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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Andalucía and Extremadura, May 2006,
I have long wanted to bird in southern and central Spain, and persuaded my girlfriend, Laura, that we could combine a relaxing holiday with a few excursions out to see certain species which I had not seen before (!). Therefore, although this was not a birding holiday per se, I had planned several days where birding would be the main activity.
The ten species on my 'hit-list', towards which I intended focussing my efforts, were: White-headed Duck; Black Vulture; Spanish Imperial Eagle; Crested Coot; Great Bustard; Pin-tailed Sandgrouse; Eagle Owl; White-rumped Swift; Azure-winged Magpie; and Rock Sparrow.
In order to maximise my chances of seeing these species, a two-centre holiday was planned, the first week spent in southern Andalucía, and the second spent in northern Extremadura. We flew with British Airways, into Seville on the 12th, and out of Madrid on the 26th. We hired a Renault Clio from Europcar. Returning the car to a different location meant hiring this vehicle cost about £100 more than it would otherwise have done, but there was no way around this.
We stayed in self catering cottages in both locations. The first, 'La Casita Tranquilla', was located near the village of Gaucin in Andalucía, about 30 km south of Ronda on the A369. It is a small property at the end of a track leading down the mountain side, in cork and pine woodland, and lived up to its name. Gaucin itself is a typical, unspoilt, white Andalucían village, surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery, and has two very nice restaurants (the top terrace at Don Martin's is especially recommended, with views down to Gibraltar). The second house was in the village of Cuacos de Yuste, in Extremadura, about 40 km east of Plasencia on the EX203, in the foothills of the Sierra de Gredos. This was an amazing old timber framed building, located on the village square, but looking out over countryside at the back. Plasencia is a fairly large town with amenities to suit, although we only visited here once. Both houses are recommended, and details for both can be found at www.ownersdirect.co.uk.
I did relatively little preparation for the trip. The only trip report I took was a clear, concise account of a trip to Extremadura in May 2003 by Ben Miller, obtained from www.birdtours.co.uk. I also used 'A Birdwatching Guide to Extremadura' by John Muddeman (2000, Arlequin Press).
In Andalucía, I used 'Where to Watch Birds in Spain and Portugal' by Laurence Rose (1995, Hamlyn). This is really not detailed enough to be of that much use, but it did point me in the right direction. 'A Birdwatching Guide to Southern Spain' by Malcolm Palmer is probably of more use, but I could not get hold of a copy of this before leaving. However, whilst in Andalucía I was lent a copy of 'Birdwatching on Spain's Southern Coast', by John R Butler (Santana Books). This was helpful and led me to at least one site that I would not otherwise have visited.
Itinerary and sightings
Friday 12th May
We arrived in Seville at about 10am local time, and having negotiated the local road system, headed towards Ronda. The journey was fairly uneventful, from a bird perspective, although we did note several 'nice' species from the car which were to see many more of over the next two weeks, including Bee-eater, Hoopoe, and Red-rumped Swallow not far from Seville, and Griffon Vulture, Blue Rock Thrush and Crag Martin at various points further south.
Between Ronda and Gaucin, the A369 passes through some fairly spectacular scenery, and there are several 'miradors' (viewpoints) along the way, from which I noted Woodchat Shrike, Orphean Warbler (1 at Mirador el Pino) and Black-eared Wheatear, amongst other things. We also saw good numbers of raptors, including several fair-sized flocks of migrating Honey Buzzards, a sprinkling of Black Kites, and a lone Marsh Harrier.
Arriving at Gaucin, we were shown the way down to La Casita. We spent the rest of the day here, and an investigation of the surrounding woodland (mainly cork oak but also pine and sweet chestnut) showed Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Blackcap and Sardinian Warbler all to be common, whilst single Booted Eagle and Short-toed Eagle were overhead.
Saturday 13th May
A non-birding, 'relaxing day', during which I further investigated the woodland in the immediate vicinity of the cottage. Crested Tits were found to be frequent, and several Firecrests were located, along with other more familiar woodland birds. A Booted Eagle was again overhead, along with a single Raven, several Griffon Vultures, and 11 Bee-eaters. A Green Woodpecker, presumably of the sharpei race, was also seen, but only distantly in flight (which was unfortunately to be the case for other sightings during the week), and a pair of Cirl Buntings were located in surprisingly 'closed' habitat.
Sunday 14th May
We ventured into the nearby Parque Natural de los Arconocales, taking the road west of Gaucin through El Colmenar, and beyond. We passed through fairly open habitat, which held abundant Corn Buntings (one of the commonest birds of the week), and took a short walk west from El Colmenar along the Rio Guadiero (marked Fuente del Caimén). This produced Alpine Swift, my only Sparrowhawks of the holiday, 2 Booted Eagles and Firecrest, amongst other things.
Continuing on the road north of El Colmenar further into the parque, we took a short walk along a track through cork woodland (with an ericaceous understorey), which produced several singing Western Bonelli's Warblers, as well a Woodlark. The only Spotted Flycatchers of the trip were found nearby in some pine woodland along a higher section of the road.
Finally, about 11km from El Colmenar, we stopped at the entrance to a track that leads of the road where it makes a sharp right, just after a bridge. Here, a single Chiffchaff sp. was singing. Unfortunately its song was not quite right for either Common or Iberian (it sounded like the beginning of an Iberian's song, but it didn't complete the phrase).
We then headed back towards Gaucin, which, although not far in terms of distance, took a fair time on the narrow and winding mountain roads. This area is very scenic, and worthy of further exploration, if time permits. Back in Gaucin, a late afternoon walk produced an Egyptian Vulture cruising along the mountain-side behind the cottage.
Monday 15th May
My first proper birding day. We headed to the coast and then took the A381 towards Jerez de la Frontera. Birds seen on this road included the first White Storks, nesting on the highway gantries, Crested Lark, Melodious Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, and Little and Cattle Egrets.
