1 - 7 APRIL 2000

Jamie McMillan
John Muddeman


1st April

We all arrived at Madrid Airport from various points of the compass and despite Europcar trying to confuse us by having two desks to meet at, eventually found each other and were soon on our way out of the city.

Mid-afternoon we stopped for a late lunch at the Hotel David for a selection of local tapas and snacks just to keep body and soul together before our late dinner. It was also a nice place to start watching the ubiquitous White Storks and to have good views of Red-rumped Swallows gathering moss from a roadside puddle.

We continued on south-west into increasingly wild countryside, and were soon getting our first glimpses of the dehesa woodland so typical of the area. When the road crested a hill we had some fabulous panoramic views over the landscape. Late afternoon we arrived at the Arrocampo Reservoir. It had clouded over by this time but the birds were still very active. Here there were lots of Purple Heron flying to and from their colony, and John soon found two Spoonbill, a most unusual sighting here. Cetti's and Savi's Warblers sang from the reeds, the latter giving excellent views in the telescope as it reeled from the top of a reed stem.

Perhaps the most stunning birds here, though, were the Purple Gallinules. There were many flying and walking about in the reed beds. These birds can be surprisingly elusive, but one started walking through an open patch of reed towards us and eventually got to within about 20 ft of us for fabulous views. We watched it for at least half an hour pulling out rush stems and nibbling the base - just like the illustration shown in the Lars Jonsson Field Guide. We also had brief views of a Little Bittern in flight, and then Mike very sadly found one dead by the side of the road. It was a female, with feathers in pretty good condition, and we could appreciate just how small this tiny heron was. We continued on to Finca Santa Marta where we arrived at 8 o'clock to be welcomed by Henri and staff.

2nd April

Rain overnight was battering against the windows and it was still raining when we awoke. We (well, to be honest, just Jamie) decided not to go out for an early morning walk but to have a late breakfast and then on to Trujillo. After breakfast we made up our packed lunches from a plentiful and varied selection, an excellent system which continued throughout the week.

In Trujillo we stopped at a small pool behind the bull ring. Here we saw Black-winged Stilt, Little Grebe and Common Sandpiper and several pipits. We then went up into the town and walked through the impressive square and round the mediaeval city with its towers topped by storks' nests. Lesser Kestrels were flying over the town and Pallid Swifts were coming down low in the poor weather conditions.

We went for a long coffee stop as it began to rain again and then drove to an area north of Belèn, where we took advantage of a break in the weather to walk through the dehesa woodland alongside a small stream. We had lunch here by the side of the road and as the rain cleared an excellent procession of raptors came over, including fine views of both Black and Griffon Vultures.

The walk along the stream produced some excellent flowers including impressive swathes of Hoop-petticoat Daffodils and a small patch of Jonquils with a beautiful scent. We walked round the corner to a small lake, the Embalse de Tozo with, unusually for this area, an excellent variety of duck including Shoveler, Teal and Wigeon. There were many stilts here but perhaps most impressive were the huge number of swallows and martins flying low over the lake trying to pick up some food in the bad weather. These were mostly Barn Swallows.

We had more raptors over, including fabulous views of both the vultures and, for the only time on the trip, a superb sub-adult Golden Eagle. There was also a nice pale-phase Booted Eagle which gave good views. The weather seemed to be clearing and the light was improving. We walked along the shore to see some waders including Greenshank, Ruff, Ringed and Little Ringed Plover and there were some nice land birds as well including good views of Hoopoe and Woodlark. We were so intent on watching the superb selection of birds we didn't really notice the clouds gathering... and suddenly it was raining very hard. We headed back to the buses getting very wet and then drove straight back to the Finca Santa Marta to dry out. A few people went out for an evening walk but apparently got soaked again!

3rd April

We awoke to still cloudy skies having had much rain overnight. The south-westerly cold wind was still going strong. We left at nine along the main road to Jaraicejo turning off the motorway, almost immediately stopping for good views of Woodlarks in the dehesa. We also had our first good views of a flock of Azure-winged Magpies here. Although these birds are common around the Finca the bad weather had made it difficult to see them up to now.

