Thursday 3 May 2018

Trujillo Bull Ring, Llanos de Cáceres, Santa Marta Plain and Belen Plain.

A brilliant day out in the steppe lands between Trujillo and Cáceres.
Day Six: Doñana and Extremadura tour. 

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Ganga Ibérica / Pterocles alchata).
After a stunning breakfast we all walked out to the van and down to the famous Bullring where we were hoping to see some of the almost as famous Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) but they were conspicuous by there absence. 
Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).
We walked all they way round the site and tried to go up into the hide that looks over the roof of the Bullring but as with all the hides we had found it was locked. In the area we started the day list with Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), Pallid (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus) and Common Swift (Vencejo Común / Apus apus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia), White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia), House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica) and Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica).
The Group watching a Great Bustard.
We left the site not seeing a sniff of the Lesser Kestrels and headed out towards Caceres on the old road seeing Spanish Sparrow (Gorrión Moruno / Passer hispaniolensis), Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans) and Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto).
The Wild Flower Mearows.
We arrived at our next spot and parked at the start of the track we were going to take to scan the fields around us and with in second we were over the moon when a flock of 25 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Ganga Ibérica / Pterocles alchata) came flying passed and Nick had the first of three Great Bustards (Avutarda Común / Otis tarda) in the scope, what a start.
The coolest gates I have seen.
All around us we could hear loads of singing Calandra Larks (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra) and in a nearby a calling Iberian Grey Shrike (Alcaudón Real Meridional / Lanius meridionalis).
Bob photographing a Roller.
In the same area was also recorded Woodchat Shrike (Alcaudón Común / Lanius senator), Spanish Sparrow, Hoopoe (Abubilla / Upupa epops), Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus) and Raven (Cuervo / Corvus corax).
Catching the Bird from the van.
We drove along this track and up through a farm yard, on the way there were loads of singing Corn Buntings and Crested Larks along with a very smart pair of European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster) which were sat on a fence made from metal reinforcing metal sheets, a pale phase Booted Eagle (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) another male Great Bustard which showed well in a wildflower filled field before flying out and around us and a couple of Ravens (Cuervo / Corvus corax).
Immature Spanish Imperial Eagles (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti).
On the far side of the farm yard we watched another Great Bustard which was coming down to a bare area of ground and dusting and it showed well. 
Immature Spanish Imperial Eagles (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti).
In the same area also had a couple of male Little Bustards (Sisón Común / Tetrax tetrax), several Black Kites and several Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) which were sat in some oak trees nearby.
European Black Vulture (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus).
We started to make our way back along the track and we parked again on the verge which was full of flowers including Purple Bugloss (Echium plantagineum), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum), Southern Red Bartsia (Parentucellia latifolia), Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris), Crown Daisy (Chrysanthemum carinatum) and others which were attracting Bath (Pontia daplidice) and Small White (Pieris rapae), Clouded Yellow (Colias corcea) and Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas).
We continued on along the track seeing the first and only Dragonfly of the trip when a female or teneral male Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) flew along side us but disappeared before we could get out of the van.
Great Spotted Cuckoo (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).
Once we reached the the end of the track we headed back to the main road but made a quick stop at a roadside pull in with raised banks over looking a small drinking pool for the sheep and goats where we saw several Stripe-necked Terrapin (Mauremys leprosa), another Iberian Grey Shrike and Common Stonechat (Tarabilla Común / Saxicola torquata).
Calandra Lark (Calandria / Melanocorypha calandra).
We went further along the service road towards Caceres and took another minor road towards Santa Marta de Magasca where we checked the nest boxes along the road and soon found the first of several Rollers (Carraca / Coracias garrulus) using them along with a good many Jackdaws (Grajilla / Corvus monedula) and a couple of pairs of Lesser Kestrels.
Watching another Great Bustard.
We drove along a nearby track adding a nice male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus), more Black Kites, White Storks, Griffon Vultures, a couple more heard only Pin-tailed Sandgrouse and a fast moving Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) which ran very quickly across the road in front of the van.
Looking and photographing Orchids.
We dropped back along the track and out on to the Motorway and down to a bar for lunch, the last time I took a group there it was good but it proved to be a mistake as the place had gone down hill steeply so I will not be returning.
Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida).
Anyway after our lunch we returned to the road with the nest boxes and parked in a driveway, almost straight away two large raptors came into view and were soon identified as immature Spanish Imperial Eagles (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti) which soared away together just as a very nice low European Black Vulture (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus) flew straight at us.
Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica).
We turned around and took the motorway back to Trujillo and then on through to the Belen plain area again where we drove though to a cross track and then stopped several several times along the way and we soon started to find new species including a good many Fragrant Bug (Orchis coriophora subsp fragrans) and a clump of Champagne Orchid (Orchis champagneuxii), Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), as well as Yellow Lupin (Lupinus luteus), Barbary Nut (Moraea sisyrinchium) and a very quick moving Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) which quickly disappeared under a rock. 
Champagne Orchid (Orchis champagneuxii).
Birds along this track included a mating pair of Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius), Common Magpie (Urraca / Pica pica), a calling Little Bustard and some calling but not seen Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Ganga Ortega / Pterocles orientalis) and just as we were leaving another Great Bustard
Fragrant Bug (Orchis coriophora subsp fragrans).
We returned along the same track and then made our way back into the hospital and then went out on to the main square for our evening meal and a drink.
Barbary Nut (Moraea sisyrinchium).

Tongue Orchid (Serapias lingua).
Yellow Lupin (Lupinus luteus).
Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare).
Cows on Belen Plain.

Great Spotted Cuckoo's (Crialo Europeo / Clamator gladarius).

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