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The Extremadura region in the southwest of Spain is becoming increasingly famous among ornithologists and hardly ever disappoints its visitors. As well as being a dry, tough region to live in, it is a unique and beautiful birding site offering outstanding chances of seeing spectacular birds such as Great Bustard, Black Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, and Black-shouldered Kite. Anywhere within the provinces of Cáceres and Badajoz will provide you with good opportunities for birdwatching, although some areas in particular should not be missed if you have only a limited amount of time in the region. The best time to visit is during the spring, although visits are worth it throughout the year - just prepare for severe heat in summer and strong cold in winter.
The Monfragüe nature park, heart of the Cáceres province, is arguably one of the best birding spots in Europe and an essential part of a birding visit to southwest Spain. The landscape is as spectacular as the birds, and one day is rarely enough to capture all the impressions of Monfragüe. Raptors abound in this amazing area, where the rivers Tajo and Tiétar run through deep gorges. The rock faces along the rivers provide nesting sites for species such as Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Eagle Owl, Black Stork, and Red-billed Chough, and all the Spanish eagles are also regularly encountered here. The ruins of the castle Castillo de Monfragüe are always worth a visit for close views of vultures, eagles, and swifts, and this is where you have the best chance of spotting the rare White-rumped Swift. The main roads take you through pine forests with resident Azure-winged Magpie, Mediterranean forests regenerating where Eucalyptus plantations once dominated, and bordering the large reservoirs constructed along the rivers.
Although most people associate Monfragüe only with the steep rock faces surrounding the rivers, the area has much more to offer. The dehesas (a characteristic, savanna-like habitat type formed by cattle grazing below the oak trees) provide habitat for many smaller birds, and this is the place to go looking for Bee-eater, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Azure-winged Magpie, and Black-shouldered Kite. Remember that the dehesas are created by the cattle, which is usually of the Brava race, and keep an eye out for any bulls in the vicinity before wandering off under the oaks!
Apart from birds and bulls, the area holds a wide variety of insects, reptiles, and mammals - and in springtime colourful flowers decorate the roadsides and fields. Mammals found in the area include Wild Boar, Otter, Mongoose, Genet, and perhaps even the endangered Iberian Lynx.
SLIDESHOW FROM OUR TOURS IN EXTREMADURA
Cattle Egret, Black-shouldered Kite, Red Kite, Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Goshawk, Common Buzzard, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Common Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Eagle Owl, Little Owl, Crag Martin, Calandra Lark, Thekla Lark, Black Wheatear, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Spanish Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrush, Red-billed Chough, Hawfinch, Corn Bunting, and Rock Bunting.
White Stork, Black Stork, Black Kite, Egyptian Vulture, Montagu's Harrier, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Hobby, Lesser Kestrel, Quail, Collared Pratincole, Cuckoo, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Scops Owl, Red-necked Nightjar, Alpine Swift, White-rumped Swift, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Red-rumped Swallow, Short-toed Lark, Rufous Bush Robin, Spectacled Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Penduline Tit, and Golden Oriole.
Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Crane, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, and Alpine Accentor.
Several trip reports from tours in Extremadura including Monfragüe and the steppes of Serena
Tour leaders: Cristian Jensen Marcet
Camping Monfragüe - good campsite close to the natural park, open all year
Hotel El Alcaudón - a rural hotel in the village of Serrejón, highly recommended
El Cabrerín - in the village of Villarreal de San Carlos, very atmospheric
Restaurante Monfragüe "Casa Paqui" - at the entrance to Villarreal de San Carlos
El Alcaudón - superb rural restaurant in the village of Serrejón (reservation obligatory)
PLEASE NOTE: We are happy to help our birding clients book these facilities, but we are not working as a general booking agency.
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