Sharing our passion for nature in Extremadura since 2005
A private customised eight-day bird watching tour led by Martin Kelsey recommended for eight (fewer or more days can be requested) in April and May. Spring is at its peak. Every day will take us to different habitats, encountering the birds that make Extremadura such as sought-after destination. For those interested, special attention can be given to other groups like orchids, butterflies, and dragonflies
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, Bee-eaters, Golden Oriole, Iberian Magpie, Red-rumped Swallow, Serin, Sardinian and Melodious Warblers, whilst 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 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.
Great Reed Warblers, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Hoopoe, Bee-eaters, Golden Oriole, Iberian Magpie, Red-rumped Swallow, Serin, Sardinian, Melodious Warblers, Red-necked Nightjar, Little Owls, Short-toed, Thekla and Crested Lark. Bee-eaters, Rollers, Black Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Woodchat Shrike, Woodlark, Rock Sparrow, Collared Pratincoles, Gull-billed Terns, Black-winged Stilts, Kentish Plovers, Cattle and Little Egrets, Zitting Cisticolas, Tree Sparrows
What is included?
- Meals (breakfast, picnic lunch and evening meal)
- Guided tours
- Transfer to and from the place of accommodation and airport
- Checklists and after-tour report.
What is not included?
- Personal travel insurance
- 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. 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. We will check with you for any dietary restrictions etc.
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, 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.