Friday, 5 November 2010

Extremadura 25th-30th October Part 1

A very successful couple of days spent in Extremadura was one of the best half term holidays I think I've ever had. Saw some amazing birds and had a lovely relaxing time enjoying the warmth, the sunshine and just generally not being in London and not having work to do. Bliss.

We stayed at Casa Rural El Recuerdo which is run by two birders, Claudia and Martin Kelsey and I can highly recommend it, they were very helpful and were happy to give very detailed advice and even print off some maps for where to see some of the species I was really keen to see. The house itself was lovely as well and it was nice to be staying with other birders to get up to date gen!

Managed to semi-avert a major disaster by recovering most of the photos from my corrupted memory card and so thankfully I have some photos to bless my otherwise boring blog. However, a load of them have massive black bars across them or were downsized or otherwise lost so if they all look rubbish that's why:

Griffon Vulture

After a fairly early start we spent our first day at Monfrague National Park, stopping at the castle first to watch the Griffon and Black Vultures take off in the early morning sunlight. Loads were perched on the rocks around the castle and it was a great time to watch them drop off their ledges, flying low overhead so the wind could be heard rustling through their feathers and then fly down the hill top in search of thermals. Also at the castle were a flock of around 30 Red-Billed Chough, bombing about and 'caww caww'-ing across the cliff top, stunning birds that I was so happy watching that once I remembered I had a camera they were mostly specks on the distant hillside. I can see I definitely don't have the makings of a world class photographer!

 Poor shot of one of many Black Vultures

Vultures Soaring beside Pena Falcon Rock.

The walk up to and back down from the castle through a lightly wooded area also gave me my first ever (I'm a birding noob!) views of about 4 Hawfinch, wicked looking birds, like like little fat orangey front heavy men bounding overhead in flight. A couple of Crag Martins, parties of Larks passing and not much else at the top of the castle made us decide to carry on to Pena Falcon and it was on the walk back down to the car that a BOP on the horizon caught my attention, a Bonelli's Eagle well off in the distance! A harrier sp drifted overhead a bit closer but I was too busy watching the eagle to take any notice of it!

A bird that actually is that colour, how cool is that?

A very showy Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting at Pena Falcon were the main other birds of note that day and I had one of the biggest scares of my life when after reports of a wallcreeper a week before I saw a little bird hopping creeper-style on the rock face at Pena Falcon!

A creeper, on a wall. Once I got my bins on it it turned out to be a Short-toed Treecreeper, maybe having an Identity crisis but still not quite a Wallcreeper. A good 2 hours was spent in the afternoon at Portillo Del Tietar didn't yield much apart from some very high flying Black-headed Gulls and good views Azure Winged Magpies which are absolutely everywhere.

Dude, go find a tree.

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