TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

Extremadura

5 - 11 April 2003


Leaders:
John Muddeman




Daily Diary


5th April
After a slightly delayed arrival of the Birmingham contingent, the group united quickly at Madrid and we got away easily in cool but bright and sunny conditions. We were able to spot Common Magpies, Spotless Starlings, Wood Pigeons, a Eurasian Kestrel, a Black-winged Stilt and a few Barn Swallows en route, before stopping at the Hotel David for refreshments. Here a pair of Red-rumped Swallows, three Black Kites passing high over, a Little Egret heading for a nearby pool and a fine White Stork on its nest provided a remarkable and “proper”, albeit roadside start!
As we continued the sunny conditions had enticed a few raptors out and we noted a couple of Booted Eagles circling over, a Black Vulture and male Eurasian Marsh and Montagu's Harriers at distance. Turning off on a diversion, so we heard our first Corn Buntings and Crested Larks, though at least 20 dazzling Bee-eaters provided a fantastic splash of colour along a roadside fence.
The nearby Embalse de Arrocampo was our main stop, however, where despite several fishermen wading around on one side, various birds were on the other. Although a fine Swallowtail butterfly attracted immediate attention, avian interest was high and included at least four Eurasian Marsh Harriers, 20+ Grey and five Purple Herons, several Purple Swamp-hens brightening up the bulrush beds, while sounds including buzzing Savi's Warbler and shouting Cetti's Warblers, while a brief fly-by of the former led to the discovery of a migrant Sedge Warbler flitting around. A small flock of smart Spanish Sparrows and a smart male Stonechat adorned a fence and bramble bush. It was often difficult to know where to look as flocks of Cattle Egrets and circling Black Kites and White Storks passed over, with a slightly closer Black Vulture being mobbed by a tiny-looking female Marsh Harrier a remarkable sight! A Common Snipe tried to hide along a muddy edge, while all this was livened-up by the antics of various of Common Carp sucking and slurping in the shallow waters, their backs often half out of the water!
At the Finca we settled in and were then given an introductory chat by our host, Henri Elink-Schuurman. A terrific start, enlivened even further half-way through dinner by the entry of one of Henri's other guests with a stunning Giant Peacock Moth for us to enjoy!

6th April
The day dawned without a cloud in the sky, still and markedly warmer than the day before, even before we'd left the finca. Noor had been out before breakfast though, with two Giant Peacock moths, two Short-toed Treecreepers, Bee-eaters and Hoopoe for starters!
After a late (Sunday) breakfast, we headed S, stopping in the Zorita steppes at a seemingly uninteresting spot. A quick look at a couple of piles of stones however revealed a delightful Little Owl sitting out in the sun to the sound of singing Calandra and Crested Larks, Fan-tailed Warblers and Corn Buntings all around us! A large bird flying over proved to be our first Great Bustard, soon to be followed by five more on the ground and another three in flight, while a raptor passing over at speed proved to be a female Merlin (which later came back for another look!), with several Black Kite and another female Marsh Harrier for diversity. Two superb male Montagu's Harriers floated over the steppe towards us, gradually approaching until realising we were watching them, and veering away at close range. This was magic, and it was proving difficult to know where to look! A gorgeous, though slightly distant male Black-eared Wheatear on a wire was simply the icing on the cake!
The various small white butterflies mostly gave us the slip, but a Western Dappled White settled to feed for long enough to be able to identify it, with a passing Swallowtail somewhat easier. Various spring flowers included a Sheep's-bit Scabious and French Lavender in flower.
Things seemed to be slowing a little when a male Little Bustard flew over a nearby hillside in display, and after we'd climbed up onto a roadside bank so we came across a male and two females on the ground, with a Common Buzzard adorning a nearby rock-top and a pair of Stone-curlews trying to hide among some of the jagged rocks (“dientes de perro”) poking through the steppe grassland (known as dog's-teeth in this part of Spain).
Amazingly, it was already approaching noon, so we pushed on again, pausing briefly on the roadside in a couple of spots to look for birds, seeing the first rice fields, and on the edge of Madrigalejo, a Hoopoe, a Southern Grey Shrike and various piping Red Avadavats which whizzed past. Nearby, the seeming boring arable land was also alive to the sound of birds, with two Black-bellied Sandgrouse flushed at close range, followed later by six more which fortunately flew round a couple of times a little later which we were watching. A few Montagu's Harriers displayed over a wheat field, but a strange call alerted us to a high-flying flock of over 15 Collared Pratincoles feeding way up in the blue - Wow!
Lunch was taken nearby by the Rio Gargáligas, where two singing Nightingales, two singing Great Reed Warblers (one of which we saw beautifully later) and a singing Reed Warbler provided our natural orchestra, with the constant calls of Red Avadavats in the reeds also providing a slightly exotic tone.
A well-earned drink was enjoyed at Vegas Altas, where virtually nothing was in the rice fields, but Lesser Kestrels, House Martins and Pallid Swifts were busy over the town.
We started heading back towards the finca, turning off through an area of dehesa and rice fields, where despite a wait for a non-show by a good raptor, we were distracted by good numbers of Serins and Goldfinches in an orchard, lots of White Storks on tree nests, and a colourful female Woodchat Shrike.
It was now feeling hot and we still had a long way to go. Bumping along the road though we made another stop to overlook a large pool. Three male Red-crested Pochards were a major bonus, with three pairs of Black-winged Stilts, a pair of Gadwall and a Little Egret for variety. However, a Hoopoe which flew in several times, finding and destroying enormous larvae under some broom-like bushes, which it then took off to an unseen nest on a nearby farm, rightly stole the show.
We came back via an access road and the Embalse de Sierra Brava, where a very close perched Sand Martin and female Spanish Sparrow, fly-by Red-rumped Swallows and a fine feeding display by two Gull-billed Terns more than made up for the distant Black-necked Grebes and another four Red-crested Pochards, though just as much attention was focussed on the fine horses behind us.
Time was now really pushing, so we headed back 'definitively', coming back slightly drained by the sun, but elated, for two days of log-call over very welcome cups of tea and coffee, not even stopping for five Griffon Vultures passing over the road en route!
The day was far from over however, and we met later to drive into Trujillo for a simple but classically Spanish tapas-type dinner in the main square. A Scops Owl peeped away as I wrote this afterwards...

