Custom Spring Birdwatching Tour in Extremadura
A private customised eight-day Extremadura birding tour led by Martin Kelsey from March to May. Fewer or more days can be requested.
Extremadura birding in spring offers one of the most exciting and memorable birdwatching experiences in Europe. There is plenty of space for nature and for the birds of Extremadura, thanks to its low human population density and largely traditional farming. The surprising diversity of landscapes means that different habitats can be explored each day. This adds to the richness of the experience.
Early spring is the best time of all to enjoy watching the birds of the open plains. These include displaying Great Bustards and sandgrouse. It is also excellent for orchids and early butterflies. The first wave of migrants arrives and there may still be a few wintering birds present. By April, the flower meadows are at their most spectacular. Spring migrants like Bee-eaters and Rollers are flooding in. Most resident species like Spanish Imperial Eagles are well advanced with their nesting. By May, even the latest migrants like White-rumped Swift have arrived. Wetland sites are then especially good for breeding herons and Collared Pratincoles. Western Bonelli’s Warblers and Honey Buzzard can be seen in higher altitude woodland. Butterflies and dragonflies provide a strong supporting role.
We have recorded a total of 240 bird species on Birding Extremadura spring tours. Depending on the precise timing and your interests, at least 140 species should be expected. Tell us which species you are particularly interested in seeing, we can advise you on the best time to visit. The itinerary will be tailor-made to focus on your interests.
(Now almost fully booked for 2021 and taking bookings for 2022!)
Sharing our passion for nature in Extremadura since 2005
(Please note that this is an indicative itinerary. Spring migrants arrive at different times and as this is a customised tour, we recommend that you indicate species that you are particularly interested in seeing when you contact us, so that we can advise you on the best timing.)
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. This may be at the Arrocampo Reservoir which is en route from Madrid, where emergent vegetation provides habitat for Purple Swamphen, Penduline Tit, Savi's and Great Reed Warblers, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron and Little Bittern. Bird watching around the garden and lanes around Casa Rural El Recuerdo will quickly produce Hoopoe, Iberian Magpie, Red-rumped Swallow, Serin, Sardinian Warblers and from mid-April onwards Bee-eaters, Golden Oriole and Melodious Warblers. As night falls the sounds of Scops and Little Owls, Nightingale and, from early May, Red-necked Nightjar, form a wonderful setting to prepare for dinner in the old wine cellar of the house.
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, without having to do a huge amount of driving. This tour provides plenty of time to both find and enjoy the birds, as well as to get an insight into this fascinating part of Spain. We will visit the plains near Trujillo and Cáceres to look for Great Bustards and Little Bustards. This is the habitat too for Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, as well as Stone Curlew, and we will enjoy the wonderful mimicry of Calandra Lark song as they circle above us. We should also see Short-toed, Thekla and Crested Lark. Bee-eaters and Rollers will be present from early April, whilst Montagu's Harriers will glide with their wavering flight low over the ground. Corn Buntings and Iberian Grey Shrike will be perched on the fences along the road, as well as Spanish Sparrow, usually in noisy flocks. We should see the splendid Great Spotted Cuckoos and this habitat is also an excellent foraging area for raptors such as eagles and vultures.
The dehesa is one of the classic landscapes of Extremadura. It is a traditionally managed system, providing acorns for extensively reared pigs, shade for cattle, wood for charcoal and cork for wine bottles. It is also of huge importance for birds, being the breeding area of Black Vulture and Spanish Imperial Eagle, as well as Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Woodchat Shrike, Woodlark, Rock Sparrow. We will stop in good dehesa areas and also spend time exploring the rocky valleys and ravines of the rivers that cross the dehesa. This is where we will look for Cirl and Rock Buntings, as well as Bonelli's Eagle, Black Wheatear, Black Stork and Crag Martins. A morning visit to an area of heathland will yield Spectacled and Dartford Warblers, as well as Thekla
Lark, Short-toed Eagle and in the nearby cork oak woodland, we should see Short-toed Treecreeper, the Iberian race of Long-tailed Tit and Hawfinch. We will pay a visit to an area of irrigated rice fields, where depending on the water level, we may find migrant waders, as well as Collared Pratincoles, Gull-billed Terns, Black-winged Stilts, Kentish Plovers, Cattle and Little Egrets, Zitting Cisticolas and Tree Sparrows, and the introduced Red Avadavats and Common Waxbills. Cetti's and Great Reed Warblers, as well as Nightingales will sing from the wooded river banks. This is a good area for that sought-after species the Black-winged Kite.
At least one whole day will be spent in the amazing Monfragüe Natural Park, home to a large breeding population of Black Vulture, several colonies of Griffon Vulture, as well as Egyptian Vulture, Golden, Bonelli's, Spanish Imperial, Booted and Short-toed Eagles. We will have the opportunity of seeing breeding Black Storks, Blue Rock Thrush, Alpine Swift and even White-rumped Swift on visits in late spring. The park holds some of the best conserved Mediterranean woodland in Spain, home to warblers like Western Orphean, and Subalpine. With luck we may even see Eagle Owl too. We will spend one day in the Villuercas mountain range, near the beautiful town of Guadalupe. As well as being an important area for Bonelli's Eagle, we will also encounter species like Western Bonelli's Warbler, Crested Tit and other woodland birds. In late spring we can also visit a region in central Extremadura which is good for species such as Rufous Bush Robin and Western Olivaceous Warbler, and the Gredos Mountains (as an alternative to the Villuercas) for species like breeding Ortolan Bunting. 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 savour for one last moment the joy of birding in Extremadura.
Usually between 140 and 170 bird species are possible (record is 179). When conditions are good for passage waders or long-staying wintering duck, then species numbers will be higher.
This is a selection of the most sought-after species (some are present throughout the spring period, others arrive during the middle or even towards the end of spring – please request advice on the best time for particular species).
|Black-crowned Night Heron|
|Spanish Imperial Eagle|
|Little Ringed Plover|
|Great Spotted Cuckoo|
|Iberian Green Woodpecker|
|Lesser Spotted Woodpecker|
|Greater Short-toed Lark|
|Blue Rock Thrush|
|Great Reed Warbler|
|Western Orphean Warbler|
|Western Bonelli’s Warbler|
|Iberian Grey Shrike|
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)
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, by late spring afternoons can be hot. 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, local wineries or cheese-makers, 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.