|Birding trip report Spain 8-16 March 2015 (And˙jar and Extremadura)|
|John van der Woude - www.jvanderw.nl|
|This was a short private spring birding trip with only And˙jar as a new area for us. This area is famous for Iberian Lynx. We had not really expected to see it, but we saw it (and well!) on the first day. Even without the lynx the And˙jar area is a lovely birding area, and actually we saw several species there that we did not see further on the trip. Also, Spanish Imperial Eagle was more common in the And˙jar area than anywere else on this and previous trips.|
|We found the lynx because two partridges gave such heavy alarm calls around a small roadside bush that we thought only a big cat could be the cause. Indeed a little later the lynx went uphill from there. And believe me, it is big!|
|We flew in at Madrid and rented a car at Sixt (we like Sixt for their service and for the clarity of their web site - no hidden costs). We drove to the And˙jar area and stayed there for three nights, at the highly recommended Villa Matilde (www.villamatilde.org). After this, we birded the Serena for two days, and again we think this is the very best steppe area in Spain. After that we paid short visits to a number of sites further west (see map below), including MonfragŘe NP.|
|We had brilliant weather all the time. We understood that March
often has spells with good weather. We were
surprised also to see how many summer birds already had arrived or
The logistics in Spain are easy. An often affordable rental car rate, many hotels to choose from (often found via booking.com), quick set meals around 2 p.m., relatively late sunrise and sunset, good roads, car navigation, OSM maps, birding info, etc.
|This report consists mainly of maps and a species list. Some photos of the scenery are added when useful. At the bottom a list of eBird logs is given. See also our earlier Spain trip reports at www.jvanderw.nl.|
Overview of the trip
1. Organos cliffs
2. Hills and valleys of And˙jar area (Lynx and many birds)
3. City of Cˇrdoba (Mezquita Catedral)
4. Serena steppe plateau
5. Dam + cliff of Alange
6. Badajoz (nice old centre)
7. Wooded San Pedro hills
8. Cßceres steppe hills + Monroy gorge
9. MonfragŘe NP
Madrid - how to get from airport to E5/A4, the road to And˙jar and Cordoba:
1. Rental car park - turn onto M14 south.
2. Continue straight across onto M40 here.
3. Leave M40 and take E5/A4 south here. (After a while there is a more or less parallel toll road R4 for about 40 km, but we did not take it as we didn't understand why it was there and we saw hardly any traffic on it.)
1. Leave E5/A4 here.
2. Keep the road above the river.
3. Several parking possibilities for cliff viewing (Black Vulture).
4. Join E5/A4 again not far from here.
1. Take the A-6177 here (shortcuts from E5 further east not advised).
2. Important split for the JH-5002 but easily overlooked: shortly after the Los Pinos restaurant. At 38.128720, -3.967063.
3. Villa Matilde B&B: highly recommended, also for local and up-to-date info about the lynx, www.villamatilde.org. A great location and very quiet, with good breakfast and evening meals.
4. Split at white buildings where the JH-5002 continues northwest as a dirt road. This dirt road can be driven with a normal car but drive slowly, also for chances of seeing a lynx.
L. The area where we saw the Iberian Lynx. Take plenty of time for the area between 4 and 5. Bring food & drinks.
5. end of JH-5002 at the dam.
6. Continuation of A-6177, with possibilities of Lynx.
7. Quiet (except weekends) dirt road along river to dam; with possibilities of Lynx.
8. Virgen de la Cabeza, small town on hill top with cafÚ.
9. For several km north of Cabeza still good habitat.
Villa Matilde, our base for the And˙jar area (www.villamatilde.org).
And˙jar scenery. Rolling hills with dehesa. The And˙jar area is the best area in Spain for trying to see Iberian Lynx, and I think also the best area in Spain to see Spanish Imperial Eagle.
At 7 on And˙jar map above.
Cordoba - how to squeeze in a visit to the must-see Mezquita:
1. Leave E5 here (compare this map to a larger road map).
2. Park here somewhere (is free).
3. Walk across the old bridge (pedestrians only; good cafÚ just before the bridge right; some birds below and left of bridge).
4. Entrance of the Mezquita (8 euros; or free between 8.30 and 9.20 a.m. only, but it is worth your 8 euros).
The Mezquita in Cordoba.
The Serena steppe-like undulating plains.
1. Cabeza del Buey, the main town with a few hotels and restaurants.
2. Isolated hotel-restaurant at the Ermita Nuestra Se˝ora de Belen. We stayed here one night (and the next in Orellana).
3. Start of the straight unnamed asfalted road through good habitat for over 10 km.
4. Take the dirt road east here at 38.827353, -5.351536: our best birding road.
5. Start of another long dirt road (to 6); opposite the narrow asfalted road leading west.
6. Somewhere here we turned towards 7; good habitat for most of this 5-6-7 dirt road, esp. around 38.81416,-5.42951
7. End/start of dirt road, presumably (!) at 38.813511, -5.494358
Please use a tracking app on your smartphone for the road 5-6-7, in case you have to go back all the way.
