Thursday 22 March 2018

Four Days in Extremadura - Day Three

Day Three: Tuesday 20 March

The sun was shining and a clear day promised albeit the temperature outside the car was not scheduled to exceed about 14C.   The usual birds, including both Red and Black Kites along with (common) Magpie and Azure-winged Magpie were recorded on the way to the Monfrague National Park as well as upon arrival.  Indeed, Elena won the "bet" as the time taken from departure to record our first Buzzard of the day at 10 minutes.  By the time we arrived at the river bend to watch the Griffon Vultures we had already seen our first soaring kettle and recorded Crested Lark, Corn Bunting, Barn Swallow and House Martin.

Black Kite Milano Negro Milvus migrans
A stop at the two river crossings on the outward journey added both Sardinain Warbler and Black Redstart along with Sand and Crag Martin and Red-rumped Swallow in addition to the two above hirundines.  We also found a single White Wagtail at the first river.  A couple of Great Tit and a Blue Tit were fiddling about in the bushes below the road and a Cormorant was resting on the bank along with the first Grey Heron of the day.

Working our way down to the long bridge over the Tajo we explore the nearby car park and tracks and added Coal and Long-tailed, as well as both Great and Blue Tits, to the list.  Also present were a number of Blackcap and a Robin in addition to the local population of Chaffinches.

Long-tailed Tit Mito Aegithalos caudatus
Next it was on down to wards the dam crossing with Barbara and Derek picking up the Egyptian Vulture as we turned off the main road.  None in the usual place but a few of the breeding Griffon Vultures and as we alighted from our cars we had the pleasure of a passing Bonelli's Eagle.  Whilst I watched (unsuccessfully) for a returning Egyptian Vulture, the others walked down towards the dam and found a very obliging Cirl Bunting just waiting to be photographed by Steve.  I was left to admire the passing Goldfinches!

Griffon Vultures Buitre Leonado Gyps fulvus at nest site
Climbing away from the dam a stop above the river produced another Red-rumped Swallow and a couple of Raven.  Lots of Griffons and a few Black Vultures on view near the cliff face but this year the local Spanish Imperial Eagles had decided to nest behind the hill rather than at the end of the rock face as last year.

Rather than head off to our hotel for the night we stopped for a coffee break then drove over to the Arrocampo Reservoir and upon arrival were soon looking at Great White Egrets and Purple Swamphens.  Lots of Chiffchaffs about and then a Little Bittern made a very brief appearance as it changed feeding sites in the reeds.  Drifting over the water we had first a Red Kite then a handsome male Marsh Harrier followed by a second and a female.  Even a male Hen Harrier put in an appearance.  On the far bank a Little Egret and a pair of Great White Egrets.

Changing sites to the hide on the opposite side of the road we then saw more Purple Swamphens and hirundines along with both Cattle Egret and Cetti's Warbler whilst a single Zitting Cisticola put in a brief appearance and was quickly followed by a couple of Greenfinch on the track. Lots of Cormorants to be seen on the deeper water and a handful of Coot nearer to us.

White Stork Ciguena Blanca Ciconia ciconia
An Iberian Grey Shrike posed nicely at the top of a tree as we made our way along the track to the next hide.  From the hide we added Moorhen and another Heron but the main attraction was the small flock of pipits feeding on the ground amongst the local farmer's chickens.  A lot of Meadow but, as firstly Derek and Barbara, then the other three of us looked so we, too, found the small number of Tree Pipits.  Near the same spot we also added both Serin and White Wagtail.

Tree Pipit Bisbita Arboreo Anthus trivialis
A drive to the rear of the site soon added a number of ducks including Mallard, Shoveler, Teal and Red-crested Pochard along with both Green and Common Sandpipers.  A pair of Black-winged Stilts were working the edges and in the water-filled gully as we departed we were able to add another Green Sandpiper whilst, on thee the other side of the road, Barbara and Derek recorded a Snipe in the shallow, damp ditch.  Meanwhile, on the pond in front of the hide, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows, House and Sand Martins were feeding above the water.

Red Kite Milano Real Milvus migrans over one of the Arrocampo hides

Leaving the House and Spanish Sparrows along with a few Jackdaw to feed near the resting animals, we finally started out to return the hide key back to the Information Centre and start our journey to the new hotel for the evening in Tejeda de Tietar.

A snowy backdrop as we visited the Arrocampo Reservoir

One way to make use of a birding hide!

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