Tour At A Glance

Cost:

£1399.00

Deposit:

£200.00

Single Room Supplement:

None

Tour Code:

Relaxed with much birding from the roadside. One steep climb up to the Castillo at MonfragŁe

Group Size:

Seven plus leader

Azure-winged Magpie Hoopoe White-spotted Bluethroat Great Bustard Alpine Accentor Griffon Vulture Black-shouldered Kite

Extremadura - Winter in the Spanish Steppes

Date: 27th January to 1st February 2022 (SPACES)
Leaders: Jason Moss

Itinerary

 

DAY ONE

Fly UK/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 Iberian Grey Shrike, Black Redstart and Iberian Magpie, along with a variety of raptors, including Griffon Vulture, Red Kite and Black Kite, with this also being a known area for Black-winged Kite. With luck, our first Common Cranes will be present and flocks of Northern Lapwings will throng suitable fields. 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 Western Swamphen and Penduline Tit, while raptors such as Black Vulture and Western Marsh Harrier will be much in evidence. The surrounding terrain should deliver Eurasian Hoopoe, Spanish Sparrow, Zitting Cisticola, Common Stonechat and Spotless Starling, among others. From here, it is a forty-minute drive to our hotel near Trujillo, our base for the next five 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. Flocks of both Great and Little Bustards are likely, while nomadic groups of Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse are possible. Raptors are very common here, with circling vultures and Red Kites as far as the eye can see, while both Spanish Imperial and Golden Eagles are a distinct possibility, too. Flocks of 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 is often present. 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 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, Rock Bunting and Short-toed Treecreeper possible. Moving further into the park, 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. Sardinian and Dartford Warblers are frequent in scrubby areas and we will keep an eye out for Hawfinches elsewhere. 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 a wintering Hen Harrier could occur. Finally, we will briefly visit a small pool in Trujillo, where we hope to find Water Pipit, 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. Huge rafts of duck (most numerously Northern Shoveler) will be checked for scarcer waterbirds, such as Black-necked Grebe, Ferruginous Duck and Red-crested Pochard, while Ring-necked Duck has occurred on more than one occasion. Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Great White Egret and a smattering of waders could inhabit the extensive shoreline. Bonelli’s Eagles are often present. Woodlark, Eurasian Hoopoe, and Iberian Magpie should be seen in the hinterland, while marginal scrubby habitats can be checked for Cetti’s Warbler and the like. From here, we will head for Campo Lugar, taking the road east through an area of plains, where Great Bustards are often present. However, we shan’t pause for too long here, as we wish to spend the rest of the day exploring the huge plains of La Serena, to the south, 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. Time permitting, we will visit a Castillo at the south of the area, where Black Wheatear and Red-billed Chough are possible.

 

DAY FIVE

Heading south, our first port of call will be Embalse de Sierra Brava. The reservoir itself can hold large rafts of Northern Shovelers, especially, although we will concentrate our efforts on the adjacent areas, which often hold good numbers of Common Cranes at this time of year. Continuing on beyond here to the nearby rice fields of Madrigalejo and Vegas Altas, we will check any vegetated ditches for Bluethroats, Penduline Tits, Common Waxbills and Red Avadavats. Wet paddies here can hold Western Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Greylag Geese and waders such as Spotted Redshank, Common Greenhank and Black-tailed Godwit. Birds of prey may include Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier and Black-shouldered Kite. Turning north past Obando, we will pass through the rice fields of Moheda Alta, where spectacular gatherings of thousands of Common Cranes can occur. A reservoir here can be worth visiting for wildfowl and waders, depending on the water levels. Weather and time permitting, we will continue north and 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. At Cabañas del Castillo we will search for rock-loving species around the castle ramparts. Alpine Accentors can occur and there have been recent records of Wallcreeper, although these are by no means guaranteed.

 

DAY SIX

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, 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, maybe a Little Bittern or Black-crowned Night Heron, for instance. 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, en suite accommodation for four nights, meals from dinner on day one to packed lunch on day five, ground transport within Spain, services of tour leader and reserve entrance fees.
 
NOT INCLUDED
Transport to/from UK airport and any overnight stay that might be involved, travel insurance, drinks, lunch on day one 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

 

 2011a  2011b   2013    2016   2018  2019   2020

 

2016 Photo Album

 

2018 Photo Album

 

2019 Photo Album

 

 

 

Testimonials

 

" The hotel and the food were excellent and exceptionally good value - a real find. This was a stress free trip with a very friendly group, exceptional leaders and the level of birding was just right " A & FH Suffolk.
 
"A very enjoyable five days - I thoroughly recommend it" M J Neath
 
" I really enjoyed seeing such a variety of birds in beautiful habitats, as well as the home cooked food. Ashley was very knowledgeable and has the yes of an eagle, as well as bveing patient with the oldies!!" P H Swansea
 
" We thoroughly enjoyed the trip even though we missed Little Bustard. The hotel and meals were much better than we anticipated and we would definitely travel with you again" A B & J W Norfolk
 
" Very well led - very well organised - good company - excellent birds - good food, wine and hospitality - what more can you want?" S S Hampshire
 
" The pace of the holiday and itinerary was just right. The camaraderie and leaders were excellent - all in all this was a splendid short break" J.M. Swindon
 
" Both guides were excellent. The food and hotel were fantastic - another winner of a tour " J L & V R Hertfordshire
 
" I enjoyed the tour very, very much. The leaders were very knowledgeable and especially supportive to me as a novice. The hotel was truly fantastic with a great family atmosphere and rural location. The wine tastings were a special addition and the birding was excellent.  I would readily participate on another tour and recommend Oriole Birding to others as on top of everything else, the tour was also excellent value for money" P. C. Hertfordshire.
 
" We really enjoyed our new year trip to Extremadura with Ashley and Adrian" S P & K W Berkshire
 
" Hi Neil and Ashley. What a great trip – so many special birds and great sightings in wonderful low winter sunlight.Thanks you for all your efforts in finding all the birds. I thought the meals were absolutely fantastic – well done the Pedro’s! Everyone was delighted with the trip " J F Watford
 
" just to let you and Ashley know again that it was a really superb trip to Extremadura - the relaxed pace was just right and you ensured that everyone all got views and your knowledge was excellent. You both worked hard to find us the birds and the results were spectacular, especially the rare Sociable Lapwing. Loved the cranes and the magpies and everything else. Superb accommodation and food and the wine and olive oil tastings were fun" A M Watford
 
"Thank you - your very detailed knowledge and the variety of habitats and birds were very enjoyable. The tour was very well organised and your generosity in use of the telescopes made sure we were all able to get great views. In comparison to what is advertised elsewhere, the tour represented value for money and the hotel and food were very good" JR Watford

 

" This was the first of many trips I intend to take with you. Every aspect  of the trip was very enjoyable, the birds were great, the guides fantastic and the food out of this world" I B Watford

 

" Both our guides were very knowledgeable, friendly, kind and considerate. We thoroughly enjoyed everything aboput the trip; the hotel and family were lovely and the food and attention to detail were excellent. A brilliant holiday!! P& D L Watford

 

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