Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Embalse de Arrocampo and Portilla del Tiétar, Fuente del Francés bridge, Peña Falcón/Salto del Gitano in Monfragüe PN, Extremadura.

A morning around the hides and bays of the Embalse de Arrocampo and an afternoon along the Valleys of the Tiétar and the Tajo.
Day Five: Doñana and Extremadura tour.

Breakfast.
After a very nice breakfast we loaded up and headed north to the large area of water called Embalse de Arrocampo where we stopped first of all by the causeway crossing the entry point of of the Arroyo de Santa Rosa where we parked on the roadside and Nick soon had views of a flying Kingfisher (Martin Pescador / Alcedo atthis), the rest of us picked up several passing Spanish Sparrows (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis) which were making for local White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia) nests where they lodge in the twigs below the young Storks.
In the reedbeds we could hear good numbers of rasping Reed Warblers (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), a fine male Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata) gripping on tight in the breeze and on the far side of the water a good sized heronry which contained large numbers of Night (Marinete Común / Nycticorax nycticorax), along with smaller numbers of Squacco (Garcilla Cangrejera / Ardeola ralloides) and Grey Herons (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Western Cattle (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis) and Little (Garceta Común / Egreeta garzetta) as well as a fly through Great Egret (Garceta Grande / Egretta alba).
Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
Across the road we scanned the main lake and had good views of a few nice species including Purple Heron (Garza Imperial / Ardea purpurea), a Purple / Western Swamp-hen (Calamon Común / Porphyrio porphyrio) which showed well and took the species off the guide only list which is always good, Little Bittern (Avetorillo Común / Ixobrychus minutus) along with Savi's Warbler (Buscarla Unicolor / Locustella luscinoides) and Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus) both of which remained heard only species for the day.
Western Cattle Egret (Garcilla Bueyera / Bubulcus ibis).
We crossed back over the road again and scanned the reeds again from the raised stairway of hide number four and watched 3x Common Buzzards (Busardo Ratonero / Buteo buteo) and a female Marsh Harrier (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) all of which were hassling the herons. In the same area we boosted the list with Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans), Griffon (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and European Black Vulture (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Mallard (Anade Azulón / Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Coot (Focha Común / Fulica atra), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo), White Stork and a pair of fly over Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax).
White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).
We moved on down the road to the visitors centre where we got the keys for the rest of the hides which as it turned out was a bit of a waste as there were very few birds infront of any of them, at the first one just behind the centre we had a migrating Common Whitethroat (Curruca Zarcera / Sylvia communis) before moving on around to the next two finding Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), a Sedge Warbler (Carricerin Común / Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) which dropped down before I could get anyone on to it and it remained a guide only species, a couple of Gull-billed Tern (Pagaza Piconegra / Gelochelidon nilotica) which were sat on one of the concrete barriers along with a Shelduck (Tarro Blanco / Tadoma tadorna) and a several passing European Bee-eaters (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster).
White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).
On the back road where there were two new hides but they both looked over two very empty pools, the second one did have a very nice White Storks nest on the roof which made going into it rather awkward.
White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).
In a damp meadow next to the road we found several spikes of the very variable Tongue Orchid (Serapias lingua).
Tongue Orchid (Serapias lingua).
We dropped the keys back at the centre and then made our way around to the northern end of the Monfragüe Natural Park where we made a couple of stops in the woodlands on the way to our lunch stop where we had good views of a passing Red Fox (Zorro / Vulpus vulpus) as it ran across a roadside field.
We stopped just down the road for a longer than expected lunch as it took for ever to get the food, however we did some birding from the terrace and managed a lunch list which included European Bee-eaters, Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Griffon Vulture, Black Kite, Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), a singing but unseen Western Orphean Warbler (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Nightingale, Barn Swallow, House Martin, a couple of male Golden Orioles (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) which were calling from the Oaks, Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus), our first Black Storks (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra), a Short-toed Eagle (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), Linnet (Pardillo Común / Carduelis cannabina), as well as Small White (Pieris rapae) and a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui).
Tongue Orchid (Serapias lingua).
After lunch we dropped down to the Portilla del Tiétar watch point where we scanned the crags and the river picking up a male Western Subalpine Warbler (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans) as we left the van on the way to the watch point along with Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Bonelli's Warbler (Mosquitero Papialbo / Phylloscopus bonelli) and Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris).
From the watch point we had good views of lots of Griffon Vultures, a nice male Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), a pair of Golden Eagles (Águila Real / Aquila chrysaetos) which soared over head which was a great sight as I had not seen this species in the area before and then the main target a cracking adult Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) which flew in and landed on the top of the crag opposite and gave us great views for 15 minutes before soaring off again over our heads.
Red Fox (Zorro / Vulpus vulpus).
As we walked back to the van we saw a Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) down in the scrub below the road and then Nick picked up a falcon flying overhead which was soon identified as a migrating Hobby (Alcotán Europeo / Falco subbuteo). We moved on seeing an Egyptian Vulture (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus) which soared over a treeless ridge.

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus F lyllus).
Our next stop was at the Fuente del Francés bridge where we were looking for Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) which nest under the bridge with the hundreds of House Martins and Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia) but we only saw a single bird as it whizzed in and under to its nest. In the same area we also had a soaring Bonelli's Eagle (Aguila-azor / Hieraetus faciatus) along with more Griffon Vultures and a couple of Black Kites.
View from Watch Point at Portilla del Tiétar.
Further on along the valley we stopped at the famous Peña Falcón/Salto del Gitano where there were Griffon Vulture everywhere along with a few of the endangered European Black Vultures, Crag Martins, Blue Rock Thrush, Short-toed Eagle and several Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros). 
Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
There were spikes of Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), Gum Cistus (Cistus ladanifer), Boar Thistle (Galactites tomentosa), Rosy garlic (Allium roseum), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), Wild Gladiolus (Gladiolus illyricus) and Branched Asphodel (Asphodelus ramosus).
Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus).
As we dropped back south towards the Hotel in Trujillo we had 2 more Egyptian Vultures soaring over a road side farm. Once back at the hotel we freshened up before going up the hill to a small bar for our evening meal.

Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti).
European Black Vulture (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus).
Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra).
Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius).
Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius).
Egyptian Vulture (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus).


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