We then reached the first site of the day, Laguna de Medina, which is just south-east of Jerez. This is a large endorreic lagoon with a boardwalk and hide along its southern edge. The first target of the trip, White-headed Duck was quickly found, with a total of 18 (12 males and 6 females) present at the site, offering close views. Also noted on the lagoon itself were 4 Black-necked, 5 Great Crested, and single Little Grebes, 3 Spoonbills (in the reedy margins), 2 Black-winged Stilts, Grey Heron and Common Sandpiper, and around 30 Common Coots - but no Cresteds. In the immediate vicinity, several Melodious Warblers and numerous Nightingales were singing, along with Reed and Great Reed Warblers, and 4 iberiae Yellow Wagtails, including one fully-fledged youngster.
Returning to the carpark, we met a Belgian birder who informed us that he had seen a single Crested Coot in the nearest corner of the lagoon in the morning, just before we arrived. By now it was late morning and the heat haze meant searching through distant coots was impossible, so we decided to come back in the late afternoon, for now heading to Cádiz for some lunch. The avian highlight of this town were large numbers of swifts nesting in seemingly purpose-build swift cavities in the blocks of flats along the sea-front, which included good numbers of Pallid Swifts at one particular point, swooping low over the road and beach.
After lunch, we went to Bahía de Cádiz, a Parque Natural just south of the town, first parking at the start of the 'Tres Amigos y Rio Arillo' walk, which leads out over the coastal marshes. This site is reached by turning right, and then keeping right, just as you enter San Fernando. The heat haze was still bad, but the somewhat distant flocks of waders consisted of Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Sanderling, Dunlin, Avocet and Black-winged Stilt, along with 2 Little Terns and lots of Yellow-legged Gulls. A Little Owl was on a wire nearby. Continuing on this road, and looking out over different sections of marsh, was disappointing with only Yellow-legged Gulls in evidence. Heading round to the other side of the bay, we went through Chiclana, eventually reaching Sancti Pecti. Again, this was disappointing, with little of note.
By now, it was late afternoon, so we returned to Laguna de Medina to see if any Crested Coots had decided to show themselves. The 18 White-headed Ducks were still in residence, along with 10 Great Crested Grebes, 3 Common Sandpipers, 2 Kentish Plovers, 3 Pochard (2 males), a single Moorhen, and 50 Common Coot (in three main groups), but again no Cresteds, despite extensive searching. Being a shy species, it is more than possible that a pair could have been hidden away in the reeds. Equally possible is that the distant coots on the far side of the lagoon (a considerable distance away) may not have been Commons. Failure here was very disappointing, but it sounds like to guarantee success, a trip to Coto Donaña is necessary (something which we couldn't do this trip). By way of consolation, I did have amazing views of a pair of Red-necked Nightjars just feet away, sat on a small patch of gravel under some bank-side vegetation.
Tuesday 16th May
Some 'culture' was the order of the day today, as we headed the short distance north to Ronda (although lots of road 'improvements' made progress slow). We stopped en route at Mirador el Fraile, seeing Black-eared Wheatear and Rock Bunting. Back in the car, just a hundred yards north of the Mirador, I glimpsed three birds sat on the roadside wall which looked like Rock Sparrows. Unfortunately, by the time we'd turned round they had gone, but I could hear distant calls from the valley below which did indeed sound like this species, but were too distant for me to be sure (I had been listening to their calls the night before on my iPod!). Continuing on towards Ronda, other sections of roadside wall over the next few kilometres had Black Wheatear, Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting. The open habitat around here is obviously very good for these species, and there are several pull-off places which would allow further exploration, if you're not lucky enough to have these species sit themselves out in the open for you!
In Ronda, we parked at the southern end of the town and walked in. Again I could hear Rock Sparrow calling, and looking up, saw one sat in a hole in the wall of a building (possibly the Sanctuaria de Maria Auxiliadora) opposite the Galeria Tenorio, which allowed great views, and full familiarisation with the call. Continuing to El Puente Nuevo (the bridge over the rather spectacular gorge), Alpine, Common and Pallid Swifts were in abundance (but no White-rumped), along with Chough (10+), Lesser Kestrel (a similar number), and 3 Rock Sparrows (sat in the trailing fig branches next to the bridge on the south side of the gorge, viewed from the north side).
Returning to Gaucin, the stretch of roadside wall, as described above, produced a further Black Wheatear and both Rock and Blue Rock Thrush, and a small number of Honey Buzzards were passing up the valley.
Wednesday 17th May
A second day of birding saw us head back down to the coast, this time taking the E5-N340 past Algeciras and Tarifa, and heading for the village of Bolonía, south of a group of hills called the Santa de la Plata. Turning off the main road, and following the signs for Bolonía and the Ruinas Romano de Baelo Claudio (a Roman town which we visited later in the day, and well worth a visit), we took the first left (a hundred yards or so before the cross-roads, which you go straight over to reach Bolonía).
This side road took us through some scrubby habitat. With the window open, I caught a fragment of song that I didn't recognise, along with an unfamiliar silhouette. Backing the car up, this turned out to be a superb Rufous Bush Robin, with another nearby (returning later I had good views of this pair at the same location). We continued along this road (beware, there are some big pot-holes!) until we reached a turn-off for a car-parking area off on the right, at the end of the group of houses (just above a radio mast). This has views up onto the cliff-face of San Bartolomé. I had erroneously interpreted this as a site for White-rumped Swift based on information from the Belgian birder met on 15th. Not surprisingly I didn't see any (the Swift site is in the Santa de la Plata hills, reached by turning off right in Bolonía - my source had apparently seen both White-rumped and Little Swifts here, so I was somewhat miffed to find that I had been to the wrong site - don't make the same mistake!). However, a pair of Peregrines was around, along with breeding Griffon Vulture, Blue Rock Thrush, Tawny Pipit, Black-eared Wheatear, Short-toed Eagle and Melodious Warbler, whilst a small flock of Honey Buzzards appeared and headed inland.
