Orchids and Birds of Extremadura Tour
A private eight-day wildlife holiday led by Martin Kelsey focussing on orchids and birds anytime from March to late April.
Spring in Extremadura offers one of the most exciting and memorable wildlife experiences in Europe. Thanks to its low human population density and still largely traditional land use, there is plenty of space for nature and for the birds of Extremadura. There is a surprising diversity of landscapes. So, in a week’s holiday different habitats can be explored each day. This adds to the richness of the experience. The landscape is perhaps at its most stunning: lush and emerald-green.
There are about 60 species of orchids recorded in Extremadura. In a week, especially from late March, it should be possible to find between 15 and 20 species. The peak of the very attractive Ophrys (bee-type orchids) flowering is from mid-March to mid-April. Early spring is also the best time of all to enjoy watching the birds of the open plains. It is excellent for early butterflies, with perhaps 15-20 species possible. Resident birds are nesting and spring migrants are arriving in strength. As spring progress, the interesting Serapias (tongue orchids) become more dominant. From mid to late April, woodland orchids like Sulphur Orchid, Provence Orchid and Langei’s Orchid can be found, as well as helleborines.
(Now almost fully booked for 2021 and taking bookings for 2022!)
Sharing our passion for nature in Extremadura since 2005
You will be met at the airport (Madrid, Lisbon or Seville).
Depending on your arrival time, we will stop on the way to Casa Rural El Recuerdo for some birding, to provide an initial taste on what the region has to offer. Extremadura birding starts around the garden and lanes around Casa Rural El Recuerdo will quickly produce Hoopoe, Iberian Magpie, Red-rumped Swallow, Serin and Sardinian Warbler, whilst as night falls the sounds of Scops and Little Owls form a wonderful setting to prepare for dinner in the old wine cellar of the house.
The sequence of places visited will depend on the time of year and to optimise weather. We will explore areas in the southern province of Badajoz where we should find colonies of Giant Orchids (they start flowering in late January) as well as Hill Orchid, growing in old limestone quarry workings. We will look for colonies of Sombre Orchids and the gorgeous Pink Butterfly Orchids. In areas of limestone outcrops we should find Woodcock, Conical, Pink Butterfly and if depending on the timing, Bumblebee Orchids. Visits in April will give us a chance of finding the endemic Green-flowered Tongue Orchid. Nearby is the longest Roman Bridge in the world - in the centre of Extremadura’s capital city Mérida. Birding from this 2000 year old structure should yield species like Penduline Tit, Little Bittern and Western Swamphen.
The plains near Trujillo are famous for their steppe species of birds with both species of bustard, sandgrouse and larks. The area is also excellent for birds of prey. Depending on the time of year, we can also find orchids like Bug Orchid and two species of Tongue Orchid.
Later spring visits will give us the opportunity of looking for woodland species, such as Sulphur, Dense-flowered and Bird’s Nest Orchid, as well as several Helleborines.
Arrocampo Reservoir is the most important single site in Extremadura for breeding herons and egrets, and is also rich in other reedbed species such as Savi’s Warbler, Western Swamphen and Penduline Tit, offering a great birding Extremadura experience. Close by is the most important site for orchids in the north of Extremadura, with large colonies of Naked Man Orchid, Champagne Orchid and Ophrys species such as Mirror, Yellow Bee, Woodcock and Sawfly. A total of 18 taxa of orchids grow here and we will visit the impressive Orchid Information Centre at the edge of the Almaraz town.
Return transfer to the airport, with a stop on route (time permitting) to savour for one last moment the joy of watching nature in Extremadura.
The lists of orchids and birds given are advisory. A lot depends on which week in the spring the holiday takes place, as the orchid species that are in flower change from week to week. Because of prevailing weather, some springs are more advanced than others, which will also influence the timing of flowering. We can provide more detailed advice.
