TRAVELLING NATURALIST TRIP REPORT

Extremadura

3 - 10 April 2004


Leaders:
John Muddeman

Saturday 3rd April

As it was the start of the Easter week holidays, Barajas was busy, so John arrived to pick up the vehicle early. A good move, considering that it turned out to have a puncture and required going in person to terminal two and retrieving a different vehicle from the fleet for our use! Given just the traffic around the airport, this took quite some time so that by my return the flight members had been waiting for nearly 20 minutes or so. Thankfully, the smiling faces that greeted me were a good sign of good humour despite this inauspicious start and after loading and a final check we were away in good time.

The run towards Extremadura was remarkably clear and we noted Common Magpie, Spotless Starling, Wood Pigeon, a few Eurasian Kestrel, a Red-legged Partridge, two Black-winged Stilt (Mike), a Booted Eagle (Ali) and a few Barn Swallow en route as we sped along at 120 kph. We made good time to our first break at a roadside cafe. We took the opportunity to try a couple of tapas as well as a drink, these being excellent. Outside we were greeted by a brooding White Stork on a fine nest perched on a chimney and the first Barn Swallows for most of the group.

Given the good amount of time and fine, mild weather we took a run onto an area of agricultural and grazed pseudo-steppe. Our first pauses revealed the first of many Corn Buntings and a couple of Crested Larks, with Meadow Pipits and a White Wagtail on a boggy edge to a field. A male Hen Harrier appeared briefly, but despite us following in the van for a short way it never reappeared. A Great Bustard then flew over at distance before dropping down out of sight.

Yours truly had tucked his bins deep into the bottom of his rucksack, but while trying to retrieve them to look at various kestrels, a call went up of a flock of birds coming up over the horizon. Still with just scope in hand, but with big birds in sight, the question if they had a prominent white wing bar received a positive response and we got out as quickly as possible to watch no less than 49 male Great Bustards fly past in front with a back-drop of the snow-capped Gredos, with the majority then landing in view on the back of a huge field! These were remarkable, cocking their tails up and occasionally posturing to one another, the whiskers being clearly visible on several enormous males present. This was only interrupted by a whistling sound heralding the fly-over of a small group of Little Bustard heading in the opposite direction!!

Interest finally also began to switch to other things and as we watched a Eurasian Kestrel with a very distant male Yellow Wagtail behind it, another raptor floating gracefully over the grass was a gorgeous male Montagu's Harrier, which proceeded to drift effortlessly past and disappear over the bustards.

Time flies when you're having fun, and an hour had soon slipped by, so we made for our main planned stop. A few Bee-eaters 'prooped' and a Savi's Warbler reeled in the distance as we arrived, a Spanish Sparrow "chee-cheeped' from under a White Stork's nest and a few Grey Herons and a Black Kite flew past. We walked to look at the reedmace beds of the Embalse de Arrocampo and rapidly found a Purple Swamp-hen hiding quite well along the edge, while an explosive burst of song was tracked down to a fine Cetti's Warbler which sat out in a broom bush long enough for most to admire. A Marsh Harrier put in a brief show, and a Water Rail squealed from the depths of the vegetation. As we walked to look from the opposite side of the road, so dozens of Iberian Blue-tailed Damselflies rose up out of the flower-studded grass.

A couple more Purple Swamp-hens paraded in the patchy vegetation, a Eurasian Reed Warbler sang its ditty and flitted about, a Purple Heron cruised over he water at distance and a Savi's Warbler did remarkably well at hiding itself as it buzzed despite being almost at the top of the vegetation. A Whitethroat put in a brief appearance as did a male Spanish Sparrow and a Stonechat. These were eclipsed by a passing Black-winged Kite though, which then flew down the road and hovered a few times before perching briefly on a couple of telegraph poles! A Common Snipe sped over, while all this was livened-up by the antics of a Common Carp in the shallow waters, its back half out of the water before it suddenly lobbed itself into the air!

As we left two more Purple Herons circled up from the reeds showing the wonderful deep maroon colour of the underparts.

We didn't stop before reaching the Finca, but even our arrival was heralded by various Iberian Azure-winged Magpies and a Short-toed Treecreeper of most note.

This was all a fabulous start to the trip, rounded off drinks followed by a fine meal and finishing with an amazing chorus of the local Iberian Pool Frogs and Natterjack Toads!

Sunday 4th April

A pre-breakfast walk in perfectly still, cool conditions at the Finca was filled with more bird sounds than sights, having started with a calling Scops Owl for the early risers. A Nightingale sang somewhat tentatively from thick scrub, but a Common Cuckoo and Hoopoes were blasting forth. A Common Waxbill on a bramble gave all-too-brief views of this recent invader from Africa.

We headed south after a late breakfast and made for open pseudo-steppe habitats. A flock of Little Bustards fluttered round before dropping into a field and so we reversed up for a look. Just this 'random' spot produced Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Zitting Cisticolas, several Lesser Kestrels passing and two distant Great Spotted Cuckoos!

The steppes were a superb 'living' green, smeared with sheets of white and yellow flowers. We turned off down a little side road only to be met by a swathe of bright Purple Viper's Bugloss in full flower. A bit of searching revealed a few birds including both Griffon and a Black Vulture, a distant Great Bustard and a small group of migrant Black Storks circling up before winging north. Smaller birds were more numerous and included Zitting Cisticolas, Calandra Larks and abundant Corn Buntings, all pouring forth their respective songs in this spring frenzy of breeding activity.

The Embalse de Sierra Brava nearby was also attractive to birds, but of a rather different suite. Scattered summer-plumaged Black-necked Grebes bobbed on the water near their larger Great Crested cousins, Eurasian Coots peppered the water near the banks and single Common Sandpiper, White Wagtail and Water Pipit fed along the edge. Two pale birds approaching were first terns, then gulls, then both, in the form of two superb Gull-billed Terns! A pair of Red-legged Partridge fed on slopes behind, with three Great Bustards strolling through the steppe to the left!

A rock cutting revealed a pair of flighty Black-eared Wheatear, but time was pressing, so we took a road along an irrigation canal, pausing several times to watch Short-toed Eagles and Common Buzzards, a 'British' Yellow Wagtail, more White Wagtails and three Red Kites.

We dropped down through arable fields and into rice paddies to look for a particular patch of scrub. Duly found, we spent some time watching a typically flighty group of Red Avadavats flitting about, Ali spotted a Water Rail rushing across bare ground, and while looking for this a Cetti's Warbler showed briefly in the same dead bush under which it had run.

