6 - 12 April 2002

Tim Earl
John Muddeman

Daily diary

Saturday 6th April

The group had quite a surprise on arriving at Madrid Airport to find that John Muddeman was unwell and Tim Earl had remained in Spain to take over after leading a group around Extremadura with John the week before. The shock was made worse by the fact that everyone had left lovely spring weather in Britain to find cold wet conditions in 'sunny Spain'.

That was put behind us after a snack of various tapas at our usual stop down to Extremadura - a great indication that we had arrived in Spain - and a host of great birds at the Embalse (reservoir) de Arrocampo on the way down to our hotel at the Finca Santa Marta. The reservoir is used to cool a nuclear reactor and was steaming in the unseasonably cool air.

So were the group members within five minutes, during which time we saw White Storks nesting on electricity pylons, a male Marsh Harrier displaying to its mate, Purple Gallinules picking their way through reed beds, Purple Herons nesting within 60 metres, and a Savi's Warbler which teetered on the top of a tall reed mace to ensure that we had good views of himÖ we could see its throat trembling as the bird was studied through a telescope.

Black Kites soared overhead to give a comparison with more distant Red Kite and Buzzard, while a Little Bittern and many Grey Herons added movement to the scene. Purple Gallinule is a difficult bird to see in Europe but here we were able to watch one feeding a chick and could only speculate as to how many were around the huge lake.

The stop for marsh birds had to be the highlight of the day, whichever of its residents was personal favourite. Kingfisher, Water Rail, Squacco Heron and Little Bittern, even the backs of spawning Carp, were seen between showers.

No two rooms are the same at our hotel and a few minutes were spent exchanging details of their respective good points. Owner Henry Elink-Schurman gave us a brief summary of the Finca Santa Marta's history at a charming reception and after an excellent supper we checked that our clocks were on double summer time and retired to bed.

Sunday 7th April

Double summer time means a late daybreak and the light was still bad at 7.45 as we went hunting Champagne and Spanish Milky Orchids before breakfast. A female Pied Flycatcher, brought down from her migration by the bad weather, was hunting flies and ants in the almond orchard, Hoopoes were heard and seen, Serins sang from almost every tree and the ones they missed were occupied by Short-toed Treecreepers. A pair of Wood Larks was found after delighting us with their fluting songs. It was bitterly cold, however, and we were glad to get back to the Finca for breakfast.

The Belén Plain was even colder - Katherine's thermometer recorded a temperature of just 8°C and that was before the wind-chill factor. Our main quarry species were Great and Little Bustards. The first Great Bustard was soon located imitating a sheep by doing its spectacular display behind a flock some distance away. Dave spotted the bird and we all enjoyed super views through telescopes as it turned 'inside-out' to resemble a huge white pom-pom. (We were to discover just how big they are the following day when an hotel coffee-stop was made the more interesting with a stuffed specimen in the reception area.) Females were located close to the displaying 'plains master' male.

Suddenly Tim called for a flying pair of Little Bustards which landed in a field much closer to us than the Great BustardsÖ and promptly disappeared. We eventually had good views of the male, with his black and white Newcastle United supporters' football scarf, and the more drab female.

Working our way across the plain we found several more Great Bustards and a calling male Little Bustard was heard. Calandra Larks were seen and heard doing their somewhat Skylark-like songs high above us. On occasions they came lower and we were able to see the long slim wings with their dark undersides and white trailing edge. Raptors were in short supply - most were sheltering from the terrible weather - and only a single Griffon Vulture, a few Common and Lesser Kestrels, plus several Montagu's Harriers were seen quartering the fields.

Pleased with our progress we went for a late morning coffee (some discovering Cola Cao, a hot chocolate drink) in a nearby village, passing three or four more Montagu's Harriers quartering a corn field extremely close to the road, a quite stunning sight.

Our stop for lunch was at a regular Travelling Naturalist picnic spot on a ridge much used by raptors drifting past. Not today, however. Parked among beautiful spring flowers, all closed up in the dull cold conditions, we ate our lunch in the van as rain had started. A walk after lunch produced a few more distant views of Great Bustards but we decided to cut our losses and return to the Finca via a track across the plain.

We were not alone in wanting to shelterÖ a flock of four Hoopoes was found crouching behind a wall and five Lesser Kestrels had given up hunting insects and were sitting hunched on a fence wire next to the road. We knew just how they felt as they flew when we approached.

A warm stove at the finca was lit and after a cuppa the group took a short walk during a lull in the rain. A Grey Wagtail flew out from the vast farm well, a Robin and a Wren were discovered along with a pair of Blackcaps.

Monday 8th April

Hopes of better weather were dashed at daybreak when the torrential overnight rain continued. We decided to head for Monfragüe Natural Park where a break in the weather could produce exciting views of raptors. The journey is always broken at a beautiful bridge across the Río Almonte but not today.

The rain was heavy and steady so we pressed on to a coffee stop, at the hotel mentioned above, and into the park. As it was still raining we decided to press on through and park at the far end where Griffons nest. Here stalwarts stood in the rain, under the shelter of the bus's rear door, and ate their sandwiches. Dave and Hugh had walked off to an observation area but missed a dark-phase Booted Eagle which appeared briefly under the low cloud above a ridge opposite.

Not to be outdone, they came running back to the bus with the news that an Otter had been seen swimming across the reservoir below us. It had a fish in its mouth and had disappeared under foliage on the far bank. The animal could not be found, however, despite a search with binoculars.

Pale patches in the sky looked promising, but the rain persisted and we had to be content with listening to the songs of Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler, plus our first Nightingales and brief views of a Dartford Warbler.

Suddenly, Dave came running back again to say that another Otter had been found, also carrying a fish. The animal was seen by us all, even after it crawled into a dark recess in the foliage on the opposite bank and proceeded to eat the fish with the occasional look up our way as we watched through a telescope. It was fascinating.

No full Travelling Naturalist group to Extremadura has seen an otter before, although some individuals have seen them on our trips, and here we were, our perseverance rewarded with two seen in a few minutes, both with fish and one watched for some time as it ate the mealÖ a wonderful wildlife experience.

The rain had become a little lighter in the interim but there was no sign of a break so we went off to see if Crested Tits, nesting nearby and found by Tim and John Muddeman the week before, could be relocated. The rain eased as we arrived at the spot and after a few minutes both birds were seen bringing food to a nest site in an old woodpecker's excavation and we had excellent views.

As the rain had ceased, we returned to our first stopping place to watch dozens of Griffons drifting down the ridge towards the cliffs we had been watching. Some joined birds on the cliffs while others circled around gaining enough height to cross the reservoir and pass over our heads as they set off for the brighter weather behind us.

