Extremadura Dragonfly Holiday and More
A private eight-day dragonfly holiday led by Martin Kelsey anytime from June to mid-August.
Extremadura offers the visitor an incredible wealth of wildlife experiences. Thanks to its low human population density and still largely traditional land use, there is plenty of space for nature. 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.
June to mid-August is an ideal time for dragonflies, which can also be combined with looking for butterflies as well as some excellent birding in Extremadura. There are over 55 species of dragonflies recorded in the region. We should be able to see well over half of these during a week’s private tour. About 20% of the dragonfly fauna are species of African-origin. This is of particular interest. Birds, especially late spring specialities and mountain-breeding species can also be expected. There are first signs of autumn passage from the start of June.
We will visit all the important habitats for dragonflies and damselflies: mountain streams and bogs, mid-course and lower-course rivers, gravel pits, pools, reservoirs and rice fields. Please tell us which species you are particularly interested in seeing. We will advise you on the best time to visit. As well as aiming to see as many species as possible, there will also be plenty of scope for photography, to time to allow for enjoying staying in one place to seek excellent views of target species. Indeed the itinerary will be tailor-made to focus on your interests and priorities. We often use a second accommodation base in the north of Extremadura to take full advantage of the glorious habitats of the mountains there.
Summer temperatures can be high in Extremadura, although it will be cooler in the mountains and at many of the sites, some shade is available.
Five top highlights:
- Sitting beside a river in the mountains, watching the distinct behaviours of different dragonflies as they defend their territories, forage and seek mates.
- Walking slowly along the edge of a reed-bed looking for dragonflies quietly perched close to the water.
- Mountain meadows alive with butterflies, dragonflies roaming marshy patches and Ortolan Buntings in song.
- Photographing dragonflies obelisking in the heat beside gravel pits to the sound of Great Reed Warblers, Penduline Tits and European Bee-eaters.
- Encounters with dragonflies as we walk slowly in the shade of deciduous trees.
(Now almost fully booked for 2021 and taking bookings for 2022!)
Birding Extremadura is registered by the Government of Extremadura OA-CC-00052 and is a proud member of the Birding in Extremadura Product Club.
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 to provide an initial taste on what the region has to offer.
This may be at the Arrocampo Reservoir which is en route from Madrid, where emergent vegetation provides habitat for several interesting dragonflies, such as Long Skimmer and Northern Banded Groundling. It is also excellent for birds in late spring with Purple Swamphen, Penduline Tit, Savi's and Great Reed Warblers, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron and Little Bittern.
The sequence of places visited and the time spent in each will vary according to your particular interests, as well as factors like the weather. Our house is excellently situated to be within easy reach of all the different habitats and best sites. This tour provides plenty of time to both find and enjoy nature, as well as to get an insight into this fascinating part of Spain. We will also spend a couple of nights at accommodation in the north of the region to explore the Gredos Mountains.
There are two main rivers crossing Extremadura and we will visit both watersheds. In the south, the Guadiana river passes through the cities of Mérida and Badajoz and both have excellent spots for finding dragonflies. There are extensive rice fields and reservoirs which we will also visit. In the north the mighty Tajo river has wonderful tributaries descending mountain ranges in the east (the Villuercas and Ibores) and to the north (the Gredos). We will give ourselves several days in these areas as they support the region's highest diversity of species. There are also small gravel pits, pools and reed-fringed reservoirs which are outstanding sites.
We will pay a visit to the centre of Extremadura, an area of more intensive agriculture where we will look for dragonflies such as Faded Pincertail and Orange-winged Dropwing. Birds such as Rufous Bush Robin, Isabelline Warbler and Black Wheatear are also possibilities. Beside the River Guadiana in Extremadura’s capital, Mérida, more dragonflies and damselflies are on offer, as well as butterflies such as African Grass Blue.
The two regions with the highest diversity of both dragonflies and butterflies are the spectacular Villuercas Mountains and the massive Gredos Mountains. We will spend at least a day in each of these areas. Here the deciduous woodlands and flower-filled clearings are extraordinary for butterflies, such as various species of fritillary, blues, coppers and skippers. The mountain streams are excellent for dragonflies such as pincertails and demoiselles. These woodlands hold good populations of birds like Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Golden Oriole and Honey Buzzard. On the broom moorlands on the Gredos are breeding Ortolan Bunting, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and Bluethroat.