Lunch was also beckoning, so we sat about as we could, soaking in the warmth and sun, being serenaded by two male Stonechats singing lustily and posing at each other as they tried to maintain their territorial boundaries, and several 'zipping' Cisticolas bouncing past almost constantly. A small group of Great Bustards flying in livened up proceedings further and we rounded off with a group of smart male Spanish Sparrows and a bright female Northern Wheatear on a fence.

Though relatively late, a drinks break was called for, and once we'd heard what our German 'friend' had seen (he seemed to have been following us), we made for a bar, noting Serins, a female Montagu's Harrier and a pond full of Moorhens on the way!

We finished off with a drive through arable and rice fields near Vegas Altas, and though Black-bellied Sandgrouse were only seen in flight, we saw a good number at two sites, a group of loafing male Great Bustards which half displayed to one another and finished off with the extraordinary sight of a stunning Roller perched on a post only yards away, which then exploded in various hues of turquoise as it casually flew off to a quieter spot away from our prying eyes.

All seemed to be over until we were almost back at the finca. Something shiny on the edge of the road was indeed a snake as hoped, but sadly for me, somewhat livelier than expected and despite having done it many times before, I received an appropriate bite from an angry Ladder Snake. I obviously let it leave, in disgust, but at least those on the left of the bus saw it well enough!

Tea and coffee back at the Finca were warmly appreciated, though we also made a late visit to the centre of Trujillo for dinner out, given the need for the Finca staff to rest. This was a sort of glorified tapas meal, including a selection of the typical foods of the area.

Monday 5th April

A varied day, taking in the mixed grazed habitats between Madroñera and the Belén Plain, then moving out to lunch by the Río Almonte and finishing with a walk at the delightful Cabañas del Castillo.

The track near Madroñera winding its way through rolling fields of grazed grass and light broom scrub proved to be fairly quiet for birds, despite a lovely close Little Owl which flew off to a quieter spot, several singing Hoopoes adorning fences and rooftops, flighty Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, numerous Corn Buntings, Stonechats, and Calandra, Crested and two Thekla Larks! Well, it seemed relatively quiet to me!

We also took a stroll along the track, marvelling at the amazing webs of some of the massed groups of 'grass processionary moths' Thaumetopaea herculeana (probably!) and a little later on a trail of these extraordinary insects winding their way across the bare gravel to try and find 'pastures new'. Peering down into the grass at close range reveals other gems though too, and a small movement gave away the presence of a stunning Horned Praying Mantis which was proudly then held by Joan for the photographers. Its bizarre head and abdominal adornments make it almost impossible to see when staying still, and it stayed perfectly calm when handled. Not so a young instar of a bright green normal Praying Mantis which we found just minutes later which jumped off my hand and sped into the grass at the first opportunity.

The little bank here also provided more cover than expected and a call went up as a snake disappeared into the grass. A gentle testing prod with a boot produced an aggressive huffing in response and warned me that we had a decent sized Montpellier Snake to 'deal with'. Deal with meant coaxing it into view without hurting either it or us, which was finally achieved, despite some strikes on my boot end!

Continuing along the track produced a couple of Spanish Terrapins in a pool, two Black and two Red Kites, first on posts and then in flight, and more Calandra Larks.

Time is never on a naturalist's side, and we headed towards a refreshment stop. A usual colony of White Storks and Jackdaws off to one side had been boosted by a large number of Cattle and a few Little Egrets with more of the latter in an adjacent pool along with Little Grebes and a Gadwall. If this were not enough, a few Great Bustards, including two half-displaying males were 'mooching about' on a rough fallow field to one side!

We finally arrived for drinks (noting a couple of Montagu's Harriers en route), then moved on to a late lunch by the Río Almonte. This was in a sheltered little valley and after taking quick looks at a pair of Egyptian Vultures and a perched Short-toed Eagle we sat overlooking the clear waters passing below us.

Butterflies included a couple of Green-underside Blues, Small Copper and Brimstones of most note and a couple of Grey Wagtails remained remarkably elusive. Not so a Great Spotted Woodpecker which sat on a telegraph pole for a while, nor a fine male Sardinian Warbler at close range for Ron.

Our final destination was a rather warm walk at Cabañas del Castillo. However, after a somewhat distant Blue Rock Thrush and lots of Crag Martins and Red-rumped Swallows, we took a track which brought us out between two crags and stunning views across a valley.

Immediate interest was in the form of a superb male Black Redstart, female Rock Bunting and singing and displaying Serin. These we saw variably well, but a 'chittering' sound overhead revealed about a dozen Alpine Swifts flashing past at height. A few cinnamon-trunked Cork Oaks were below us on he slopes, their trunks having been de-corked the previous autumn.

We stayed in the still but shaded conditions savouring the atmosphere, and this allowed some scanning for raptors. Indeed, almost immediately a medium-sized raptor on the other side of the valley raced in to a rock face, only to knock off a Griffon Vulture which had dared to perch there, and the white spot on its back confirmed our first Bonelli's Eagle adult.

The winding drive back led us through more extensive areas of dehesa and illustrated just how remote some of this area still seems to be.

Tuesday 6th April

The day dawned fine and clear again. The birds as ever woke us up at the Finca, including the usual House Sparrows, White Storks, Goldfinches, Blue and Great Tits and Iberian Azure-winged Magpies.

We headed towards Monfragüe, but did not even get to Trujillo before being stopped and fined by the Guardia Civil for speeding along an open stretch of road with a speed limit I had never noticed (nor seemingly, about the half the other vehicles travelling along the same stretch!).

After a quick fuel stop we were off again, passing through mile after mile of dehesa, the open Holm Oak woodland so characteristic of this region of Spain and so good for wildlife given its (still) highly traditional management techniques.

We took a short detour to a quiet side track and soaked up the atmosphere. A few Wood and Thekla Larks were singing, albeit rather distantly, a Red-legged Partridge made a brief appearance before putting in a burst of speed down the track for a few, but the range of small flowers including Spotted and an un-spotted small Rock-rose and Yellow Toadflax, and the huge white flowers of Gum Cistus really caught our eye. A feebly singing Western Bonelli's Warbler attracted little attention and refused to show, but two singing and chasing Common Cuckoos were better. A few small smartly coloured moths masqueraded as butterflies, but were duly photographed for later identification!

