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|Book before 7 Nov 2017
Extremadura & The Gredos Mountains
7 - 12 May 2018
Extremadura has been a favourite at Lanius for many years and was the destination of our very first tour back in 2008. To celebrate our tenth year we are offering it once again, this time however to mark our anniversary we will extend it with an overnight visit to the stunningly picturesque Sierra de Gredos. Located in the heart of rural Spain, Extremadura is without doubt one of Europe’s most exceptional areas for birds and supports internationally important numbers of raptors, bustards and sandgrouse. It offers some of the country’s finest and most contrasting habitats, including sun drenched steppe, rolling plains and the wooded mountain sides of Monfragüe National Park. The whole area abounds with wildlife, which is so plentiful that many of the birds can be seen exceptionally well and with little effort, making this one of the most relaxed birding tours on offer. We will be based in the beautiful and well preserved medieval town of Trujillo, just a short walk from the town’s famous square and castle.
Meet at the airport for a direct flight to Madrid and drive south to Trujillo. The journey will give us our first taste of birds to come, with species such as White Stork, Cattle Egret, Black Kite and Griffon Vulture all easily seen from the road. We break the journey with a stop at an excellent wetland site en route, where Black-winged Stilt, Little Bittern and both Purple & Night Herons can be found. Savi’s, Cetti’s and Great Reed Warbler should be heard singing from the reeds and with some patience all three are usually seen. One of the highlights here will be Western Swamphen, a species difficult to find elsewhere in the region, though it often affords good views here. Meanwhile the surrounding fields and scrub are home to Common Quail, European Bee-eater, Southern Grey Shrike, Spanish Sparrow and Stonechat. Black-winged Kite is also frequently seen in the area.
We then continue to our hotel in Trujillo, where after a short break we will meet with a local historian and guide who will accompany us on a short but informative walk through the narrow cobbled streets up to the castle. We will stop at the famous medieval square, the Plaza Mayor, with its many important buildings and monuments including the equestrian statue of Francisco Pizarro, the famous conquistador who originated from Trujillo. Once at the castle we will have spectacular views over the town and its many pan tiled rooftops, home to breeding Lesser Kestrel and Pallid Swift, while the tops of many chimneys and towers are adorned with nesting White Storks. Spotless Starling and Serin also breed here and often give good views from the castle walls. Later we will enjoy a delicious evening meal in a locally celebrated restaurant, which offers a good selection of traditional Spanish meals.
After breakfast we’ll spend the whole day in and around Monfragüe National Park, described by many as the most important area in Europe for raptors. Here Egyptian, Griffon and Black Vultures will all be seen, the latter with c200 pairs is more numerous here than anywhere else in the world. The more plentiful Griffon Vulture is widespread, with breath-taking views almost guaranteed. No less than five species of eagle occur - Booted, Short-toed, Golden, Bonelli’s and the rare Spanish Imperial, with a good chance of seeing them all during our stay. It is also home to an internationally important population of Black Storks, with several pairs nesting within the park. Meanwhile the rocky crags and surrounding scrub are also home to many interesting small birds, including Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Short-toed Treecreeper and Rock Bunting. The late timing of the tour will also give us a chance of White-rumped Swift, a species which within Europe breeds only at a handful of sites here in Spain. We finish our day in Monfragüe with a visit to a traditional nest site of European Eagle Owl, before looking for Red-necked Nightjar by the roadside on our way out of the park. Mammals may include Red Deer, Red Fox, Otter and Wild Boar, while butterflies may include Southern White Admiral, Scarce Swallowtail and Spanish Festoon.
The region is also home to vast areas of steppes and rolling grassland and today will be spent exploring the best areas in search of its special birds. We will start with a pre-breakfast drive on to the nearby plains, where we’ll visit a traditional Great Bustard lek and hope to observe this huge bird’s strange courtship display. Little Bustard also occur here and the males are frequently seen displaying close to the road. After breakfast we’ll visit a vast area of steppe where both Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse occur, along with Stone Curlew and Black-eared Wheatear. Meanwhile, Montagu’s Harriers drift effortless across the plains and the air is filled with the song of Calandra, Crested and Short-toed Larks. Whilst driving we shall keep a close eye on the roadside wires, which should produce sightings of the stunning European Roller, while the nearby scrub holds Great Spotted Cuckoo, Dartford Warbler and Zitting Cisticola.