Leaving this interesting area, we called in on Gibraltar, seeing little other than Yellow-legged Gulls (and the apes, of course), and then called in on a site give in Butler's book, a wetland at Sotogrande. There are apparently several small wetlands in this development (mercifully saved from the large amount of building currently going on in this up-market resort, being designated as Parajes Naturales), but we visited only the southern-most, which lies on the southern side of the Rio Guardiaro (when coming into the town from the north, continue until you cross the bridge over the river, then turn left at the roundabout - a few hundred yards along this road there is a wooden entrance to the site with a few parking bays next to it). There is a small hide, with a board walk leading along the top of the beach to a covered viewing area. At least 2 pairs of Purple Gallinules were visible, along with Moorhen, Mallard, lots of Reed Warblers, and 2 Little Egrets, whilst at the mouth of the river, single Whimbrel, Grey Plover (barely coming into summer plumage) and Kentish Plover were accompanied by 6 Ringed Plover and 2 Dunlin. Better yet, however, were the few minutes I spent sea-watching - 10 fly-by Gannets were followed by 3 Balearic Shearwaters, 1 Cory's Shearwater and 3 Puffins, all heading west and fairly close in. The latter where somewhat of a surprise!
Thursday 18th May
Another 'lazy day' spent mainly trying to photograph butterflies. The 'usual' woodland species were seen in the woodland around La Casita.
Friday 19th May
Time to head north. The Gaucin to Ronda road provided me with further views of Rock Bunting and Rock Sparrow (2 of each) sat on the roadside wall, as described before. Joining the A376 we then headed east, past Villamarín, then taking the A371 towards Espera. This route was intended to take us via a site which I hoped might provide me with a long-shot of Crested Coot, the Reserva Natural Complejo Endorreico de Espera. Just before Espera, there is a turn-off to the right (the CAP 4412), and a short distance along here the reserve is signed off to the left. It is indicated that the distance to the lagoons is 5km, which is probably about right. The track starts of pretty bad, improves to a reasonable surface, and is then in a varying condition, although passable throughout (it is surfaced, but broken, rutted and pot-holed in places). We reached the first lagoon, only to find it already completely dried out. The second, larger, lagoon was a short distance further on, and contained a small area of shallow water. No Coots whatsoever, but there were 20 Flamingos, making the detour more than worthwhile! 3 Black-winged Stilts were also present, along with Melodious Warbler, Yellow Wagtails, and lots of Red-legged Partridges. A Montagu's Harrier in juvenile plumage (fledged already?) passed over the nearby agricultural land.
Joining the AP4-E5 toll road, we hammered north, past Seville, and continued up the N603-A66. Whilst still in Andalucía, my first Azure-winged Magpie flew across the road near Las Nieves, as we passed through dehesa-type habitat. Entering Extremadura, new birds for the holiday included Southern Grey Shrike and Red Kite. We eventually reached Plasencia (eventually, as the map we were working from showed the section of road north of Cáceres to be dualled and open in April, but it evidently wasn't yet finished - note there is a awful lot of road building going on everywhere), and then Cuacos de Yuste. An evening spent on the veranda of our new cottage provided good views of Booted Eagle, Golden Oriole and Bee-eater, amongst other things.
Saturday 20th May
In the morning we drove from Cuacos to Plasencia, seeing lots of Azure-winged Magpies flying across the road (these are extremely common in this part of Extremadura, especially in the dehesa, so won't be mentioned again, despite being a stunning bird!). After lunch, we then headed to a site that I hoped would be a highlight of the holiday, Monfragüe - and I wasn't disappointed!
We stopped briefly at the village of Villarreal, where I had Black-eared Wheatear and a distant Black Vulture. We then continued on to Peña Falcón, with its masses of Griffon Vultures, as well as 5 Black Storks (including a pair nesting low down on the left, although the nest was seemingly bereft of eggs or chicks). Black Redstart, Rock Bunting and Alpine Swift were also noted, amongst other things. Whilst here, I grilled some other British birders, and it soon became evident that Portilla del Tiétar was to be our main focus of the afternoon. As we headed here, we stopped briefly at Mirador de la Tajadilla, seeing a single nesting Egyptian Vulture.
Arriving at Portilla del Tiétar, we settled in for what was to be a marathon session (sorry Laura!). 2 Black Storks cruised past, and a Rock Bunting was singing from a perch behind the viewing shelter. Then the pair of Spanish Imperial Eagles which I had been told were nesting in the vicinity drifted overhead, and giving brilliant views, which they repeated several times over the next few hours, coming quite low on occasion. Only once did one of the adults visit the nest, which is located just to the right of the main rock face, in the top of one of the trees below the skyline. This nest is visible when you know where it is, and occasionally its white downy occupant would sit up and be visible!
We were now waiting for the Eagle Owls which live on the rock face. Others had reported that one of the chicks would occasionally put in an appearance, and indeed, a Dutch(?) birder located one of the Eagle Owl chicks, which was visible just long enough for me to see it through his scope, but then it was gone again. The long wait was broken by views of Goshawk overhead, but it was not until about 9pm that a Spanish birder found the adult Eagle Owl sat on a rock (presumably having just emerged from elsewhere). Once it woke up properly, it gave excellent views, as did both large chicks, which appeared a bit later and proceeded to gambol around the slope. Fantastic birds, and it was great to see a large crowd of Spaniards (including several groups of young people) appreciating them as much as we were!
We headed out of the park along the road we were parked on, and by now it was dark. As we entered dehesa, we almost ran a Red-necked Nightjar over. It kept resettling on the road, and gave great views in our headlights, until I had to get out and shoo it away! Others were calling nearby, as was a Scop's Owl.
Sunday 21st May
I got up early to explore the area south of Cuacos, heading west a short distance to Jaraíz de la Vera, and then south on the EX392 crossing the Rio Tiétar and continuing on the CCV172, taking the first turning to Majadas, on the right. The road here passes through an area of dehesa, which produced a good range of typical dehesa species, including Rock Sparrow which seemed to be common, as they were located at most of the places I stopped (again by call). In addition, a single Purple Heron was noted passing through to the north, and several Thekla Lark and Woodlark were found.
Retracing my steps, I passed back over the Rio Tiétar, taking a track off to the east on the north side of the bridge, and crossing under the bridge. Parking up, a Little Ringed Plover was located, along with singing Melodious Warbler nearby.
Back in Cuacos, the local Black Redstart was singing from our veranda, and a large juvenile was nearby. In the afternoon, we drove to Garganta la Olla, just west of Cuacos, and continued on the winding road up the hill to Piornal. At the summit, a singing Ortolan Bunting was found, whilst on the return journey, we stopped at several places in the oak woodland. At each of these, Western Bonelli's Warblers were singing, whilst at one, a pair of Pied Flycatchers of the iberiae race was found nesting in a tree stump. The male was a very smart bird which spent much of its time at the same perch, occasionally singing, whilst the female was collecting nesting material.