7th April
The day dawned bright and clear and cloudless again. After breakfast at 8:30, we departed an hour later and headed north. On the outskirts of Trujillo we stopped to admire a colony of Lesser Kestrels, though a 20-strong group of Pallid Swifts was also pointed out, a couple of Common Swifts shot over and a Little Ringed Plover fed along he edge of an algae-covered puddle. Walking along to another pool smothered with Water-crowfoot we noted our first Dabchicks unsuccessfully trying to hide in the weed.
We left the town and headed east out onto the vast expanse of the Belén Plain. A few Black and occasional Red Kites, several Common Buzzards and sundry kestrels kept us looking, though a Great Bustard flying past led to the discovery of five more in their extraordinary white pom-pom displays, impressive even at the huge distance we were looking at them. A pair of Little Bustards flew in on the opposite side, though rapidly disappeared in the lengthening grass and flowers. Not to be beaten, we continued on, trying to ignore the remarkable numbers of Corn Buntings and various Stonechats on the fences, though a group of Meadow Pipits flying over provided diversity.
Another couple of stops finally revealed our target when a Stone Curlew got up and flew at close range, almost immediately revealing the astonishing sight of a pair of male Great Bustards locked together in a fight, each trying hard to push the other back while remaining as white as possible to impress some nearby females! As if this were not enough, this got several other males in the vicinity excited and attracted them in, all (except the two, which periodically continued to fight!) strutting around and periodically turning into balls of white foam! We watched at leisure, intermittently looking away to note a Little Bustard, the Stone Curlew again as it flew to join its mate, a couple of Calandra Larks and various raptors including a distant Black Vulture. A rather worn but very active Spanish Festoon had Noor rightly twitching to run after it, but I rashly promised her more... We finally pulled away as the bustards drifted towards the road ahead, though largely in dead ground as we approached.
Off to one side a large flock of Griffon Vultures spiralled up, and we headed off towards where they'd come from in the hopes of seeing one or two (which were now coming down) on the ground, but were foiled by more dead ground.
We tried to push on across the plain, this time being foiled by a Great Spotted Cuckoo on a roadside fence, which flew off with another as we tried to back up, the former then perching half-hidden in a broom bush in the steppe until we'd finally given up hope and we about to move on again! The wait however revealed no less than five Common Buzzards together 'playing games' in some trees and fly-by Brown Argus and Provençal Hairstreak butterflies.
Shortly ahead we paused again by a pool where apart from the Dabchick pair in the Water-crowfoot, a wader on a rock against the sun looked for all the world like a stilt until it took off and called “tew-tew-tew” - a Greenshank! The various Stripe-necked Terrapins hauled out on the rocks were an interesting diversion.
Time was now really moving on, so we headed for a local town for a drink and break from the glaring sun, slowing a little en route for a fine male Montagu's Harrier over a roadside field.
Lunch was at nearly 2 p.m. as we moved on to a charming spot by the Rio Almonte. Birds were mercifully quiet as we ate to the sound of the gurgling river and its various 'laughing' Iberian Pool Frogs. As the temperature rose a little as we finished, a fine Egyptian Vulture passing over made a fine natural end, with a male Sardinian Warbler also putting in a brief appearance, though we also had time to observe wild Termites, a swathe of Yellow Anemones and on the way to the van, small single Viperine and Grass Snakes in quick succession.
Watching from the bridge we added White and Grey Wagtails to the day's tally, with a very distant Blue Rock Thrush a poor sighting. However, at Cabañas del Castillo nearby we rapidly saw another, though this was bettered by a smart male Black Wheatear which fluttered in stages along the ridge-top, showing off its starkly contrasting plumage in the very bright sun as it went. A blue Blue Rock Thrush tried hard to redress the balance, though the rather worn Spanish Festoon we'd noted on the way up was bettered by several others as we climbed.
However, the birds were temporarily forgotten as we stepped over the ridge and passed through a narrow cutting in the rocks to look out to the east. The wooded valley fell away sharply below us, extending far to the left and right, rising up on the opposite side to a crest of rocky crags. A simply superb sight. here we stopped in the shade and pleasantly cool conditions, though watched a crag-scaling Short-toed Treecreeper climbing up, a lovely male Rock Bunting singing out its pleasant ditty from a little ledge above us and eventually came to grips with a couple of high speeding Alpine Swifts and a few distant Black Redstarts. A gorgeous Linnet, singing at close range and a couple of Crag Martins resting on low ledges also rightfully attracted plenty of attention.
Time had flown, so we made our way back cross-country, stooping briefly for a few birds including Mistle Thrushes and Woodchat Shrikes, a little valley full of Hoop-petticoat Narcissi and finally a tiny patch of Champagne Orchids on the roadside. A full day indeed...
The revitalising tea and coffee (and log-call) when we arrived back at the Finca at 7pm (!) were a lifesaver, giving us a short break before dinner at 8:30!

