red-billed Chough likely to the south of the area.  We will head back via the Rio Zujar, a winding river with lush bank side vegetation, slowly driving the riverside track, where Common Nightingale will be singing from the undergrowth. Penduline Tit, though elusive, is possible. Marsh Harriers and Booted Eagles are frequent, whilst we have also seen Purple Heron and Red-crested Pochard. 
 
DAY FIVE
The Embalse de Alcollarin will be our first port of call today. This relatively new reservoir has quickly eastablished itself as one of the region's premier wetlands. Rafts of wildfowl could hold Garganey, Red-crested Pochard and Ferruginous Duck, while a variety of waders will be present along the extensive shoreline. Great White Egrets, Glossy Ibis and Eurasian Spoonbills are likely, with the surrounding dehesa holding Hoopoe, Iberian Magpie and Woodchat Shrike, among many others. Next we will traverse an area of steppe at Campo Lugar, where Great Bustards are usually reliable. Nearby, the rice fields of Madrigalejo often hold waders and interesting passerines. Common Waxbill, an introduced resident, can be found in good numbers, while Ruff, Black-winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, various sandpipers and Spanish Yellow Wagtail may be seen. Time permitting, we will visit Moheda Alta, an area of mixed farming and dehesa, where a reservoir can be productive for wildfowl and waders.
 
DAY SIX
Monfragüe National Park requires another visit to get the most from all of its sites, and the key bird today will be Bonelli’s Eagle. At the raptor watchpoint, we may see this species plus Spanish Imperial Eagle and Egyptian Vulture, as well as Dartford Warbler and Wood Lark in surrounding terrain. At Tietar cliff, Black Storks often nest among the Griffon Vultures. A highlight of today will no doubt be our walk to the Castillo, atop the mountain ridge and overlooking the cliffs of Penafalcon across the gorge. Views are breathtaking across the dehesa, and the views of the Griffon, Black and Egyptian Vulture are amazing! Booted and Short-toed Eagles can glide by at eye level, Northern Goshawk can occasionally be seen and both Peregrine and Red-billed Chough patrol the ridge. Rock Bunting and Blue Rock Thrush delight us, and we will be keeping an eye out here for Rock Sparrow, which is also present around the cave mouth on the walk up. Black-shouldered Kite is an Extremadura speciality, and we will visit a site this afternoon where we hope to watch this superb raptor hunting, and where eagle nests adorn the electricity pylons! A colony of noisy Spanish Sparrows is often present, utilising the nests of the White Storks, which breed on the Umbrella Pines.
 
DAY SEVEN
Our tour concludes today with a mid-afternoon flight back to London, though we will have time for some final birding en route. No doubt, a pre-breakfast walk around the garden will be required to look for a passing migrant such as Pied Flycatcher, but our route to Madrid passes Almaraz marsh so we will stop here again to look for wetland birds. Hopefully this excellent site will provide a fitting finale to what will have been a superb weeks birding.

 

Additional Information

 

WHATS INCLUDED
Return flights UK/Madrid, six nights en suite accommodation, all meals including wine in the evenings, ground transport in Spain, services of leaders, local taxes and reserve entrance fees.

NOT INCLUDED
Transport to/from UK airport and any overnight stay that might be involved, travel insurance, drinks other than those stated and any items of a purely personal nature.
 
PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH
Visas are not required by UK nationals. Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return travel date. Standard health and innoculation requirements apply for UK nationals, visit www.masta-travel-health.com to check these and if necessary, download a free health brief to take to a travel appointment at your local medical practice. 

 

 

Tour Reports

 

 2006 | 2008  2010  2012   2015    2016   2017    2017 Custom Tour  2019a  2019b

 

Testimonials

 

"Just wanted to thank you again for an amazing trip to Extremadura. Birding, scenery and accommodation were amazing and you as a tour guide and companion for the week was top drawer. Certainly a joint Birthday present we wont forgot in a long time."  S & E.H, Beds
 
"Paul did a wonderful job in very extreme weather conditions. The meals and hospitatlity were very good and the holiday was great value for money. All in all an excellent holiday, good birds, good food but a shame about the weather" S & C.C County Durham
 
“We particularly enjoyed the guide’s company and expertise” S & I. K. Beds.

“We enjoyed the richness of the bird life, exploring the terrain and discovering the Spanish towns. The expertise of our guide and his total commitment and professionalism made the holiday. Thank you for a magnificently managed holiday”
R & A. M. Notts.

“Our guide gave us all the opportunity to see everything and I enjoyed the holiday very much, particularly the well knit group” P. S. Suffolk.

“The whole experience was very enjoyable. Everything had been carefully planned and arranged allowing for a worry free holiday. The birding and accommodation exceeded our expectations. The guides were very knowledgeable and helpful”
M & J. S. Kent.

“ Nothing was too much trouble, the birding was excellent and the leaders were outstanding” C. T. Powys.

“ The tour was excellent in every way. The hotel was wonderful, the leaders worked very hard and the birding was fantastic” W. D. Herefordshire.

“ I enjoyed all aspects of the tour, especially the number and variety of birds. Both leaders were extremely good and the hotel was excellent ” P.M. Rhondda.
 
"The excellent team work between the leaders really enhanced the trip. Their enthusiasm and professionalism was excellent and their knowledge superb. Their desire to ensure everyone saw the birds well made the discovery of new species exciting. The hotel was superb – a lovely family run environment that gave us a lot of pleasure and nothing was too much trouble for them. The rooms were very comfortable and the home cooked regional cuisine was enjoyable. The organisation, day to day planning, as well as the small group size were particularly enjoyable, as was the spectrum of birds and flora that we saw. The pre-tour information was extremely useful and we will definitely participate on another holiday and recommend that others do too” K & J. H. Merseyside.

“The holiday was excellent value for money and the guides were exceptionally helpful. In fact the capacity to find the birds was little short of genius! The accommodation was palatial and the food and wine exceptionally good, while the family running it were wonderful” M. C. Edinburgh.
 
 " This was a great introduction to birding holidays and Paul was a great tour leader and driver who provided us with top quality sightings of really good birds. The good weather was the icing on a throughly good cake  - we thoroughly enjoyed it thoroughly" J & S B Surrey
 
 "Just a quick note to say how much we enjoyed the tour - we are still coming down from it. You guys have turned up trumps again as you always do" V R & J L Hertfordshire
 
" We both rate the tour and leader as 5/5 as it was an excellent package and we really look forward to birding with Paul again - he really went the extra mile for us and we fully apreciated his all round natural history knowledge"
M & F S Leicester
 
" The tour was very well organised and based at a good venue. Everything ran smoothly and Paul Roberts worked very hard in tough weather conditions at times" G M Ireland
 
" We enjoyed the tour enormously despite the challenging weather. The small, friendly group, high quality minibus and comfortbale hotel, as well as Paul's efforts to find and show us the birds, which resulted in a great collection seen. Overall another excellently arranged tour to one of Europe's top spots" AJ & MS London
 
" As well as the organisation by the office, great credit must go to Paul for his leadership and friendship and to JP and Belen for the memorable accommodation and meals" J S London

 

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