We continued on to Monfragüe National Park stopping as a Black Stork soared past our vehicle. At Monfragüe we parked below the castle. Here Griffon Vultures were flying low. We had real eyeball-to-eyeball views of them as they soared past. Raven and Red-billed Chough were displaying over our heads. We walked up the steps to the Castle for some windy views of the area and plenty more Griffon Vultures. Back at the car park we caught up with an amazingly easy flock of Hawfinch perched near a dead tree and nice to see in the telescopes; a superb male showed particularly well.

We continued on round the corner to Peñafalcon. This is one of the most famous sites of the area where Griffon Vultures and Black Storks nest. We marvelled at the raptors flying very low in the still poor weather conditions, and were delighted to see a pair of Booted Eagle displaying overhead. We continued on to the park stopping by the main bridge were we failed to see the Alpine Swift that are usually here, and continued on to the Villa Real Café for lunch, avoiding a downpour.

We continued on up to the pine woods behind the town, on the way stopping for brief but good views of a male Subalpine Warbler. In the pine wood we saw Crested Tits briefly amongst some other birds. We continued to Tietar, another site for Griffon Vultures nesting. Here we finally connected with a nice Blue Rock Thrush but were actually scanning the cliffs for something larger. I finally saw a small cat-like face peering out of one of the caves in the cliff face: an Eagle Owl chick staring back at us. We all peered through our scopes at the chick; he peered down at us, and then Mike found the adult Eagle Owl perched nearby in a low pine tree. This incredibly impressive owl was the 'bird of the day' for many of us.

After this we started off home stopping briefly to try for Black Wheatear without success. We had more luck with a Pink Butterfly Orchid that was roughly in the same place that I saw it three years ago, then round a corner in the road we saw a group of four Red Deer. A little further along Mike pointed to a bird and suggested it was a Bee-eater flying over the road and then we suddenly noticed a group of beehives to our left with several Bee-eaters flying round them. After stopping and getting excellent views of these birds hawking around the hives and sitting on the telegraph wires we went on to try and find John who had disappeared over the horizon in his mini-bus. Suddenly over the crest of a hill, there he was and heading straight for us at a rate of knots! We turned round and soon had all the group watching their first Bee-eaters of the trip.

4th April

Surprise : more rain overnight and it was still cloudy and cold! However after breakfast it suddenly started clearing and there was some nice sunshine. We made a late decision to go out on to the Belèn Plain to look for bustards. Our first stop was for a pair of Southern Grey Shrike and a couple of Stone Curlew which were displaying to each other on the ground in an arable field. We also had our first good views of Thekla Lark.

We continued on a little seeing a Little Owl and two very distant Great Bustards. Soon, though, we were into some serious bustard watching. There were flocks of over thirty Little Bustard flying around, two fine female Great Bustards quite close and, interestingly, a Black Stork on the ground. Further on we had a couple of superb male Great Bustards: we could see the whiskers and much plumage detail of these.

Another feature of this open steppe country is the abundance of Calandra Larks, and these were singing madly all round us. We decided to take advantage of the good weather for a walk along a side track where the ground was sprinkled with Bug Orchids and we had good views of a Great Spotted Cuckoo. We continued on to Torecillas for coffee and lunch.

After this we decided to try and take the back way on our return journey and headed via Aldeacentenera. Here it was very sheltered and there was some lovely sunshine. We actually began to see a few clients with their coats off! There were excellent numbers of Azure-winged Magpies here as well as Hoopoes Woodchat Shrike and our first Sardinian Warblers showing. One of the most popular birds here were the Long-tailed Tits, the dusky Iberian race giving excellent views. One that John pointed out had a twisted tail from sitting on the nest, a surprisingly common feature of this species. We continued on to the woods into a scrubby area to try and get some views of small warblers; however it was too windy up here. There were some nice orchids here including Orchis conica. We continued back home for our first decent evening walk. Behind Finca Santa Marta there is a hill with pines and some great flowers. One of the stars was Fritillaria lusitanica and there good numbers of Champagne Orchid and Orchis conica t hat we had by now identified on seeing it earlier in the day. There were also some Gladiolus species up here. Although it had been cold it was our first day of sunshine and proved to be a very successful day.

