Sunday, 7 September 2014

Plains of Caceres, Extremadura.

The rain in Spain was definitely falling mainly on the plain today as we were washed out by storms for several hours.

We set out from the hotel heading west straight into the dark clouds of the arriving storm, on the way we picked up Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Buzzard (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans). We moved out onto the fields north of the motorway between Trujillo and Caceres and started to check the area for birds but just as the storm hit us for the first but not the last time. The lightening flashed around us and the rain was hammering down, the ditches at the sides of the road filled up very quickly and the fields started to flood. Once the rain eased off a bit so we could tell the difference between the road and the ditches we drove out to the furthest point getting some very bad views of what turned out to be Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Ganga Ibérica / Pterocles alchata) we had slightly better views on the way back. During the drive out we did see hundreds more Corn Buntings and Calandra Larks as well as Crested (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Skylark (Alondra Común / Alauda arvensis), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops). Right at the furthest point we picked up a rather soggy and well hacked off looking Golden Eagle (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) which was sat out of the gale on a rock. We turned around as the storm relented for a short while and started to drive back along the track and almost straight away found our first group of Great Bustard (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) but they were quite a way off but none the less they were on the list and later we had much better views both on the ground and in flight. Before we reached the main road again we also picked up Southern Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis), Little Owl (Mochuelo Europeo / Athene noctua), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus). From here we had a drive along the motorway towards Caceres but came off at the next junction and then headed south, then back east to Torremocha where we took a road off North, along here we spent a lot more time amongst oak woodlands than expected but we did pick up a very nice Red Kite (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), lots of Azure-winged Magpies (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus) and a couple of Black Storks (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra). Eventually we reached the motorway again and as the weather had improved some what we redrove the original track getting another 23 Great Bustards, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, two Grey Herons, a couple of hunting Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni), an immature or female Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris) and on a small pool Northern Lapwing (Avefria Europea / Vanellus vanellus) and both Green (Andarrios Grande / Tringa ochropus) and Common Sandpipers (Andarrios Chico / Actitis hypoleucos).
It was now getting on towards lunch time so we headed through the Oaks towards Santa Marta de Magasca where we found a bar and had some food before going across country to Monroy and then onwards to Trujillo via more minor roads. During this drive we picked up Booted (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), Griffon and Black / Cinereous Vultures (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) and lots more Azure-winged Magpies. During the day we saw a few Mammal species including Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), Iberian Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus / capensis), Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and Eurasian Badger (El Tejón / Meles meles).
We got back to Trujillo and tried to have a look around the town but due to the fiesta that was on parking was not possible so we went back to the hotel and arranged to venture back out onto the Belen plain again a little later in the evening after a couple of hours rest.
We were soon back in the car and out on to the fields to the east of the town again and this visit we located a single Great Bustard and 5 of the much smaller Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax) which showed distantly along with another Montagu´s and several Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus), 80+ Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax), Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae), Whinchat (Tarabilla Nortena / Saxicola rubetra), Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) and Tawny Pipit (Bisbita campestre / Anthus campestris). We reached a point when the light had dropped to low for birding so we headed back in to Trujillo and had a meal before going back to the hotel.

Photographs from the top: The approaching storm, 2x Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) in flight, Ken get the Great Bustards in the rain, a couple of Great Bustards on the deck,  female type Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus) and a Thekla Lark (Cogujada Montesina / Galerida theklae) doing what most of the birds did when Ken raised the camera.

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