Monday 22nd May
We had an early start as we were heading for the steppes between Trujillo and Cáceres today. From Cuacos we travelled across country to join the new N-V towards Trujillo. Just short of this town, we took the exit to Aldea de Trujillo, passing through good dehesa habitat, before entering the steppes. I then relied heavily on Muddeman's book, doing parts of his sites 10 and 11. We stopped first at Site 11, area 6, which has a good place for parking on a short stretch of old road cut off where a new, less sharp corner has been put in. A Little Bustard was located in the grassland to the south, and Calandra Larks were singing overhead, but strong winds made viewing (and listening) difficult. It was also pretty cold, and I was regretting being in just shorts and t-shirt!
We continued on the road, turning left to Santa Marta de Magasca, noting two further Little Bustards at various stops en route. Turning right just before entering Santa Marta, we travelled down the CCV99, then taking the wide, surfaced track off to the right, about 2km before reaching the N521 (the main Cáceres to Trujillo road). This route is described in Muddeman's site 10, areas 5 to 8 (although we only drove 5 to 7), and represents very good steppe habitat. At the start of the track, a good number of Montagu's Harriers were present, as were several Rollers, presumably using the nest boxes on the telegraph poles near the road. As we worked our way slowly along the track, Griffon Vultures, and several Black Vultures, were present overhead (sometimes surprisingly low), along with Lesser Kestrels and one Short-toed Eagle. Persistent scanning eventually paid of as I located a somewhat distant Great Bustard in a field with a short, open grass sward to the west of the track. It was a male that was being harassed by a group of Ravens, which it kept lunging at - I suspect a sitting female must have been nearby. Not the best views, or the number of birds that I had been hoping for, but success none-the-less. Good numbers of Calandra Lark were also seen, along with numerous Corn Buntings, but try as I did, I could not locate any sandgrouse.
Eventually the heat haze got too bad, so we headed off to Trujillo for lunch. Trujillo is a beautiful old town, and lunch on the Plaza Mejor was enlivened by bill-clacking White Storks, and the occasional Lesser Kestrel overhead, along with at least 2 Pallid Swifts. A walk up to the castle provided great views over the town and countryside, along with more Lesser Kestrels (although in disappointingly low numbers - 8 together was the maximum). The fishponds in Trujillo (described in Muddeman, accessed by the track that leads right past the bull ring) looked interesting, but only a pair of Little Ringed Plovers, and a Black-winged Stilt were of note.
Late afternoon, we returned to the steppes, this time birding Muddeman's site 10, areas 1 to 4. At area 3, there were good numbers of Spanish Sparrows, which, along with House Sparrows, appeared to be nesting in the eucalypts to the west of the road. Lots more Spanish Sparrows were noted feeding on the roads over the next few kilometres - closer inspection showed that they were being attracted by huge numbers of grasshoppers basking on the road. Between areas 3 and 4, a quick stop and walk saw a Stone-curlew flushed from beside the road, but little else. We ended up back at the site were we started the day (site 11, area 6). The Little Bustard was in his original location, and Calandra Larks were showing well, but prolonged scanning from this vantage point again failed to find any fly-by sandgrouse, which was a big disappointment. The still very windy conditions certainly didn't help - whilst I could see the Little Bustard calling, I couldn't hear him, so my chances of picking up calling sandgrouse were probably very slim.
Eventually giving up, our journey back up the N-V was broken by a stop at the northern end of the Embalse de Arrocampo (Q1 in Muddeman). This was definitely worth it. The main reservoir (to the west of the road) held two distant Gull-billed Terns, along with 2 Great Crested Grebes, a fly over Purple Heron, and single singing Reed Warbler and a juvenile Purple Gallinule in the reedy fringes. The smaller section of reservoir to the east of the road, held several adult Purple Gallinules, lots of Reed and single Great Reed Warblers, and distant reeling Savi's Warbler (at least one, and possibly more, from the far side). A Kingfisher zipped through, and Marsh Harrier (one female) and Zitting Cisticola were over the reedbed and drier area to the north.
Tuesday 23rd May
I headed out early again, with the specific intention of finding some sylvia warblers, which I was had so far failed to see any of in Extremadura. Driving south again from Jaraíz, I this time turned right towards Valdeíñigos (on the north side of the Rio Tiétar). My first stop produced Melodious Warbler and lots of Golden Orioles, whilst a bit further on, upon entering dehesa, 2 Rock Sparrows, plus other typical dehesa species, were noted, along with a fly-over Hawfinch. I then took a camino rural off to the right (just before passing a small group of buildings), which led through good dehesa, with a similar range of species.
I then decided to return to my first stop, as the open and scrubby habitat had looked good for warblers. This site is less than 1km from the EX392 - there is a red gate on the north side of the road, set back, just before the road bends sharply to the left (when travelling west). Opposite the gate, an ungated track leads off on the south side of the road, down to a small river. Walking down this track, single male Sardinian and Subalpine Warblers were quickly found, whilst on the north side, beyond the gate, a Dartford Warbler was holding territory.
In the afternoon, we took a leisurely walk from Cuacos up the road to the monastery, 2 Hawfinches and a Cirl Bunting being of note, along with some good butterflies.
Wednesday 24th May
Another trip to Monfragüe, this time for a whole day. We entered the site from the direction of Portilla del Tiétar. A quick stop here revealed that neither the Eagle Owls nor the Spanish Imperial Eagles were around at that precise moment, although the Rock Bunting was at his usual spot behind the view point. La Bascula was our next stop, a site where I believe Spanish Imperial Eagles have bred in the past, although presumably not this year. Walking a short distance down the track to the south-west of the car park, the scrub at first appeared devoid of life, but some gentle 'pishing' quickly brought out a pair of Subalpine Warblers and a male Sardinian Warbler. Further on, in the vicinity of a small building to the right of a track (a pumping station?), a Black Vulture cruised low overhead, and a Hawfinch appeared to be taking moisture off the side of the building. Several Crested Tits were calling from conifers down to the left, towards the water, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming.