8. Park here at 38.69464,-5.48661 and scan the cliffs east of town for Black Wheatear (scope needed).
The vast, steppe-like Serena plateau with a distant group of Great Bustard.
One of the group of the photo above.
1. From the east you will probably have driven the rather uninspiring EX-105. Bypass Alange to drive west.
P. Large parking lot for viewing to 2 and 3.
2. Cliffs with raptors and vultures.
3. Huge dam with Alpine Swift etc.
The dam (3) at Alange and the mountain cliffs (2) behind it.
Sierra de San Pedro
1. Quiet road from Alburquerque. Varied half open habitat good for several stops.
2. Train 'station' of Herreruela: a great viewpoint for raptors, vultures and storks above the plains north. Be careful with the bumpy railway crossing (keep your engine running), it is unguarded but there are still trains.
3. Aliseda town. Restaurants (including a nice and busy one at petrol station).
4. Small chapel at end of short (200 m) dirt road. Great raptor views across the hills south from chapel platform.
5. Nice and quiet road through mediterranean-like habitat with several small cliffs.
View from the Herreruela train station.
1. Main road from the Sierra de San Pedro. Best to follow the ring road north around Cßceres from here (direction Trujillo).
2. Exit for Sta. Marta de Magasca.
3. Start of long and quiet road through the steppe-like habitat to 4 and 5. First kilometers asfalted.
4. Take enough time for the central part, good birding.
5. End of long road from 4.
Monroy dehesa and gorge.
1. Our hotel La Bodega del Herrador. The owner led us to point 3.
2. Gate for entering the communal dehesa (open forest). Apparently, you are allowed to drive through.
3. Park the car here for viewing the gorge.
4. Good viewpoints for the gorge, with Black Stork etc.
5. Quiet and now asfalted alternative road towards MonfragŘe NP (at the very end turn north). Nice habitat all the way.
Gorge near Monroy (at 3-4 above).
MonfragŘe national park
1. Torrejon, the only town nearby. Nice cafÚ/restaurant at south end of town (along main road).
2. Interesting habitat in small canyon.
3. The famous Pe˝a Falcon rock cliff. Ample parking facilities. Vultures, Black Stork.
4. Turn onto smaller road through NP here, at 39.855514, -6.026838.
5. Cliff with Egyptian Vulture etc. just before dam.
6. The second-famous cliff, with many vultures, Spanish Imperial Eagle.
7. Nice varied dehesa and wetter habitats when driving out of the NP.
The well-known Pe˝a Falcon at 3 on map above.
A few hints for Toledo, the famous old city as a last stop before Madrid.
1. Grand hotel Cigarral el Bosque for a surprisingly moderate rate, with great view from room onto the city. Easy (and free) parking, which can be a problem at hotels in the city.
2. Old pedestrian bridge for entering the old city.
3. View of the cathedral.
4. The Alcazar.
5. Lively old part with very narrow streets.
(3, 4 and 5 are just examples of what can be seen here.)
View of Toledo from the hotel.
trav = while travelling
And = And˙jar area
Ser = Serena
SP = Sierra de San Pedro
Cac = Caceres plains
Mon = MonfragŘe
(no location for some common species)
Little Grebe SP Dodaars Cormorant And Ser Aalscholver Night Heron trav Kwak - Badajoz city Cattle Egret trav Koereiger Great White Egret trav Grote Zilverreiger Grey Heron And Cac Blauwe Reiger Black Stork SP Mon Zwarte Ooievaar - e.g. in canyon Monroy White Stork Ser Cac Ooievaar Mute Swan trav Knobbelzwaan Mallard And Ser Wilde Eend Shoveler Cac Slobeend Black-winged Kite Ser Cac Grijze Wouw - naturally, a few only Black Kite trav Ser Cac Mon Zwarte Wouw Red Kite trav Ser Rode Wouw Egyptian Vulture SP Mon Aasgier Griffon Vulture And Ser SP Cac Mon Vale gier Black (Monk) Vulture And SP Mon Monniksgier - surprisingly common these days! Short-toed Eagle SP Mon Slangenarend Marsh Harrier trav Ser Bruine Kiekendief Hen Harrier Ser Cac Blauwe Kiekendief Montagu's Harrier Ser Grauwe Kiekendief Sparrowhawk And Sperwer Buzzard And Ser SP Buizerd Spanish Imperial Eagle And Mon