8th April
We partially retraced our route towards Madrid, pausing briefly at a petrol station where a Rhinoceros Beetle provided distraction, then turned off onto the old main road, and went down to the oldest of the three bridges over the Río Almonte. We stepped out into a surprisingly stiff chilly breeze, keeping bird activity down, but with patience we noted a pair of Woodchat Shrikes, a small mixed feeding flock of Spanish and House Sparrows, some fine White Wagtails along the river, multi-coloured Bee-eaters brightening-up the power cables and a pair of speckle-breasted Thekla Larks perched on the bridge ramparts. The ambience was completed by a chorus of Iberian Pool Frogs in the river, with a few calling birds including Little Ringed Plover and even a high-flying flock of Pallid Swifts. Raptors were also very evident, including Black and Griffon Vultures and a fine pair of Short-toed Eagles which showing their underside patterns beautifully as they glided and hovered at height. All this was rounded off by several Crag Martins which flickered past flashing their white tail spots as they banked.
We continued towards Monfragüe, our 'target', though stopped en route at a little pull-off, ostensibly for a spot of raptor-watching. A Siamese cat (nick-named “Tiddles”...) ran off through the vegetation and fine crop of flowers, though birds were at first scarce. We contented ourselves looking at Spotted Rock-rose, French Lavender and Gum Cistus in fine flower, though as we waited a bright Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly made a surprise appearance followed by a couple of singing Wood Larks and later, a singing Thekla Lark, proving that most of the larks have these fluttering aerial display flights.
After fighting road-works (mercifully briefly), we pushed onwards to the park before driving up the track towards the Castillo de Monfragüe. We walked up in warmer and slightly stiller conditions slightly in the lee of the ridge, with Crag Martins and Red-rumped Swallows wheeling overhead.
The view from the top, though rather murky, down over the woodland and scrub-covered hillsides was excellent, while few birds seemed to be moving. However, a magnificent Black Vulture cruised past just below us, followed moments later by a Black Stork, then after we'd caught our breaths again, by a fine adult Egyptian Vulture, then by a Booted Eagle way below us, its upperside pattern surprising all! We continued watching at leisure, several Griffons, plus odd Egyptian and Black Vultures drifted past, most below, some level and others higher, with a superb pair of Black Kites drifting around repeatedly over the woodland and water below a fantastic finale!
A Swallowtail flitted round, giving Noor the run-around, but a few Wall Brown butterflies were rather more confiding on the top, where the bluish spikes of Tassel Hyacinth and starry white flowers of Star-of-Bethlehem were in abundance. We came down to a brief Large Tortoiseshell near two fine Southern Nettle Trees, though a male Black Redstart on a wire was 'replaced' by a male Blue Rock Thrush which in turn gave way to a male Serin!
Lunch was taken at the Salto del Gitano with the imposing rock buttress of Peñafalcón opposite, over which a flock of Griffon Vultures wheeled almost permanently around, also seeing a rather worn Nettle-tree Butterfly and fresh Scarce Swallowtail as we ate.
We took more note of the close Griffon Vultures once we'd had our fill, also watching several Black Storks drifting around, one of which glided down to come in and rest in the sun, the green, bronze and purple sheens of its 'black' plumage looking resplendent and contrasting hugely with the red bill and legs. Egyptian and Black Vultures passed through and odd Black Kites plus a pair of Ravens were present for diversity. A couple of Black Redstarts played hide-and-seek in some trees below us where Noor and Greta watching a brilliant blue Blue Rock Thrush at close range, others of the latter species remaining high on the crags.
Time was already really pushing so we headed towards the far end of the park in the hope of closer views of the raptors. However, we paused for a drink and a wee stop (!) for postcards and stamps in a local bar, moving on for a short walk in the broken shade of a pine wood, which proved to be ideal. As we listened to the sounds in the woods, a pair of Crested Tits gave us the run around, though lead to the discovery of a fine male Subalpine Warbler, which proceeded to move rapidly around, though in the chase we came across two Crested Tits again, one of which responded aggressively to John's whistling, coming down to just yards away to try and find its supposed rival and giving us terrific views.
We finally reached the Portilla del Tiétar at the N boundary of the park, though the slackening breeze meant that there was nothing in the air as we arrived. However, given a tip-off by other birders earlier, we busied ourselves with checking the numerous combinations of dead trees and yellow-flowered bushes, a superb female Eagle Owl being a rapid discovery and a joy to all! We were contenting ourselves to views of this bird when a stunningly well-marked Bonelli's Eagle cruised towards the rocks, circled a few times, displayed a little, then drifted off along the reservoir... Wow! As if this were not enough, the owl proceeded to preen itself, look around (those eyes!) then flew across a short distance to reveal a nest site with two or three fluffy off-white chicks!!! Although a female Blue Rock Thrush posing nicely gave us a brief distraction, the repeated cries of delight by Noor who'd found a small butterfly with a green underwing were only matched by John's pre-occupation that it didn't seem quite right... After repeated close views and numerous photos, we came to the undeniable conclusion that it was a classic example of Chapman's Green Hairstreak, a new species for all those present and a probable first for Extremadura!!! A better finish to a classic day's excursion in this beautiful corner of Europe would be very hard to find.
We started back cross-country via the N of the park through marvellous Cork Oak groves and Holm Oak dehesa, complete with fighting bulls, intent on getting back earlier than 'usual'. However, the opportunity is best taken when present and we paused briefly to listen to a fine Nightingale singing from the depths of some dense roadside scrub, almost on cue to Libby's request to hear one, and again for rather longer on an access road to the motorway where we contemplated the antics of numerous Cattle Egrets on and around their nests in several trees at extremely close range - a genuinely remarkable sight.

9th April
Pre-breakfast saw me out photographing the night's moth haul on my wall as usual, though something had been there before me removing a good portion of the 'catch', possibly the local Wren or Great Tits. A chill breeze was picking up and mist was in the valley below and coming our way. After a few of the local birds we adjourned to breakfast, coming out to thick mist...
As we made our way to the road, however, my post-breakfast delays for phone calls and quick chats to other guests proved to be to our good fortune as a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flew over the bus and into some dead elms in front! We quickly got out to take a look at this very scarce bird in the area and watched it as it worked its way through the dead twigs for a minute or two before disappearing - a fine start!
Conditions were rather better as we neared Trujillo and we headed off west across the vast Cáceres plains. There was a chill wind blowing, so we listened from the vehicle to brief Wood Lark and shreeping Rock Sparrow as well as the more 'usual' species. Black Kites made the first of their numerous appearances of the day, as did the first of a good number of Red Kites.
Pulling off onto the roadside we scanned some seemingly lifeless steppe ahead. Single Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes were rapidly found, with Crested and Thekla Larks and Corn Buntings providing the natural soundtrack. A wet raspberry alerted us to the presence of a Little Bustard, but we found a pair of grassy meadows to be full of these remarkable birds, their black-and-white necks showing up starkly against the lush green flower-studded steppe. A female Great Bustard wandered past a couple of them, providing a perfect comparison, with several other Great Bustards in a little group in a field behind. We stood watching the antics of all these birds, plus various fly-by Montagu's Harriers for some time, though I went off for a spot of rock-lifting, only to almost immediately find a superb small Ocellated Lizard, which proceeded to bite me for the cameras! Another stone revealed one of the potentially nastiest beasts in the area, a large orange centipede which reportedly has a fearsome bite if handled (but who'd want to?!).
This was a great start, only improved as just a few hundred yards ahead, a small colony of Montagu's Harriers floated, wheeled and cavorted over a roadside arable field. As if this were not sufficient, a young male sat at very close range down in the vegetation, with another greyer-backed but also pale-eyed male doing the same a little further ahead! After feasting our eyes on these we drew slowly past another field containing another colony of these harriers, watched a pair of Northern Wheatears on a fence and also watched as two huge female Great Bustards powered past in their slightly ponderous manner.
We pulled off, using the bus as a wind shield and scanned the surrounding fields. Noor came up trumps again with a stunning male black-throated Black-eared Wheatear, while a leap of faith in accepting that some chestnut-coloured sods in a distant field were really sandgrouse... However, all were finally convinced before we first drove, then walked closer for finally excellent views of both species on the ground together - brilliant!! All of course flew off as I went back for the camera... It was not quite over though as a Stone Curlew suddenly appeared, seemingly from nowhere, just yards from where the sandgrouse had been, then crept over to its concealed nest where it settled down and all but vanished.
A drink was taken in a little bar at Sta. Marta de Magasca, having seen a fine Little Owl perched out in broad daylight and me having failed to catch a 'slightly too big to comfortably handle' Ladder Snake on the roadside.
Another Little Owl was on a rock in the dehesa as we dropped down to take lunch in the narrow valley by the Rio Magasca, but not before we'd seen a fly-over Black Stork. The wind began to ease, the sun came out and the temperature mercifully rose markedly. Kingfisher, dark phase Booted Eagle and a pair of Short-toed Eagles kept us busy over and just after lunch, this time taken to the tune of Iberian Pool Frogs, though a distant displaying Golden Eagle brought things to a sudden and untidy end! We rounded off with a quick watch from a bridge where several Bee-eaters splashed into the river in flight to wash, a stunning Spanish Festoon played in the breeze just below us, a couple of Stripe-necked Terrapins failed to convince us they were just more rocks along the bank and a Kingfisher zoomed up and down a small stretch for all to finally see. A Red-legged Partridge continued to sing from the cover of the olive trees giving Greta particularly fine views.
We wound our down over a another little river flanked by beautiful dehesa, then rose up into an area of open scrubby fields. As we slowed to check a bird on a wire, so we found another and pulled off to admire one of our main goals - a stunning Roller. The “ohh-ahh” factor was the highest for the week when it took off and dropped down to pick up prey revealing the extraordinary patterns of black, blue, turquoise and pale chestnut. We savoured this, and another which also appeared for a while, also watching the remarkable number of raptors in the area despite the unusually murky light conditions, finding new Booted, Short-toed and (albeit very distant) juvenile Golden Eagle as reward.
Here we basically called it a day, coming back before 5 p.m. to the finca, but after a revitalising cuppa, took a decent walk up through Henri's orchards and onto the hill beyond. Everyone now finally managed to see Short-toed Treecreeper, though a singing Western Bonelli's Warbler only gave poor views high in the Stone Pines. The botanical streak in us began to take hold, searches revealing the exquisite little Amethyst Toadflax and much taller relative Linaria spartea, plus Mediterranean Daphne, the huge leaves of Peonies, the showy flowers of several Cistus species and other early spring flowers, though only once we climbed over into a sheep track did more plants come to light – a purple Stock, Strawberry Tree, Fly Honeysuckle, Phyllirea angustifolia, Alexanders and in a near-abandoned olive orchard, masses of Champagne and various Iberian Milky Orchids still in flower, with a single stunning flower of Iberian Fritillary to please us. The sight of several very large fawn-coloured broomrape spikes led to the amusing question, "Are these the syphilitic ones..." Between parasitic and saprophytic, things had got wonderfully confused! Anyway, all these flowers were a terrific end to the day, or so we thought...
We had fortunately already finished our cava and cake to celebrate Greta's birthday when a tip-off by some visiting Finns suggested we should go out to listen for a singing Eurasian Nightjar by the car park (!). Though this was unsuccessful, a European Scops Owl flew in and sang from the enormous almond in the car park, even allow us to approach and watch it in torchlight!