Four huge Black or Cinereous Vultures settled on the cliff while others went past. Three Egyptian Vultures joined the show and a Black Kite swooped down from a great height to snatch a sick fish from the surface. This was beginning to be a most exciting experience. Several more Black Kites gave false alarms as we searched the vultures for eagles and other raptors. But a pale-phase Booted Eagle was seen well before a party of Montagu's Harriers flapped their way along the ridge and past the Griffons. In the mêlée above our cliff a female Goshawk appeared and even had the cheek to stoop half-heartedly at a passing Griffon.

Rain was falling back in the park and we decided to return to search the sites passed through earlier. Between breaks we stopped to look for Alpine Swifts and found a Long-tailed Tit and another Egyptian Vulture. At the lookout we saw a Black Stork sitting tight on its nest opposite, a pair of Rock Buntings showed well but briefly and Crag Martins wheeled past us.

An attempt to watch birds from the Castle lookout car park failed when a cloud burst and we headed for home. Stops on the way produced another two Egyptian Vultures, our first Short-toed Eagle, three Little Ringed Plovers, single Common and Green Sandpipers and a distant Mistle Thrush, among several seen during the day.

John Muddeman joined us after dinner, in time to call up a Scops Owl which had to compete with several Iberian Pool Frogs. Tim invited the group to his room during dinner to admire a large Moorish Gecko which had been tempted out by the heat from a wood-stove.

Tuesday 9th April

Searches for the comet having proved fruitless the night before, Tim was pleased to point out a heavenly body on his pre-breakfast walkÖ the sun shone. And with it came singing Wood Lark, Linnet, Hoopoe, Serin and our first views of Sardinian Warbler, although they had been heard before. Crag Martins were flitting around the old road from the finca and a Blue Rock Thrush was perched on a neighbouring house roof along with a Spotless Starling, the common starling of Extremadura.

Tim said his farewells after breakfast and was thanked for standing in for John, who now takes up the diary (not least by me! - JLM).

Bidding our farewells to Tim we headed south, passing countryside brush-stroked in purple, yellow and white. The skies were clearing and despite a few drops of rain, birds were active, with a couple of Woodchat Shrikes, a male Northern Wheatear displaying vigorously to a female and a melanistic male Montagu's Harrier caused some identification trouble until coming into better light. Several more 'normal' males in quick succession soon made amends though.

Our next stop looked over a ploughed field, but while noting singing Calandra and Greater Short-toed Larks, several displaying male Great Bustards caught our eye, only to be rapidly outdone by four Black-bellied Sandgrouse which rose up from the wet mud and flew around for some time before settling, unusually, just within sight. Distant Black Kites caused further raptor queries...

The very still conditions at the nearby Embalse de Sierra Brava showed up the waterbirds very well, especially the abundant Great Crested Grebes and a pair of Gadwall, but several fly-by Gull-billed Terns soon distracted us. One found perched on a spit was a treat. Common Sandpipers teetered along the banks and two Black-winged Stilts passed over at height. A 'dry warbling' lead us to a fine male Black-eared Wheatear, while a beautiful, spotty Little Owl sat on a barn roof for all to admire, the false face markings on the back of its head providing an interesting sight.

Passing through a cutting, where a female Black-eared Wheatear carried nesting material, an odd-looking bird on a post turned into an aquamarine-blue Roller upon closer inspection, providing a prolonged view of this spectacular species. However, again we were soon distracted, this time by a perky Zitting Cisticola perched on a Woolly Thistle which allowed scope views for all before it 'bungy-jumped' off in display-flight.

The next bay of the reservoir was also quiet, but a fly-over Tawny Pipit tried to make amends as did two summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebes. Several large flocks of birds also suddenly appeared, turning out to be Lesser Black-backed Gulls on migration, now pouring through with the clearing weather.

A lark dropped onto the tarmac at the end of the dam, allowing our first, albeit brief views of Thekla Lark, with a preening female Montagu's Harrier looking somewhat bedraggled in the broom-like scrub. Stopping to overlook some ponds, a small bird flushed from just in front, but after scratching round in some thistles, popped out to give us a good view - a fine male Subalpine Warbler, though on the opposite side, an adult Egyptian Vulture, single pairs of Northern Shoveler and Red-crested Pochard, a number of Black-winged Stilts and a Lapwing vied for attention. However, we were left reeling when an immature Golden Eagle suddenly circled up, only to be mobbed by Common Buzzard and then buzzed by a passing Peregrine. The first butterflies of the trip put in an appearance, lulled out by the warming sun, genuinely delighting all present.

We dropped down into the Madrigalejo rice fields, only to stop again when the first of several passing Booted Eagles put up half a dozen Collared Pratincoles, then again when the first a several flocks of piping Red Avadavats dropped into roadside cover. Our drinks break was getting ever later...

Tearing ourselves away on my promise of more of the latter species later, we didn't get far, however, before we were forced to stop yet again, this time by an adult Common Crane, just yards from the roadside and men working in the fields. This was rapidly followed by two more Little Owls in a wooded patch and a roadside Southern Grey Shrike.

Finally we had a quick break and went the short distance down to our picnic spot. Here, despite genuinely uninteresting looking habitat, eight Great Bustards, a few more Montagu's Harriers, a distant Bee-eater and two singing Common Quail kept us occupied. As cloud had thickened again, so the heat haze had dropped and we were rewarded with fine views of a male Great Bustard, sailing galleon-like through a flower-filled field with its whiskers sticking out on either side of its chin.

Things still felt relatively quiet though so we continued down to a small bridge overlooking the Río Gargáligas. The reeds, scrub and reedmace provide fine cover for warblers, with first Eurasian Reed, then Great Reed at short range, and even a couple of singing Cetti's out on view. Or luck was in again with a fly-by of the local Nightingale which had been serenading us. Moving from one side of the bridge to the other we all finally had good views and also heard 'sharming' Water Rail, while an extraordinary spot found us watching an almost invisible Little Ringed Plover in a mud field some distance away... Several calling tree frogs gave us the slip, but we headed back to a last strategic site where a number of Sawfly Orchids had their last flowers open, a Spanish Festoon butterfly put in a fine display and a large flock of Red Avadavats contained a few fine Common Waxbills. Even as we left, a Common Whitethroat popped-up in a bramble for a few moments for those quick on the binocular draw to contemplate.

Wednesday 10th April

After a notably clear night, local ground frost ensued, though conditions were ideal. The early morning birders caught up with Short-toed Treecreeper, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and even had views of a singing Nightingale for a fine start.