Spaanse Keizerarend - several in An˙jar area Golden Eagle Ser SP Steenarend - on ground in Serena Booted Eagle Ser? Dwergarend Bonelli's Eagle trav Havikarend - pair at easy stake-out, mail me Lesser Kestrel Ser Cac Kleine Torenvalk - several small groups Kestrel trav And Ser Torenvalk Merlin Cac Smelleken Peregrine trav Slechtvalk Red-legged Partridge trav And Ser SP Cac Mon Rode Patrijs - very common in And˙jar area Moorhen trav Waterhoen Coot And Meerkoet Crane Ser Kraanvogel Little Bustard Ser Cac Kleine Trap Great Bustard Ser Cac Grote Trap Black-winged Stilt Cac Steltkluut Golden Plover Ser Goudplevier Greenshank Ser Groenpootruiter Common Sandpiper trav Oeverloper Black-bellied Sandgrouse Ser Zwartbuikzandhoen Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Ser Cac Witbuikzandhoen Rock Dove trav Ser Rotsduif Wood Pigeon Houtduif Collared Dove Turkse tortel Great Spotted Cuckoo And Kuifkoekoek Cuckoo And Mon Koekoek Scops Owl And Dwergooruil Little Owl And Ser Cac Steenuil Tawny Owl And Bosuil Short-eared Owl Cac Velduil Swift trav Gierzwaluw - 7 at hotel in Orellana on 12 March Alpine Swift trav Alpengierzwaluw - at dam Alange Hoopoe trav And Ser SP Mon Hop Green Woodpecker And Groene Specht Great Spotted Woodpecker trav And Grote Bonte Specht Lesser Spotted Woodpecker trav Kleine Bonte Specht Calandra Lark Ser SP Cac Kalanderleeuwerik - very common on the steppes Crested Lark And Ser SP Cac Mon Kuifleeuwerik Thekla Lark SP Thekla Leeuwerik - one certain case only Wood Lark And SP Boomleeuwerik Crag Martin And Ser SP Mon Rotszwaluw Barn Swallow trav And Ser SP Boerenzwaluw Red-rumped Swallow And Roodstuitzwaluw House Martin trav And SP Huiszwaluw Meadow Pipit trav And Ser Cac Graspieper Grey Wagtail And Grote Gele Kwikstaart White Wagtail trav And Witte Kwikstaart Wren Winterkoning Robin Roodborst Black Redstart And Zwarte Roodstaart Stonechat And Ser SP Cac Mon Roodborsttapuit Wheatear Ser Tapuit Black Wheatear Ser Zwarte Tapuit Blue Rock Thrush trav And Ser Mon Blauwe Rotslijster Blackbird Merel Song Thrush And SP Zanglijster Mistle Thrush And SP Grote Lijster Cetti's Warbler trav And Cetti's Zanger Fan-tailed Warbler Graszanger Dartford Warbler And Provencaalse Grasmus Subalpine Warbler Mon Baardgrasmus Sardinian Warbler trav And SP Mon Kleine Zwartkop Blackcap trav And SP Mon Zwartkop Chiffchaff trav And Tjiftjaf Long-tailed Tit trav And Staartmees Crested Tit And Kuifmees Blue Tit Pimpelmees Great Tit Koolmees - (far less common than Blue Tit) Nuthatch And SP Boomklever Short-toed Treecreeper And Boomkruiper Iberian Grey Shrike And Ser Iberische Klapekster Woodchat Shrike SP Roodkopklauwier Jay And Gaai Azure-winged Magpie And Ser Blauwe Ekster Magpie trav And Ser Ekster Red-billed Chough And Ser Alpenkraai Jackdaw trav And Kauw Raven And Ser SP Raaf Spotless Starling trav And Ser SP Cac Zwarte Spreeuw House Sparrow trav And Ser SP Huismus Spanish Sparrow Ser Spaanse Mus - a large group a little south of Orellana Rock Sparrow And Mon Rotsmus - best above canyon Monroy Chaffinch Vink Serin trav And SP Europese Kanarie Greenfinch trav And Mon Groenling Goldfinch And Ser SP Mon Putter Linnet Ser SP Mon Kneu Cirl Bunting And Cirlgors Rock Bunting And Grijze Gors Corn Bunting trav And Ser SP Cac Mon Grauwe Gors
(click on Map in each log to see
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S22470098 Span. Imp. Eagle (can be anywhere here), Ib. Green Woodpecker
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S22470164 Black Wheatear
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S22470242 point 6 on Serena map, several good steppe species
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S22470278 the (early) Woodchat Shrike in the San Pedro
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S22470311 Herreruela train station viewpoint
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S22470325 Monroy canyon
The weather forecast (Celsius) for And˙jar from Sunday 8 March. Brilliant and no wind. How lucky can you be.