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:

Eight 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: 1st - 7th April 2021 (SPACES)
Leaders: Marcus Nash

Itinerary

 

DAY ONE
Fly London/Madrid. On arrival, we drive south-west into Caceres Province, towards historic Trujillo. We will break the journey of approximately three hours with a lunch break at a motorway service area near Oropesa. Suitably revitalised, we will take a short drive in the locality, hoping to kick start our list, finding typical species such as Red-rumped Swallow, Iberian Grey Shrike and Iberian Magpie, along with a variety of raptors, including Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and Black Kite, with this also being a known area for Black-winged Kite. Roughly half an hour down the motorway is the excellent Embalse de Arrocampo, where we will spend the rest of our available birding time. A wide variety of wetland birds is possible, including Little Bittern, Western Swamphen, Savi’s Warbler, Gull-billed Tern and Purple Heron, while raptors such as Black Vulture, Lesser Kestrel and Western Marsh Harrier will be much in evidence. The surrounding terrain should deliver Eurasian Hoopoe, Spanish Sparrow, Zitting Cisticola and Spotless Starling, among others. From here, it is a forty-minute drive to our hotel near Trujillo, our base for the next six nights.

 

DAY TWO
Today the majority of our time will be spent exploring the plains between Trujillo and Cáceres, a productive area, where all the steppe-loving species can be found. Both Great and Little Bustards are likely; with luck some males of the former will be performing their incredible ‘snowball’ display. Nomadic groups of Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse are possible, if somewhat unpredictable in their appearances. Raptors are very noticeable here, with circling vultures as far as the eye can see, while both Spanish Imperial and Golden Eagles are a distinct possibility, too. Woodchat Shrike and Iberian Grey Shrike are frequent Calandra Lark and Spanish Sparrows should be obvious, while our identification skills will be tested separating Thekla’s Lark from the very similar Crested Lark. Heading north through Santa Marta, we will investigate a couple of river crossings. Here the rocky ravines could yield Crag Martin, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Sardinian Warbler and European Serin, plus the outside chance of Black Wheatear. Finally, we will call in at an area of mixed farming east of Monroy, where Black-winged Kite often hunts. A colony of noisy Spanish Sparrows is often present, utilising the nests of the White Storks, which breed on the Umbrella Pines. Before dinner, we will complete our checklist, reflecting on our first full day’s birding in Extremadura.

 

DAY THREE

Monfragüe National Park lies in rugged country at the confluence of the rivers Tiétar and Tagus and is justifiably renowned as one of the prime birding sites of the region, holding good numbers of all the characteristic species, except for steppe birds. At the vertiginous Castillo de Monfragüe incredible eye-level views of passing Griffon Vultures are likely, while scanning further afield could bring Bonelli’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture and Golden Eagle. Red-billed Chough are sometimes present, along with a variety of rock-loving species, including Blue Rock Thrush. The famous Peña Falcón viewpoint is a great place to study the comings and goings of the Griffon Vultures at the large colony on the crags here, with Peregrine Falcon, Black Stork, Subalpine Warbler, Rock Bunting and Short-toed Treecreeper possible. At Villareal de San Carlos, the only settlement here, we can search for both Western Orphean and Spectacled Warblers. Moving further into the area, Black Vultures will be frequently seen and we will hope to observe territorial Spanish Imperial Eagles. Eurasian Eagle Owl are present, but we will need a slice of luck to connect. Leaving the park behind, our return route will take us through Belén Plain, where we will search for all the steppe species. Iberian Grey Shrikes are particularly common here, while both bustards are likely. Stone Curlews are present, but will take some spotting if hunkered down in the grassland. Finally, we will briefly visit a small pool in Trujillo, where we hope to find breeding Little Ringed Plover and Black-winged Stilt.

 

DAY FOUR
The relatively new reservoir at Alcollarín has quickly established itself as one of the premier wetlands in the region, partly on account of its relatively shallow depth profile, while the surrounding dehesa adds further interest. Black-necked Grebe, Red-crested Pochard and Garganey are possible on the reservoir, while Eurasian Spoonbill, Great White Egret and Black Stork should be present. Depending on the water levels, a variety of waders can be found on the extensive shoreline. Bonelli’s Eagles are frequently seen. The hinterland will be busy with Iberian Magpies, along with Woodlark, Eurasian Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike and various warblers, and maybe something less usual, say a Eurasian Wryneck. 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 and Red Avadavat, both introduced residents, 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 FIVE
Heading south today, we will drive south to the vast expanses of plains known as La Serena, harbouring some of the largest concentrations of steppe birds found in Spain. Slowly driving some of the quiet tracks and roads here should give us ample opportunity to connect with both of the sandgrouse and bustards, along with a host of other interesting species, including Montagu’s Harrier, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Little Owl, Lesser Kestrel and Greater Short-toed Lark. Time permitting, we will visit a Castillo at the south of the area, where Black Wheatear and Red-billed Chough are possible. 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 might also see Purple Heron, Woodchat Shrike and some huge colonies of Spanish Sparrows. 

 

DAY SIX

Today, we may head south to bird several sites in and around the ancient Roman city of Merida. Stopping first at Embalse de Alange, we will wonder at the huge Alpine Swift colony, which has formed on the dam itself. Walking along the track which skirts the reservoir, we will search for Black Wheatear, Rock Bunting and Blue Rock Thrush. At Merida, we will walk along the impressive Puente Romano, the world’s longest surviving bridge from ancient times. This allows views of the vegetated margins and islands of the Guadiana, where Glossy Ibis, Western Swamphen and Penduline Tit occur. Pallid Swifts will be whizzing past at eye level and Western Cattle Egrets will be busy at the riverside colony. From here we will head to Embalse de los Canchales, a productive wetland north-west of Merida. An island near to the southern shore holds a sizeable heronry, while Gull-billed Terns will be patrolling. Depending on the water levels the shoreline can hold passage waders, while the hinterland should hold Woodchat Shrikes, with Black-winged Kite possible, too. Alternatively, and weather permitting, we may wish visit Sierra de las Villuercas, a highly scenic mountain range, west of Guadalupe. Roadside stops here could yield species such as Crested Tit, Firecrest, European Nuthatch and even Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, while Golden Eagle can occur along the ridges. It is possible to drive to the highest point of the range, where Common Rock Thrush can occur. At Cabañas del Castillo we will search for rock-loving species around the castle ramparts.

 

DAY SEVEN

After checking out, we begin our journey northwards, calling in at a couple of birding stops along the way, depending on which species we have not seen. The heath at Jaraicejo is an easy location to find Dartford Warbler and Spectacled Warbler, while the nearby high pass at Casas de Miravete could bring Crested Tit, Woodlark and Short-toed Treecreeper. Any remaining available time might be spent revisting Arrocampo, possibly picking up a few new species missed previously. We arrive back in Madrid early afternoon to check in for our flight back to London, where the tour concludes.  

 

 

 

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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