Mary’s Blog – Extremadura

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10th May – Monfrague

Today we headed into Monfrague National Park, first driving up to the castle viewpoint where Griffon Vultures were flying overhead and a male Blue Rock Thrush was perched on a branch as it usually is. On the drive back down John was convinced he saw a Hawfinch fly across the road but sadly I missed it.

Moving on to the Salto del Gitano the most numerous birds were Crag Martins flying all around and visiting their nests on the rocky walls. In addition, Swallows, Red-rumped Swallows and House Martins were present. More Griffons were perched or flying and we were excited to find several Black Stork pairs on and around nests. I spotted a small bird perched high up on a crag which I eventually decided was a Rock Bunting.

We travelled on to Villareal de San Carlos for the obligatory coffee stop, where more Hirundines flew around and a Jay flew into a nearby tree. A Black Kite flew over the car park.

Our next stop was at La Tajadilla picnic area where, along with the Griffons we also saw Egyptian Vulture and Black Vulture. Brilliant!

We next headed for Portilla del Tietar but couldn’t get into the small parking lay-by. This meant we had to carry on quite a way until we were able to turn round in the entrance to a rural hotel. This proved beneficial, in that, on our way back, passing some dehesa landscape we first spotted an Azure-winged Magpie flying up to a tree and this was shortly followed by a Golden Oriole, which we both managed to see. Result!

We drove back towards Portilla del Tietar and found a rough lay-by to park in. Walking along the road we could hear several Nightingales, but none could be seen.

We watched the Griffon Vultures on the cliffs opposite the hide for a while, but not from the hide as a pair of Crag Martins appeared to be building a nest in there! Another Black Stork was seen flying but unfortunately no sign of the Spanish Imperial Eagle, which we had seen here on a previous visit.

We re-traced our route and headed for La Tajadilla picnic area again to eat our lunch. There was no sign of the Azure-winged Magpies which used to be regulars there. Instead there were plenty of House Sparrows, a male Blackcap and about eight Long-tailed Tits to entertain us while we ate. The full set of Vultures were seen again as well as a Black Kite.

After lunch we headed back towards Torrejon el Rubio stopping at various places on the way but seeing nothing else that was new.

Photos are from previous visits.

Species list – Black Stork, Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Crested Lark, Crag Martin, Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Nightingale (HO), Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Blackcap, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Spotless Starling, Golden Oriole, Jay, Magpie, Azure-winged Magpie, House Sparrow, Hawfinch (JB), Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Rock Bunting.