Day Three – Wednesday – Monfrague and Arrocampo
Today we set off into Monfrague National Park where our first stop was at the Salto del Gitano viewpoint. On arrival we found plenty of other birders of various nationalities. As usual there were Griffon Vultures in good numbers and these were joined by a few Black Vultures flying over our heads. Many people were enjoying unusually good views of Black Storks. Two of the birds were flying around collecting nesting material and taking it back to their nests. We have never had such good views of Black Storks with them flying in front of us at, or below eye level as well as over our heads. A great start to the day! We also saw male and female Blue Rock Thrush and a male Black Redstart up on the rocky outcrop at the edge of the road, and a Wren was singing and showing well in the trees below. I was checking the sky behind us as birds were constantly flying over, and was pleased to spot an Egyptian Vulture flying over, our only one for the day.
After watching the birds for a while we moved on to the visitor centre at Villareal de San Carlos for a coffee seeing a small flock of Linnets feeding amongst the wild flowers in the grass. We had various stops on route before ending up at Portilla del Tietar where quite a few birders were already located. As we arrived Nightingale and Cetti’s Warbler could be heard signing down by the water, and a small bird on a rock was identified as a Rock Bunting. Plenty of Griffon Vultures were in attendance and many Crag Martins flew over the water. After waiting here for some time in the hope of seeing a Spanish Imperial Eagle we gave up and decided to drive over to the Embalse de Arrocampo. Unfortunately we arrived too late to obtain keys to the hides as the information centre had just closed. Despite this we set off along the road to the various hides seeing a few good species on the way, such as, Woodchat Shrike, Bee Eater, Short toed Eagle and Azure winged Magpie. Several White Storks were nesting in the area with one having made it’s nest on top of a bird hide! We drove all along the track until it ran out then turned round and stopped for a picnic lunch under some trees. From here we could hear lots of bird song including Larks, Bee eaters, Hoopoe and a Cuckoo calling.
After lunch we set off along the old road towards Jaraicejo. This was a very scenic route and we stopped to admire the old bridge over the Tajo river. There were hundreds of House Martins flying around the bridge, presumably nesting. As I was heading back to the car I spotted a Golden Oriole as it flew right across the river before disappearing into the trees and John heard it calling. From here we headed back to Torrejon el Rubio feeling tired but happy. We had seen many different species during the day including so many Black Kites that they didn’t even get a mention, which seems wrong somehow! Many species were repeats from the previous two days but the following were added to our trip list:- Black Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Blue Rock Thrush, Wren, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Linnet, Black eared Wheatear, Rock Bunting, Stonechat.