Thursday, 21 May 2015

Embalse de Yesa, Aragón and Monfrague and Trujillo, Extremadura.

Orchids and Raptor's with an 800KM drive in between.
Deb and Renate Day Thirteen.

After breakfast we said goodbye to Nelly and the very nice Hotel Castillo D'Acher and headed south down the Hecho Valley. At the end we turned right and made our way to a spot on the banks of the Embalse de Yesa, on the way we saw several Red Kites (Milano Real / Milvus milvus), Egyptian Vultures (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Yellowhammer (Escribano Cerillo / Emberiza citrinella), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster). We arrived at the area recommended by Enric Marti and found our first Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) of the trip and heard a calling Wryneck (Torcecuello / Jynx torquilla) but we could not locate the bird in the trees by the river. In the areas where the trees were far less dense we found a 100 plus spikes of the beautiful Military Orchid (Orchis militaris) with some being 70+ cm tall. In the same area there were a good many spikes of Lesser Butterfly  (Platanthera bifolia), Greater Butterfly (Platanthera chlorantha), Lady (Orchis purpurea), Small Woodcock (Orquídea abejera becada / Ophrys picta) and some Ophrys riojana.
From down by the river we saw Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Yellow-legged Gull (Gaviota Patiamarilla / Larus Michahellis), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Grey Wagtail (Lavandera Cascadena / Motacilla cinerea), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Garden Warbler (Curruca Mosquitera / Sylvia borin), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) and Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major).
After a while we started the 800 or so KM drive down to Trujillo in Extremadura, on the way we picked up Marsh (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) and Montagu's Harriers (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Dipper (Mirlo Acuático / Cinclus cinclus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Carrion Crow (Corneja Negra / Corvus corone), White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), Red-legged Partridge (Perdiz Roja / Alectoris rufa) and Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops). 
After the long but quite easy drive we came off the motorway and headed to the first of the view points at the Northern end of the Monfrague Natural Park called Mirador Portilla del Tiétar where we soon had large numbers of Griffon Vultures in our bins along with small numbers of the rarer Black / Cinereous Vulture (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus). Deb then picked up a raptor sat up on top of the crags which typically took off with in seconds of us finding it but turned out to be an adult Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) which circled around a couple of times before disappearing below the trees. In the same area we watched Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli), Common Cuckoo (Cuco Común / Cuculus canorus), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), Rock Pigeon (Paloma Bravia / Columba livia), Sand Martin (Avión Zapador / Riparia riparia) and Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula). Just a little way along the road we found a family party of Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Spotted Flycatcher (Papamoscas Gris / Muscicapa striata), Great Spotted Woodpecker (Pico Picapinos / Dendrocopos major), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs) and Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). Our last stop of the day was at the famous Pena Falcon crags, here we had a nice Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra), heard Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Subalpine Warbler (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Song Thrush (Zorzal Común / Turdus philomelos).
From here we made our way south to Trujillo and found a hostel and had something to eat before turnng in.

Photographs from the top: Lesser Butterfly Orchid  (Platanthera bifolia), Military Orchid (Orchis militaris), Ophrys riojana, Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus), Iberian Magpie (Rabilargo / Cyanopica cyanus), Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti), adult Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and immature Long-tailed Tit.

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