We continued, only to bump into a friend of mine leading a private group which required a stop for a quick chat. Little was seen though, so we carried on, only to pull off the roadside not far ahead to scan over the dehesa. The flowers were rather more noticeable again than the birds, so we had a look at a White Asphodel, just coming into flower and a pale Champagne Orchid. While alerted to this, we noticed another bright pink flower and we'd found a superb Pink Butterfly Orchid in full flower - a widespread but fairly scarce species and wonderful to see. A number of raptors appeared on a thermal and we were treated to the sight of several dozen large vultures drifting over, a Black and two Griffons down at quite close range and giving lovely views through the scope and bins.

Time had really passed us by, and we now made for the castle at Trujillo. The track up had been paved, it was Easter week and it was heaving with people. However, a Griffon Vulture peered down from its usual roost, a fine Blue Rock Thrush was perched on a wire as we arrived and an elusive Rock Sparrow flitted around the crag before disappearing into a cave. The fine and still leafless trees in the car park gave their identity away when we noticed several Nettle Tree Butterflies flitting around and perching in the canopy.

The walk up was hot and steep, but well rewarded at the end, with stunning views, especially from the top of the tower for those who risked climbing up. Maureen had gone for a little shade, only to have her 'peace' interrupted by the appearance of a fairly large rock-climbing snake. Fortunately she rounded us up and it was still there for us to admire. A stunning example of the scarce Horseshoe Whip-snake which we watched at leisure for 20 minutes or so, working its way around the rocks and disappearing periodically into the numerous holes. Knowing the typical reaction to snakes and this animal's presence so close to so many people, we felt we were looking after it, though it was remarkable how few people seemed to take an interest. A few vultures were passing and two Hawfinches flashed past below us, but little else was about apart from the ubiquitous Crag Martins and Red-rumped Swallows!

Lunch was taken looking towards Peñafalcón. One or two Black Storks kept up a regular presence overhead or in front, fanning their white undertail coverts out in display, while dozens of Griffons and the occasional Black Vulture spiralled up or flapped across the gorge. A female Peregrine took a serious dislike to a fine adult Egyptian Vulture, stooping on it on several occasions, but this eventually also flew around in peace. A Nuthatch, seemingly out of place here called from the wooded slopes, but small birds kept their distance.

We pushed on through to some pine woods, pausing en route for a couple of smart Black-eared Wheatears perched prominently on dead branches, a Kingfisher in a tree down on one side by the reservoir and a circling Black Kite very close opposite. The shade provided cooler conditions and a short walk up the road revealed the hoped-for speciality here, Crested Tit. A pair fed and called noisily in the pines, one coming down to close range when whistled in. Four Red Deer hinds were less difficult to see, crashing through the undergrowth before crossing the road in front and then stopping to watch us for some seconds.

Our last stop was at the Portilla del Tiétar on the northern edge of the park. It was hot, but a stiff breeze through the gorge kept us cool. More Griffons tended their chicks on the nests, shading them from the sun, and distant Blue Rock Thrushes - when would Ron see one well?!... We finally dragged ourselves away having seen a Chapman's Green Hairstreak flash past and an immature Golden Eagle circle overhead for a minute or two. A fitting end.

The main bird highlight of the day was really the appearance of a pair of Spanish Imperial Eagles which flew around for at least 30 minutes and were even joined by a young bird at the end showing how remarkably different the different age plumages are. As one of the four rarest eagle species in the world, this is mentioned separately to keep the location a secret.

Wednesday 7th April

Another fine and still start, though already warm. A Giant Peacock moth hanging by one of the lights was a treat, the largest European moth certainly being very impressive to look at.

A brief stop by a pool outside Trujillo produced almost 170 Spanish Terrapins hauled out along the banks, ranging from the tiny to the chunky, plus a dozen noisy and ungainly-looking Black-winged Stilts scattered along its edge. A couple of Common Sandpipers put in a wing-flickering appearance, two Little Grebes dived at the far end and a fine flock of Bee-eaters occasionally rose up from wires at the back making lots of noise.

The plains opened out in front of us as we headed towards Cáceres, though we detoured into dehesa. Very few birds were present until we noticed though a pair of Thekla larks and a brief Wood Lark off to one side. A Great Spotted Cuckoo suddenly appeared and flew over the van calling before pitching into an oak. Once we started to get out this rapidly disappeared, but following up on lots of noise ahead we approached an enormous roadside colony of Spanish Sparrows nearby in a large Holm Oak and watched the continual toings and froings.

Stopping at a junction ahead allowed us to scan over open grassland where a fine male Little Bustard stood up tall and peered back at us, its black-and-white neck showing vividly. Another was present on the opposite side and when the first got up and flew when disturbed by a vehicle, it drew up another, and then another, half-a-dozen being present in this quite small area. A pink-breasted Southern Grey Shrike perched patiently on a fence in front for a while, but realised it was out-competed and left before we could appreciate it in the scope! A group of four Pin-tailed Sandgrouse flew over calling, then dropped down to feed just out of sight...

The fields here are a mix of arable, weedy fallow and grassy fallow, the mixture changing yearly and creating a patchwork of habitats. This was very evident as we took a large track through some fields looking for more birds. A few spanking male Black-eared Wheatears perched on fences and the first of a good number of Montagu's Harriers put in an appearance over a nesting colony in winter wheat. A few Great Bustards were lounging off to one side, with a couple of elusive singing Greater Short-toed Larks opposite and it was only when we reached a rather bare weedy fallow field that Ron noticed two medium-sized birds disappear over the horizon. His patient scanning revealed two heads sticking up and we were able to watch as two fine Pin-tailed Sandgrouse picked their slowly across the mud and just over the ridge out of sight. A pair of Black-bellied Sandgrouse also got up at distance and flew off, showing their orangey upperparts and black bellies to all.

Things were quiet, so we took a stroll along the track and into a grassy field. Two sandgrouse were again visible slightly beyond the ridge the Pin-taileds had gone over earlier, but this time were Black-bellied.

A bit of rock-turning by a tiny pool revealed four beautiful orange-striped, lime-green and black Iberian Marbled Newts, while Iberian Pool Frogs leapt off into the mass of Water Crowfoot at our approach.

A drinks break in the local town 'Plaza Mayor' was appreciated under the burning sun, though we were delayed (as usual!) from reaching it, this time by a stunning Roller which sat on a fence post just 5 or 6 yards from the bus! It then moved just 50 m to go and sit not far from its mate, having given us exceptional views.

It was then on to the Río Magasca for lunch. This was a gorgeous spot in a narrow valley with luxuriant green growth and lots of small flowers flanking the little river tumbling through some rapids.