5th April

A cold starry night had produced something very unusual here: a frost! We had an early morning walk up the hill behind the Finca and there were a few new migrants arrived including Common Cuckoo and Willow Warbler. Here we had our only good views of Cirl Bunting, a fine male singing, while a Hawfinch flying over, Woodlark singing and Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming gave an indication of how rich this area is for birds.

After breakfast we stopped in Trujillo to post letters and then went on to one of our favourite areas, the Monroy Circuit. Near Santa Marta de Magasca we had our first stop for a superb male Little Bustard in sunshine. In the same field were several females. It was the first time we had really heard them calling. Clients who didn't believe me when I said these birds blew raspberries at each other were soon convinced !

Just further along the road we saw another Great Spotted Cuckoo and several wheatears and then continued up to a ploughed field as we heard and saw very distant views of sandgrouse. We set up our scopes in one corner of this ploughed field, but the field was vast and the sandgrouse were very distant. We had some views of Black-bellied Sandgrouse perched and flying and some very distant Pin-tailed, but perhaps the best birds here were the Montagu's Harriers. The air seemed to be full of them displaying and as John put it 'sky dancing'. This is one of the European strongholds of Montagu's Harrier... and we were duly impressed!

In the same field as the sandgrouse there were several Great Bustard, and when we tried to get closer views of the sandgrouse we had fine views of Great Bustard in flight as another small flock flew in. Further along the road another promising field gave us views of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse on the ground, with an impressive flock of around forty taking off, their wings whirring and calling noisily.

We continued on past the village down to the river, the Rio Magasca. This was a delightfully sheltered spot and the bridge gave us good views of Red-rumped Swallow and Crag Martin. While we were looking down at the river Sophie was looking up and found us a fine Black Wheatear, one of the 'target' birds here. Looking at the river did pay off eventually, though, and we had nice views of European Kingfisher. We continued on to the Almonte River for lunch and saw our first butterflies in the nice sunshine, including Spanish Festoon.

After a short coffee stop in Monroy we continued on up to a site where we were looking for a particular raptor. We parked the vehicles and after a short walk John soon found one where he expected, to a Black-shouldered Kite. This is becoming much more widespread in Spain now, but this area near Monroy seems to be one of the most reliable spots for it. Another Black-shouldered Kite flew in, giving us splendid views in flight and perched on nearby telegraph wires. It was also at one point mobbed by a Kestrel.

We continued back to Trujillo via Jaraicejo where a small pond seemed worth a look. It had a Black-winged Stilt and no less than three sub species of Yellow Wagtail: Spanish, Blue-headed and our own British Yellow Wagtails. Bee-eaters were flying overhead taking advantage of the sunshine to migrate and we also saw Short-toed Eagle and Booted Eagle overhead: not a bad list for a village pond! With ponds firmly in our minds we continued onto Trujillo fishponds nicknamed by one our former groups 'smelly ponds'. At the bullring we had great views of the Lesser Kestrels on the wires and on the roof tiles. They actually nest in the roof of the bullring and this is one of the best places to see them. A muck-heap by the ponds had a fine Hoopoe probing to give good views of a nice Little Ringed Plover. The ponds themselves had some more Yellow Wagtails. As we were watching these a car pulled out and out jumped Henri to wave us good-bye as he was off to Madrid. Later that night a Scops Owl called at the Finca.

6th April - A sunny start, cold but not frosty today. With perhaps the only truly sunny day of the trip in prospect we decided to head to an area that was new for us way to the south of the Finca.

We started off at the Embalse de Sierra Brava. As on our first day there were masses of swallows and martins here; in this case mainly Sand Martin. Coot were abundant and we were surprised to see a number of Black-necked Grebes in summer plumage. Our first Black-eared Wheatear was showing well by the side of the road. We continued on to the other side of the lake where a flock of Gull-billed Terns flew over. The fields below us had Great Bustards including two displaying males and several Little Bustards were showing well. We continued on to a river that John had visited before: the Rio Gargalicos. Here there were Reed Warblers singing ,and we had nice views of a male Little Bittern that flew across below us.