10th March
Another perfect bright and sunny start, though with a very chilly breeze.
Our aim to get away promptly was again thwarted, this time by the need to walk down the track to see if we could see a singing Western Bonelli's Warbler audible from the car park! After several minutes of waiting and scrutinising a large flowering Holm Oak we finally got intermittent views of this small ‘phyllosc’ as it moved erratically around inside the foliage, though on a couple of occasions right out on the front edge in the sun. As we searched for it, so a female Whitethroat gleaning insects from the foliage was also watched - a super start, though we were rubbing our hands together to get warm as we went back to the vehicle.
We headed north and returned via a brief roadside stop in Cistus scrub where a singing Thekla Lark was the only thing of note, moving on to the Embalse de Arrocampo.
A chill breeze was also blowing here, but we watched a couple of Purple Herons in flight and then one down along the edge of the reedmace beds, singing and then perched 'shouting' Cetti's Warbler, several Marsh Harriers, Black Kites, Griffon and even one Black Vulture passing over, while a large white heron in flight turned out to be a Great White Egret, which dropped into a distant edge, allowing us to scope its huge yellow beak, only to then discover that a distant perched 'little' egret in the middle of the reservoir was another!
This wasn't at all bad, but it still seemed quiet, so after soaking up the atmosphere in the strengthening sun for some time, we headed to a 'new' site nearby for a different patch of vegetation. This looked very unrewarding seeing as the locals were dumping their rubbish there, but also immediately a Squacco Heron flicked up and flew along to land in view for all to admire, numerous Purple Herons were batting about and Purple Swamp-hens mooching in and out of the reedmace beds. Several Cetti's also sat out in the open here for all to admire, while Reed and Sedge Warblers sang from the vegetation. A few huge Stripe-necked Terrapins adorned the flattened patches of reedmace, though were quieter than the sucking carp until suddenly jumping off which a rustle and a splash when disturbed by us!
This was terrific, but time was pressing and after a quick look at a pair of Southern Grey Shrikes in a nearby bush, we took a little side-road on a tip-off... It worked remarkably easily, with a fine (though distant) Black-shouldered Kite posing on the tip of a dead tree, though this rapidly flew off and circled up before simply vanishing into the blue, never to be seen again!
We took a short drive from here to lunch in a secluded valley in bright hot sunshine. We ate to the continuous sound of singing Robins (our first!), Chaffinches and Serins, plus occasional Spotless Starlings, Blackbirds and Goldfinches, with an eye on the slopes for the numerous butterflies, including several Holly and Common Blues, a Spanish Brown Argus, smart male Orange-tips, a female Brimstone and lots of Nettle Tree Butterflies.
Despite an eye to the sky, a few Griffons seemed scant reward, so when first Noor, then Allen, then Libby all mentioned an orchid or two along a short walk nearby, we went for a wander by a stream. This was a treat in the hot sun, with a delicate Naked Man Orchid our first find, followed shortly by a small group of stunning Early Spider and a single spike of the gaudy Yellow Bee Orchid! The butterflies were good too, with a stunning Spanish Festoon, and various blues and whites, with an old orchard containing several patches of Naked Man Orchids and a few more Early Spiders also providing us with superb single male Cleopatra and Brimstone, with a stunning Black-eyed Blue and a couple of Lang's Short-tailed Blues drinking by the stream. All this was enlivened by the unexpected appearance of two Choughs which flew over calling loudly and even perched briefly on rocks for us to try and see in the scopes.
We wandered back elated, though several Beautiful Demoiselles (not the Iberian form as I said at the time), a bright blue (and not Common Blue as I also said!) and Large Red (this at least yes!!!) Damselflies kept the back-markers more than occupied and also stalled us sufficiently to see a pair of squeaking and ticking Hawfinches fly over. What a finale it seemed, but as we reached the road, Susan was looking up saying “there's an eagle up there”, only to have discovered a superb adult Spanish Imperial Eagle drifting over, which we watching in the scopes for the next 20 minutes or so! This was incredible, while the icing on the cake was the probable female of the pair nearby shortly afterwards, which passed over most of the group when we detoured to get Libby a 'loo with a view'!!!
Back at the ranch we mulled over the day's events before popping into Trujillo for a brief walk around the historic centre and up to the castle to round off a really extraordinary visit.