Continuing on in the car, another Hawfinch flew over, before we arrived at Puente del Cardinal. Parking at the top, I walked the short distance down the surfaced track to the water's edge. A Short-toed Eagle nearby was seen to catch a snake and then be harassed by 3 Black Kites. Where the track doubles back on itself to the right, a small dry gulley cuts across, containing a few small holm oaks. I was delighted to find a pair of Orphean Warblers here, which showed well.
Next stop was the Castillo. Parking near the top of the access road, we walked the short distance up to the castle, and then up onto the castle itself. A scan revealed very little - certainly no swifts. I then went and grilled two other (German) birders, who were viewing Peña Falcón from besides the telecoms mast. Asking them if they'd seen White-rumped Swift, one replied 'I think it's probably too windy. Oh, there's one.' Spinning round, one was drifting past behind me, flying close along the northern edge of the ridge! It was quickly lost from view behind the castle, reappeared briefly, and was then gone again. Success, but I wanted better views!
Scanning over Peña Falcón eventually paid dividends, as I picked out another (or the same) White-rumped Swift in the distance. Several other swifts passed it, of a similar size, which may or may not have been others of that species, but I didn't dare take my eyes off the bird I was watching. Eventually it had drifted away too far and was lost. Half an hour or so later, I picked up another White-rumped Swift over Peña Falcón, this time closer - it drifted towards me and gave fantastic views, before dropping down against the cliff-face and hurtling out of view. My success came from viewing out over the Peña Falcón from besides the telecoms mast, but another birder had one along the ridge to the east of the castle, on the south side, at the same time. The birds were seen from about 11am onwards - before this time, there seemed to be little hirundine or swift activity. There was a light wind.
Other birds noted in the vicinity were a couple of Black Vultures amongst the Griffons, and 2 Egyptian Vultures, along with 3 Black Storks. Both Alpine and Common Swifts were also seen. Around the castle itself, 2 male Spanish Sparrows were chasing each other around, and a Black Wheatear was seen briefly below the telecoms mast, as it flew out from the cliff face, and then back in again - an unpredictable bird in Monfragüe, I believe. Retracing our steps back down to the car, a male Subalpine Warbler was seen, along with several Hawfinches. Black Redstart and Rock Sparrow were also present.
Heading to Villarreal for lunch, we then back-tracked to Fuente de Francés - a pull off spot next to the bridge - for a siesta in the shade. A pair of Subalpine Warblers were in the dense scrub above the track, and incredible numbers of House Martins were nesting under the bridge (1000's?), along with a few Alpine Swifts. Once the worst of the heat had passed, we made a brief stop just north of Villarreal, at the large parking area which marks the start of the Cerro Gimio trail. A short distance down the track, some more gentle pishing revealed 2 male Subalpine Warblers and a superb male Orphean Warbler, which appeared in the same small holm oak opposite a line of eucalypts next to the track. However, no Spectacled Warblers could be found, which is what I was hoping for (the habitat here looks suitable).
Turning right onto the road signed for Salto de Torrejón, 2 Black -eared Wheatears were seen near Fuente de Los Tres Caños (this seems to be the best place in the park for them). We finished that day at Portilla del Tiétar. Distant (high) views of the Spanish Imperial Eagles were had, and the chick was also visible in his nest, but no owls were visible. A female Subalpine Warbler showed up, and a single Cormorant was on the river.
Thursday 25th May
After the birding excesses of yesterday, another gentle day of doing not very much was required. We went to a site called La Laguna de Jaraíz, between Cuacos and Jaraíz, a pleasant area by a river with a dammed of area creating a small lake. Walking up the track from the car park on the west side of the river, a single Melodious Warbler was singing. At the top of the track (only about 15 minutes walk), the track crosses a road before continuing on towards Jaraíz. The scrub just over the road help both Sardinian (2 males) and Subalpine (1 male) Warblers. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker called briefly from within the oak woodland, and on our return to the car a Hawfinch was feeding on the ground in the car park. This track is excellent for butterflies, with 5 species of fritillary found (feeding on the abundant Rubus).
In the evening, I went out looking for owls and nightjars, going to the area I visited on the morning of the 23rd. 2 Red-necked Nightjars were calling distantly off to the north, and a Scop's Owl called nearby in the dehesa along the camino rural.
Friday 26th May
Time to go home! I got up early to have a drive down the track that leads from Cuacos, past the village campsite, into the countryside. Near what must be the village tip, Sardinian Warbler, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Azure-winged Magpie and Woodchat Shrike all appeared, but little else of note was seen.
Taking the N-V, we headed off for Madrid, detouring via the northern end of Embalse de Azután (site 6 in Muddeman, areas 5 and 6). This was a last minute decision, to try and see Red Avadavat, a potential tick not on my original hit-list. Unfortunately, none could be found (it was again pretty windy), although some small birds over the far reed bed may have been this species. However, this was not a wasted trip, as 3 Purple Herons were seen, along with my only Sand Martins of the trip, and a further 2 Cormorants. Amazingly, no Gallinules could be found - it looks a good area for them, and worthy of further investigation for other wetland species, should time allow. Finally, a stunned juvenile Tree Sparrow was picked up from the road and placed in tree - no adults were seen, but they must be present in the area! It should be noted that access here is not clear. We turned left, south of Calera y Chozas, onto a road called Camino General No 4, as indicated in Muddeman. However, there is a no-entry sign here (saying something about access only for maintenance of the canals). However, we ignored this, and were not stopped or challenged by anyone we passed (a few cars and farmers).
(A = seen in Andalucía, E = seen in Extremadura)
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
A: 1 at Laguna de Medina.
E: occasional on ponds in steppe/dehesa habitat.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
A: 10 at Laguna de Medina.
E: only seen at Embalse de Arrocampo.
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
A: 4 very smart breeding plumaged birds at Laguna de Medina.
Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea
A: one flew west past Sotogrande on 17th.
Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus
A: 3 flew west past Sotogrande on 17th.
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus
A: at least 10 flew west past Sotogrande on 17th.
