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WEATHER:  dull and overcast all day, very light breeze. Temp 11 – 20C

We had an amazing start to this mini-tour of Extremadura, after meeting up at 7am in the Plaza at Barajas we ate breakfast in a local café. A Scops Owl was calling from the pine trees in the centre of the plaza, after breakfast, as it was getting light we also saw Spotless Starling, Monk Parakeet and House Sparrow.

Our destination of the tour was a country park on the estern side of Madrid, called El Pardo, we took a walk along the river in the park and listed over 20 species. The best sighting was made by Tony Moore of a male Little Bittern, hidden away in a bush amid a clump of reeds.

Crested Tit - taken by Tony Moore in El Pardo Park

The Iberian Green Woodpecker eluded us but we did hear it called in the distance a couple of times, however, we watched great Spotted Woodpecker drumming, we saw Nuthatch and Short-toed Treecreeper, Crested Tit, Serin, lots of Tree Sparrows, Blackcap, Common Nightingale, Reed Warbler and many more.

Nightingale - giving it large!  El pardo taken by Tony Moore

A few raptors came over us or circled in the distance, we saw both Black and Red Kites, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzards and Sparrowhawk. On the river which was in full flow we saw Gadwall, Mallard, Egyptian Goose (flyover) and Moorhen.

Our journey to Extremadura took over two hours, we stopped for lunch halfway along the motorway and we added several species to the list during the journey. One exciting sighting was that of a Great Spotted Cuckoo which flew along the bus! White Storks and Black Kites were common sightings we also saw Crested Larks, Corn Buntings and Spanish Sparrow.

Spain had been deluged by lots of rain, the countryside was as green as an English County, wild flowers carpeted the landscape in a colourful profusion, I knew we were going to have a great floral experience on this trip. Our first stop in Extremadura was near the small town of Almaraz, an Orchid Park sat on a limestone escarpment just west of the town.

Conical Orchid

We had a magical time there, finding a dozen or so Orchid species whilst listening to European Bee-eaters flying above us. Naked Man Orchid grew in great numbers alongside Champagne Orchid, Conical Orchid, Woodcock, Yellow & Sawfly Bee-Orchids, Mirror Orchid, Sombre Orchid and one or two others.

Naked Man Orchid - taken by Tony Moore at Almaraz

Woodcock Orchid - Tony Moore

Mirror Orchids - Tony Moore

From Orchids to birds, I had to wrench my group away from wild flowers and orchids to go and watch some birds. The nearby Embalse (reservoir) at Arrocampo was our next destination. Our first stop produced more Orchids!! Carpets of Tongue Orchids covered the ground in several places.

Tongue Orchid - Tony Moore

The birds were quite good too! We saw lots of egrets and herons, Purple Swamphens, Gull-billed Terns, Savi’s, Reed, Cetti’s and Sardinian Warblers. Zitting Cisticolas were everywhere, Iberian and Woodchat Shrike, and our first Vultures of the trip!!

Western Swamphen - Tony Moore

Purple Heron

Griffon and Black Vultures circled in the distance with lots more kites and storks.

Lastly we visited the heathland near the town of Jaraicejo where we added Dartford Warbler, we couldn’t find the Spectacled Warbler, but to be fair we only stayed a few minutes as time was running out, we shall go back there later in the tour.


Dinner was served at 8:30pm, ouch!! Very late for Brits!! We called the log over a cold beer beforehand, the food was lovely and a glass of red wine went down well too!!