11th March
The trip back was largely uneventful, except for a Great Spotted Cuckoo crossing the road south of Trujillo and light rain as we hit Madrid.
I hope you had good flights back and the memories will remain with you for a long time to come.


Extremadura bird list 2003:

This is the combined list for the whole group. H = heard only; Emb. = Embalse (reservoir); FSM = Finca Santa Marta; MRF = Madrigalejo rice fields area. Common names per Collins Bird Guide.

My thanks to Noor for her unwaving enthusiasm at looking for and at the numerous butterflies (and consequently finding a new species for me!) and Libby for her enthusiasm with the plants. Most of all, however, to the whole group for making the trip so amusing, memorable and exciting. I sincerely hope to travel with you all again to another destination some time.

Annotated lists of species


BIRDS


GREBES
Podicipediformes Podicipedidae
1 Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis): Five+ on the Trujillo fishpond and 2+ on pools on the Belén Plain on 7th.
2 Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus): 10+ Embalse de Sierra Brava, six on 6th and 4+ Embalse de Arrocampo on 10th.
3 Black-necked (Eared) Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis): 4 horribly distant birds on 6th.

CORMORANTS Pelecaniformes Phalacrocoracidae
4 Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo): Only noted at the Embalse de Arrocampo on 5th.

HERONS, EGRETS & BITTERNS Ciconiiformes Ardeidae
5 Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea): Noted daily in variable number except on 9th, with max. 20+ Embalse de Arrocampo on 10th.

  1. Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea): Only seen at the Embalse de Arrocampo, where 5+ on 5th and c.15 on 10th.
7 Great White Egret (Egretta alba): Two at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 10th.
8 Little Egret (Egretta garzetta): Small numbers on 4 or 5 days, max. just 3 at the Embalse de Arrocampo on 10th.
9 Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis): Abundant daily, especially around the colonies by the NV.
10 Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides): One, still in partial winter plumage at the Embalse de Arrocampo on 10th.

STORKS Ciconiiformes Ciconiidae
11 Black Stork (Ciconia nigra): At Monfragüe, four to 12 (!) on 8th.
12 White Stork (Ciconia ciconia): First nest: Hotel David on 5th, abundant daily.

SWANS, GEESE & DUCKS Anseriformes Anatidae
13 Gadwall (Anas strepera): Just a pair on a pond in the MRF 6th.
14 Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos): A few daily.
15 Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina): 3 males on a pond in the MRF and 3 males + 1 female on the Embalse de Sierra Brava on 6th.

HAWKS, EAGLES & KITES Falconiformes Accipitridae
16 Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus): Just one rather distantly near the Embalse de Arrocampo on 10th.
17 Red Kite (Milvus milvus): Just 3+ en route on 5th, 3+ at different sites on 7th, but 10+ on 9th and 6+ on 10th.
18 Black Kite (Milvus migrans): Common daily.
19 Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus): Three+ at Cabañas del Castillo on 7th, 3+ pairs Monfragüe on 8th, 1 adult near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th and 1 in the hills on 10th.
20 Eurasian Griffon (Gyps fulvus): Noted daily in variable number, though abundant at Monfragüe on 8th.
21 Cinereous (Eurasian Black) Vulture (Aegypius monachus): Noted on five days, with max. 6 on 8th, and 10 at various sites on 9th.
22 Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus): Three at Cabañas del Castillo on 7th, two at the Río Almonte and one in Monfragüe on 8th, three at various sites on 9th, and one in the hills on 10th.
23 Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus): A male en route on 5th, 6+ at various sites on 6th, two males on Belén Plain on 7th, a female high over Monfragüe on 8th and 30+ near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th.
24 Western Marsh-harrier (Circus aeruginosus): A male en route and 4+ at the Embalse de Arrocampo on 5th, two at different sites on 6th and 4+ at the Embalse de Arrocampo on 10th.
25 Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus): Just one very briefly over Bob and John at the Finca early on 9th.
26 Eurasian Buzzard (Buteo buteo): Seen daily and widely in generally small number.
27 Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti): A pair in the hills at 3:30 p.m. on the last day were a real find!
28 Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos): A distant, briefly displaying adult and a distant juvenile, both near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th.
29 Bonelli's Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus): A superb female in Monfragüe on 8th.
30 Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus): One or two at various sites on 5 days, including both dark and light phase birds.

FALCONS Falconiformes Falconidae
31 Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni): Noted during four of the full days of the trip, max. 20+ Trujillo on 7th and evening of 10th.
32 Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus): Noted daily in small number at numerous sites.
33 Merlin (Falco columbarius): A female over the Zorita steppes on 6th and another over the dehesa near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 8th.
34 Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus): One briefly attacking a Griffon at Cabañas del Castillo on 7th.

PHEASANTS & PARTRIDGES Galliformes Phasianidae
35 Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa): Seen daily from 6th – 9th in variable number.

RAILS, GALLINULES & COOTS Gruiformes Rallidae
36 Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus): One sharming at the Río Gargáligas on 6th.
37 Purple Swamp-hen (Gallinule) (Porphyrio porphyrio): At the Embalse de Arrocampo, 3+ on 5th and 12+ on 10th.
38 Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus): Small numbers at different wetland sites on four days.
39 Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra): Two on a pool in MRF and one on the Embalse de Sierra Brava on 6th, two on the Trujillo fish pond on 7th and at least one on the Emb. de Arrocampo on 10th.

BUSTARDS Gruiformes Otididae
40 Great Bustard (Otis tarda): A total of nine on the Zorita steppes on 6th, 11+ on the Belén Plain on 7th, and eight near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th.
41 Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax): A male and 2 females on the Zorita steppes on 6th, two males and a female on the Belén Plain on 7th and c.20 near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th.

STILTS Charadriiformes Recurvirostridae
42 Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus): Two singles en route on 5th and two on our return on 11th, and six on a pool in MRF and one at the Emb. de Sierra Brava on 6th.

