Spain has been at the top of my travel wish list for a long time, partly because it features some of Europe’s finest birdwatching opportunities, but also for its language, cultural history, food, and let’s-not-forget-the-wine. So I’m counting my blessings this week as I set off for the Extremadura Birdwatching Fair, where I plan to bask in all of these, as well in warmth of much-needed sun.
Spain is ornithologically interesting because it forms a land bridge between Europe (France) and Africa (e.g., Morocco). Birds follow both coastal and inland routes through Spain during migration to and from central Europe. Extremadura, which shares a border with Portugal to the west, receives much of the inland flyway traffic and benefits from low population and minimal industrial activity.
The region features dramatic landscapes (mountains, Mediterranean forests, dehesas or wood pastures, heathlands, riparian corridors and pastoral agricultural fields), many of which have been reasonably conserved over time.
My tour (sponsored by the Extremadura Tourist Board) will begin at Monfragüe National Park, a crown jewel of the north that shelters impressive birds of prey such as Eurasian Black Vulture, Spanish Imperial eagle, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Bonelli’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, and my personal favorite, the Griffon Vulture.
From there, we’ll travel southward through the undulating plains of Cáceres, Magasca and Trujillo. Here we may see steppe bird species, such as Calandra and Thekla Larks, Corn Bunting and Spanish Sparrow, and other species such as Little Owl, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Spotless Starling, Southern Grey Shrike and European Bee-eater. I look forward to seeing my first bee-eater and having better views of Hoopoe (compared to my last paltry views at a palm plantation in Israel).
If we are lucky, we may encounter a Great Bustard on display!
From there, we’ll travel a bit further inland for water- and shorebird viewing before heading far south toward the Villuercas Geopark. Stay tuned for updates on what promises to be a magnificent tour.
The Extremadura Birdwatching Fair is an event that welcomes birders to this productive area to celebrate birds during the onset of spring. View the website here.