Extremadura and the Monfrague Natural Park are brimming with some of the best birdwatching in Europe, featuring many of Europe’s rarest and most endangered species.
We will enjoy truly outstanding raptor watching, with all five Spanish eagles, Bonelli’s, Golden, Booted, Short-toed and endangered Spanish Imperial, and three vultures, Black, Egyptian and Griffon. Sightings of these birds can be truly exceptional, as all are located close to our vehicles, and we also often have access to areas normally unavailable to birders. Lesser Kestrel and Black-winged Kite are a delight in sites we know well, and we should have regular sightings of Montague's Harrier.
The holiday begins with a transfer to our hotel, with birds of prey overhead virtually from the start. The birding really is exceptional, with birds every few yards it seems. During our days in the steppes, we expect to see good numbers of Great Bustard, and also look for the spectacular breeding display as males almost turn themselves inside out and look like huge white balls of feathers. Other sought-after specialities here are Little Bustard, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. Other birds likely in this tremendous area include Bee-eater, Stone Curlew, Collared Pratincole, Black Wheatear, Rock Bunting, Southern Grey Shrike, Golden Oriole, Little Owl, Alpine Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Calandra Lark, Woodlark, Short-toed Lark, Tawny Pipit, Black-eared Wheatear, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Woodchat Shrike, Crested Tit, Melodious Warbler, Rock Sparrow, Hawfinch and Penduline Tit, and we take you to breeding places for both White and Black Stork. We expect very good views of almost all these birds. An exceptional sighting on a recent holiday was of two melanistic Montagu's Harriers, which flew alongside the bus for several minutes.
Around rocky pinnacles, Red-legged Chough, Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla Lark, Crag Martin and Alpine Swift are found, and Eagle Owl can often be seen at their day-time roost. From our elevated vantage point we can look down south onto the trees of the corkwood dehesa, and north over the arid plains of La Serena. The dehesa holds Hoopoe, Great Spotted Cuckoo and Azure-winged Magpie, and if we have been lucky with spring rains, will be a carpet of dazzling colour as flowers bloom in the brief, warm spring. In the Monfrague National Park, Azure-winged Magpie, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Purple Heron, Little Bittern, Spanish Sparrow and Savi´s, Sardinian, Bonelli’s, Subalpine, Dartford, Spectacled,Orphean, Melodious, and perhaps shy Olivaceous Warbler are in our sights too. A brilliant experience brim full of birds!
This holiday is leisurely in pace, and most of the key birds are readily available close to our transport. This means we have often rounded everything important up by Friday, giving us a chance to concentrate on getting exceptional views of the key species once more.
Other wildlife include the large and impressive Ocellated Lizard. Butterflies may include Queen of Spain Fritillary, Green-striped White and Scarce (Spanish) Swallowtail amongst others, and we also expect close views of Spanish fighting bulls!
Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins. Full details from our office!
Day 1: Saturday 14 April
After a relaxing introduction to our holiday in our complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we fly from London Gatwick to Madrid. We then travel to the western part of the granite Sierra de Gredos mountains which has peculiar rock formations and lovely pine forest. Here we have good chances of Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture, Crested Tit and Rock Sparrow among other interesting birds. Driving from La Mancha through Extremadura, we should have several encounters with local specialities including Bee-eater and Lesser Kestrel before arrival at our base in the Monfrague area.
Days 2 and 3: Sunday 15 & Monday 16 April
We explore La Serena, one of the most important areas in the world for grassland birds. It is here that we expect to see the impressive Great Bustard perform its incredible breeding display. The males almost turn themselves inside out and look like huge white balls of feathers. Here too are many other exciting species, including numerous Little Bustard, Stone-curlew, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Collared Pratincole, Short-toed Lark and Calandra Lark. We should also see Montagu's Harrier in good numbers, and watch its attractive display flight. The “sierras” around La Serena are excellent for rock loving birds, and we will walk to an old Moorish castle, now in ruins, where the views of the plains are stunning. The fabulous birds should include Golden Eagle, Bonelli´s Eagle, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Southern Grey Shrike, Little Owl, Alpine Swift, and Red-rumped Swallow. Roller breed here in good numbers and are easy to find as they love to perch openly on wires by the roads. Other birds should include Serin, Woodlark, Hoopoe and Corn Bunting. Overnight in Monfrague area.