THICK-KNEES Charadriiformes Burhinidae
43 Stone Curlew (Eurasian Thick-knee) (Burhinus oedicnemus): Two on the Zorita steppes on 6th, 4 on the Belén Plain on 7th, one on a nest and another heard Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th and heard near the Embalse de Arrocampo on 10th.

PRATINCOLES Charadriiformes Glareolidae
44 Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola): A flock of 17 high over Vegas Altas on 6th.

PLOVERS Charadriiformes Charadriidae
45 Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius): Singles at Trujillo on 7th, Río Gargáligas on 8th, and Río Magasca on 9th.

SANDPIPERS Charadriiformes Scolopacidae
45 Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago): One at the Embalse de Arrocampo on 5th, and one in flight at MRF on 6th.
46 Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia): One on a pond on the Belén plain on 7th.

GULLS Charadriiformes Laridae
47 Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus): A few large flocks near the Embalse de Sierra Brava on 6th.

TERNS Charadriiformes Sternidae
48 Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica): Three over fields at Vegas Altas and a superb couple feeding over the Embalse de Sierra Brava on 6th.

SANDGROUSE Pterocliformes Pteroclidae
49 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata): Seven near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th.
50 Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis): 2 + 6 at Vegas Altas on 6th and a pair near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th.

PIGEONS & DOVES Columbiformes Columbidae
51 Feral Pigeon / Rock Dove (Columba livia): Common daily.
52 Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus): One or two on 5th and 7th.
53 Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto): Noted in small number almost daily.

CUCKOOS Cuculiformes Cuculidae
54 Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius): One flying over the road S of Trujillo early on 7th and 11th, two on the Belén plain on 7th and one en route on 8th.
55 Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus): Heard singing on all full days, max. 3 on 9th.

OWLS Strigiformes Strigidae
56 European Scops-owl (Otus scops): One heard calling on several nights at Finca Santa Marta, with one seen by torchlight there on 9th.
57 Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo): An adult (presumably female) and two chicks at a nest in Monfragüe on 8th.
58 Little Owl (Athene noctua): One on the Zorita steppes on 6th, two singles near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th, and one clling at the Finca that evening.

SWIFTS Apodiformes Apodidae
59 Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba): Just two over Cabañas del Castillo on 7th.
60 Common Swift (Apus apus): Two over Trujillo on 7th, c.20, apparently this species over the Río Magasca on 9th and two over the Embalse de Arrocampo on 10th.
61 Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus): Six over Vegas Altas on 6th, 20+ Trujillo on 7th and c. 100 over the Río Almonte on 8th.

KINGFISHERS Coraciiformes Alcedinidae
62 Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis): One over the Río Gargáligas on 6th and three over the Río Magasca on 9th.

ROLLERS Coraciiformes Coracidae
63 European Roller (Coracias garrulus): Two near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th.

BEE-EATERS Coraciiformes Meropidae
64 European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster): Noted daily, including at the Finca on all days, including groups of 20+ at several sites.

HOOPOES Coraciiformes Upupidae
65 Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops): Noted daily in moderate number from 6th, with 6+ on 6th and 9th.

WOODPECKERS Piciformes Picidae
66 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor): A male in dead elms near the entrance to the Finca early on 9th.
67 Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major): Singles heard at Cabañas de Castillo on 7th and Monfragüe on 8th.
68 Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis): One at Cabañas de Castillo on 7th.

LARKS Passeriformes Alaudidae
69 Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra): Six+ on the Zorita steppes on 6th, several on the Belén Plain on 7th and plenty near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th.
70 Crested Lark (Galerida cristata): Common daily.
71 Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae): One or two at four sites between 8th and 10th.
72 Wood Lark (Lullula arborea): One en route on 7th, 4+ en route on 8th and 2 on 9th.

SWALLOWS & MARTINS Passeriformes Hirundinidae
73 European Sand Martin (Riparia riparia): One Emb. de Arrocampo on 6th and 3+ there on 10th.
74 Eurasian Crag-martin (Hirundo rupestris): Noted in variable number on the five full days.
75 Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica): Common daily.
76 Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica): Common, widespread and seen in small to moderate number on 6 days.
77 House Martin (Delichon urbica): Common to abundant daily.

WAGTAILS & PIPITS Passeriformes Motacillidae
78 White Wagtail (Motacilla alba): Two by the Río Almonte on 7th, and 3 further downstream on 8th and one on the Río Magasca on 9th.
79 Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea): One on the Río Almonte on 7th, and one at the Finca on 9th.
80 Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis): Six over the MRF on 6th and 25+ in a flock over the Belén Plain on 7th.

WRENS Passeriformes Troglodytidae
81 Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes): One – two at the Finca daily, a very few elsewhere.

THRUSHES Passeriformes Turdidae
82 Blue Rock-thrush (Monticola solitarius): Five+ at Cabañas del Castillo on 7th and several in Monfragüe on 8th.
83 Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula): Noted daily in small number from 7th to 10th.
84 Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus): 6+ at Cabañas del Castillo on 7th and one near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th.

CISTICOLAS Passeriformes Cisticolidae
85 Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis): A few heard and seen on all full days except 8th.

OLD WORLD WARBLERS Passeriformes Sylviidae
86 Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti): At the Embalse de Arrocampo, 3+ on 5th, and 5+ on 10th, heard at the Río Gargáligas on 6th and Monfragüe on 8th.
87 Savi's Warbler (Locustella luscinioides): Two head and one seen briefly at the Embalse de Arrocampo on 5th, and one singing there on 10th.
88 Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus): At the Embalse de Arrocampo, one on 5th and several there on 10th.
89 Great Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus): Two singing at the Río Gargáligas on 6th and one singing Embalse de Arrocampo on 10th.
90 Eurasian Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus): One at the Río Gargáligas on 6th and two at Embalse de Arrocampo on 10th.
91 Western Bonelli’s Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli): Singles singing at Finca Santa Marta on 9th and 10th.
92 Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis): A female feeding in an oak at Finca Santa Marta on 10th.
93 Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans): A male at Monfragüe on 8th.
94 Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala): Noted by the group, just one male at the Río Almonte on 7th and as we left the Finca on 11th, and one seen by Noor at the Finca on 8th.

OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS Passeriformes Muscicapidae
95 European Robin (Erithacus rubecula): Only noted in the hills on 10th, where several singing.
96 Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos): Two heard at the Río Gargáligas on 6th and 3+ Monfragüe on 8th.
97 Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros): Three Cabañas del Castillo on 7th and three Monfragüe on 8th.
98 Common Stonechat (Saxicola torquata): Common to abundant daily.
99 Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura): A male at Cabañas del Castillo on 7th.
100 Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe): A male at Vegas Altas on 6th and two males and a female near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th.
101 Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica): Single stunning males on the Zorita steppes on 6 th and near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 9th.