Ali yet again did her stuff finding a swimming Viperine Snake, with an elusive Kingfisher also present, plus various butterflies including a fine Wall Brown, but we were mercifully left in peace just to soak up the atmosphere. A couple of Bee-eaters flew low down alongside us when we were already back in the van, displaying their remarkable colours.

The drive back across the vast Llanos de Caceres produced little of really special note, though three Black Vultures were loafing in a field looking menacing to a ewe which was still holding guard over a still-born lamb and lots of Montagu's Harriers were present over fields near the main road back.

It was 24ºC in the shade back at the Finca and we were very grateful for our afternoon teas again.

Thursday 8th April

A misty start before breakfast but which thankfully cleared suddenly.

The day was also to be rather different, being a bit of a break with the chance of some shopping! However, before unleashing the group on Trujillo, we made for the bullring. Here a colony of Lesser Kestrels were in fine fettle, sitting and flying about almost continually for some 20 minutes or so, numerous Spotless Starlings keeping us busy during their rare absences. A couple of Black-winged Stilts graced a marshy pool nearby for variety. A quick look nearby revealed a few Pallid Swifts, whizzing past intermittently by their colony on the roadside, the wheezy call emanating from under the asbestos roofing being easier to distinguish than the plumage details!

The rest of the morning was spent in Trujillo, sampling the local goods and shops, and taking in the fine views from the castle ramparts. Ali even splashed out on a camouflaged bra...!!!

Lunch was taken out by the Río Tozo, this time in an area of extensive dehesa, literally 'plagued' with Black Kites. A snake in the river gave Ali the slip, but not so a Kingfisher under the road bridge.

We strolled along the river, seeing thousands of delightful Hoop-petticoat and a few exquisitely scented Jonquil Narcissi as we went, plus a wealth of small wildflowers. Butterflies included numerous Small Heaths, a Common Blue, and on our return, Spanish Festoon, enticed out by the warm weather.

Our goal was soon reached, despite two Pink Butterfly Orchids and plenty of wheeling Black Kites en route, and we took our first looks at a quiet little reservoir. Despite the 'goofy geese', lots of Stilts and Gadwall were present and we began to tease out a few new birds. Four Greenshank put in an appearance, and a very distant chunky white bird was a feeding adult Spoonbill. A long white neck with attached yellow bill in a treetop gave away the position of a Great White Egret, which later dropped down to feed and give us a clearer image of this scarce wintering species. A male Shoveler slept quietly, providing a dash of colour.

We pottered back and returned to the Finca early, but not before taking in the amusing sight of a large Cattle Egret and White Stork colony almost on the roadside. The antics of the displaying and nest-building egrets kept us entertained for some time!

We also went off for 90 minutes before dinner, having been enticed out just down the lane by the almost continual sound of a flock of Bee-eaters emanating from there over the past two days! This proved to be an inspired choice, with up to 20 present on wires, though as these were at first against the light we needed to walk up past them. Maureen was still having difficulty in seeing an Iberian Azure-winged Magpie properly, and this turned into something of a challenge!

Some of the Bee-eaters moved down into a large fig tree below us and we marvelled at their extraordinary plumage and flying ability as we watched at leisure. Excellent views were had by all, then rudely interrupted when a Green Woodpecker landed on a wall just over our heads! It was very quickly off again, but broke our spell. Just as we were moving off though, so a Short-toed Treecreeper (finally!) appeared in some olives and we finally watched two at length, inching their way up the trunks and along the branches.

The Bee-eaters switched their allegiance to the wire back along the track from where we'd come, as did a small group of Iberian Azure-winged Magpies which Maureen finally watched at length.

The Nightingale had been strangely silent, but as we returned, began to sing tentatively. Ron and Maureen left the rest of us to take a short walk along a wet track in the hope of seeing the Nightingale, which not only flew out as we approached, but then confidingly sat out in the open on a wire in full song! A male Sardinian Warbler popped back and forth into a bramble in front, and to round things off, as we left, so a pair of Common Waxbills shot past and disappeared down the track.

Friday 9th April

Our last full day dawned clear and quite cold. Though there was no breeze at the Finca, when we stopped in a scrubby area near Jaraicejo there was a stiff cold wind blowing. Not surprisingly, few birds were visible, despite a couple of Thekla and a singing Calandra Lark and a Southern Grey Shrike perched on a twig-top.

It was fortunately a little warmer at the Embalse de Arrocampo, though still windy and sadly, full of fishermen, including along the edge of the reedmace beds where the herons breed. A couple of Purple Swamp-hens put in a brief show, a male Spanish Sparrow shouted from the bottom of a White Stork nest and a Cetti's Warbler yelled from the scrub. A Purple Heron beat into the wind as we left.

Nearby there are other options for looking in the fringing vegetation and despite poor access, we soon found a few birds. A Sedge Warbler was rather elusive, but not so the first of no less than five Squacco Herons which suddenly got up from underneath us and flew past before dropping into cover. The appearance of four fishermen was good for us, but bad for the birds as they tried to march through the dense vegetation to get to the water. First, a superb male Little Bittern leapt up and flapped across before dropping into cover, though repeated this again shortly later. The Purple Herons here were also disturbed from their colony, about a dozen in the end flapping up in fright though giving us superb views.

Time as usual was not on our side, but there was one last area to visit. A pair of Black-winged Kites graced a pylon, a Red Kite wheeled elegantly over the dehesa where a superb Black Vulture drifted slowly around searching for carrion. A sandy edged pool was also attractive to waders, and three Little Ringed Plovers were, remarkably, our first for the trip. As we left, the best was held until last, with two superb Great Spotted Cuckoos just yards away in an open broom bush.

A late drinks stop looking at the Almaraz church complete with Jackdaws, White Storks, Lesser Kestrels and Spotless Starlings was a warming experience!

Lunch was taken in a small sheltered valley not far away, and proved to be a good choice. Birds included a couple of Egyptian and Griffon Vultures over the hill in front and singing Blackcaps and our first Robins in the scrubby valley below. Butterflies were also present in good numbers and we saw more as we took a short walk paralleling the stream in this little heat trap. Orange-tips were common, a few Spanish Festoons, including a superb freshly-emerged female floated up and down the slopes and a couple of Green-underside Blues were also notable. The flowers came to the fore though, with several spikes of the very uncommon Early Spider Orchid and a couple of good stands of Naked Man Orchid, the name being readily explained by the shape of the flower and especially enjoyed by Ali :-) Ron especially enjoyed a super male Blue Rock Thrush which circled out high above us from the crags overhead singing loudly as it fluttered about, the sun making its outspread wings look remarkably pale.