A small bird flying across below us proved to be a Common Waxbill, a local rarity. This is an African species which has established a good feral population in Portugal and is slowly spreading through Spain. Then another group of small birds flew across. These were the expected Avadavats, a similar Indian species that has again become established in this part of Spain. These were always hard to see in the reeds. Several flocks of Bee-eaters were flying over showing migration in good progress. After this we went looking for a bar to have coffee in. We tried Acidera which had no bar but did have a very impressive House Martin colony. However, overlooking another reservoir, we stopped at a nice open-air café. Apart from Goldfinches nesting in the roof there were no birds but we had nice views of fierce looking Violet Carpenter Bees that were nesting nearby.

We went on for lunch to the Embalse Zujar. This is an interesting looking wet area but it was not very productive today. More productive were the trees around it which held masses of finches and a good population of Collared Dove, still quite an unusual bird in Spain.

After lunch we headed to our main goal of the day : the steppe at La Serena. This is a vast area of very low intensity agriculture. Here fields are ploughed and some are sown and some left fallow. There are also areas of unploughed steppe. The result is a huge area of an almost mediaeval type landscape, highly productive for steppe species and holding possibly the densest population of Great Bustard in Spain. A walk along the track in lovely sunny conditions soon showed us a few Great Bustards, including many males. As we watched, another group of Great Bustards flew past to our left giving us wonderful flight views of these impressive birds. Almost as soon as these had flown over another flock of birds appeared on the horizon and approached us. There were a group of over forty Collared Pratincoles flying around catching insects. The light on these peculiar aerial waders made them look absolutely stunning and we could see many of the plumage features, including the reddish-brown underwings characteristic of the species. Just as these were enthralling us a group of Griffon Vulture took off from a nearby field and started spiralling up and again in the light giving wonderful views. Here too Bee-eaters were pouring through in small flocks calling overhead. It was a marvellous walk and a great finale to this amazing part of Spain.

We went back to the Sierra Brava Reservoir for better views of Gull-billed Tern and a few more gulls before continuing home one what had been a superb sunny day. Many thanks to John for his expert knowledge, excellent leadership and superb eye at finding things, to all the group for being such good company and to Henri and staff at Finca Santa Marta for making us feel so welcome and looking after us so well through rain, sleet, hail and a little sunshine.

Jamie McMillan

John Muddeman



Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis - 12 + at Trujillo Fish Pond, incl. 2 nests + chicks; A few on ponds elsewhere inc. BelÈn.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus - Arrocampo Reservoir; Embalse de Tozo - 20+; Embalse de Sierra Brava - many.

Black-necked (Eared) Grebe Podiceps nigricollis - 13 at Embalse de Sierra Brava in breeding plumage showed superbly on 6th.

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo - 2 Embalse de Sierra Brava.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea - Noted around wetlands on 5 days, max. 4 Arrocampo Reservoir.

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea - Colony at Arrocampo Reservoir: 10+ seen.

Cattle Egret Ardeola ibis - Noted widely each day, 30-50 seen daily except 2-300 at Sierra Brava Reservoir.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta - 1-4 birds seen on wet areas on 4 days.

Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus - One seen (+ one road casualty Arrocampo Reservoir); Male in flight at RÌo Gargalicos.

Black Stork Ciconia nigra - At least 3 pairs on nests in Monfragüe, with 3 seen in flight there; 1 on Belèn Plain.

White Stork Ciconia ciconia - One of the great features of a trip is seeing White Storks and their nests so widely and in good numbers. The species is still increasing in Spain, with Caceres supporting the highest number of birds of any Province in Spain.

Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia - 2 Arrocampo Reservoir were very unusual.

Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope - One male, Embalse de Tozo.

Gadwall Anas strepera - c. 20 Embalse de Tozo, 2nd; 4 Embalse del Zujar, 6th.

Common Teal Anas crecca - At least 12 at Embalse de Tozo.

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos - Up to 10 noted per day on 5 days.

Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata - 5 Embalse de Tozo; 1 male Embalse de Sierra Brava.

Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus - Two seen near Monroy; one at dusk near Trujillo; two hovering near motorway on return journey, K175 and K100.

Black Kite Milvus migrans - Noted widely each day.

Red Kite Milvus milvus - Up to 5 birds per day noted each day.

Monk/Eurasian Black Vulture Aegypius monachus - Seen 5 days. Splendid views in poor weather on 2nd and 3rd. Max 10 at Monfragüe Natural Park.

(Eurasian) Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus - Seen 5 days, often giving superb views. Max 100+ in Monfragüe N.P., often soaring past at eye level.

Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus - Noted 3 days, with max. 8 seen Monfragüe N.P.

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus - Up to 4 birds per day noted on 4 days; Good views over Jaraicejo on 5th.

Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus - One ringtail seen BelÈn, 4th.

Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus - Great views of this species in one of its European strongholds. Seen 3 days, max 20+ on Monroy circuit, 5th, including pairs displaying.

(Eurasian) Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus - 3 at Arrocampo Reservoir on 1st.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus - One flying over road near Santa Marta de Magasca (probably a late winter visitor).

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo - Noted 6 days with max c. 20 around La Serena on 6th.

Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti - One (probable male) seen flying distantly but well in breeding territory.

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos - Sub-adult over Embalse de Tozo, 2nd seen well.

Booted Eagle Hieraeetus pennatus - Up to 3 noted 6 days. Both light and dark phases in approx equal proportions.

Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni - Wonderful views of this species in its European stronghold. Best seen at Trujillo.

Merlin Falco columbarius - Male seen over NV NE of Trujillo, 3rd.

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus - Up to 3 noted on 5 days. One 'jousting' with Black-shouldered Kite near Monroy.

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus - One high over Peñafalcon, and one possibly the same later nearby.

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa - 4 pairs seen on Monroy circuit; A pair near Embalse de Sierra Brava.

Common Quail Coturnix coturnix - Heard at Finca Santa Marta, and on Monroy circuit.

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus - Several heard and one seen Arrocampo Reservoir; one heard RÌo Gargàlicos.

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus - Noted 5 days in wetlands.

Purple Gallinule (Swamphen) Porphyrio porphyrio - at least 10 seen at Arrocampo Reservoir on 1st, one giving amazing views down to 20ft.

Common Coot Fulica atra - A few Arrocampo Reservoir; c. 100 at Embalse de Sierra Brava.

Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax - Noted 3 days. Most at Belèn where seen on ground and in flying flocks totalling 50+.

Great Bustard Otis tarda - 8 at BelÈn; 12 on Monroy circuit near Santa Marta de Magasca; 12 at Sierra Brava. An afternoon stroll on La Serena produced an amazing 70+, with 23 superb birds in flight, and displaying males.

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus - Very widespread on small pools and reservoirs. Up to 10 noted daily.

Stone-Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus - 2 seen well at start of Belèn road.

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola - A flock of 49 hawking over La Serena in superb light was one of the trip highlights.

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula - A group of 4 at Embalse de Tozo on 2nd were unusual in this area.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius - Singles at Embalse de Tozo, 2nd and Trujillo Fish Pond, 5th; 2 at RÌo Gargàlicos, 6th.

Dunlin Calidris alpina - One Embalse de Tozo, 2nd.

Ruff Philomachus pugnax - One, winter-plumaged male Embalse de Tozo, 2nd.

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia - One, Embalse de Tozo, 2nd.

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus - One, RÌo Magasca, 5th; one Embalse del Zujar, 6th.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos - One Trujillo Fish Ponds, 2nd; two Embalse de Tozo, 2nd; 2 Embalse de Sierra Brava, 6th.

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus - 4+ Embalse Sierra Brava, 6th.

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus - c. 30 Embalse de Sierra Brava, 6th.

Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica - 10+ Embalse Sierra Brava, 6th.

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata - c. 60, Monroy circuit, including some seen on ground, and an impressive flock of 40 in the air.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis - 12+ Monroy circuit, including a few distantly on ground, and several small flocks in flight.

Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus - Noted 4 days. Most in Monfragüe, max 10; noted over Finca Santa Marta.

Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia - Noted widely each day.

(Eurasian) Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto - One Arrocampo Reservoir; strong colony (min. 6 males calling) at Embalse del Zujar dam.

Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius - Up to 3 noted on 3 days; excellent views near Santa Marta de Magasca.

Common (Eurasian) Cuckoo Cuculus canorus - Noted from 5th when seen at Finca Santa Marta; one seen on 6th.

Eagle Owl Bubo bubo - Adult + chick seen at Monfragüe (well done for finding them - JM!).

Little Owl Athene noctua - One on rocks at Belèn.

European Scops Owl Otus scops - Heard one night (5th) at Finca Santa Marta.

Common Swift Apus apus - Small nos. noted daily from 2nd.

Pallid Swift Apus pallidus - Seen 3 days. Main concentration over Trujillo on 2nd, but superb views of one Sierra Brava, 6th.

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis - 2 Rìo Magasca, seen well; One Rìo Gargàlicos carrying fish.

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster - 14 over beehives on Monfragüe road, 3rd. Several flocks seen from 5th, with increasing nos. on 6th (60) including some over Finca Santa Marta.

(Eurasian) Hoopoe Upupa epops - A common bird - seen daily, including in the courtyard of Finca Santa Marta.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major - One at the dam, Monfragüe N.P.; One Finca Santa Marta, drumming.

Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra - Up to 30+ seen 3 days, on steppe areas.

(Greater) Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla - One in 'yo-yo' song flight, Belèn Plain, 4th.

Crested Lark Galerida cristata - Seen daily - Widespread.

Thekla Lark Galerida theklae - 4 identified: one Belèn Plain; 2 surprisingly, Trujillo Fish Ponds, and 2+ Monroy Circuit, 5th.

Wood Lark Lullula arborea - Widespread in dehesa. Displaying at Finca Santa Marta.

(Eurasian) Sky Lark Alauda arvensis - A few seen 2 days on steppe.

(Common) House Martin Delichon urbica - Seen daily. Excellent colony all over a house at Acedera.

(European) Sand Martin Riparia riparia - Bad weather produced an impressive passage of these. Noted 4 days, mainly over wetlands, with many hundreds, Embalse de Sierra Brava on 6th.

(Eurasian) Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris - Up to 10 noted on 3 days.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica - Common, seen daily.

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica - Widespread, seen daily. Good views from several river bridges.

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava - 5 on 5th and 6 on 6th. A pool at Jaraicejo held one each of Spanish (white-chinned), British (yellow-headed) and C European (blue-headed, yellow chinned) races.

White Wagtail Motacilla alba - Up to 5 noted 5 days.

Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis - One Finca Santa Marta, 4th.

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis - Noted 5 days; max. 60+ noted Belèn steppe on 4th.

Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta - Up to 6 around Trujillo Fish Pond on 2nd and 5th.

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis - Up to 5 noted daily.

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator - Noted daily. Best numbers on Monroy circuit where up to 40 seen on 5th.

(Winter) Wren Troglodytes troglodytes - Singing most mornings around Finca Santa Marta.

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius - Several Monfragüe. A pair regularly flew over Finca Santa Marta.

(Common) Blackbird Turdus merula - Noted daily.

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos - One by café, Monfragüe N.P.

Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus - Noted 3 days in dehesa.

(European) Robin Erithacus rubecula - Two at dam, Monfragüe N.P.

Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos - One heard calling, Rìo Gargàlicos, 6th.

Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura - One at Rìo Magasca, 5th. (Brilliant spot by Sophie!).

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe - Up to 3 noted on 4 days.

Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica - Only seen on 6th around Embalse de Sierra Brava and La Serena.

(Common) Stonechat Saxicola torquata - Widespread, noted daily.

Fan-tailed Warbler (Zitting Cisticola) Cisticola juncidis - Singles heard and seen singing over fields on 3 days.

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti - 2+ heard Arrocampo Reservoir and 5+, including several seen, at Rìo Gargàlicos.

Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides - 2 seen and heard at Arrocampo Reservoir.

Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus - 2 Arrocampo Reservoir, 1st; One Rìo Gargàlicos, 6th. (A passage migrant through the area).

(Eurasian) Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus - 2 Rìo Gargàlicos, 6th.

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla - Up to 2 noted 3 days at Finca Santa Marta.

Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala - Noted in dehesa and at Finca Santa Marta on 4 days.

Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans - One male seen, but briefly by dam, Monfragüe, 3rd.

Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus - One at Finca Santa Marta, 5th; One Rìo Gargàlicos, 6th.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus - Pairs near Aldeacentenera, Finca Santa Marta, and Rìo Magasca.

Crested Tit Parus cristatus - 2 seen briefly at dam, Monfragüe N.P.

Great Tit Parus major - Widespread and noted daily.

Blue Tit Parus caeruleus - Widespread and noted daily.

*Eurasian/Wood Nuthatch Sitta europea - One in dehesa at Peñafalcon, 3rd.

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla - Seen at dam, Monfragüe; also in dehesa on 2 days, including at Finca Santa Marta.

Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus - The almost constant presence of these in the dehesa and at Finca Santa Marta will remain one of the strong memories of the trip.

(Eurasian) Jackdaw Corvus monedula - Flocks noted 4 days.

Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius - One seen to cross road near Jaraicejo, 7th.

(Black-billed) Magpie Pica pica - Widespread and seen daily.

Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax - 2 displaying at Monfragüe Castle.

Common Raven Corvus corax - Up to 20 noted daily.

Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor - Widespread and common.

Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus - One male singing above Finca Santa Marta, 5th.

Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra - Very common and widespread. Oddly absent from most open areas of La Serena.

(Common) Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs - A few seen 4 days in dehesa.

European Serin Serinus serinus - Widespread and noted each day.

(European) Greenfinch Carduelis chloris - 4 in Monfragüe, near dam, 3rd; A few at Zújar dam, 6th.

(European) Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis - Flocks of 100 or more in several places. Widespread and noted each day.

(Common) Linnet Carduelis cannabina - Two by pond at Jaraicejo, 5th.

Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes - Superb views of flock of 12 under Monfragüe Castle, 2 over Finca Santa Marta.

Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild - Superb male seen nest-building, Rìo Gargàlicos. A good record for the area.

Red Avadavat Amandava amandava - 13 seen Rìo Gargàlicos.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus - Common and widespread.

Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis - Common and widespread, including a few at Finca Santa Marta. Noted 4 days, including flocks of several hundred towards La Serena.

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia - One in dehesa on road to Monroy, 3rd.


Red Deer Cervus elaphus - 4 alongside Monfragüe road.

Iberian Hare Lepus capensis - Noted 3 days.

Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus - Up to 10 noted 2 days - especially near Santa Marta de Magasca.


Natterjack Toad Bufo calamita - Rescued from on-coming car, Belèn. Heard at Rìo Gargàface="Arial">licos.

Iberian Pool Frog Rana perezi - Heard from pools


Moorish Gecko Tarentola mauretanica - 2 in dining room, F.S.M.

Stripe-necked Terrapin Mauremys caspica - Seen in rivers, eg Rìo Magasca.


Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumina - One by Rìo Almonte, 5th.

Small White Artogeia rapae - Noted 2 days.

Western Dappled White Euchloe simplonia - Noted 2 days: Belèn and LaSerena.

Brimstone Goneptryx rhamni - Noted 4 days.

Small copper Lycaena phlaeas - Noted 2 days.

Brown argus Aricia agestis - Seen by Rìo Almonte, 5th.

Common blue Polyommatus icarus - Seen by Rìo Almonte, 5th.

Red admiral Vanessa atalanta - Noted 2 days.

Painted lady Cynthia cardui - Noted 2 days.

Small heath Coenonympha pamphilius - Noted 2 days.


Shuttle-shaped Dart MothAgrotis puta - one at F.S.M.

Egyptian Grasshopper Anacridium aegyptium - one at Zújar dam.

Oil beetle Meloe sp. - one at Zújar dam. Several, La Serena

Field cricket Gryllus campestris - various heard La Serena.

Violet Carpenter Bee Xylocopa violacea - one beside Embalse del Zújar.