In Trujillo, we watched and listened to the antics of Lesser Kestrels as they jostled and displayed around the breeding holes on the bull ring roof, while just yards away we were treated to a fine fly-by display of several Pallid Swifts, so close on occasions that we could see the pale scalloping on the body feathers. In addition we listened to their rather hoarse and slightly disyllabic call, quite distinct from Common Swift.

While the remains of the Trujillo fish ponds are a sad reminder of their former days, the pools still have their attraction, with a pair of Black-winged Stilts and four Little Ringed Plovers along the edges, though the display of various thistles outside and a couple of perched Hoopoes soon turned our thoughts to other things.

Passing a squadron of Civil Guard motor cyclists, we headed out west, but soon veered off through lavender-carpeted dehesa where Azure-winged Magpies and Woodchat Shrikes were common. Emerging into open ground we soon discovered that the fields ahead were far from empty, and apart from sheets of flowers, a good number of male Little Bustards 'called' (raspberried is probably a better description) from small promontories and Montagu's Harriers ghosted past every few minutes. A Red-legged Partridge called from under a tree close to a Southern Grey Shrike, though both were sometimes obscured by the abundant flowers of Purple Viper's-bugloss, and on top of this a Stone-curlew 'wailed' from away in the distance. Raptors up well beyond the bustards were a good early challenge, though a call of several small birds led to the discovery of five Pin-tailed Sandgrouse in flight, which though distant, flashed their bright white bellies at us as they repeatedly twisted and turned in the early morning sunshine.

The entrance to a broad track ahead saw us admiring another pair of Red-leg's, several Northern and Black-eared Wheatears, and Azure-winged Magpie in the same binocular view, though behind us the real spectacle was underway, with about 20 pairs of Montagu's Harriers over the crops, twisting, turning, circling up, stooping in aerial dogfights, and simply delighting us all with their antics.

From a more secluded spot we watched the harriers spellbound, with up to 20 birds in the air at once around us, whistling and 'cheking' in flight, though as the thermals formed, so these rose up ever higher, eventually mixing with the numerous Black and Griffon Vultures and Black and Red Kites drifting over the area. A paucity of small birds was perhaps no surprise given the abundance of predators, but a pair each of Little Grebe, Gadwall and Black-winged Stilt embellished a nearby pond and finally, a raucous call alerted us to the arrival of a fine Great Spotted Cuckoo. This we watched at close range as it ran through the grass to collect hairy caterpillars, a most peculiar sight (and diet).

Flowers here were certainly not ignored either, with a Thrift an unusual find, but the pink orchid-like spikes Onobrychis humilis and the tiny Parentucellia latifolia characteristic of the area. The first rock-lifting of the trip also revealed an attractive, yellow-striped Spanish Psammodromus lizard.

Drinks were taken in Santa Marta de Magasca, where another Pin-tailed Sandgrouse was rather closer (ha, ha), but a huge insect in the road was a magnificent Giant Peacock moth for all to admire. Rather than leave this to the vagaries of the locals, we took it to the safety of the Río Magasca, where despite several Bee-eaters overhead as we arrived, it flew off apparently none the worse for wear having warmed-up in the sun.

A displaying Golden Eagle in among various vultures and kites and numerous Crag Martins and perched Red-rumped Swallows were admired as we ate our food in a beautifully sheltered corner. The sun had also enticed out a number of butterflies, including Brimstone, Common Blue and Brown Argus, which put on a fine display, though a stunning red and purple-striped moth tried to steal the show. A tiny rockrose with purplish-red centred flowers (Xolantha sp.) was a delight next to the peculiar white flowers of Annual Omphalodes. A bit of a surprise were two Black Storks flushed from under the bridge, and our noses, by Dave. A tiny Stripe-necked Terrapin generated interest out of all proportion to its size, while ten larger individuals of its tribe lined the banks where a Kingfisher perched all too briefly.

The temperature was rising, so so did we, up onto open steppe again, where a couple of Little Bustards were noted hiding in the steppe, though a fortuitous stop for plants revealed an adult Bonelli's Eagle flying past, while around our feet, a tiny Praying Mantis and two Viperine Snakes were interesting finds!

Clouds bubbled up as we came back, via shrike-lined wires and bushes, and after refreshments at the finca, most went for a walk up the hill to find the numerous Champagne and a few Spanish Milky Orchids in flower. The rain fortunately held-off until the log-call, though continued into the night...

Thursday 11th April

Early morning walkers found a singing Willow Warbler among other species which included both woodpeckers.

After a slightly later breakfast we made a visit to Trujillo, where a chilly north wind was blowing, though this was alleviated somewhat by the sun. A fly-by Little Bustard and a small flock of Bee-eaters livened up the route there. Now that the town square has been redone, it is a centre of activities, unfortunately for us, the rather peculiar setting up of sports activities in the town square by and for a telecom company spoiled the view, and was very, very purple... Not a patch on the local flowers however...Thursday is market day, with its associated hustle and bustle, lending life to this attractive town crowned with a fortified castle and narrow winding streets. The views from the top, looking out over the surrounding landscapes were simply superb, allowing us to look again at the different areas visited, north towards Monfragüe NP, east over the Belén plain, south-east towards the finca and west towards Santa Marta de Magasca and the Cáceres steppes.

The town is also a fine place for watching wildlife, with White Storks adorning the rooftops, Lesser Kestrels diving in under the pantiles to their nests and Pallid Swifts racing over the Plaza Mayor. A fine pale phase Booted Eagle drifted over the vans just before we reassembled, and an Iberian Wall Lizard in front of the Parador was admired before we left.

Being a somewhat more laid-back day, we retraced our route to the finca for a relaxed lunch (outside for most), then out to the Río Tozo. This was a delightful walk along a swollen river, with abundant natural history interest. A Green Sandpiper kept a watchful eye on us from a rock upriver, a couple of Alpine Swifts banked and scythed through a mixed swift and hirundine flock overhead, including Common Swift and all five hirundine (swallow and martin) species. Raptors were very evident too, with regular fly-overs by Black and Red Kites and Griffon and Black Vultures. Several Gadwall rose up noisily from the river and Stonechats 'chatted' at our passing. The judicious lifting of a couple of tin sheets revealed a large Viperine Snake plus a mother and six baby Wood Mice - fortunately under another. Hoop-petticoat Narcissi were common in the damper grass and a number of Spanish Festoons brightened up our passage along the river where Stripe-necked Terrapins basked on the banks.