Our last planned looks after another drive were over the impressive Valdecañas Dam gorge, though few birds except a smart male Black Redstart and fine Blue Rock Thrush were present. Back down in the valley we scoured the opposite slopes for new species, and while Ali and Mike came up with a little colony of Holly Blues and a small group of Long-tailed Tits, the rest of us watched a Cormorant diving in the remarkably swift river and good numbers of large Barbel patrolling the shallows looking for a mate.

We got back to the Finca early again, and unusually had an early dinner. This was for good reason given the planned processions in Trujillo that evening, and we returned to the square and then wound our way down through the Medieval street layout to watch the procession filing out from the main church. This was a remarkable sight, the 'widows' dressed in black and the different religious groups decked out in their finery, most with long hooded capes looking eerily not unlike the Ku Klux Klan! Once the end had passed we went down further and met it again near the beginning as it doubled-back at the bottom of the town. A truly fitting end to the visit and really an honour to coincide with the Easter celebrations.

Saturday 10th April

The return leg can often be boring and somewhat sad, but with an hour or two more than usual given the mid-afternoon flight we took a pre-breakfast stroll for an hour in order to watch the sun rise, and savoured the intricacies of many of the flowers present, though birds were again few given the frosty conditions.

We also detoured off the main road and headed for an area of agricultural fields. Though seemingly uninteresting, after we'd turned off, a small flock of Great Bustards was visible off to one side. They were highly mobile, and over the next 15 minutes or so were treated to several groups in flight, including a total of 51 birds at one point! Two of these even deigned to land close to the track, and despite most being without binoculars we could easily appreciate the plumage of these majestic birds. We now left in earnest, though a small trackside pool harboured a couple of Little Egrets and a Black-winged Stilt to provide a splash of contrast in the green fields.

We reached Madrid with remarkably little traffic and even the rain showers visible nearby held off until I'd actually left the concourse after saying goodbye, when it tipped it down briefly, the only rain in the entire week!

I'd like to thank you all for making his such an enjoyable week, even if the nocturnal singing Scops Owls and Little Crake (a rarity in these parts) kept some of us awake a little!!! I greatly look forward to seeing you again soon.

Extremadura bird list 2004:

This is the combined list for the whole group. Emb. = Embalse (reservoir); FSM = Finca Santa Marta.

Little Grebe: 2 on the Belén Plain on 5th, 2 Trujillo reservoir on 7th and 2 en route on 9th.

Great Crested Grebe: Seen on 3 days: 8 at the at the Emb. de Sierra Brava on 4th, 6 on the Emb. del Tozo on 8th and 2 Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

Black-necked Grebe: Only seen at the Emb. de Sierra Brava, but 6 there on 4th.

[Great] Cormorant: Seen on 6 days at various rivers and reservoirs, and notably migrating flocks of 40 over the Belén Plain on 5th and 70 near Torrejón el Rubio on 6th.

Grey Heron: Ones and twos daily at various sites; max. 10+ on 4th and 6+ at the Emb. del Tozo on 8th.

Purple Heron: Three+ in the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd and 12+ there on 9th.

Cattle Egret: Noted daily, widely and commonly; 100s in roadside colony on 8th.

Great White Egret: One in winter plumage at the Emb. del Tozo on 8th.

Little Egret: Ones or twos on four days, but 8+ on the Belén Plain on 5th.

Squacco Heron: Five at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

Little Bittern: A fine male at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

Black Stork: Four migrating N over the Campo Lugar road on 4th, 3 over the Río Almonte on 5th and 4+ at Monfragüe on 6th.

White Stork: Very common and seen daily with many nests on trees and buildings, including right in the centre of Trujillo and on the roof of FSM.

Eurasian Spoonbill: A fine adult at the Emb. del Tozo on 8th.

Gadwall: A male on the Belén Plain on 5th, 3 Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th and 30+ at the Emb. del Tozo on 8th.

Mallard: Seen daily and widely in small to moderate numbers.

[Northern] Shoveler: A pair at the Emb. del Tozo on 15th.

Black-shouldered Kite: One at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd and 2 there on 9th, plus one near Vegas Altas on 4th.

Black Kite: Seen commonly each full day, especially from 5th, including 40+ on 8th and lots on 9th.

Red Kite: Noted regularly each full day, in moderate number, with max. 10+ on 7th and 6+ on 8th.

[Eurasian] Black Vulture: After one on 4th along the Campo Lugar road, daily from 6th, including 4 on 6th, 6+ n 7th and 5 on 9th at various sites.

[Eurasian] Griffon Vulture: Daily in moderate to large number from 4th to 7th, then just one on 9th.

Egyptian Vulture: Noted on 3 days: 2 over the Río Almonte on 5th, 3+ at Monfragüe on 6th and 2-4 in the Valdecañas Dam area on 9th.

Short-toed Eagle: Seen on 4 days: 3 Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th, 1 en route and anther Cabañas del Castillo on 5th, 2 at Monfragüe on 6th and 1 Valdecañas dam area on 9th.

Hen Harrier: Just 1 brief male Calera y Chozas on 3rd.

Montagu's Harrier: Noted daily from 3rd to 7th, starting with a male Calera y Chozas on 3rd and finishing with 15+ on 7th.

Eurasian Marsh Harrier: One immature male Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd, 2 Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th and 1 Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

[Eurasian] Sparrowhawk: Just 1 in the Valdecañas dam area on 9th.

Common Buzzard: One - three seen daily at widely dispersed sites, except for 6+ on 4th.

Spanish Imperial Eagle: Two adults and a juvenile on 6th and another adult on 9th were excellent finds.

Golden Eagle: A pair high over the Río Almonte on 5th and an adult in the Valdecañas dam area on 9th were also good finds.

Bonelli's Eagle: A distant bird at Cabañas del Castillo on 5th was still a good find.

Booted Eagle: Singles daily on 3rd,4th, 7th and 9th, two on 6th and 3 on 5th.

Lesser Kestrel: After 10+ in the Zorita - Vegas Altas areas on 4th, daily from 6th,including 40+ Trujillo on 8th.

[Common] Kestrel: Noted in ones and twos daily, except on 8th.

Peregrine Falcon: Just one at Monfragüe over Peñafalcón on 6th.

