Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter in Extremadura (Monfrague & Merida, 18-19 April)

Portilla del Tietar in Monfrague National Park is one of the most regular places to see Spanish Imperial Eagle.  The park is about an hour's drive from Trujillo making it an ideal town to be based in.  My slight concern was that seeing the eagle might require some hanging around, something which Megan is not keen on.  Once in the national park we first walked up to Castillo, an old fort on a ridge opposite the cliffs of Pena Falcon.  There were disappointingly few birds around, possibly as there were quite a few other visitors present.  We continued to Portilla del Tietar where a number of birders were scattered.  After five minutes of fruitless scanning a German birder picked up the eagle high over the cliffs.  It was on view for about ten minutes, briefly landing in what was presumably the nesting tree before flying off.  Half an hour later it repeated the performance.  It is a pity all birds of prey don't perform as well.  We slowly worked our way back to Trujillo, had our by now regular early evening walk around the old town walls and caught the evening's Semana Santa parade.  Birds seen included 3 Black Storks, Egyptian and at least 60 Griffon Vultures, Booted Eagle, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, 15 Crag Martins, 13 Red-rumped Swallows, 3 Blue Rock Thrushes, 3 Sardinian Warblers, Southern Grey and 7 Woodchat Shrikes and 9 Azure-winged Magpies.

Blue Rock Thrush at Castillo
me scoping Griffon Vultures from Castillo
until I realised they were closer  overhead
me at Castillo
Megan at Castillo.  Most of the background is in Monfrague National Park

Portilla del Tietar

Griffon Vulture at Portilla del Tietar
Sardinian Warbler at Portilla del Tietar
Spanish Imperial Eagle, note pale head and diagnostic white leading edge to the wing

stooping onto the nest, or a passing Crag Martin
about to land in the nesting tree
but it was off before I could scope it 

by now I'd unknowingly messed up the programme setting on my camera
Pena Falcon
Black Stork near Monfrague
Trujillo castle and old town walls from the west
Trujillo castle
preparing for the evening's Semana Santa parade

the evening's special performance was a lament (or three) from the guy in the black suit on the lower right balcony, while those in the block opposite played fitting as many onto their balconies as possible
Saturday 19 April.  We set out from Trujillo to visit Guadalupe in nearby mountains but hanging low cloud put us off and we headed for Merida instead.  On the way we called in at Cornalvo where we walked part-way around the reservoir.  On returning to Trujillo we did our usual walk around and outside the old town.  Birds seen included Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, 3 Bee-eaters, 4 Hoopoes, 2 Wood Lark, male Subalpine Warbler 2 Azure-winged Magpies and 400 roosting Spotless Starlings.
Cornalvo reservoir. Wood Larks were singing from here
Roman amphitheatre in Merida
next door was the Roman theatre

Roman Bridge.  We saw Little Bittern and Kingfisher here
Alcazaba from the Roman bridge
Roman chariot racetrack
it was enormous
Roman aquaduct in the background

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