The reservoir itself was relatively quiet, but three juvenile and three adult Spoonbills, the latter with their bushy crests, several Little Egrets and Grey Herons, more Gadwall, distant Northern Shoveler and a solitary Common Crane were a good reward. Waders included four Black-winged Stilts, a still grey Spotted Redshank, at least three Common Greenshank and a Common Sandpiper. All these were watched under a continuous stream of raptors, which finally included a couple of Booted and Short-toed Eagles, though one of the star birds revealed itself when a quiet 'plaintive' call led to the discovery of a watchable Western Bonelli's Warbler in the oaks, which was also occasionally heard in subsong.

The chilly conditions eventually won through, but the flowers en route back included Amethyst Toadflax and Tassel Hyacinth, while a strange sound emanating from the riverbank led to the discovery by Dave of a kingfisher hole, presumably containing large, noisy chicks. Despite a 'stake-out' we saw only an adult further upstream as we returned to the bus.

After teas back at the finca we took a final stroll out in the grounds, with a couple of probable Common Waxbills seen by Avril of special note, and brief glimpses of several Sardinian Warblers and rather better Short-toed Treecreepers by the rest.

The flowers were particularly good and bright purple trees near almost all the farms and buildings were confirmed as Judas Trees in full flower - a stunning sight.

The evening was rounded off with a typical spread of the local fare and plentiful red wine in the restaurant La Troya in Trujillo. However, naturalists are never off guard and one of the biggest surprises of the trip was noted later, when a Western Polecat shot across the road en route back to the finca and was seen by a lucky few - my first in Spain.

Friday 12th April

Cloudy skies did not bode well for the last day of a trip. However, with late flights we had time to break the journey and after a fine farewell from Henri, our host helped us get away in high spirits.

We sped past the now familiar Cattle Egret colony and passed the Río Almonte almost without stopping given the chilly conditions and suppressed bird activity. However, just after Jaraicejo, a little pond held a fine Kingfisher perched on the surrounding wall for all to admire.

We headed back towards Monfragüe NP, stopping briefly in the dehesa en route, where there was a notable absence of raptors. Wood Pigeons, singing Wood Larks, and fleeting views of a Thekla Lark were small reward, but a small group of Bee-eaters dashing through the trees and just over our heads were a fantastic sight. Numerous small plants of Purple Sesamoides looking just like tiny Weld plants peppered the track and provided an interesting aside.

Pushing on, a slow down to search for pink flowering spikes at a "usual" site proved in vain, but some distance further on another flash of pink caught my eye, and as I ran back to check, not only were three spikes of Pink Butterfly Orchids coming into bloom, but a large colony of Tongue Orchids lay just yards away. The sound of 'shreeping' Rock Sparrows was heard briefly as we got out, but unfortunately they didn't stay.

Driving up to the car park under the castle, we contemplated the first close raptors, with Griffon Vultures, Black Kites and a dashing Peregrine. A blue Blue Rock Thrush sang from the rocks and a couple of Long-tailed Tits flitted around in the large Southern Nettle Trees in the car park. The cool conditions still weren't conducive to good numbers of birds though, so we turned back down towards the Salto del Gitano car park, though not before admiring a Nuthatch clinging to the side of a "holey" telegraph pole where it was plastering up one of the entrances.

At the Peña Falcón viewpoint, a dunnock-like song caught our attention and a superb male Rock Bunting sat above us for all to admire his striped head and rufous body. Another song then cut into our senses, and a male Black Redstart, perched just down from the top of a rock pinnacle diverted our gazes, though eluded several before flying to a more visible location.

A couple more Blue Rock Thrushes added to this array, with a Black Stork brooding on its nest good competition, though again, eyes were diverted by a couple of fly-by Egyptian Vultures. However, a fine Otter, perched precariously on the tip of a dead tree just standing proud of the water surface was possibly the most unusual, despite being our third of the trip.

The weather now suddenly started to clear, so we pushed on even further, this time to the Portilla del Tiétar, on the north-east exit of the park. The conditions were fairly still and fine, making this stake-out pleasant, especially as we were almost constantly serenaded by a nearby Nightingale, though the to-ings and fro-ings of Griffon Vultures and a couple of iridescent Black Storks, seemed scant reward. The arrival of a pair of Ravens however changed all this in a flash though, as they repeatedly buzzed part of the cliffs. This roused a sleeping beauty, and as the Ravens landed to tease, so a superb adult Eagle Owl jumped out at them to warn them off. Once this little display was over, so the corvids left and the owl settled down in a niche between two rocks to doze the time away. This proved to be a fitting end to our Extremaduran odyssey.

We made good time back to Madrid. I was able to get to my home and back and then on to an appointment with a little time to spare, so sincere thanks for enabling my speedy getaway at Madrid airport. We sincerely hope you had a great trip and pleasant flight back.

Annotated list of species


GREBES Podicipediformes Podicipedidae

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 6th); Belén Plain (one on 7th); 'morning pond' one on the way to Trujillo almost daily; Santa Marta de Magasca (two on 10th); Embalse del Tozo (three on 11th).

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

Embalse de Arrocampo (two on 6th); Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 8th); Embalse de Sierra Brava (40+ on 9th); Embalse del Tozo (four+ on 11th).

Black-necked (Eared) Grebe Podiceps nigricollis

Embalse de Sierra Brava (two on 9th).

CORMORANTS Pelecaniformes Phalacrocoracidae

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Embalse de Arrocampo (two on 6th); Belén Plain (seven on 7th); Monfragüe Natural Park (20+ on 8th & one on 12th); Embalse de Sierra Brava (six+ on 9th) and two+ at other sites on 9th; Embalse del Tozo (8+ on 11th).

HERONS, EGRETS & BITTERNS Ciconiiformes Ardeidae

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Embalse de Arrocampo (10 on 6th); Belén Plain (one on 7th) Monfragüe Natural Park (five on 8th & one+ on 12th); two en route on 9th & one en route on 11th; Embalse del Tozo (three+ on 11th).

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea

Embalse de Arrocampo (10+ on 6th).

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Belén Plain (one on 7th); Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 8th); Embalse de Sierra Brava (six+ on 9th); Madrigalejo rice fields (two on 9th); Trujillo - Monroy road (one on 10th); Embalse del Tozo (three+ on 11th).

Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides

Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 6th).

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Abundant daily, especially so on the Belén Plain, and with a colony by the main road seen on several days.

Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus

Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 6th).

STORKS Ciconiiformes Ciconiidae

Black Stork Ciconia nigra

Monfragüe Natural Park (one sitting on its nest 8th & three+ on 12th); Río Magasca (two adults on 10th).

White Stork Ciconia ciconia

Abundant daily.

IBIS & SPOONBILLS Ciconiiformes Threskiornithidae

Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia

Embalse del Tozo (three adults and three juveniles on 11th).