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
E: 1 on the Rio Tiétar in Monfragüe and 2 at Embalse de Azután.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
A: Seen along the A381 south of Laguna de Medina
E: Small numbers seen along the N630. Very common at Embalse de Azután.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
A: 1 along the A381 south of Laguna de Medina, and 2 at Sotogrande.
E: 2 at Embalse de Arrocampo.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
A: Seen only at Laguna de Medina and Bahía de Cadíz.
E: Occasionally noted at ponds and other small wetland areas, with 3 at Embalse de Arrocampo.
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
E: 1 flew west near Majadas, 1 at Embalse de Arrocampo and 3 at Embalse de Azután.
Black Stork Ciconia nigra
E: 5 seen together in Monfragüe at Peña Falcón, with a nesting pair there. Others seen frequently elsewhere in the park, in small numbers.
White Stork Ciconia ciconia
A: Seen on the coast.
E: Common to very common. Large feeding flocks seen in the steppes north of Trujillo.
Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
A: 3 at Laguna de Medina.
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus rubber
A: 20 at the Reserva Natural Complejo Endorreico de Espera.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
A: Small numbers at the wetland sites visited.
E: Small numbers on ponds and other small wetlands in dehesa and steppe habitat.
Common Pochard Aythya ferina
A: 3 (2 males) at Laguna de Medina.
White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala
A: 18 at Laguna de Medina, made up of 12 males and 6 females.
Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus
A: Frequent, with good numbers passing north on 12th.
E: One or two noted.
Red Kite Milvus milvus
E: Only occasionally seen.
Black Kite Milvus migrans
A: Seen daily in small numbers.
E: Seen daily – very common and widespread.
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus
A: One at La Casita.
E: Small numbers, including a nesting pair, seen in Monfragüe.
Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus
Black Vulture Aegypius monachus
E: Great views were obtained in Monfragüe, with other birds seen over the steppes between Trujillo and Cáceres.
Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus
A: Occasional, seen almost daily, including a displaying bird near Bolonía.
E: Occasional, seen over steppe and dehesa habitat, with good particularly good views of one in Monfragüe.
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
A: 1 heading north with Honey Buzzards on 12th.
E: 1 female at Embalse de Arrocampo.
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus
A: 1 at Reserva Natural Complejo Endorreico de Espera.
E: Common in the steppes, with particularly good views south east of Santa Marta de Magasca.
Goshawk Accipiter gentiles
E: a male seen at Portilla del Tiétar in Monfragüe.
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
A: 3 or 4 in the west from El Colmenar along the Rio Guadiero.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti
E: A nesting pair at Portilla del Tiétar in Monfragüe offered fantastic views. A single chick was also visible in the nest.
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
E: Fairly frequent. Only one dark morph bird was seen.
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni
A: Only positively identified in Ronda.
E: Frequently seen in the steppes. However, distant birds or those seen from the car were not identified beyond ‘kestrel sp.’.
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
A: Occasional. Not actually noted in Extremadura, but probably present at low density (see comments above).
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
A: A pair was present near Bolonía on San Bartolomé.
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa
A: Seen at Laguna de Medina and Reserva Natural Complejo Endorreico de Espera (where common).
E: Occasional in the steppes.
Purple Gallinule Porphyrio porphyrio
A: 2 pairs at Sotogrande.
E: A few at Embalse de Arrocampo.
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
A: Present at Sotogrande.
Coot Fulica atra
A: Common at Laguna de Medina.
E: Several pairs breeding at the fishponds in Trujillo.
Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax
E: 3 birds seen in the steppes between Trujillo and Cáceres.
Great Bustard Otis tarda
E: Only 1 bird seen, distantly, on the steppe west of Santa Marta de Magasca.
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
A: Present at wetland sites on the coast, as well as at Reserva Natural Complejo Endorreico de Espera.
E: One on the fishponds at Trujillo.
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
A: Present in reasonable numbers at Bahía de Cádiz.
Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus
E: One flushed from steppe north-west of Trujillo.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
E: One at the crossing of the Rio Tiétar, south of Jaraíz de la Vera.
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
A: At least 1 at Bahía de Cádiz.
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
A: Lots at Bahía de Cádiz. Also at least 2 at Laguna de Medina.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
A: 1 at Sotogrande.
Knot Calidris canutus
A: Good numbers at Bahía de Cádiz.
Sanderling Calidris alba
A: Several at Bahía de Cádiz.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
A: Several at Bahía de Cádiz.
Dunlin Calidris alpina
A: Several at Bahía de Cádiz.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
A: 1 at Sotogrande.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
A: At least 3 at Laguna de Medina.
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
A: Very common on the coast.
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
E: 2 at Embalse de Arrocampo.
Little Tern Sterna albifrons
A: 2 at Bahía de Cádiz.
Puffin Fratercula arctica
A: 3 flew west past Sotogrande on 17th.
Feral Pigeon Columba livia
Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
A: Frequent in mountain areas, in small numbers.
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
E: Infrequently noted.
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
A: Frequently heard.
E: Frequently heard.
Scop's Owl Otus scops
E: Heard near Monfragüe after dusk, and in dehesa south of Jaraíz de la Vera.
Eagle Owl Bubo bubo
E: 1 adult and 2 juveniles seen extremely well at Portilla del Tiétar in Monfragüe.
Little Owl Athene noctua
A: Seen at Bahía de Cádiz and near Casares.
Red-necked Nightjar Caprimulgus ruficollis
A: Two on the ground at Laguna de Medina.
E: 1 bird did its best to get run over near Monfragüe after dusk, with others calling nearby. 1 calling in dehesa south Jaraíz de la Vera.
Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba
A: Occasional, with good numbers in Ronda.
E: Frequent in Monfragüe, also noted breeding in a bridge over the Rio Tajo north of Cáceres.
Common Swift Apus apus
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus
A: Definite birds in Cádiz and Ronda.
E: A couple seen in Trujillo.
White-rumped Swift Apus caffer
E: A highlight of the trip – a single bird seen on three occasions during an hour-and-a-half period from the castle in Monfragüe, looking towards Peña Falcón.
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
E: Only one bird seen at Embalse de Arrocampo.
Bee-eater Merops apiaster
A: Regularly seen.