LONG-TAILED TITS Passeriformes Aegithalidae
103 Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus): A few seen and / or heard from 7th to 9th.

TITS Passeriformes Paridae
104 Crested Tit (Parus cristatus): One at Monfragüe on 8th.
105 Great Tit (Parus major): A few, mostly at the Finca, daily.
106 Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus): A few daily from 7th to 10th.

CREEPERS
Passeriformes Certhiidae
107 Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla): One to three at the Finca daily, plus one on the rocks at Cabañas del Castillo on 7th.

SHRIKES Passeriformes Laniidae
108 Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis): One to three on four full days at various sites, including the Embalse de Arrocampo.
109 Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator): One to three+ at various sites from 6th to 9th.

CROWS & JAYS Passeriformes Corvidae
110 Iberian Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cooki): Noted daily at Finca Santa Marta, and various other sites en route throughout the week.
111 Common Magpie (Pica pica): Common daily.
112 Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax): A pair in the hills on 10th.
113 Eurasian Jackdaw (Corvus monedula): Noted in / around Trujillo on 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th.
114 Common Raven (Corvus corax): Three to eight daily between 6th and 9th at various sites, including the Finca.

STARLINGS Passeriformes Sturnidae
115 Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor): Common daily.

OLD WORLD SPARROWS Passeriformes Passeridae
116 House Sparrow (Passer domesticus): Common daily.
117 Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis): c. 50 Embalse de Arrocampo on 5th, then small numbers at various sites on 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th.

PETRONIAS Passeriformes Passeridae
118 Rock Petronia (Petronia petronia): One calling in the Sta Marta de Magasca dehesa on 9th.

WAXBILLS Passeriformes Estrildidae
119 Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild): Four in the Río Gargáligas on 6th.
120 Red Avadavat (Amandava amandava): 25+ in the Río Gargáligas on 6th and two over the Emb. de Arrocampo on 10th.

FINCHES Passeriformes Fringillidae
121 Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes): Two – five in the hills on 10th.
122 Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs): Surprisingly scarce, but noted daily in wooded areas from 7th, inc. Monfragüe, etc.
123 European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris): Small numbers at a few sites daily from 7th to 10th.
124 European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis): Common daily.
125 Eurasian Linnet (Carduelis cannabina): Just 4+ at Cabañas del Castillo on 7th.
126 European Serin (Serinus serinus): Common and widespread daily.

TRUE BUNTINGS Passeriformes Emberizidae
127 Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus): Heard at the Río Magasca on 9th and in the hills on 10th.
128 Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia): A superb male singing at Cabañas del Castillo on 7th and a male at Monfragüe on 8th.
129 Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra): Common to abundant daily.


MAMMALS


1 Western European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus): One small one dead in the road near Vegas Altas on 6th.
2 Iberian Mole (Talpa occidentalis): Holes and hills at a few sites, especially the Finca.
3 European Otter (Lutra lutra): Spraint on rocks in the upper Río Almonte on 7th.
4 Red Deer (Cervus elaphus): One seen by Susan at Monfragüe on 8th.
5 Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus): One large dead one on the road near the Río Gargáligas on 6th.
6 European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus): Two near the Emb. de Sierra Brava on 6th and one en route on 7th.


REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS

The terrapins seen at the Emb. de Arrocampo, Belén Plain and Río Magasca on various dates were all Stripe-necked Terrapins (Mauremys caspica); the large snake I nearly caught near Sta. Marta de Magasca was a Ladder Snake (Elaphe scalaris); the two tiny snakes caught by the Río Almonte on 7th were Viperine Snake (Natrix maura) and Grass Snake (Natrix natrix); all of the small brown lizards were Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus); the beautiful spotted lizard near Sta. Marta de Magasca was an Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida); the rather shy Moorish Gecko (Tarentola mauretanica) was at FSM late after dinner on two nights; the only amphibians were the abundant and noisy Iberian Pool Frog (Rana perezi), frequent in the rivers and even drainage channels, with its 'laughing' heard in various places and very loud calls at FSM nightly.

BUTTERFLIES & MOTHS


Swallowtail (Papilio machaon): Small numbers observed well on five days at various sites.
Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius): One at Monfragüe on 8th.
Spanish Festoon (Zerynthia rumina): Noted daily from 7th to 10th, including 5+ near Cabañas del Castillo and some beautiful specimens in the hills on 10th.
Large White (Pieris brassicae): Several widely in small number on 4 days.
Small White (Artogeia rapae): Seen widely and daily in small number.
Western Dappled White (Euchloe simplonia): Seen in small number from 6th to 8th.
Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines): One – two males by the Río Almonte on 7th, but plenty in the hills on 10th.
Moroccan Orange-tip (Anthocharis belia): A male near Cabañas del Castillo on 7th.
Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus): One or two daily from 7th to 10th.
Brimstone (Goneptryx rhamni): A male and two females in the hills on 10th.
Cleopatra (Goneptryx cleopatra): A male in the hills on 10th.
Chapman’s Green Hairstreak (Callophrys avis): A beauty (and one of the trip highlights for me) in Monfragüe on 8th; it IS known from Extremadura, but mostly from the Sierras de Villuercas area (e.g. E of Cabañas del Castillo) and this is probably a new locality.
Provençal Hairstreak (Tomares ballus): One on the Belén Plain on 7th.
Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas): Two near Cabañas del Castillo on 7th.
Lang’s Short-tailed Blue (Leptotes pirithous): Three+ by the stream in the hills on 10th.
Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus): One near Cabañas del Castillo on 7th and several in the hills on 10th.
Black-eyed Blue (Glaucopsyche melanops): One beauty on the stream in the hills on 10th, was not Amanda’s Blue as I mistakenly called it.
Brown Argus (Aricia agestis): Three on the Belén Plain on 7th and one in the hills on 10th.
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus): A male by the Emb. de Arrocampo on 5th, 3+ by the Río Almonte on 7th and several in the hills on 10th.
Nettle-tree Butterfly (Libythea celtis): One in Monfragüe on 8th and 6+ in the hills on 10th.
Large Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros): One briefly in Monfragüe on 8th.
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta): Singles from 7th to 10th in various places.
Painted Lady (Cynthia cardui): Six between 5th and 9th at various sites.
Marbled White sp. (Melanargia sp.): One seen by Noor on 7th.
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus): Small numbers daily from 6th to 10th.
(Southern) Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria): Seen daily in small number from 7th to 10th.
Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera): Only noted at Monfragüe on 8th and in the hills on 10th.
Giant Peacock Moth (Saturnia pyri): At the Finca we enjoyed singles on 5th and 9th and two on both 6th and 7th and of this extraordinary insect, Europe’s largest moth.
Pine Processionary Moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa): Various ‘cotton-ball’ caterpillar tents on pines in Monfragüe on 8th.
Silver Y (Autographa gamma): At least two by the Río Almonte on 9th.

