Extremadura Spain  Spring 2007  continued

 

Thursday   The hottest day, up to about 23c

  Journeyed through Trujillo, Torrejohn el Rubio to Monfrague. Our first stop was at Pena Falcon viewpoint, Griffon and Egyptian vulture sitting on the cliffs and in the air. But the atmosphere was marred by coaches, disgorging lots of school children, most had no interest other than their mobile phones.

We then missed out several areas on purpose to get the light right at Portilla del Tietar, which was deserted with regards people, but lots of Griffon again, and the fact that the birds on the cliff are nearer than at Pena Falcon, which made for some good pictures.


An attempt at a Digiscoped in flight shot




Griffon Vulture

We were hoping that there may be some English speaking birders about, that we could ask if they knew where the Eagle Owl might be nesting. Despite scanning the cliffs and the immediate area, we could not find any.

Another bird we had never seen was the Black Stork, so we walked about half a mile back up the road to another new? Viewpoint. Scanning the opposite shore we found a solitary Black Stork, enjoying the warm sunshine. We then found itís mate on a nest, with at least one chick. The nest was in shade, not far from the waters edge, very near to a Griffons nest about five metres away. The Grffons were coming back and forth, exchanging nest duty, one bringing another small tree branch for the nest.


Black Stork

We spent some time watching the Black Storks and looking for others, but did not see any more.

Back in the car and retracing our route, we stopped just above the dam, in pine trees looking for Crested Tits. It was absolutely silent in the woods, we couldnít find any Crested Tits, but did see a Black Kite sitting in the top of a dead tree. Unfortunately the birds head was obscured by one of the branches of the tree, and despite waiting, it flew off, as Griffon flew low overhead.

Tajaddilla viewpoint next, and we could see Black Kite making or repairing a nest, on the far side of the water in a pine tree. They were trying to use a largish piece of plastic sheet. They eventually gave up and discarded it.

I tried to get some digiscoped shots of the nest, set up the tripod, switched on the camera, and was greeted by just a light blue screen with a few lines on it. First thoughts were that I did not have the camera set up right, but it was. Could it be the memory card had gone faulty, tried another, still the same.

My thoughts then turned to the possibility that I may have lost all the pictures taken that morning. Fortunately they displayed on the LCD screen ok. So the end of the camera, why I am not sure, but symptoms point to the sensor.

I was a bit disappointed as I donít have a spare camera, and would miss any future good pictures in the next day and a half we had left. And you could bet on it, that there would be many such occasions with just the right light etc.

Time was getting on again, so we missed out the walk up to the castle, we had been in previous years. But we did stop at the Arroyo de la Vid river, where, when we passed by earlier, there was not a parking space left, now it was deserted. The first birds we saw were Crag Martins, then just along the track a male Linnet, and yes it would have made a good photograph, posing for several minutes, just my luck.


Arroyo de la Vid river bridge

It was a nice walk up to the old ruin of a mill, which surprisingly still has both the top and bottom grind stones in place, you can also see both ends of what was the stone dam across the river.
 We drove back to Trujillo and stopped at the bull ring, and found about four pairs of Lesser Kestrel nesting in holes in the roof tiles. Some were carrying food for the chicks.

Back to the barn again, and another meal on the terrace.

 

Friday   Sunny with a few clouds

No digiscoping now so decided to do a walk which we had done in September 2006. It starts at the bull ring above Montanchez, unusually the bull ring is not circular.


The walled tracks

The walk is signed Donde Nace, and the signing of the route has been improved since we last walked it using hand held GPS to find our way. Passing some outdoor pens with black pigs in (with unusually long snouts), probably destined to become Jamons in a few months time. We entered a beech and oak wood, the leaf buds were just starting to open, so we had good visibility of the trees. Seeing a couple of birds flying between tree trunks, they turned out to be Short Toed Treecreeper, we had good views of them through binoculars.


Spanish Sparrow

Further on we stopped to admire the views of open countryside, we could hear the sound of two woodpeckers drumming away. One was behind us, and one in front. They sounded quite a long way away. We continued on, and the drumming became louder. Taking a small path off the main track we could see a dead tree, slowly we crept closer, and found a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. It surprised us how much smaller it was compared with the woodpeckers we have in the UK. It eventually saw us and flew off giving a warning call.


Olive terraces

We walked back up to the main path and continued our walk. Several hundred metres further on we heard drumming again, appearing to come from the same dead tree, we went back. And sure enough it was back again, we left it in peace.


Great Tit pulling hair from the back of a cow.

The walk produced many wild flowers including a Narcissi we had never seen before. There was just a patch of them, and we never saw anymore on the remainder of the walk.


Narcissus triandrus


A carpet of flowers

 A burnt patch of brambles produced three or four Sardinian Warbler presumably hunting for dead insects. There were many Stonechat to be seen and several Blackcap and Corn Bunting.


Corn Bunting

Walking back down through another wood, with good views of Montanchez and the castle above, we saw another Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, and just before we got back to the bullring, we saw Raven on the ground, with their huge beaks.


Montanchez with the castle above.

A good walk about five miles in total, full of interesting sights and birds.

Return to the barn for lunch. Warm sun and a lazy afternoon to finish writing this report, a Hoopoe is just tem metres away looking for insects in the grass.

 
Southern Grey Shrike

Saturday  A bit misty when we left, then heavy showers of rain and hail at Madrid airport

Left the barn at 6.45 am to start the three and a half hour journey back to the airport in Madrid. Dark for the first hour, then as it started to get lighter, we saw several Kites coming towards us along the dual carriageway, looking for road kills.

A thankfully good journey to Madrid, using the N5 and then the new R5 radial road, which costs two and a half euro in tolls.

Arrived back home at 5.45pm

Pictures downloaded from camera to computer by 6.30pm  !!

 

Birds that we could identify.

Red Kite
Black Kite                                                                                                    
Kestrel
White Stork
Magpie
Griffon Vulture
Little Egret
Hoopoe
Crested Lark
Corn Bunting
Woodchat Shrike
Southern Grey Shrike
Crag Martin
Great Spotted Cuckoo
Little Grebe
Great Crested Grebe
Grey Heron
Coot
Moorhen
Swallows
Buzzard
Red Legged Partridge
Blackbird
Cattle Egret
Goldfinch
Black Winged Stilt
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Little Owl
Great Bustard
Mallard
Pied Wagtail
Stonechat
Azure Winged Magpie
Kingfisher
Shoveler Duck
Chaffinch
White Geese
Serin
Yellowhammer
Sardinian Warbler
Flycatcher
Nuthatch
Spanish Sparrow
Raven
Lesser Kestrel
Black Stork
Linnet
Egyptian Vulture
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Short Toed Treecreeper
Blackcap
Thekla Lark