No visit to the heart of Extremadura would be complete without a visit to Trujillo, our local town. Not only is the town square one of the most beautiful places in Spain to enjoy a drink at one of the pavement cafes, it is also an excellent place to watch Lesser Kestrel, Pallid Swift, Common Swift and White Stork at one's leisure! We can walk up to the old castle and take in the breathtaking views of the plains and dehesa, whilst keeping an eye open for passing raptors.
Return transfer to the airport, with a stop on route (time permitting) to savor for one last moment the joy of watching nature in Extremadura.
These customised tours are focused on dragonflies with birds and butterflies as strong supporting features.
The lists given below for butterflies, dragonflies and birds are advisory. Depending on the interests expressed, we will focus as requested in finding particular species. Because of flight periods of butterflies, in particular, there will difference in the species encountered in different parts of the season. As a general guideline, we might expect to see 35 species of dragonfly/damselfly and 70 species of butterfly.
Blue Hawker, Moorland Hawker, Migrant Hawker, Vagrant Emperor, Blue Emperor, Lesser Emperor, Western Spectre, Pronged Clubtail, Western Clubtail, Yellow Clubtail, Small Pincertail, Large Pincertail, Green Hooktail, Common Goldenring, Splendid Cruiser, Orange-spotted Emerald, Northern Banded Groundling, Broad Scarlet, Black Percher, Broad-bodied Chaser, Four-spotted Chaser, Southern Skimmer, Black-tailed Skimmer, Epaulet Skimmer, Keeled Skimmer, Long Skimmer, Red-veined Darter, Ruddy Darter, Common Darter,
Swallowtail, Scarce Swallowtail, Spanish Festoon, Black-veined White, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Bath White, Western Dappled White, Green-striped White, Orange Tip, Moroccan Orange Tip, Clouded Yellow, Berger’s Clouded Yellow, Brimstone Cleopatra, Wood White, Purple Hairstreak, Spanish Purple Hairstreak, Ilex Hairstreak, False Ilex Hairstreak, Blue-spot Hairstreak, Green Hairstreak, Small Copper, Scarce Copper, Sooty Copper, Purple-shot Copper, Long-tailed Blue, Lang’s Short-tailed Blue, African Grass Blue, Little Blue, Holly Blue, Green-underside Blue, Black-eyed Blue, Panoptes Blue, Silver-studded Blue, Brown Argus, Mountain Argus, Mazarine Blue, Amanda’s Blue, Adonis Blue, Common Blue, Nettle-tree Butterfly, Two-tailed Pasha, Southern White Admiral, Camberwell Beauty, Large Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Cardinal, Silver-washed, Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary, High Brown Fritillary, Niobe Fritillary, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Twin-spot Fritillary, Marbled Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Glanville Fritillary, Knapweed Fritillary, Spotted Fritillary, Lesser Spotted Fritillary, Heath Fritillary, Provençal Fritillary, Meadow Fritillary, Marsh Fritillary, Spanish Fritillary, Iberian Marbled White, Esper’s Marbled White, Western Marbled White, Spanish Marbled White, Rock Grayling, Grayling, Tree Grayling, Striped Grayling, Black Satyr, Great Banded Grayling, False Grayling, Piedmont Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Dusky Meadow Brown, Oriental Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Southern Gatekeeper, Spanish Gatekeeper, Small Heath, Dusky Heath, Pearly Heath, Chestnut Heath, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Large Wall Brown, Grizzled Skipper, Large Grizzled Skipper, Oberthür’s Grizzled Skipper, Olive Skipper, Rosy Grizzled Skipper, Yellow-banded Skipper, Red-underwing Skipper, Sage Skipper, Mallow Skipper, Southern Marbled Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, Essex Skipper, Small Skipper, Silver-spotted Skipper, Large Skipper
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 , Black Kite, Red Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Purple Swamphen, Common Coot, Little Bustard, Great Bustard, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed, Sandgrouse, Turtle Dove, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Scops Owl, Red-necked Nightjar, Alpine Swift, Pallid Swift, White-rumped Swift, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Rufous Bush Robin, Bluethroat, Nightingale, Black Redstart, Black-eared Wheatear, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rufous-tailed 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, Pied Flycatcher, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Penduline Tit, Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Iberian Magpie, Spotless Starling, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Common Waxbill, Red Avadavat, 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. There will also be about two nights in a hotel close to the mountains in the north of Extremadura.
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 and at water for dragonflies.
Weather in summer can be hot and dry. Hats, suncream, sun glasses and loose clothing are essential. It is worth having footwear that can dry quickly after getting wet.
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.