Another important habitat here is the Dehesa, (open scrubby grassland with scattered Holm and Cork Oak) a habitat which is much preferred by two of the region’s most sought-after birds, the elegant Black-winged Kite and the delightful Azure-winged Magpie. It is also a favoured haunt of European Bee-eater, along with others such as Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike, Western Orphean Warbler and Hawfinch. During the course of the day we will pass through a number of wooded river valleys, where Woodlark, Golden Oriole, Rock Sparrow and Cirl Bunting could all be added along with Sardinian, Sub-alpine and Melodious Warblers. The many bridges that cross these river valleys also hold nesting Red-rumped Swallow and Alpine Swift.
In the morning we will explore the area to the south of Trujillo, starting with a visit to a new and exciting wetland, which in addition to the regular breeders, frequently attracts scarcer species too, such as Red-crested Pochard, Black-necked Grebe, Spoonbill, Garganey and Black Tern. Then we will explore another area of Steppe nearby, giving us further opportunities for observing bustards and sandgrouse, before visiting an area of rice paddies nearby. If the water levels are right these can hold a good selection of waders, including the handsome Collared Pratincole, while Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns may also be present. We will also search along the banks of the many irrigation channels where we hope to find Penduline Tit as well as two exotics - Red Avadavat and Common Waxbill - both of which are now well established in the area.
After lunch we have the remainder of the day to catch up with any targets we are still missing, though there shouldn't be many by this stage! Time permitting we may return to the wetland first visited on day one, or spend another evening looking for Eagle Owl and Red-necked Nightjar.
After breakfast we depart Trujillo and head north towards the Sierra de Gredos, a rugged and imposing range of granite mountains rising to 2,600m, which is home to many species difficult or impossible to see in Extremadura. En route we will pass through Monfragüe, for one last look at this incredible reserve before we start to climb into the mountains. New birds along the way may include Red-backed Shrike, Honey Buzzard and Goshawk. We will arrive at the Platforma de Gredos in time for lunch, where at 1750m a number alpine species can already be found and we are likely to add Water Pipit and Ortolan Bunting before leaving the car park. Walking a little higher should produce two more targets, Common Rock Thrush and the local form of Bluethroat, as well as the impressive Spanish Ibex. Alpine Accentor is also present but usually stays much higher, although Dipper, Northern Wheatear and the local form of Yellow Wagtail are all possible. Later we check in to the superb Parador de Gredos, a spectacular hotel set on the edge of an ancient pine forest with stunning views across to the snow-capped peaks.
Our last morning will be spent birding in the pine forests close to the hotel. Our main target will be the beautiful but elusive Citril Finch, a small population of which are resident locally and can often be found feeding in the hotel grounds. Other interesting additions may include Western Bonelli's Warbler, Firecrest and Crested Tit, while Pied Flycatcher, Nuthatch and Crossbill are also possible.
After lunch we transfer back to Madrid for our return flight to the UK.
|Total Cost £855
Single room supplement £100
Air Price £150
Ground Price £705
All Flights, All ground transport once in Spain, 5 nights accommodation, Breakfast and Lunches, Reserve entrance fees and Guiding services throughout.
Evening Meals, Alcoholic drinks, Insurance and Items of a personal nature.
Maximum of 9, including leader Dave Read.
This tour will be run at a moderate pace, with a comfortable amount of walking over easy terrain. The climate at this time of year is usually warm, with average highs of 24ºC, although it is likely to be cooler while in the Gredos. Some rain is possible, but unlikely. Accommodation in Trujillo will be in a medium quality hotel with private facilities, in the Gredos it will be at the
Parador de Gredos. Transport will be by air conditioned minibus. There are no special health requirements and a visa is not required.
Many of the flights and the flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL certificate go to www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate
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