Monday, 13 June 2011

Continuing in Spain

Our next move was to drive up to Trujillo in Extremadura to spend a few days with John and Anthea Hawkins who have a house nearby.  They have been coming to this area for many years so know most of the locations of good birds  A mutual friend Alan Heath made up our group.

Taking a few trips around the local steppes we were told that because of higher than usual rainfall the grass was very high and finding bustards and sandgrouse would be difficult.  We did see a few Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Great Bustards but none presented any photo opportunities.  We were taken to watch a single Little Bustard performing his full display with elaborate jumps but he was the only one of that species seen.

On the other hand larks were very obvious with Crested, Short-toed, Calandra and Thekla being found.  Even more numerous were Corn Buntings singing from every available post.  Montagu's Harriers were found at one very good site in particular and Rollers and Bee-eaters were very obvious.  Spanish Sparrows were often encountered but difficult to approach.  Mammals noted included Red Fox, Red Deer and best of all Iberian Hare.

I was slightly embarrassed when John took us round a large area of rice fields so I could get Common Waxbills and Red Avadavats on my European list.

Two trips were made to the famous Monfrague Park and there raptors were very obvious.  Hordes of Griffon Vultures with good numbers of Black Vultures and a few Egyptian as well.  We also found the rare Spanish Imperial Eagle which included a distant view of a chick in the nest from Monfrague Castle.  Watching Black Kites catching insects here we also enjoyed the dashing flights of half a dozen White-rumped Swifts.  Checking other habitats there were plenty of Red-rumped Swallows, Rock Buntings, Blue Rock Thrushes and Hawfinches.  Black Storks too were nesting at the famous Penafalcon rock.

A little spare bread and lots of patience produced wonderful social groups of Azure-winged Magpies.  These attractive birds gave us lots of good photographs and opportunities to observe them at close quarters.

An enjoyable evening was spent photographing Lesser Kestrels at the Trujillo bullring and wandering around the main square being amazed at the numbers of swifts and nesting White Storks.

Further checking of the Belen Steppes revealed Great Spotted Cuckoo, Southern Grey Shrike and Stone Curlew.

Next stop El Rocio.

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