Anacamptis champagneuxii, collina, A. coriophora, A. laxiflora, A. morio, A. papilionacea, Cephalantera longifolia, C. rubra, Dactylorhiza elata, D. fuchsia, D. insularis, D. irenica, D. maculate, D. sulphurea ,Himantoglossum robertiana, Neotinea conica, N. maculate, Neottia nidus-avis, Ophrys apifera, O. bilunulata, O. bombyliflora, O. dyris, O. fusca, O. incubacea, O. lupercalis, O. lutea, O. picta, O. scolopax, O. speculum, O. tenthredinifera, Orchis italica, O. langei, Serapias cordigera, S. lingua, S. parviflora, S. perez-chiscanoi, S. vomeracea
Garganey, Red-crested Pochard,Ferruginous Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Little Bittern, Black crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great Egret, Purple Heron, Black Stork, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Egyptian Vulture,Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Black Kite, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Montagu’s Harrier, Honey Buzzard, Black-winged Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Purple Swamphen, Little Bustard, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Scops Owl, Eagle Owl, Red-necked Nightjar, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, White-rumped Swift, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Woodlark, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Bluethroat Nightingale, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Savi’s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Western Orphean Warbler, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Crested Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Penduline Tit, Golden Oriole, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Iberian Magpie, Spotless Starling, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Red Avadavat, Serin, Hawfinch, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Ortolan Bunting, Corn Bunting
What is included?
- En suite accommodation
- Meals (breakfast, picnic lunch and evening meal)
- Exclusive service of a professional guide
- All activities as specified in the itinerary, customised as requested
- Transfer to and from the place of accommodation and airport
- Checklists and after-tour report.
What is not included?
- Personal travel insurance
- Items of a personal nature
- Entry fees to historic sites if visit requested by client
- Additional services requested (such as photographic hides)
- Refreshments (apart from that included with meals)
- Anything else not mentioned in “What is included”
Martin Kelsey has been running customised birding and nature tours in Extremadura since 2005, with over 120 to date and is one of the region's most experienced professional guides. Extremadura is one of Europe’s top birding and nature-watching destinations. He has also partnered with acclaimed broadcasters and writers, Mark Cocker and David Lindo, offering group holidays with a difference.
You will stay at our house, which has six guest rooms with either double or twin beds. All rooms have en suite bathrooms. Lunches will be picnics. Our evening meals (three-course dinners with local wine) are based on locally-sourced products as far as possible. including our own olive oil and organic vegetables. We will check with you for any dietary restrictions etc. Most of the energy used at home comes from our solar panels.
Transport is by Land Rover (with the airport transfer by Citroen Berlingo). Walks are short and easy. We will enjoy spending time at vantage points for passing birds of prey.
The weather in spring will be variable, with warm sunny days, but still the chance of rainy periods. The evenings and early mornings in early spring can be chilly. Suncream and a hat are advisable.
Please let us know whether you would like to include into the itinerary visits to historic monuments such as Roman sites in Mérida and near Cáceres, the monastery of Guadalupe. We can also arrange sessions in specialist photography hides, run by local busineses, if you are interested.
Absolutely, our customised tours are exclusive, so you will not be accompanied by others. There may be other guests staying in the lodge, but they will be doing their own thing during the day. Martin will check with you beforehand regarding your priorities, preferred pace and expectations. Contact Martin for the price of a customised tour for one person only, otherwise the quoted price will be per person, based on 2 to 4 people travelling together.
Send an initial enquiry on-line on this page. Worldwide Traveller Protection via Blue Sky Wildlife Blue Sky Wildlife (based in the United Kingdom) can offer Worldwide Traveller Protection as a member of The Travel Vault and as part of this membership it has a range of insurances in place to cover the potential insolvency of any of the local wildlife specialists listed on the site, as well as the company itself should Blue Sky Wildlife cease trading. If you would prefer to book through Blue Sky Wildlife and make full payment directly to them to activate this protection at no additional cost, it would also mean the travel contract would be between yourselves and Blue Sky Wildlife. Please refer to their booking terms for more information.
No, Extremadura is a highly accessible region and because the holiday is customised and exclusive, it can be tailor-made to suit your mobility. We have two ground-floor bedrooms for easier access, one of which is wheelchair-friendly.
At the house, we have good WiFi access throughout. There is good mobile phone connectivity in almost all places that we will visit.
As the tours are customised and exclusive, Birding Extremadura runs on a first-come, first-served basis. Spring birding holidays get booked up well in advance (at least a year ahead). There is more scope for later bookings for winter and early summer holidays. Martin can recommend other options if your preferred holiday time is already booked-up.