SWANS, GEESE & DUCKS Anseriformes Anatidae

Gadwall Anas strepera

Embalse de Sierra Brava (a pair on 9th); Santa Marta de Magasca (a pair on 10th); Embalse del Tozo (8+ on 11th).

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

A few daily, though 20+ on 9th and 25+ on 11th.

Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata

Embalse de Arrocampo (three on 6th)

Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina

Madrigalejo rice fields (a pair on 9th).

HAWKS, EAGLES & KITES Falconiformes Accipitridae

Red Kite Milvus milvus

Embalse de Arrocampo (six on 6th); Belén Plain (six on 7th); Monfragüe Natural Park (10+ on 8th); 4+ on 9th; 15+ on 10th; 6+ on 11th; 2+ on 12th.

Black Kite Milvus migrans

Common daily.

Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus

Monfragüe Natural Park (5+ on 8th & 3+ on 12th); Madrigalejo rice fields (one on 9th); Santa Marta de Magasca (one on 10th); Trujillo - Monroy road (one on 10th).

Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus

Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 6th); Belén Plain (amazingly, only two on 7th due to the terrible weather); Monfragüe Natural Park (80+ on 8th, a highlight of the day); various birds on each of the remaining days, inc. 50+ on 11th & 12th.

Cinereous (or Black) Vulture Aegypius monachus

One on 6th; Monfragüe Natural Park (seven on 8th); 25+ at various sites on 10th; Embalse del Tozo (10+ on 11th); Finca Santa Marta (two on 11th).

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus

Río Almonte (one on 8th); Madrigalejo rice fields (one on 9th); Trujillo - Monroy road (one on 10th); Embalse del Tozo (two on 11th); Monfragüe (two on 12th); one on route on 12th.

Western Marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus

Embalse de Arrocampo (2+ on 6th); Vegas Altas (one on 9th).

Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus

Belén Plain (female on 7th).

Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus

Belén Plain (eight on 7th); Monfragüe Natural Park (six on 8th); 10+ at various sites on 9th; 40+, especially at Santa Marta de Magasca on 10th.

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis

Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 8th); Embalse del Tozo (one possible on 11th).

Eurasian Buzzard Buteo buteo

En-route (three on 6th); Belén Plain (three on 7th); Monfragüe Natural Park (10+ on 8th); various sites (4 on 9th & 4+ on 10th); Embalse del Tozo (5+ on 11th).

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos

Embalse de Sierra Brava (one immature on 9th); Río Magasca (one adult on 10th).

Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus

Trujillo - Monroy road (one adult on 10th).

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus

Monfragüe Natural Park (two on 8th & 2+ on 12th); various sites (6+ on both 9th & 10th); Trujillo (one pale phase on 11th); Embalse del Tozo (two dark phase on 11th); en route (one on 12th).

FALCONS Falconiformes Falconidae

Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni

Trujillo (five on 7th); Belén Plain (two males, three females sheltering on 7th); six on 8th; two+ on 9th; Trujillo and surrounds (50+ on 10th, 40+ on 11th & seen on 12th).

Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

En-route (six on 6th); Río Magasca (two on 10th).

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

Embalse de Sierra Brava (one on 9th); Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 12th).

PARTRIDGES & PHEASANTS Galliformes Phasianidae

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa

En-route (two on 6th); Santa Marta de Magasca (four on 10th).

Common Quail Coturnix coturnix

Vegas Altas (two heard on 9th).

CRANES Gruiformes Gruidae

Common Crane Grus grus

Madrigalejo rice fields (one adult on 9th); Embalse del Tozo (one adult on 11th).

RAILS, GALLINULES & COOTS Gruiformes Rallidae

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus

Embalse de Arrocampo (one heard on 6th); Río Gargáligas (one heard on 9th).

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio

Embalse de Arrocampo (six plus a chick on 6th).

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

Embalse de Arrocampo (three on 6th); Belén Plain (one on 7th); Madrigalejo rice fields and area (lots on 9th).

Eurasian Coot Fulica atra

Embalse de Arrocampo (four on 6th); Madrigalejo rice fields and area (6+ on 9th); Trujillo fish pond (two on 10th).

BUSTARDS Gruiformes Otididae

Great Bustard Otis tarda

Belén Plain (a total of 17 including three males displaying on 7th); Zorita steppes and Vegas Altas (12+ on 9th); Santa Marta de Magasca (5 on 10th).

Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax

Belén Plain (a pair on 7th); Santa Marta de Magasca (15+ on 10th); en route to Trujillo (one on 11th).

AVOCET & STILT Charadriiformes Recurvirostridae

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

En-route (two on 6th); Embalse de Sierra Brava (two on 9th); Madrigalejo rice fields (three+ on 9th); Trujillo (four on 10th); Santa Marta de Magasca (two on 10th); Embalse del Tozo (four+ on 11th); one en route on 12th.

THICK-KNEE Charadriiformes Burhinidae

Eurasian Thick-knee (Stone Curlew) Burhinus oedicnemus

Santa Marta de Magasca (one heard on 10th).

PRATINCOLE Charadriiformes Glareolidae

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola

Madrigalejo rice fields (six+ on 9th).

LAPWING & PLOVERS Charadriiformes Charadriidae

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Madrigalejo rice fields (one on 9th).

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

Río Almonte and nearby pond (three on 8th); Río Gargáligas (one on 9th); Trujillo (four on 10th); Santa Marta de Magasca (one on 10th).

SANDPIPERS Charadriiformes Scolopacidae

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus

Embalse del Tozo (one on 11th).

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Embalse del Tozo (three+ on 11th).

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus

Belén Plain (one on 7th); Río Almonte (one on 8th); Madrigalejo rice fields (one on 9th); Embalse del Tozo (two on 11th).

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

Río Almonte (one on 8th); Embalse de Sierra Brava (five on 9th); Embalse del Tozo (one on 11th).

GULLS Charadriiformes Laridae

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 6th); Monfragüe Natural Park (six on 8th); Embalse de Sierra Brava (150+ on 9th).

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

Embalse de Arrocampo (10 on 6th); Embalse de Sierra Brava (one on 9th).

TERNS Charadriiformes Sternidae

Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica

Embalse de Sierra Brava (six on 9th).

SANDGROUSE Pterocliformes Pteroclidae

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata

Santa Marta de Magasca (six on 10th); Trujillo - Monroy road (three on 10th).

Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis

Zorita steppes (four on 9th); Santa Marta de Magasca (66 on 10th).

PIGEONS & DOVES Columbiformes Columbidae

Rock Dove Columba livia

Common daily.

Common Wood-pigeon Columba palumbus

En-route (two on 6th); Monfragüe Natural Park (four on 8th); thereafter small numbers daily, e.g. Sta Marta de Magasca & Embalse del Tozo.