OTHER INVERTEBRATES


Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo):
Three+ males and three females in the hills on 10th.
blue damselfly sp. (Coenagrion caerulescens): Three+ probably of this species in the hills on 10th.
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula): Five+ in the hills on 10th.
Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa): A stunning recently emerged female in dehesa en route to Monfragüe on 8th.
Field Cricket (Gryllus campestris): Good numbers heard trilling on 7th and 9th.
Rhinoceros Beetle (Copris lunaris): Several attracted to lights at both the Finca and the motorway petrol station on various dates.
Oil Beetle (Meloe spp.): One on 8th and at least 4 (of two different species) on 9th.
Wood-eating termite sp. (Reticulitermes lucifugus): Lots under logs and stones by the Río Almonte on 7th.
'Big, nasty' Centipede (Scolopendra cingulatus): A couple during the week.
Red Signal Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii): One watched by Libby in the Río Magasca on 9th.

FISH


Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio): Lots in the Embalse de Arrocampo on 5th and 11th.


PLANTS

SELECTED PLANTS
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]. Special thanks to Libby Hunt who put in a good deal of effort to find and force me to try and identify many of the species recorded!

Pinaceae: Pinus pinea Stone / Umbrella Pine (3)

Fagaceae: Quercus rotundifolia Evergreen Oak (26)
Quercus suber Cork Oak (27)

Ulmaceae: Ulmus minor Elm sp. (c. 38)
Celtis australis Southern Nettle Tree (39)

Moraceae: Morus alba White Mulberry (41)
Ficus carica Fig (42)

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

Caryophyllaceae: Paronychia argentea Papery Paronychia (136)
Spergularia purpurea Purple Spurrey (148)
Silene colorata Catchfly sp. (180)

Ranunculaceae: Anemone palmata Yellow Anemone (218)
Ranunculus sp. Water Crowfoot sp.

Paeoniaceae: Paeonia broteroi Peony sp. (c.268)

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

Cruciferae: Matthiola incana Hoary Stock (327)
Raphanus raphanistrum Wild Radish (369)

Resedaceae: Sesamoides purpurascens Sesamoides (c. 375)

Crassulaceae: Umbilicus rupestris Navelwort (396)

Rosaceae: Rosa canina Common Dogrose (c. 404)

Leguminosae: Cercis siliquastrum Judas Tree (430)
Cytisus multiflorus White Broom (c. 456)
Genista hirsuta a hairy Whin sp. (466)
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)
Psoralea bituminosa Pitch Trefoil (508)
Vicia lutea Yellow Vetch (525)
Trifolium stellatum Starry Clover (662)
Tripodion tetraphyllum (=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)
Geranium lucidum Shiny Crane's-bill (749)
Erodium botrys Storksbill sp. (758)

Linaceae: Linum bienne Pale Flax (777)

Meliaceae: Melia azedarach Persian Lilac (843)

Vitaceae: Vitis vinifera Grape (889)

Violaceae: Viola kitaibeliana Dwarf Pansy (931)

Thymelaeaceae: Daphne gnidium Mediterranean Daphne (936)

Cistaceae: Cistus albidus Grey-leaved Cistus (big pink fls) (961)
Cistus salviifolius Sage-leaved Cistus (med. white) (965)
Cistus monspeliensis Narow-leaved Cistus (966)
Cistus ladanifer Gum Cistus (big white fls) (971)
Tuberaria guttata Spotted Rockrose (small yellow) (985)

Tamaricaceae: Tamarix cf. gallica Tamarisk sp. (c. 1019)

Cucurbitaceae: Bryonia cretica ssp. dioica White Bryony (1033a)

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)

Primulaceae: Anagallis arvensis Scarlet Pimpernel (1198)

Oleaceae: Jasminum fruticans Wild Jasmine (1239)
Phillyrea angustifolia (1245)
Olea europaea Olive (1248)

Apocynaceae: Nerium oleander Oleander (1256)

Rubiaceae: Sherardia arvensis Field Madder (c. 1298)

Convolvulaceae: Convolvulus althaeoides Mallow-leaved Bindweed (1331)

Boraginaceae: Echium plantagineum Purple Viper's Bugloss (1383)
Anchusa undulata Undulate Anchusa (1406)

Labiatae: Mentha suaveolens Apple Mint (1523)
Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary (1526)
Lavandula stoechas French Lavender (1528)

Solanaceae: Hyosciamus albus White Henbane (1555)

Scrophularicaea: Scrophularia sp. a large Figwort sp. (c. 1589)
Verbascum sinuatum Wavy Mullein (1601)
Linaria amethystea 'Amethyst' Toadflax (c. 1614)
Linaria spartea yellow-flowered Toadflax (c. 1614)
Parentucellia latifolia Bartsia sp. (1652)

Orobanchaceae:
Orobanche amethystea Amethyst Broomrape (1667)
Orobanche rapum-genistae Greater Broomrape (1670)

Compositae: Bellis annua Annual Daisy (1791)
Santolina rosmarinifolia Lavander Cotton sp. (1856)
Calendula arvensis Field Marigold (1908)
Echinops strigosa Globe-thistle sp. (c.1935)
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)
Fritillaria lusitanica Iberian Fritillary (2089)
Lilium martagon Martagon Lily (c. 2148)
Urginea maritima Sea Squill (2163)
Ornithogalum ?narbonense Star-of-Bethlehem sp. (2171)
Hyacinthoides hispanica Spanish Bluebell
Muscari comosum Tassel Hyacinth (2201)
Allium neopolitanum Round-headed Leek (2225)
Narcissus bulbocodium Hoop-petticoat Narcissus (2281)

Dioscoreaceae: Tamus communis Black Bryony (2282)

Iridaceae: Gynandriris sisyrinchium Barbary Nut Iris (2305)

Orchidaceae: Orchis champagneuxii Champagne Orchid (2405)
Orchis conica (Iberian) Milky Orchid (2408)
Orchis italica Naked Man Orchid (2409)
Ophrys lutea Yellow Bee Orchid (2423)
Ophrys sphegodes Early Spider Orchid (2428)

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

Pteridophyta: Adiantum capillus-veneris Maidenhair Fern (2522)
Ceterach officinarum Rusty-back Fern (2532)



John Muddeman
Principal Leader

© The Travelling Naturalist 2003