Extremadura 5-day Bio-blitz (4)

An area of water found two Black-winged Stilts, Common Sandpiper and 7 Little Grebes and a farmer retrieving a dead sheep from the water and a short distance, further along the road in excess of 40 Griffon Vultures (either coincidently or knowingly!) were assembled on the ground.  

Now in more open countryside, Short-toed Eagle, Red Kite, Raven and the first Black Vulture were seen, followed by Calandra Lark and a light-phase Booted Eagle, before reaching a bridge over the River Almonte.  With the area adjacent to the river very accessible in places, exploration was a necessity!

 

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After parking up, a walk down to the river resulted in hearing a Great Reed Warbler singing, but seeing it was another matter!  However, in contrast, a Melodious Warbler was singing from the top of a bush.  A singing Moustached Warbler proved a little bit more difficult to see, identify and photograph, but all were achieved eventually.

Red-rumped Swallows, hawked for insects overhead and House and Crag Martins were nesting underneath the bridge, with one of the latter perching, obligingly, just above me on the side of the bridge.  Barn Swallow, Grey Heron, Corn Bunting, Stonechat, Spanish Sparrow and White Wagtail were also seen here, at what was a very productive site.  

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Just before Parque Nacional de Monfragüe, a sharp bend in the road crossed a bridge over the Rio de la Vid.  Again, this was a place, which we had visited before and was certainly worth a stop once again.

A White Stork circled overhead, perhaps with designs on visiting the stream itself and then, a rather ‘worn looking’ Golden Eagle circled overhead briefly, before disappearing over the mountains again.  Terrapins were also present here as was a Spanish foxglove Digitalis thapsi growing on the side of the rocks.

Further on, a Woodchat Shrike was perched obligingly beside the road on a road sign and Corn Buntings were seen and a Nightingale was heard singing, en-route to the car parking area at Salto del Gitano.  

Just after parking-up, a male Blue Rock Thrush was a welcome sight, searching for insect prey, even venturing amongst the wooden walkway and fencing, before perching on a tree stump all too briefly.

Probably due to the time of day (approximately 16.30), there was no real need to ascend Monfragüe Castillo to get close views of Griffon Vultures.  The parking area at Salto del Gitano providing views across the Tagus River and Peña Falcon was a good place to be, with the griffons right above our heads and occasionally below us, when they left the mountain

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side flying low over the river before gaining height.  The opportunity to indulge in photographing these dramatic birds at close quarters was not to be missed and for some time griffons were very much on the ‘photographic menu’, as indeed we were a potential for a very different menu!

Black Kites also sailed overhead, as did our first (and only) Egyptian Vulture of the trip, an excellent site as it was in previous visits.

Further along the road through the park, a couple of people were ‘intensely photographing’ something and after stopping and scanning where they were looking, found two Red Deer amongst the vegetation, at the base of the rocks browsing on vegetation. Two more red deer were subsequently seen further up the road, where several hundred House Martins were nesting on the side of the Tozo Bridge.  Crag Martins were also seen here, as was a rather impressive ‘trail’ of Ants Messor barbarus.

On the way back through the park, stops were made to record, at least some of the many plants growing here along the roadside.  Very prominent here were Lacquer-Rockrose/Gum Rockrose Cistus ladanifer, a shrub with white flowers marked with black flecks and a yellow centre.  Another shrub found here was the yellow-flowered Genista hirsuta, the statuesque,...  

Tagus

Tagus River

Short-toed Eagle                                                               Raven                                                                               Calandra Lark

River Almomte                                   Moustached Warbler                                                                              Melodious  Warbler                                      Crag Martin

White Stork                                                                       Golden Eagle                                     Spanish Foxglove                                Woodchat Shrike

Male Blue Rock Thrush