Sharing our passion for nature in Extremadura since 2005
A private eight-day tour led by Martin Kelsey in late May/June/early July. Late spring and summer are when the butterflies and dragonflies reach their peak. Every day will take us to different habitats (including the high mountains), and birds will not be ignored, with chances of seeing high altitude species as well as the first signs of autumn passage.
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. Around the garden and lanes around Casa Rural El Recuerdo birds will include 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 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. 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.
The open plains are one of the first habitats to show the change from spring to summer, with the vegetation blonded in the drying conditions. However, late flowering plants attract large numbers of butterflies, including False Ilex Hairstreaks and Knapweed Fritillaries. The deep river valleys provide good opportunities of finding dragonflies like Violet Dropwing and Epaulet Skimmer. First thing in the morning we will look for Great Bustards, Little Bustards, Pin-tailed and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. It is great habitat for hunting raptors such as eagles (five species could be seen in one day here).
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 White-rumped Swift. It is an excellent site for butterflies, including the amazing Two-tailed Pasha, Spanish Purple Hairstreak and Nettle-tree Butterfly.
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 savour for one last moment the joy of watching nature in Extremadura.
Faded Pincertail, Orange-winged Dropwing, Rufous Bush Robin, Isabelline Warbler, Black Wheatear, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Golden Oriole, Honey Buzzard, Ortolan Bunting, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Bluethroat
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. 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. 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.