Extremadura, located in central Spain, is a popular destination for birders wanting to see many of the Iberian peninsula's speciality birds, such as Spanish Imperial Eagle, Great Bustard and Azure-winged Magpie. The following pages give a taste of many of the species you are likely to encounter on a spring trip.
Our first port of call was Duraton National Park, near the picturesque town of Sepulveda. The entrance road leading from Villaseca to the Hermitage of San Frutos is an excellent location for viewing a variety of larks, including the elusive Dupont's Lark, and other arid scrub species. Unfortunately, the Dupont's Larks were a bit camera shy when I was there and we only had brief views of flying birds. Luckily, some of the other 5 species of lark we saw (Crested, Thekla, Short-toed, Skylark and Woodlark) were not quite so elusive:
Crested and Thekla Larks are extremely difficult to identify. There is a large degree of variation in plumage between individuals creating a high degree of overlap in their identification features. However, the individuals shown above can be identified on the basis of their bill shape: Thekla has a relatively short bill with a convex lower mandible, giving it an overall 'cuter' facial expression; whereas Crested Larks have a longer bill with a straight edge to their lower mandible.
Tawny Pipits and Corn Bunting were common...
...and there were also a few Black-eared Wheatears knocking about too.
Further down towards the Hermitage, the vegetation got a bit bushier and we encountered several other species, such as Orphean Warbler, Cirl Bunting and this Woodchat Shrike...
The Hermitage of San Frutos, an abandoned 14th century monastery, is situated on a spur of a spectacular flooded canyon...
The canyon walls are home to a breeding colony of Eurasian Griffon Vultures.
By mid-morning the vultures are soaring on the thermals and give spectacularly close fly-by views as they pass at eye level...
...or quite often below you.
There were also a couple of Egyptian Vultures flying up and down the river at quite low altitude.
Crag Martins were numerous, but a bit trickier to photograph...
There was also some interesting flora, including several of these gorgeous Yellow Bee Orchids.
|Sierra de Gredos|
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