[Nos. on the right refer to Grey-Wilson & Blamey, Mediterranean Wild Flowers]

Pinaceae: Pinus pinea Stone / Umbrella Pine (3)

Fagaceae: Quercus rotundifolia Evergreen (Holm) Oak (26)

Quercus suber Cork Oak (27)

Ulmaceae: Ulmus minor Elm sp. (c. 38)

Celtis australis Southern Nettle Tree (39)

Aristolochiaceae: Aristolochia paucinervis Birthwort sp. (c. 64)

Caryophyllaceae: Spergularia purpurea Purple Sand-spurrey (148)

Silene colorata (180)

Ranunculaceae: Ranunculus sp. Water Crowfoot sp.

Fumariaceae: Fumaria capreolata Ramping Fumitory (303)

Cruciferae: Matthiola sp. Stock sp. (c. 327)

Brassica barrelieri Mustard sp. (c. 355)

Resedaceae: Reseda luteola Weld / Dyer's Rocket (377)

Sesamoides purpurascens Sesamoides (c. 378)

Leguminosae: Cercis siliquastrum Judas Tree (430)

Cytisus multiflorus White Broom

Lupinus hispanicus 'Iberian' Lupin (c. 484)

Astragalus lusitanicus 'Iberian' Milk-vetch (504)

Vicia lutea Yellow Vetch (525)

Vicia sativa Common Vetch (531)

Trifolium tomentosum Woolly Trefoil (658)

Trifolium glomeratum Clustered Clover (c. 667)

Geraniaceae: Erodium botrys Storksbill sp. (758)

Aceraceae: Acer monspessulanum Montpelier Maple (856)

Anarcardiaceae: Pistacia terebinthus Turpentine Tree / Terebinth (861)

Violaceae: Viola arvensis Field Pansy (c. 931)

Viola kitaibeliana Dwarf Pansy (931)

Cistaceae: Cistus albidus Grey-leaved Cistus (961)

Cistus salvifolius Sage-leaved Cistus (965)

Cistus monspeliensis Narrow-leaved Cistus (966)

Cistus ladanifer Gum Cistus (971)

Tuberaria guttata Spotted Rockrose (985)

Umbelliferae: Scandix pecten-veneris Shepherd's Needle (1097)

Ferula communis Giant Fennel (1141)

Ericaceae: Arbutus unedo Strawberry Tree (1176)

Erica arborea Tree Heath (1178)

Oleaceae: Fraxinus angustifolius Narrow-leaved Ash (c. 1245)

Boraginaceae: Echium plantagineum Purple Viper's Bugloss (1383)

Borago officinalis Borage (1395)

Labiatae: Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary (1526)

Lavandula stoechas French Lavender (1528)

Solanaceae: Hyosciamus albus White Henbane (1555)

Orobanchaceae: Orobanche sp. Broomrape sp. (c.1664)

Compositae: Chamaemelum nobile Chamomile (1884)

Chrysanthemum coronarium Crown Daisy (1895)

Silybum marianum Milk Thistle (1982)

Liliaceae: Asphodelus aestivus Common Asphodel (2089)

Fritillaria lusitanica Iberian Fritillary (2152)

Ornithogalum umbellatum Star-of-Bethlehem (2171)

Muscari comosum Tasselled Hyacinth (2201)

Narcissus jonquilla Common Jonquil (2279)

Narcissus bulbocodium Hoop-petticoat Narcissus (2281)

Iridaceae: Tulipa sylvestris Wild Tulip (2138)

Iris xiphium Spanish Iris (2299)

Gynandriris sisyrinchium Barbary Nut Iris (2305)

Gladiolus ?illyricus Gladiolus sp. (2308)

Orchidaceae: Orchis papilionacea var. grandiflora Pink Butterfly Orchid (2401)

Orchis champagneuxii Champagne Orchid (2403b)

Orchis coriophora Bug Orchid (2405)

Orchis conica (cf. lactea) 'Iberian Milky Orchid' (c. 2408)

Ophrys tenthredinifera Sawfly Orchid (2442)

© The Travelling Naturalist 2000