Red-legged Partridge: One - three daily from 3rd - 8th, with four on 4th.

Water Rail: One heard squealing at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd and two seen in the Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th.

Little Crake: One singing at FSM on the night of 5/6th.

[Common] Moorhen: Noted on 6 days, including 20+ on 4th and "six or several" on 7th.

Purple Swamp-hen [=Gallinule]: Four+ seen at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd with five seen well there on 9th.

[Eurasian] Coot: Two en route and 3+ at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd, 50+ at the Emb. de Sierra Brava on 4th and 2 Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

Little Bustard: 5+ Calera y Chozas on 3rd, 5 Zorita on 4th and 5 males Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th.

Great Bustard: Seen on 4 days: 49 or 50 Calera y Chozas on 3rd, 10+ Campo Lugar road, 7 Madrigalejo rice fields and 10 Vegas Altas on 4th, 7 on the Belén Plain on 5th and 5 Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th.

Black-winged Stilt: A 'pair' in a roadside pool en route on 3rd, 10 Trujillo Reservoir and 4 Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th and 20+ Emb. del Tozo on 8th.

Stone-curlew: One along the Campo Lugar road on 3rd and a pair near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th.

Collared Pratincole: Two flew quickly over at Emb. de Sierra Brava on 3rd.

Little Ringed Plover: Three at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

[Common] Greenshank: Four+ at the Emb. del Tozo on 8th.

Green Sandpiper: Seen on 3 days: singles Vegas Altas on 4th, Belén Plain on 5th and at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 6th.

Common Sandpiper: One Emb. de Sierra Brava on 4th, three Trujillo reservoir on 7th and 2 at the Emb. de Arrocampo on the 9th.

[Common] Snipe: One at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd and five there on 9th.

Black-headed Gull: Just 2 Emb. de Sierra Brava on 4th.

Gull-billed Tern: Two at the Emb. de Sierra Brava on 4th and 2 Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

Pin-tailed Sandgrouse: 4 + 4 near Santa Marta de Magasca on 7th.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse: Groups of 14, 18 & 2 near Vegas Altas on 4th and 4 in flight near Santa Marta de Magasca on 7th.

Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon: Noted daily in small to moderate number, all were Feral Pigeons of some type.

[Common] Wood Pigeon: Four seen and others heard at various sites on 7th.

[Eurasian] Collared Dove: A few daily except on 6th at various sites including FSM.

Great Spotted Cuckoo: Two Zorita on 4th, 7 at various sites on 7th and three Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

Common Cuckoo: Seen and or heard daily from 4th to 8th, max. 2 seen and several heard on 6th.

[Eurasian] Scops Owl: One three calling nightly at FSM from 4th.

Little Owl: Singles Madroñera and en route on 5th and 2 Emb. del Tozo on 8th.

Alpine Swift: 12 Cabañas del Castillo on 5th and moderate numbers Monfragüe on 6th.

Common Swift: Moderate numbers over Trujillo on 4th and several over the Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

Pallid Swift: Plenty over Trujillo and one FSM on 4th, 10+ Trujillo on 8th and several over the Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

[Common] Kingfisher: One Monfragüe on 6th, 2 Río Magasca on 7th and one Emb. del Tozo on 8th.

[European] Bee-eater: Seen daily except on 8th, with max. 40+ on 4th and 50+ on 7th.

[European] Roller: One Vegas Altas on 4th and a pair Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th.

[Eurasian] Hoopoe: Noted regularly each day at various sites, max. 10+ on 7th and 8th.

Great Spotted Woodpecker: One Río Almonte and 1-2 Cabañas del Castillo on 5th and heard calling Monfragüe on 6th.

[European] Green Woodpecker: One seen briefly at FSM on 8th.

Calandra Lark: Noted on 4 days and in relatively small number: 10+ Campo Lugar road on 4th, 20+ Madroñera+ on 5th, 15+ Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th and 1 Jaraicejo on 9th.

Greater Short-toed Lark: One Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th, 2 Belén plain on 5th and 3 Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th.

Crested Lark: Widespread and seen daily except on 6th in variable numbers.

Thekla Lark: Two+ Madroñera on 5th, 2 Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th and 4 Jaraicejo on 9th.

Woodlark: 1 seen in song-flight and others heard singing Torrejón el Rubio on 6th, 1 Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th and heard Emb. del Tozo on 9th

Sand Martin: One over the Zorita steppes on 4th and c. 50 Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

[Eurasian] Crag Martin: Seen on 4 days in craggy areas, with max. 40+ Monfragüe on 6th.

Barn Swallow: Common and noted daily, with several at the nests at FSM.

Red-rumped Swallow: Also frequent and widespread, seen daily from 4th, including a large feeding concentration at Cabañas del Castillo on 5th and plenty on 6th and 7th.

[Common] House Martin: Common and noted daily, especially around larger towns and villages.

Yellow Wagtail: A male Calera y Chozas on 3rd, a male ssp. flavissima Emb. de Sierra Brava and one Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th, and heard at the Trujillo reservoir on 7th.

White Wagtail: Four+ Emb. de Sierra Brava on 4th, then 1-4 daily thereafter.

Grey Wagtail: Three Río Almonte on 5th, 1 Monfragüe on 6th, 1 en route (Ron) on 8th and 1 en route 9th.

Tawny Pipit: One Belén plain on 5th and a pair carrying food Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th.

Meadow Pipit: 3+ Calera y Chozas on 3rd and 1 on the Belén Plain on 5th.

Water Pipit: Just one on the bank of the Emb. de Sierra Brava on 4th.

Southern Grey Shrike: One to three daily except on 8th and 10+ at various sites on 5th.

Woodchat Shrike: Three on 4th, 6+ on 5th, 15+ on 7th, a few en route on 8th and 2 en route on 9th.

[Winter] Wren: One two heard and / or seen on 6 days at various sites, including FSM.

Blue Rock Thrush: One Río Almonte and 2 Cabañas del Castillo on 5th, 4-5 at Monfragüe on 6th and 3 males Valdecañas dam on 9th.

[Common] Blackbird: Noted daily in moderate number.

Mistle Thrush: 3 en route on 5th and 2 Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th.

[European] Robin: Two+ Valdecañas on 9th.

[Common] Nightingale: Heard daily FSM from 4th and seen there on 8th, also heard Valdecañas on 9th.

Black Redstart: A pair Cabañas del Castillo on 5th and a male Valdecañas dam area on 9th.

Common Stonechat: Seen in small to moderate number daily.

