Custom Winter Birdwatching Tour in Extremadura
A private eight-day Extremadura birding tour led by Martin Kelsey anytime from November to mid-February. The key attraction is the huge wintering population of Common Crane. There is an exciting supporting cast of vast numbers of waterfowl, as well as smaller birds which draw in raptors like Hen Harrier and Merlin. We will explore a range of different habitats. Resident birds like bustards, sandgrouse and eagles add extra spice, as well as species like Alpine Accentor.
Winter birding in Extremadura offers some of the most spectacular nature experiences in Europe. The region has the highest bird species richness of anywhere in Spain in winter. This is thanks to the relatively mild weather and abundance of food. This attracts huge numbers of birds from northern and eastern Europe. Winter Extremadura birding is also ideal for seeing see some of the resident species. These include sandgrouse, Stone Curlew and Black-winged Kite. There is a surprising diversity of landscapes. This means that in a week’s holiday different habitats can be explored each day, adding to the richness of the experience.
The winter season runs from November until mid-February. We will visit all the important habitats for winter birding: open plains, dehesa, gorges, river valleys and wetlands. One of the highlights are the vast numbers of Common Crane. Extremadura holds Europe’s largest wintering population of this evocative species, with about 140,000 present. They are at their peak by the end of November and leave by late February. There are regularly wintering Alpine Accentors and even Wallcreeper can make an appearance. From January the first summer migrants are also making an appearance. 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.
We have recorded a total of over 175 species on winter tours. Depending on the time of year and your interests, at least 130 species should be expected.
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. This may be at the Arrocampo Reservoir which is en route from Madrid, where emergent vegetation provides habitat for Purple Swamphen, Penduline Tit, overwintering Bluethroat, Little Bittern and Black-crowned Night Heron.
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 as well as Little Bustards. This is the habitat too for Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. We should also see large numbers of larks (Calandra, Skylark, Crested and Thekla) as well as species like Iberian Grey Shrikes. The flocks of passerine attract birds of prey like Merlin and Hen Harrier. Wintering Red Kite will be present in large numbers and this habitat is also an excellent foraging area for other raptors such as eagles and vultures.
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 Hawfinch, as well as Bonelli's Eagle, Black Wheatear and Crag Martins.
We will make sure that we devote plenty of time for birding in the irrigated agriculture land, watching vast numbers of cranes and other birds on the rice and maize stubble fields. There will be flocks of thousands of Spanish Sparrow and we may stay out until dusk to watch a large roost of harriers. This is a good area for that sought-after species the Black-winged Kite. Large winter roosts of Stone Curlew will also be found during the day. Nearby are reservoirs supporting huge populations of wintering duck, which will be well worth visiting, not just for the spectacle itself, but also to look for rarer species too, such as overwintering Black Stork.
At least one whole day will be spent in the amazing Monfragüe Natural Park, home to large populations of Black Vulture and Griffon Vulture. Resident Spanish Imperial, Bonelli's and Golden Eagles will hopefully be seen, with a good range of smaller species too such as Hawfinch, Firecrest, Rock Sparrow and Iberian Magpie. Eagle Owls will be calling at dusk and the area is particularly good for Otter.
We will also include a visit to a wintering area for Alpine Accentor.
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 120 and 150 bird species are possible. When conditions are good for passage waders or wintering duck, then species numbers will be higher.
This is a selection of the most sought-after species (some are early-arriving spring migrants from January onwards).
Common Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Pintail, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Black-necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Black Stork, White Stork, Spoonbill, Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Osprey, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Black-winged Kite, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Purple Swamphen, Common Crane, Little Bustard, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Stone Curlew, Kentish Plover, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Eagle Owl, Little Owl, Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Woodlark, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Water Pipit, ,Alpine Accentor, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Penduline Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Iberian Magpie, Red-billed Chough, Spotless Starling, Spanish Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Red Avadavat, Common Waxbill, Hawfinch, Cirl Bunting, Rock 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 winter will be variable, with sunny days, but always the chance of rainy periods. The evenings and early mornings in can be cold.
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.