Eurasian Collared-dove Streptopelia decaocto

Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 8th); Finca Santa Marta, one or two daily; Madrigalejo rice fields (15+ on 9th).

CUCKOOS Cuculiformes Cuculidae

Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius

Santa Marta de Magasca (one on 10th).

Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus

Monfragüe Natural Park (two heard on 8th); two heard on 9th; Finca Santa Marta (one on 10th & 11th); one en route on 12th.

OWLS Strigiformes Strigidae

Little Owl Athene noctua

Embalse de Sierra Brava (one on 9th); Madrigalejo rice fields (two on 9th); Santa Marta de Magasca (one on 10th); one en route on 10th.

European Scops-owl Otus scops

Finca Santa Marta (three heard, one called up by John on 8th & one heard on 9th).

Eurasian Eagle-owl Bubo bubo

Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 12th).

SWIFTS Apodiformes Apodidae

Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba

Embalse del Tozo (two+ on 11th).

Common Swift Apus apus

Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 6th); Belén Plain (one on 7th); Trujillo (one on 10th); Embalse del Tozo (10+ on 11th).

Pallid Swift Apus pallidus

Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 6th); Belén Plain (three on 7th); Trujillo (30+ on 10th & 10+ on 11th, seen on 12th).

KINGFISHER Coraciiformes Alcedinidae

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 6th); Río Magasca (one on 10th); Río Tozo (one & nest with calling chicks on 11th); Jaraicejo (one on 12th).

BEE-EATER Coraciiformes Meropidae

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster

Vegas Altas (one), Río Gargáligas (one heard) and Madrigalejo rice fields (six+ on 9th); Río Magasca (two on 10th); en route (seven+ on 11th & 11+ on 12th).

ROLLER Coraciiformes Coraciidae

European Roller Coracias garrulus

Embalse de Sierra Brava (one on 9th).

HOOPOE Coraciiformes Upupidae

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops

Embalse de Arrocampo (two on 6th); Belén Plain (six on 7th including four sheltering together behind a wall); Monfragüe Natural Park (six on 8th); good numbers daily thereafter inc. 10+ on 10th.

WOODPECKERS Piciformes Picidae

Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla

Monfragüe Natural Park (one heard on 8th)

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major

Monfragüe Natural Park (a pair on 8th); Finca Santa Marta (one on 9th, three on 10th & one on 11th).

Green Woodpecker Picus viridis

Finca Santa Marta (one heard on 10th & one seen there on 11th).

LARKS Passeriformes Alaudidae

Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra

Belén Plain (six on 7th); various steppe sites (15+ on 9th & plenty on 10th).

Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla

Zorita steppes (one on 9th); Santa Marta de Magasca (two on 10th)

Crested Lark Galerida cristata

Common daily.

Thekla Lark Galerida theklae

Embalse de Sierra Brava (one on 9th); en route (1+ heard on 12th).

Wood Lark Lullula arborea

Finca Santa Marta (two seen, others heard on 7th, 8th & 9th); three+ at various sites on 12th.

SWALLOWS Passeriformes Hirundinidae

Sand Martin (Bank Swallow) Riparia riparia

Embalse de Arrocampo (six on 6th); Embalse de Sierra Brava (one on 9th); Embalse del Tozo (three+ on 11th).

Eurasian Crag-martin Hirundo rupestris

Monfragüe Natural Park (25+ on 8thlots on 12th); Finca Santa Marta (one on 9th); Río Magasca (20+ on 10th); Embalse del Tozo (five+ on 11th).

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

Embalse de Arrocampo (10+ on 6th); Belén Plain (50+ on 7th including several flocks feeding close to the ground in terrible conditions); Monfragüe Natural Park (a few on 8th); common daily thereafter.

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica

Belén Plain (three on 7th); Monfragüe Natural Park (six on 8th); various sites, especially Finca Santa Marta (15+ on 9th, 6+ on 10th & 11th).

House Martin Delichon urbica

Common to abundant in villages; seen daily.

WAGTAILS & PIPITS Passeriformes Motacillidae

White Wagtail Motacilla alba

Monfragüe Natural Park (six on 8th & 2+ on 12th); singles on 9th & 10th; Embalse del Tozo (2+ on 11th).

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea

Finca Santa Marta (one on 7th and 8th); Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 8th & one heard there on 12th).

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris

Embalse de Sierra Brava (one fly-by on 9th).

Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis

Belén Plain (30+ on 7th); Finca Santa Marta (three on 9th).

WREN Passeriformes Troglodytidae

Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes

Finca Santa Marta (one of a breeding pair seen almost daily); Monfragüe Natural Park (several heard on 8th).

THRUSHES Passeriformes Turdidae

Blue Rock-thrush Monticola solitarius

Monfragüe Natural Park (six on 8th & three+ on 12th); Finca Santa Marta (one on 9th); Trujillo (one on 11th).

Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula

A few daily.

Song Thrush Turdus philomelos

Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 8th); Finca Santa Marta (one on 11th).

Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus

Monfragüe Natural Park (four on 8th); Finca Santa Marta (two on 11th & one on 12th).

CISTICOLA Passeriformes Cisticolidae

Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis

Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 6th); Belén Plain (one on 7th); various sites (six+ on 9th); Santa Marta de Magasca (several on 10th).

OLD WORLD WARBLERS Passeriformes Sylviidae

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti

Embalse de Arrocampo (four heard on 6th); Monfragüe Natural Park (one heard on 8th & others on 12th); various sites (six+ on 9th).

Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides

Embalse de Arrocampo (two heard, one seen amazingly well on 6th).

Eurasian Reed-warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Embalse de Arrocampo (one heard on 6th); Río Gargáligas (three+ on 9th).

Great Reed-warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus

Río Gargáligas (two on 9th).

Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus

Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 8th leader only); Finca Santa Marta (one early on 11th).

Western Bonelli's Warbler Phylloscopus bonelli

Embalse del Tozo (one on 11th).

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla

Finca Santa Marta (two on 7th); Monfragüe Natural Park (female on 8th); Trujillo (one on 11th).

Greater Whitethroat Sylvia communis

Madrigalejo rice fields (one female on 9th).

Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans

Finca Santa Marta (one on 9th).

Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala

Finca Santa Marta and Belén Plain (singles heard, one seen briefly on 7th); Finca Santa Marta (one heard on 9th, a male & a female seen on 10th, three+ seen on 11th).

Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata

Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 8th).

OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS Passeriformes Muscicapidae

European Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca

Finca Santa Marta (female on 7th).

European Robin Erithacus rubecula

Finca Santa Marta (one on 8th).

