Saturday 5 May 2018

Travelling South, Calling at Alange, Sevilla Airport and Malaga.

Our final day in the superb area.
Day Eight: Doñana and Extremadura tour.

Alpine Swift (Vencejo Real / Apus melba).
After our last great Breakfast at the Palacio de Santa Marta we loaded the van with all the kit and headed south passed Mérida and down to the Alange area, after we came off the motorway we searched an agricultural area for a couple of Lagoons but we did not find either of them but did find a couple of areas on the roadside field edges that were flooded and held a single Greenshank (Archibebe Claro / Tringa nebularia) and several pairs of Black-winged Stilts (Ciguenela Común / Himantopus himantopus). 
White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).
We did not seen much more so we crossed to the Dam of the Embalse de Alange and then down to the Rio Matachel below the dam, where we parked near a local bar and the went out on to the bridge where we scanned the reed beds and bushes. In the air above us there were loads of Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba), House Martins (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Barn (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica) and Red-rumped Swallows (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) and Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans).
Lower down there was a pair of hunting Marsh Harriers (Aguilucho Lagunero Occidental / Circus aeruginosus) low over the reeds, a scurrying Water Rail (Rascón Europeo / Rallus aquaticus) which zipped across a gap in the reeds and Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus). 
Black Kite (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans).
In the reeds and bushes we saw a nest building Penduline Tit (Pájaro Moscón / Remiz pendulinus), Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus), Great Reed (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and Reed Warbler (Carricero Común / Acrocephalus scrpaceus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Common Waxbill (Estrilda Ondulada / Estrilda astrild), Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus), Collared Dove (Tórtola Turca / Streptopelia decaocto), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Woodpigeon (Paloma Torcaz / Columba palumbus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos) Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti) and Great Cormorant (Cormorán Grande / Phalacrocroax carbo). On the bridge we found a tall spike of Bean Broomrape (Orobanche crenata) and on the verge Common Snapdragon (Antirrhinum major), Borage (Borago officinalis),
Rio Matachel below the dam.
Mallow-leaved Bindweed (Convolvulus althaeoides), Eruca (Eruca sativa), Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis), Boar Thistle (Galactites tomentosa), Common Mallow (Malva sylvestris), Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena), Omphalodes commutata, Pallenis spinosa, Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Yellow Bartsia (Parentucellia viscosa) and White Campion (Silene latifolia).
We walked back to the van seeing a nest of White Storks (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia) and a Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauritanica) before having a coffee in the bar.
White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia).
We went back up to the fields where we had been earlier and found a dip in the field which held a very small amount which attracted several White Storks, a single Glossy Ibis (Morito Común / Plegadis falcinellus), 3 Common Redshank (Archibebe Común / Tringa totanus), a dozen or so noisy Collared Pratincoles (Canastera Común / Glareola pratincola), a single Stone Curlew (Alcaraván Común / Burhinus oedicnemus), Short-toed (Terrera Común / Calandrella brachydactyla) and Crested Lark (Cogujada / Galerida cristata), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra) and a nice male Montagu's Harrier (Aguilucho Cenizo / Circus pygargus).
We returned to the bar and collected some sandwiches and the drove down to Sevilla airport where we said goodbye to Nick, Mick, Ann and Bob and then Magdalena, Pierre and I continued on to Malaga where we said our goodbyes and I headed home once Jayne picked me up.

Friday 4 May 2018

Rio Tozo, Rio Almonte, Castilla de Monfragüe, Peña Falcón / Salto del Gitano, Fuente del Francés bridge, Salto de Torrejón in Monfragüe PN. Extremadura.

A great day in the Natural Park.
Day Seven: Doñana and Extremadura tour. 

Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) male with a Bush Cricket.
Again we had a great breakfast before we headed out to the bullring down in the town and after parking up we searched the area again and found Common (Vencejo Común / Apus apus) and Pallid Swifts (Vencejo Pálido /Apus pallidus), Jackdaw (Grajilla / Corvus monedula), Spotless Starling (Estornino Negro / Sturnus unicolor), House Sparrow (Gorrión Común / Passer domesticus), Feral Pigeon (Paloma Bravía / Columba livia), Barn Swallow (Golondrina Común / Hirundo rustica), White Stork (Ciguena Blanca / Ciconia ciconia) and eventually a couple of pairs of Lesser Kestrels (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni).
Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) female.
Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) male.
After getting some shots of the Lesser Kestrels we headed North making our way back up to the Monfragüe park, our first stop was at the bridge over the Rio Tozo where we parked and scanned up and down stream picking up Cetti's Warbler (Ruisenor Bastardo / Cettia cetti), Great Reed Warbler (Carricero Tordal / Acrocephalus arundinaceus), White Wagtail (Lavandera Blanca / Montacilla alba), European Bee-eater (Abejaruco Común / Merops apiaster), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Corn Bunting (Triguero / Emberiza calandra), Goldfinch (Jilguero / Carduelis carduelis), Grey Heron (Garza Real / Ardea cinerea), Common Chaffinch (Pinzón Vulgar / Fringilla coelebs), Common Moorhen (Gallineta Común / Gallinulas chloropus), Blackbird (Mirlo Común / Turdus merula), Blue (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus) and Great Tit (Carbonera Común / Parus major), Sardinian Warbler (Curruca Cabecinegra / Sylvia melanocephala), Zitting Cisticola (Buitrón / Cisticola juncidis), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Spotless Starling and the first of many Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans).
Lesser Kestrel (Cernicola Primilla / Falco naumanni) male.
In the river hiding amongst the carpets of Water Crowsfoot were dozens of very noisy Perez's Frogs (Rana Común / Pelophylax perezi).
Water Crowsfoot.
We moved on North and made a second stop at the Rio Almonte where we first of all went up on to the bridge and watched a soaring Booted (Aguililla Calzada / Hieraaetus pennatus) and a pair of Short-toed Eagles (Culebrera Europeo / Circaetus gallicus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus), more Black Kites and on a nearby ridge a good numbers of Griffon Vultures (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) along with a couple of European Blacks (Buitre Negro / Aegypius monachus). 
Watching the Vultures.
After a while we took the track down to the river and found a Black-eyed Blue (Glaucopsyche melanops) on grass at the track side as well as several Small Whites (Pieris rapae). 
Rio Almonte.
Birds included a singing Melodious Warbler (Zarcero Común / Hippolais polyglotta), Nightingale (Ruisenor Común / Luscinia megarhynchos), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Dáurica / Hirudo daurica), Serin (Verdecillo / Serinus serinus), Common Kestrel (Cernicalo Vulgar / Falco tinnunculus) and Black Kites (Milano Negro / Milvus migrans).
A verge by the Rio Almonte.
We drove further along the road and reached the Castillo where I drove up to the top and dropped the group off and then dropped back down to the car park at the bottom where I parked before walking back up to the top. 
Black-eyed Blue (Glaucopsyche melanops).
On the way I met Teresa Farino who I had heard a lot about but never met, so it was good to have a chat and catch my breath. The bus came up as we were chatting and Teresa flagged him down so I hopped on for the last steep bit. 
Black-eyed Blue (Glaucopsyche Melanops).
On the walk up I had seen Cirl Bunting (Escribano Soteno / Emberiza cirlus), Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Branched Asphodel (Asphodelus ramosus), Brown Bluebell (Jacinto bastardo / Dipcadi serotinum), Boar Thistle (Galactites tomentosa), Grey-leaved Cistus (Cistus albidus), Gum Cistus (Cistus ladanifer), Shrubby Jasmine (Jasminum fruticans), Mediterranean Catchfly (Silene colorata), Pitch Trefoil (Psoralea bituminosa), Purple Bugloss (Echium plantagineum), Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) and Spotted Rockrose (Tuberaria guttata).
The amazing views from the Monfragüe castle.
I caught up with the others and from the top of the castle we saw European Black, Griffon and Egyptian Vultures (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus), Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aguila Imperial Ibérica / Aguila adalberti), Black Kites, House Sparrows, House Martin (Avión Común / Delichon urbica), Red-rumped Swallow, Serin and on the way back down to the van at the bottom of the hill we added Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius), Black Stork (Ciguena Negra / Ciconia nigra) and two singing Western Orphean Warblers (Curruca Mirlano / Sylvia hortensis) which showed very well for us.
The amazing views from the Monfragüe castle.
Once we made it to the van we dropped down to the parking at Peña Falcón where we saw more Griffon and European Black Vultures, a couple more male Blue-rock Thrushes, Black Redstart (Colirrojo Tizón / Phoenicurus ochruros), a Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia) which showed well in the lower car park and on the rocks opposite, Blue Tit (Herrerillo Común / Parus caeruleus), Crag Martin (Avión Roquero / Ptyonoprogne rupestris) and stunning male Western Subalpine Warbler (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans) which sang in some willows along the roadside giving us good views.
Branched Asphodel (Asphodelus ramosus) on the walk up to the castle.
The next stop was at the Fuente del Francés bridge over the Rio Tajo where we saw a couple of Alpine Swifts (Vencejo Real / Apus melba) in amonsts the masses of House and Crag Matins, Griffon Vultures and Black Kite
Griffon Vulture (Bultre Leonado / Gyps fulvus) from the castle.
We walked a short way along the side of the lake amongst the picnic tables where we found several Chapman's Green Hairstreak (Callophrys avis) and a couple of Speckled Woods (Pararge aegeria).
Shrubby Jasmine (Jasminum fruticans).

Birds included Wren (Chochin / Troglodytes troglodytes), Robin (Petirrojo Europeo / Erithacus rubecula) and Blackcap (Curruca Capirotada / Sylvia atricailla).
Moth species.
Next came lunch at Villareal de San Carlos and then our last stop of the day was in the pine woods at Salto de Torrejón where we soon found a Crested Tit (Herrerillo Capuchino / Parus cristatus) which was entering a nest hole in a dead tree, Short-toed Treecreeper (Agateador Común / Certhia brachydactyla), a fine male Golden Oriole (Oropéndola / Oriolus oriolus) which showed brilliantly, Long-tailed Tit (Mito / Aegithalos caudatus) and a calling but secritive Firecrest (Reyezuelo Listado / Regulus ignicapillus).
More Vulture watching at Peña Falcón.
We drove back down to Trujillo and after a quick sort out we went out into the main square for our evening meal.
At Peña Falcón.
Blue-rock Thrush (Roquero Solitario / Monticola solitarius) male.
Rock Bunting (Escribano Montesino / Emberiza cia).
Western Subalpine Warbler (Curruca Carrasquena / Sylvia cantillans) male.
Egyptian Vulture (Alimoche Común / Neophron percnopterus).
Chapman's Green Hairstreak (Callophrys avis).

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).