Northern Wheatear: A female Calera y Chozas on 3rd, 4+ various sites on 4th and 3+ Madroñera on 5th.

Black-eared Wheatear: A pair Emb. de Sierra Bravaon 4th, 2 males Monfragüe on 6th and 3 mm + 1 f Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th.

Zitting Cisticola [=Fan-tailed Warbler]: Small numbers seen / heard on 3rd, 4th, 7th and 9th.

Cetti's Warbler: One at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd, one Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th, heard Monfragüe on 6th and 3+ at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

Savi's Warbler: Two+ at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd.

Sedge Warbler: One at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

Eurasian Reed Warbler: One at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd.

Willow Warbler: Just one in a broom bush near the Emb. de Sierra Brava on 4th.

Western Bonelli's Warbler: One heard briefly near Torrejón el Rubio on 6th.

Blackcap: Small numbers noted at a few sites on four days, including at FSM.

Common Whitethroat: A male by the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd.

Sardinian Warbler: A male Río Almonte and another Cabañas del Castillo on 5th and two FSM on 8th.

Dartford Warbler: One FSM on 8th and 2+ Jaraicejo on 9th.

Long-tailed Tit: Heard Río Almonte and one Cabañas del Castillo on 5th, heard Torrejón el Rubio on 6th and 7-8 Valdecañas dam area on 9th.

Crested Tit: 4 Monfragüe on 6th.

Great Tit: Small numbers in wooded areas daily, including at FSM.

Blue Tit: Small numbers in wooded areas daily, including at FSM.

[Eurasian] Nuthatch: Just 1 heard Monfragüe on 6th.

Short-toed Treecreeper: Heard and/or seen on 3 days at FSM, and plenty heard Emb. del Tozo on 8th.

Iberian Azure-winged Magpie: Common and seen each full day, with good numbers around FSM.

[Common] Magpie: Noted daily in moderate - good number.

[Red-billed] Chough: One distantly over the Río Almonte on 5th.

[Western] Jackdaw: Moderate numbers daily, especially around Trujillo from 4th 9th.

[Common] Raven: Four - six daily from 4th 6th and 20+ at various sites on 7th.

Spotless Starling: Common, widespread and seen daily.

Corn Bunting: Abundant in the open plains areas and seen daily.

Rock Bunting: A male and a female at Cabañas del Castillo on 5th.

Cirl Bunting: A female by the Río Almonte on 5th and a superb singing male at FSM on 7th.

[Common] Chaffinch: Seen and or heard in small number daily from 5th 9th.

[European] Serin: Common and widespread, seen daily from 4th.

[European] Greenfinch: Only heard at Monfragüe on 6th.

[European] Goldfinch: Noted each full day in moderate number.

[Common] Linnet: Several heard at various sites on 5th.

Hawfinch: One at FSM on 5th, two briefly Monfragüe on 6th and heard in the Valdecañas dam area on 9th.

Common Waxbill: Two at FSM on 4th and 8th.

Red Avadavat: 30+ in the Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th and one Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th.

House Sparrow: Noted every day and common.

Spanish Sparrow: Seen daily in small number, including at the Finca, with 100s near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th.

Rock Sparrow: Just one Monfragüe on 6th.

Other vertebrates:

MAMMALS: Western Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) scats at FSM on 6th and a dead one en route on 7th; Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) - four dead in various sites on 5th, one dead Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th and one dead en route on 9th; Western Polecat (Mustela putorius) one, possibly this species seen briefly by the Río Almonte on 5th; Otter (Lutra lutra) spraint in the Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th; Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) rootlings seen en route on 6th and by the Río Magasca on 7th; Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) - 5 hinds in Monfragüe on 6th; 'Iberian' Hare (Lepus granatensis) one in the Calera y Chozas plains on 3rd.

REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS: We were quite lucky with amphibians: four Iberian Marbled Newts (Triturus pygmaeus) were a treat to see near Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th; calling Natterjack Toads (Bufo calamita) were noted at FSM on 3rd; Western Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes) lots of tadpoles in the Emb. del Tozo on 8th; Common Tree Frog (Hyla arborea) heard calling in the Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th; Stripeless Tree Frog (Hyla meridionalis) one calling at FSM on 7th; Iberian Pool Frog (Rana perezi) was frequent in the rivers and pools, with its 'laughing' heard daily in various places. There were a good number of reptiles too: Moorish Geckos (Tarentola mauretanica) were at FSM with 2 on 7th and one on 9th; 4 Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus) at Monfragüe on 6th and 4 at FSM on 8th; a Spanish Psammodromus (Psammodromus hispanicus) seen by Ali on the Belén Plain on 5th, one Sta. Marta de Magasca on 7th and 1 Emb. del Tozo on 8th; Ocellated Lizard (Lacerta lepida) was well represented, with a juvenile Monfragüe and another dead on the road on 6th, a female Trujillo and a male at the Finca on 7th and the latter again on 8th; a Three-toed Skink (Chalcides chalcides) was finally caught by the Río Tozo on 8th; the remarkable worm-like Amphisbaenian (Blanus cinereus) was a surprise on the Belén Plain on 5th; the numerous terrapins seen at various sites, especially Trujillo reservoir were Spanish Terrapins (Mauremys leprosa); the superb Horseshoe Whip Snake (Coluber hippocrepis) was a treat to watch at Monfragüe on 6th; the huffing Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) was a good find near Madroñera on 5th; the too-confiding Ladder Snake (Elaphe scalaris) near the Finca on 4th was just as aggressive!; a small Viperine Snake (Natrix maura) was swimming in Río Magasca on 7th.

FISH: Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) were in the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd; Barbel sp. (Barbus sp.) were seen in both the Río Tamuja and the Río Tajo on 9th; Mosquito Fish (Gambusia affinis) were in the Río Magasca on 7th.

BUTTERFLIES:

Swallowtail: 1 beauty on the LLC on 7th.

Spanish Festoon: 2 by the Río Tozo on 7th and 3 in the Valdecañas dam area on 8th.

Large White: One- two daily except on 4th.

Small White: One two on 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th and four on 9th.

Western Bath White: Only one on 5th definitely identified among the 'rapid whites'.

Western Dappled White: The commonest white; 4 10+ seen daily from 4th.

Orange-tip: 3 on 5th, 2 on 6th and 7th and 6+ on 9th.

Clouded Yellow: One of the commonest butterflies: 1 5 seen daily at numerous sites.

Brimstone: A male on 5th, 2 males on 6th, a male and two females on 7th and a 'pair' on 9th.