E: Common, and very frequent at some locations.
Roller Coracias garrulous
E: A small number of birds seen around roadside telegraph posts on the CCV99 just before the start of the good steppe track west of Santa Marta de Magasca.
Hoopoe Upupa epops
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis sharpei
A: Seen in woodland around our house in Gaucin.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
A: Frequent in woodland in mountains.
E: 1 drumming in Monfragüe near La Bascula.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus minor
E: 1 calling in oak woodland near La Laguna de Jaraíz.
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra
E: Frequent in good steppe habitat west of Santa Marta de Magasca.
Crested Lark Galerida cristata
A: Common on the coast, frequent in open areas in the mountains.
E: Very common.
Thekla Lark Galerida theklae
E: Not particularly searched for – the only definite birds identified were a pair in dehesa south of Jaraíz de la Vera.
Woodlark Lullula arborea
A: Present in Parque Natural de los Arconocales.
E: Frequent in dehesa habitat.
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
E: Small numbers at Embalse de Azután.
Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris
A: Common in mountain areas.
E: Common in suitable habitat, almost close enough to touch at the castle in Trujillo.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
A: Fairly frequent.
E: Common, especially in Monfragüe. Also seemingly breeding in bridges over dual carriageways at a couple of locations.
House Martin Delichon urbica
E: Common, with incredible numbers breeding on the main bridge in Monfragüe.
Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
A: A pair near Bolonía at San Bartolomé. Curiously absent in Extremadura.
White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava iberiae
A: Several breeding birds noted on the coast, with good views of birds at Laguna de Medina.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
A: Frequent in mountain areas.
E: Frequent in mountain areas.
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
E: Occasional, especially in upland areas.
Rufous Bush Robin Cercotrichas galactotes galactotes
A: A pair gave great views near Bolonía.
Robin Erithacus rubecula
A: Frequent in woodland areas in mountains.
E: Frequent in woodland areas in mountains.
Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos
A: Common – very confiding at Laguna de Medina.
E: Common in suitable habitat (often lusher habitat along watercourses).
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros aterrimus
E: Breeding in Cuacos de Yuste, also noted in Monfragüe.
Stonechat Saxicola torquata
A: One of the commonest birds.
Black Wheatear Oenanthe leucura
A: Seen on the Gaucin to Ronda road (A369).
E: 1 seen briefly from the castle in Monfragüe.
Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica hispanica
A: Present on the Gaucin to Ronda road (A369), also seen at Bolonía.
E: A couple of birds noted in Monfragüe.
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
A: Seen on the Gaucin to Ronda road (A369), and on the coast (Bolonía).
E: Frequent in Monfragüe.
Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis
A: Seen on the Gaucin to Ronda road (A369).
Blackbird Turdus merula
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
A: Fairly frequent in wooded areas in mountains.
E: Seen infrequently in woodland and dehesa habitat.
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti
A: Common in suitable habitat.
E: Common in suitable habitat.
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
A: Frequent on the coast.
Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinioides
E: 1, and possibly a second, heard reeling at Embalse de Arrocampo from the reeds east of the road, on the far side of the water.
Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus
A: Present at Laguna de Medina and Sotogrande (where common).
E: Only seen at Embalse de Arrocampo.
Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus
A: Seen and heard at Laguna de Medina.
E: One singing at Embalse de Arrocampo.
Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta
A: Several on the coast, and at Reserva Natural Complejo Endorreico de Espera.
E: Fairly frequent in lusher vegetation along watercourses, and around Cuacos de Yuste. Also seen in scrubby dehesa south of Jaraíz de la Vera.
Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis hortensis
A: 1 just south of Ronda at Mirador el Pino.
E: In Monfragüe, a pair near Puente del Cardinal, and a superb male in open habitat north of Villarreal.
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
A: Common throughout
E: Much less obvious than in Andalucía. Seen in scrubby dehesa south of Jaraíz de la Vera, at La Bascula in Monfragüe, and then more frequently around Cuacos de Yuste.
Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans cantillans
E: The commonest Sylvia in Monfragüe, seen at a number of locations. Also seen in scrubby dehesa south of Jaraíz de la Vera, and near Cuacos de Yuste.
Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata
E: Only seen in scrubby dehesa south of Jaraíz de la Vera.
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
E: Occasional in mountain areas. Also seen in riverside vegetation.
Western Bonelli’s Warbler Sylvia bonelli
A: Seen in Parque Natural de los Arconocales.
E: Seen in small numbers in woodland north of Garganta la Olla, east of Plasencia.
Chiffchaff sp. Phylloscopus collybita/brehmii
A: 1 singing in Parque Natural de los Arconocales.
Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla
A: Common in woodland around Gaucin and in Parque Natural de los Arconocales.
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
A: 2 in Parque Natural de los Arconocales.
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca iberiae
E: Excellent views of a nesting pair in woodland north of Garganta la Olla.
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
A: Frequent in woodland areas.
E: Common in Monfragüe, small numbers elsewhere.
Crested Tit Parus cristatus
A: Common in woodland around Gaucin.
E: Heard calling in Monfragüe near La Bascula.
Great Tit Parus major
A: Frequent in small numbers.
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Nuthatch Sitta europeae
A: Common in woodland areas.
E: Frequent in woodland and dehesa habitat.
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla
A: Frequent in woodland areas.
E: Frequent in woodland and dehesa habitat.
Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis
E: Occasionally seen in steppe and dehesa habitat.
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
A: Noted at a couple of sites.
Jay Garrulus glandarius
A: Common in woodland areas in mountains.
E: Common in woodland areas around Cuacos de Yuste.
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyana
A: 1 seen from the N603-A66 near Las Nieves.
E: Very common in dehesa and scrub habitat. Occasionally seen around cultivated areas.
Magpie Pica pica
A: Small numbers seen.
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
A: 10+ seen in the gorge at Ronda.
Jackdaw Corvus monedula
Raven Corvus corax
A: Occasional in mountain areas.
E: Frequent, common in the steppes.
Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
E: Common, extremely so in places.
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
E: Good numbers seen in scrubby steppe habitat north-west of Trujillo. 2 birds around the castle in Monfragüe.
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
E: A recently fledged bird seen at Embalse de Azután.
Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia
A: Seen in Ronda and on the Gaucin to Ronda road (A369).
E: Seemingly quite frequent in dehesa habitat.
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
A: Very common in woodland areas.
E: Very common in woodland areas, less so in dehesa habitat.
Serin Serinus serinus
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Linnet Carduelis cannabina
A: Fairly common in open habitat in mountains.
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
E: Occasional, seen flying over scrubby dehesa south of Jaraíz de la Vera, at La Bascula and the castle in Monfragüe, in woodland around Cuacos de Yuste, and at Laguna de Jaraíz.
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
A: A pair near our house in Gaucin.
E: One singing at Cuacos de Yuste.
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
A: Seen on the Gaucin to Ronda road (A369).
E: Seen well in Monfragüe, especially at Portilla del Tiétar.
Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana
E: 1 singing north of Garganta la Olla.
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra
A: One of the commonest birds.
E: Common to very common in open habitat.
Total: 149 species (A = 117, E = 114).
(A = seen in Andalucía, E = seen in Extremadura)
I spent some time looking at butterflies, mainly as an incidental result of being out birding, but several times I went out specifically looking for butterflies (especially in the early afternoon, when birding was slow but butterflies were most active). We seemed to hit many in our car as well (probably tens per journey), demonstrating the large number of butterflies on the wing. I recorded a total of 42 species, many of which were new for me. These were;
Spanish Swallowtail Iphiclides feisthamelii (A&E) – occasional, especially around La Casita.
Black-veined White Aporia crataegi (A) - only seen at Mirador el Fraile.
Large White Pieris brassicae (A&E) – frequent.
Small White Atrogeia rapae (E) – occasional.
Western Dappled White Euchloe crameri (A) – frequent around Gaucin.
Provence Orange Tip Anthocharis euphenoides (A) – frequent around Gaucin.
Clouded Yellow Colias crocea (A&E) – frequent.
Berger’s Clouded Yellow Colias alfacariensis (A) – 1 at La Casita.
Cleopatra Gonepteryx Cleopatra (A&E) – occasional; in Andalucía, only seen on Gibraltar.
Spanish Purple Hairstreak Laeopsis roboris (E) – locally abundant, e.g. the ash tree next to the view point at Portilla del Tiétar in Monfragüe.
Ilex Hairstreak Satyrium ilicus (E) – locally abundant in Quercus woodland.
False Ilex Hairstreak Satyrium esculi (E) – seen in Monfragüe.
Blue-spot Hairstreak Satyrium spini (A&E) – only noted on a few occasions.
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas (A&E) – frequent.
Purple-shot Copper Lycaena alciphron (E) – small numbers on the track at La Laguna de Jaraíz.
Long-tailed Blue Lampides boeticus (A&E) – occasional.
Lang’s Short-tailed Blue Leptotes pirithous (E) – infrequent.
Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus (E) – several in Monfragüe.
Brown Argus Aricia agestis (E) – in woodland above Garganta la Olla.
Common Blue Polyommatus icarus (A) – one at La Casita.
Nettle-tree Butterfly Libythea celtis (E) – seen along an open track off the road above Garganta la Olla.
Two-tailed Pasha Charaxes jasius (E) – 1 shot through at Fuente de Francés in Monfragüe.
Large Tortoiseshell Nymphalis polychloros (A&E) – very frequent.
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta (A&E) – frequent.
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui (A&E) – frequent.
Cardinal Argynnis pandora (E) – several around La Laguna de Jaraíz.
Niobe Fritillary Argynnis niobe (E) – one or two seen between Cuacos and the monastery in the roadside verge.
Queen of Spain Fritillary Issoria lathonia (E) - small numbers on the track at La Laguna de Jaraíz.
Marbled Fritillary Brenthis daphne (E) - small numbers on the track at La Laguna de Jaraíz.
Knapweed Fritillary Melitaea phoebe (E) - small numbers on the track at La Laguna de Jaraíz.
Spotted Fritillary Melitaea didyma (E) - several on the track at La Laguna de Jaraíz.
Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia (A) – several around La Casita and elsewhere in Andalucía, but not noted in Extremadura.
Iberian Marbled White Melanargia lachesis (A) – frequent around La Casita.
Spanish Marbled White Melanargia ines (E) – 2 at the Castillo in Monfragüe.
Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina (A&E) – frequent.
Southern Gatekeeper Pyronia cecilia (E) – occasional.
Spanish Gatekeeper Pyronia bathsheba (A&E) – fairly frequent.
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria (A&E) - fairly frequent.
Wall Brown Lasiommata megera (E) – occasional.
Mallow Skipper Carcharodus alceae (A) – one near Bolonía.
Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola (E) – occasional.
Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris (E) – occasional.
A probable African Grass Blue Zizeeria knysna (A) – a small blue at La Casita was probably of this species
An unidentified Pyrgus skipper (A) – near El Colmenar
An unidentified Thymelicus skipper (A) – several
Relatively few mammals were seen, again as an incidental result of birding;
Western Hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus (E) - one live one at dusk in Monfragüe, with another dead by the road elsewhere.
Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus (A&E) - presumably fairly common, but shy.
Garden Dormouse Eliomysquercinus (E) - one was seen being carried off by a Southern Grey Shrike near Monfragüe.
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes (E) - 3 seen at dusk in Monfragüe.
Polecat Mustela putorius (E) - one dead by the road near the Rio Tiétar.
Wild Boar Sus scrofa (A) - a small and stripy piglet was seen in Parque Natural de los Arconocales, although Laura, who had gone ahead down the track, also saw the mother (I don't know who was most frightened!).
Several medium-sized bats were flying around at dusk in Monfragüe (possibly horseshoe bats).
Additionally, a good range of reptiles and amphibians were seen, but I did not have a field guide with which to identify them. These included frogs, toads, terrapins, lizards (at least 4 species), geckos, and at least 3 species of snake, including one that almost got itself run over by us when basking on a road!
Finally, the wildflowers are pretty good too, especially in the lusher mountains of Andalucía - the roadside verges are stunning, and no doubt account for the large numbers of butterflies. I took a field guide and identified as many as I could. A good challenge when there is nothing else to do!