Common Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos

Monfragüe Natural Park (five+ heard on 8th & 2+ heard on 12th); Finca Santa Marta (one heard on 9th & one seen one 10th); Río Gargáligas (2 on 9th).

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros

Monfragüe Natural Park (two+ on 12th).

Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata

En-route (four on 6th); Belén Plain (six on 7th); several daily thereafter.

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

Belén Plain (six on 7th); Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 8th); Zorita steppes (3 on 9th); Santa Marta de Magasca (six+ on 10th).

Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica

Embalse de Sierra Brava & Zorita steppes (two males & one female on 9th); Santa Marta de Magasca (six+ on 10th).

LONG-TAILED TIT Passeriformes Aegithalidae

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus

Monfragüe Natural Park (three on 8th & two+ on 12th).

TITS (CHICKADEES) Passeriformes Paridae

Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus

Monfragüe Natural Park (pair seen carrying food to nest site on 8th).

Great Tit Parus major

A few daily from 7th to 12th, except on 9th.

Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus

A few also daily from 7th to 12th, except on 9th, but less common than Great Tit.

NUTHATCHES Passeriformes Sittidae

Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea

Monfragüe Natural Park (singles heard on 8th and seen on 12th).

CREEPER Passeriformes Certhiidae

Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla

Finca Santa Marta (several on pre-breakfast walks or in afternoons on 7th & 9th to 12th).

SHRIKES Passeriformes Laniidae

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis

Belén Plain (one on 7th); Monfragüe Natural Park (two on 8th); odd birds seen on roadsides at numerous sites (four+ on 9th, 10+ on 10th, and two+ on 11th & 12th).

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator

Embalse de Arrocampo (one on 6th); Monfragüe Natural Park (eight on 8th); odd birds seen on roadsides at numerous sites (four+ on 9th, 15+ on 10th, four+ on 11th & one on 12th).

CORVIDS Passeriformes Corvidae

Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius

Monfragüe Natural Park (one seen, another heard on 8th and two seen there on 12th).

Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyana

Finca Santa Marta (four on pre-breakfast walk 7th)

Black-billed Magpie Pica pica

Abundant daily, including at Finca Santa Marta.

Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula

Embalse de Arrocampo (10 on 6th) Monfragüe Natural Park (eight sitting on dam sructure dripping in the rain on 8th); also daily in small number from 9th to 12th.

Common Raven Corvus corax

Daily in small t moderate number from 7th to 12th, including Belén Plain (20+ on 7th) & Monfragüe Natural Park (12+ on 8th).

STARLINGS Passeriformes Sturnidae

Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor

Common daily.

OLD WORLD SPARROWS Passeriformes Passeridae

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Common daily.

Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis

Embalse de Arrocampo (flock of 50+ on 6th); Belén Plain (40+ on 7th); Monfragüe Natural Park (flock of 20+ and others on 8th); noted dailt thereafter.

WAXBILLS & ALLIES Passeriformes Estrildidae

Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild

Madrigalejoo rice field (four+ on 9th); Finca Santa Marta (two on 11th).

Red Avadavat Amandava amandava

Madrigalejoo rice field (100+ on 9th).

FINCHES Passeriformes Fringillidae

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs

Monfragüe Natural Park (several heard and seen on 8th & 12th); Santa Marta de Magasca (one heard on 10th); Embalse del Tozo (six+ on 11th).

European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 8th); Finca Santa Marta (two on 9th & one on 10th); Madrigalejo rice fields (one on 9th).

European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

Common to abundant daily, e.g. Belén Plain (flock of 80+ on 7th).

Eurasian Linnet Carduelis cannabina

Monfragüe Natural Park (8+ on 8th & one on 12th); Finca Santa Marta (two pairs, males singing on 9th, two+ on both 10th and 11th).

European Serin Serinus serinus

Common daily from 7th.

BUNTINGS Passeriformes Emberizidae

Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus

Monfragüe Natural Park (pair on 8th & a male on 12th); Finca Santa Marta (pair on 9th & one on 10th).

Rock Bunting Emberiza cia

Monfragüe Natural Park (two pairs on 8th & four+ birds on 12th).

Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra

Abundant daily.



European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus

Santa Marta de Magasca (two on 10th).

Iberian Hare Lepus granatensis

Monfragüe Natural Park (one on 8th) ; Santa Marta de Magasca (one on 10th); Embalse del Tozo (one on 11th).

MICE & RATS Rodentia Muridae

Long-tailed Field (Wood) Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus

Embalse del Tozo (seven under a tin sheet on 11th).

Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus

Madrigalejo rice fields (two rodents, probably this species, on 9th).

OTTERS, Weasels Carnivora Mustelidae

European Otter Lutra lutra

Monfragüe Natural Park (pair on 8th, both animals carrying fish, one eaten in full view of the group by the male; one in front of Peña Falcón on 12th).

European Polecat Mustela putorius

Between Trujillo and Finca Santa Marta (one crossed the road en route back from our meal out on the evening of 11th).

VESPER BATS Chiroptera Vespertilionidae

Bat sp. Finca Santa Marta (one on 6th).

DEER Artiodactyla Cervidae

Red Deer Cervus elaphus

Monfragüe Natural Park (three males on 12th).


European Tree Frog (Hyla arborea) - 10+ were heard calling in the Madrigalejo rice fields on 9th; Iberian Pool Frog (Rana perezi) was frequent in the rivers and pools, with its 'laughing' heard in various places on 7th, 8th & 10th. 1-2 Moorish Geckos (Tarentola mauretanica) were at Finca Santa Marta on 7th to 9th & 11th; single Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus) were seen in the Madrigalejo rice fields on 9th and by the Río Magasca on 10th; a Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus) was seen at Santa Marta de Magasca on 10th; three+ Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanica) were on the wall below the Parador in Trujillo on 11th; the numerous terrapins seen on the Río Magasca and Embalse del Tozo were Stripe-necked Terrapins (Mauremys caspica); the large dead Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanum) near the Embalse del Tozo on 11th; two small Viperine Snake (Natrix maura) near a small pool along the Trujillo - Monroy road on 10th and a much larger in dividual near the Embalse del Tozo on 11th.


Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) were making sucking sounds at the Embalse de Arrocampo on the first evening, with c. 20 in Monfragüe N.P. on 8th.



Swallowtail: 1 at Finca Santa Marta on 10th.

Spanish Festoon: 1 in the Madrigalejo rice fields on 9th and 3 by the Río Tozo on 11th.

Large White: Several at different sites on both 9th and 10th.

Western Dappled White: Although none were seen well, the common small white, seen on 9th and 10th.