Cleopatra: Single males on 6th and 7th.

Chapman's Green Hairstreak: One shot past at our last stop in Monfragüe on 6th.

Provence Hairstreak: One by the Río Magasca on 6th.

Small Copper: Two Río Almonte on 5th and one Valdecañas dam area on 9th.

Holly Blue: A small colony of c. 6 near the Valdecañas dam on 9th.

Green-underside Blue: Two by the Río Almonte on 5th, 2 Monfragüe on 6th and 2 near the Valdecañas dam on 9th.

[Spanish] Brown Argus: Four by the Río Almonte on 5th, 1 by the Río Magasca on 7th and 2 near the Valdecañas dam on 9th.

Common Blue: One Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th, a male Emb. del Tozo on 8th and 1 Valdecañas dam area on 9th.

Nettle-tree Butterfly: 2 in Monfragüe on 6th and 2 in the Valdecañas dam area on 9th.

Peacock: Two Cabañas del Castillo on 5th.

Red Admiral: One two seen on 5 days at various sites.

Painted Lady: Two Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th and singles Río Magasca on 7th and Emb. del Tozo on 8th.

Dark Green Fritillary: One in Monfragüe on 6th.

Small Heath: Common and widespread in moderate number from 5th.

[Southern] Speckled Wood: 1 3 noted at various sites on 5 days.

Wall Brown: Two Monfragüe on 6th, 4 Río Magasca on 7th and 1 Valdecañas dam area on 9th.

OTHER TAXA: included a stunning Giant Peacock Moth (Saturnia pyri) at FSM on 8th, a Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) by the Río Magasca on 7th, Pine Processionary moth (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) caterpillar nests in pines at Monfragüe, masses of grass processionary moth (T. herculeana) on several pseudo-steppe areas, single Eggar moth (Lasiocampa sp.) caterpillars on a couple of dates, and plenty of Yellow Belles (Semiaspilates ochrearia) in many grassy areas. Odonata included the huge Lesser Emperor Dragonfly (Anax parthenope) at the Emb. de Arrocampo on 3rd, the single black-and-yellow Club-tailed Dragonflies (Gomphus sp/p.) at the Río Magasca and Emb. del Tozo and numerous Iberian Blue-tailed Damselflies (Ischnura graellsii) at the Emb. de Arrocampo and one at the Río Magasca. Other insects included the Mole Cricket (Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa) singing at FSM on 6th, Field Crickets (Gryllus campestris) heard singing at plenty of sites on most days, the huge Egyptian Grasshopper (Anacridium aegyptium) in the Madrigalejo rice fields on 4th, the stunning Horned Praying Mantis (Empusa pennata) and small green Praying Mantis (Mantis sp.) near Madroñera on 5th, a few Violet Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa violacea) at a few sites on a few days, the large Dung Beetle (Scarabaeus semipunctatus) at FSM on 6th, a few Oil Beetles (Meloe sp.) between 5th 7th, and large May Bug sp. along both the Campo Lugar road and by the Emb. de Sierra Brava on 4th. Other invertebrates included several examples of a large, nasty-looking centipede (Scolopendra cingulatus), a dead Red Signal Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) by the Emb. de Arrocampo on 9th and a tick (probably Ixodes sp.) at FSM on 8th.

SELECTED PLANTS:

[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)

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)

Silene colorata pink catchfly sp. (180)

Ranunculaceae: Ranunculus sp. Water Crowfoot sp.

Ranunculus sp. Buttercup sp.

Fumariaceae: Fumaria capreolata Ramping Fumitory (303)

Resedaceae: Sesamoides purpurascens Sesamoides (a small Reseda) (c. 378)

Crassulaceae: Umbilicus rupestris Navelwort (396)

Leguminosae: Cercis siliquastrum Judas Tree (430)

Cytisus multiflorus White Broom

Cytisus scoparius Broom (456)

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

Lupinus ?hispanicus Iberian Lupin (prob. this sp.) (c. 484)

Astragalus lusitanicus 'Iberian' Milk-vetch (504)

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

Erodium botrys Storksbill sp. (758)

Euphorbiaceae: Mercurialis annua Annual Mercury (820)

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 ladanifer Gum Cistus (big white fls) (971)

Tuberaria guttata Spotted Rockrose (small yellow) (985)

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

Ericaceae: Arbutus unedo Strawberry Tree (1176)

Erica arborea Tree Heath (pink fls in EX) (1178)

Erica lusitanica Portuguese Heath (white fls) (1179)

Oleaceae: Olea europaea Olive (1248)

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

Borago officinalis Borage (1395)

Anchusa undulata Undulate Anchusa (1406)

Labiatae: Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary (1526)

Lavandula stoechas French Lavender (1528)

Scrophularicaea: Linaria amethystea 'Amethyst' Toadflax (c. 1614)

Linaria spartea a yellow-fl. Toadflax (c. 1614)

Compositae: Bellis annua Annual Daisy (a tiny daisy) (1791)

Bellis sylvestris Southern Daisy (a big 'leggy' daisy) (1793)

Chamaemelum nobile Chamomile (1884)

Calendula arvensis Field Marigold (1908)

Silybum marianum Milk Thistle (1982)

Liliaceae: Asphodelus aestivus Common Asphodel (2089)

Fritillaria lusitanica Iberian Fritillary (2152)

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

Hyacinthoides hispanica Spanish Bluebell

Muscari comosum Tasselled Hyacinth (2201)

Narcissus jonquilla Common Jonquil (2279)

Narcissus bulbocodium Hoop-petticoat Narcissus (2281)

Iridaceae: Gymnandriris sisyrinchium Barbary Nut Iris (2305)

Orchidaceae: Orchis papilionacea Pink Butterfly Orchid (2401)

Orchis champagneuxii Champagne Orchid (2405)

Orchis conica Spanish Milky Orchid (cf. 2408)

Orchis italica Italian Man Orchid (2409)

Ophrys incubacea an Early Spider Orchid sp. (cf. 2428)

This (perhaps surprisingly long) list has been drawn up after some post-trip homework using Blamey & Grey-Wilson's Med. Wild Flowers, the 'Flora y vegetación de Extremadura', Polunin & Smythies' 'Guía de campo de las flores de España, Portugal y sudoeste de Francia' and Durán & Rodriguez's 'Guía de arboles y arbustos de Extremadura', thus names to a number of things we didn't get to species level in the field, and a number of species seen by just one or two people. Apologies if I've omitted anything obvious.


© The Travelling Naturalist 2004