Thursday, 17 April 2014

Easter in Extremadura (Trujillo & Caceres, 16-17 April)

Extremadura seemed a good destination for Megan and I to visit to celebrate our 25 wedding anniversary, albeit two weeks early.  We flew with easyJet from Gatwick to Madrid on Wednesday 16 April arriving at 11:00.  We collected our hire car, a small Hyundai i-10, and drove to Trujillo.  The 275 km journey was on dual carriageway virtually all the way and took slightly over 3 hours due to encountering the only heavy traffic of the holiday leaving Madrid.  In Trujillo we were taken to our very central apartment (Apartementos Arquillo, just off Plaza Mayor with its White Storks and Lesser Kestrels), settled in and went out to do some shopping.  We walked around the old town and outside the walls seeing Crag Martin, 2 Red-rumped Swallows and 50 Spotless Starlings, the latter much more tuneful than ours.  That evening we caught a Semana Santa parade taking a 'float' with a religious figure from one church to another.  It was more atmospheric than I was expecting - I was particularly taken by the accompanying spaghetti western style music - and stayed light to 21:30.
White Storks breeding by Trujillo's Plaza Mayor
Jackdaw coming in to land
It wasn't light until 07:15 and we had a slow start, heading out onto the plains after breakfast taking the scenic route to Caceres.  The road to Santa Marta de Magasca was excellent although not all the stops were unanimously appreciated!  In Caceres we visited the old town and coincided with a daytime Semana Santa parade.  We returned to Trujillo, had an early evening walk around and outside the city walls and caught the 21:00 parade.  Birds seen included 20 Griffon Vultures, 2 Montagu's Harriers, 35 Lesser Kestrels, 2 Great Bustards, 80 Pallid Swifts, 3 Bee-eaters, 4 Rollers, 6 Hoopoes, Calandra Lark, 4 Southern Grey and 3 Woodchat Shrikes, 5 Azure-winged Magpies, 3 Serins and 50 Corn Buntings.

Golden Eagle on the Trujillo/Magasca plains.   I had come to Spain hoping to see Spanish Imperial Eagle (having seen Eastern in India in 1980) and seeing this at our first stop on the plains thought I might be in luck.  It was not to be lacking white on the shoulders and having coarsely barred tail but a good start all the same.
old buildings in Caceres

Plaza Mayor from Caceres old city wall
with superb views out over the surrounding plains
the old city walls

The Plaza Mayor (main square) in Caceres wasn't to remain empty for long
it soon filled up as the parade approached
I estimated that at least 80 men were carrying this 'float'
and one with a pointy hat directing proceedings

the girls had a smaller 'float'

black widows and more pointy hats and also a band were part of the parade
then it was the ladies turn

any of these ladies could have been in an advert for L'Oreal hair colouring

view east over Trujillo's Plaza Mayor, most of the taller buildings were home to White Storks 
this was one of the more viewable nests
two small chicks seemed to be the norm
religious figures from the evening's procession

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