Day 4: Tuesday 17 April
We visit Trujillo with its large breeding colony of White Stork, Lesser Kestrel and Pallid Swift, and then onwards to the oak woodlands - the 'dehesa' -, with good possibilities of Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Stone Curlew, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Calandra Lark, Tawny Pipit, Black-eared Wheatear, Red-rumped Swallow, Bee-eater, Roller, Hoopoe and Great Spotted Cuckoo. Birds are everywhere but in the middle of the plains we will find a spectacular spot where Cattle Egret, Little Egret, White Stork and Jackdaw breed together in “perfect harmony”. A short visit to a huge reservoir can produce interesting wildfowl, Penduline Tit and Common Waxbill. Overnight in Monfrague.
Days 5 and 6: Wednesday 18 April and Thursday 19 April
Monfrague Natural park is an area of truly dramatic scenery, and regarded by raptor watchers as one of the most outstanding sites to see birds of prey in Europe. We will explore the north side of the park where specialities such as Black Vulture breed, together with Griffon and Egyptian Vulture, and eagles are well represented with Golden, Booted, Bonelli's, Short-toed and endangered Spanish Imperial – all five Spanish breeding eagles! Around the rocky pinnacle of Penafalcon, which holds Chough, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin and Alpine Swift, we will look for breeding Black Stork in one of the easiest sites in Europe to watch these shy birds at the nest. Eagle Owl can often be found at their day-time roost, and on one evening we will visit a superb area for Black-shouldered Kite, and Azure-winged Magpie. Another evening after dinner we will explore a good area for Red-necked Nightjar. The magical ambience in the “dehesa” before dusk will suggest how close to Africa we are, as Scops Owl and Red-necked Nightjar delight us with their song. Overnight in Monfrague area.
Day 7: Friday 20 April
On the south side of Monfrague Natural Park we find a reservoir well worth a visit, as we will find an interesting variety of birds such as Great Spotted Cuckoo, Purple Heron, and Little
Bittern, and several raptors including Black Vulture, Spanish Sparrow and Savi´s Warbler. Driving through this Mediterranean habitat we will find an interesting variety of warblers; Sardinian, Subalpine, Dartford, Spectacled, Orphean and Melodious, and perhaps shy Olivaceous Warbler. You should also see Woodchat Shrike, Hawfinch, Azure-winged Magpie and Bee-eater. Overnight in Monfrague area.
Day 8: Saturday 21 April
We return to Madrid, birding en route, for our flight home.
More Holiday Information:
Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel with all rooms en suite,
Food Breakfast is typical of Spain, consisting of a roll with jam/cheese/ham. Fruit juice and tea or coffee are also available. Evening meals are generally local dishes, which are good but often quite simple. Vegetarian and other diets are welcome.
Walking is generally light/moderate. There may be some uphill track and road walking, though generally an average level of fitness is required.
Weather Typically, temperatures will range from 10c in the early morning to perhaps 25c in the heat of the day. Sunshine should be plentiful, but cloud and rain are possible. Cold weather, with temperatures as low as 5c, are rare but possible.
Insects biting insects may be encountered, though not usually as a major problem. A good repellent is advised but probably not needed.
Group size is restricted to 12 clients maximum.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from London Gatwick. We may be able to offer flight arrangements from another airport and/or or quote without flights so you can make your own arrangements. If you wish to add an extension either before or after your holiday, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange this for you.
What's included in your holiday price:
* return scheduled flight from London Gatwick – Madrid, airport taxes, baggage and hand luggage up to airline included limit.
* airport transfers, ground transportation, accommodation and meals as specified.
* the services of Heatherlea leader/s.
* The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included free of charge subject to terms and conditions. Read more...
What's not included in your holiday price:
* travel to and from departure airport before and after holiday, in-flight meal, baggage above airline included limit
* incidental tips, expenses of a personal nature including drinks and personal insurance.
WHY CHOOSE HEATHERLEA?
Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.
Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those who want to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breaks on every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities, and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun.
The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer. Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;
* We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for over 27 years, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
* Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
* Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
* All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
* Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
* Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).