Clouded Yellow: Several at different sites on 9th, a few at Santa Marta de Magasca on 10th and 2 by the Río Tozo on 11th.

Cleopatra: 2 by the Río Magasca on 10th.

Brown Argus: One by the Río Magasca on 10th, and 2+ by the Río Tozo on 11th.

Red Admiral: Singles at Finca Santa Marta and by the Río Tozo on 11th.

Painted Lady: One by the Río Tozo on 11th.

Small Heath: Moderate numbers of the large spp. lillus at various sites on 10th and 11th.

Southern Speckled Wood: Two in the Madrigalejo rice fields on 9th.


Insects included the huge and beautiful single Giant Peacock Moths (Saturnia pyri) at Santa Marta de Magasca on 10th and Finca Santa Marta on 11th, a few Iberian Blue-tailed Damselflies (Ischnura graelsii) at the Río Gargáligas on 9th and over the Río Magasca on 10th, a few Rhinoceros Beetles (Copris lunaris) at Finca Santa Marta on 8th, 10th and 11th, a Churchyard Beetle (Bleps sp.) at Finca Santa Marta on 11th, a few Oil Beetles (Meloe sp.) at Santa Marta de Magasca on 10th and by the Río Magasca on 11th, Field Crickets (Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa) heard trilling at various sites on 10th and 11th and a tiny Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) on the Monroy - Trujillo road on 10th. Other invertebrates included the often large, potentially dangerous and unpleasant-looking Centipede (Scolopendra cingulata) at a few sites on 10th and 11th and a Red Signal Crayfish in the Madrigalejos rice fields on 9th.


This (perhaps surprisingly long) list has been drawn up after some post-trip work using Blamey & Grey-Wilson's Mediterranean Wild Flowers and the 'Flora y vegetación de Extremadura'. [Nos. on the right refer to Grey-Wilson & Blamey, Mediterranean Wild Flowers]

Pinaceae: Pinus pinea Stone / Umbrella Pine (3)

Fagaceae: Quercus rotundifolia Evergreen Oak (26)

Quercus suber Cork Oak (27)

Quercus pyrenaica Pyrenean Oak (c. 31)

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

Celtis australis Southern Nettle Tree (39)

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

Caryophyllaceae: Paronychia argentea Paronychia (prob. this sp.) (136)

Spergularia purpurea Purple Spurrey (148)

Silene colorata Catchfly sp. (180)

Ranunculaceae: Ranunculus sp. Water Crowfoot sp.

Fumariaceae: Fumaria capreolata Ramping Fumitory (prob. this sp.)(303)

Crassulaceae: Umbilicus rupestris Navelwort (396)

Rosaceae: Rosa canina Common Dogrose (c. 404)

Leguminosae: Cercis siliquastrum Judas Tree (430)

Cytisus multiflorus White Broom (c. 456)

Lygos sphaerocarpa Lygos (common broom-like plant)(478)

Spartium junceum Spanish Broom (481)

Adenocarpus argyrophyllus Spanish Adenocarpus (482)

Lupinus luteus Yellow Lupin (483)

Lupinus angustifolius Narrow-leaved Lupin (486)

Astragalus lusitanicus 'Iberian' Milk-vetch (504)

Trifolium fragiferum Strawberry Clover (652)

Trifolium stellatum Starry Clover (662)

Anthyllis tetraphylla Bladder vetch (691)

Onobrychis humilis Milk-vetch sp. (c. 717)

Oxalidaceae: Oxalis pes-caprae Bermuda Buttercup (735)

Geraniaceae: Geranium molle Dove's-foot Crane's-bill (741)

Erodium botrys Storksbill sp. (758)

Rutaceae: Ruta chalepensis Fringed Rue (827)

Thymelaeaceae: Daphne gnidium Mediterranean Daphne (936)

Cistaceae: Cistus albidus Grey-leaved Cistus (big pink fls) (961)

Cistus salviifolius Sage-leaved Cistus (small white) (965)

Cistus monspeliensis Narrow-leaved Cistus (966)

Cistus ladanifer Gum Cistus (big white fls) (971)

Tuberaria guttata Spotted Rockrose (small yellow) (985)

Xolantha ?tuberaria Rockrose sp. (purple-red & yellow)(c. 985)

Cactaceae: Opuntia maxima (=ficus-indica) Prickly Pear (1040)

Umbelliferae: Smyrnium olusatrum Alexanders (1087)

Scandix pecten-veneris Shepherd's Needle (1097)

Ferula communis Giant Fennel (1141)

Daucus carota Wild Carrot (1168)

Ericaceae: Arbutus unedo Strawberry Tree (1176)

Erica arborea Tree Heath (1178)

Plumbaginaceae: Armeria sp. Thrift sp.

Oleaceae: Phillyrea angustifolia (1245)

Olea europaea Olive (1248)

Rubiaceae: Sherardia arvensis Field Madder*

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

Omphalodes linifolia Annual Omphalodes (1399)

Labiatae: Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary (1526)

Lavandula stoechas French Lavender (1528)

Solanaceae: Hyosciamus albus White Henbane (1555)

Scrophularicaea: Scrophularia canina Figwort sp. (1589)

Verbascum sinuatum Wavy Mullein (1601)

Linaria amethystea 'Amethyst' Toadflax (c. 1614)

Linaria spartea yellow-flowered Toadflax (c. 1614)

Parentucellia latifolia Bartsia sp. (1652)

Compositae: Bellis annua Annual Daisy (1791)

Santolina rosmarinifolia Lavender Cotton sp. (1856)

Calendula arvensis Field Marigold (1908)

Galactites tomentosum Galactites (1971)

Silybum marianum Milk Thistle (1982)

Cirsium eriophorum Woolly Thistle (1986)

Liliaceae: Asphodelus fistulosus Hollow-leaved Asphodel (2087)

Asphodelus aestivus Common Asphodel (2089)

Ornithogalum ?narbonense Star-of-Bethlehem sp. (2171)

Hyacinthoides hispanica Spanish Bluebell

Muscari comosum Tassel Hyacinth (2201)

Narcissus bulbocodium Hoop-petticoat Narcissus (2281)

Iridaceae: Gynandriris sisyrinchium Barbary Nut Iris (2305)

Orchidaceae: Orchis papilionacea grandiflora Pink Butterfly Orchid (2401)

Orchis champagneuxii Champagne Orchid (2405)

Orchis lactea (=conica) (Spanish) Milky Orchid (2408)

Ophrys tenthredinifera Sawfly Orchid (2442)

Serapias lingua Tongue Orchid (2451)

Gramineae: Lamarckia aurea Golden Dog's-tail (2459)

© The Travelling Naturalist 2002