Spain - Extremadura and the Gredos Montains: May 2005 iBirdz
I visited central Spain with my parents, Brian and Pat, at the beginning of May 2005. We flew from Luton airport to Barajas airport in Madrid on 30 April, returning to Luton on 17 May with Easyjet. The cost of the return flight was just £57 and car hire was around £350 for an economy class vehicle (Nissan Almera). As the flights were scheduled, it was possible to pick the times, so we flew out in the morning and chose a return flight leaving Madrid at tea time although this was delayed for a couple of hours, so we didn't get back to Nottingham until around 3 in the morning. All in all we lost a couple of nights sleep so these times may not suit everyone.
We drove to our first port of call, a small town called Logrosan near to Trujillo in Extremadura. We stayed in a recently modernised Casa Rural called El Olivo, occupying a single and double room with en suite facilities. A separate dining room and kitchen were available for all guests. The Casa had a pigeon coop, chicken run, small orchard and parking to the rear. There was also a pig sty complete with Wild Boar.|
After a week at El Olivo we drove to la Lagunilla, a "villa" close to Candeleda in the foothills of the Gredos Mountains. The price of the villa was ~ £400 which was a little expensive for thee people but would sleep six thus lowering the price per person.
The house was set just off the road with a decent size garden containing nesting Spotless Starling, Azure-winged Magpie and Nightingale amongst other birds. However, gas was supplied by bottle which if in need of changing was down to the visitor and drinking water was either collected from a fountain in the local town or bought in bottles. We opted for the latter.
Muddeman covered most of the areas we visited with the exception of some of the Gredos mountains which was in Lynx Edicions. Most of the information on The Duraton Gorge was gleaned from trip reports on the net.
After a week in the Gredos area we drove north of Madrid to Sepulveda stopping en route at the Puerto de Navacerrada in the Sierra de Guadarrama, to check out the area for Citril Finch.|
In Sepulveda we stayed in the "Hostal Villa de Sepulveda" which was clean and fairly inexpensive but was noisy at the weekend and the food was pretty lousy (and expensive) apart from the sandwiches. On the whole the food during our stay was not that good.
We spent two nights in Sepulveda, looking for the elusive Dupont's Lark at the Ermita de San Frutos and walking in the Duraton Gorge, then travelled back to Barajas airport via another pass in the Sierra de Guadarrama called the Puerto de Navafria.
Our navigational aid was the Michelin 576 regional map of Extremadura, Castilla La Mancha and Madrid and for site information we took "A Birdwatching Guide to Extremadura" by John Muddeman, "Where to Watch Birds in Spain" Sociedad Espanola de Ornitologia by Lynx Edicions and "Where to Watch Birds in Southern and Western Spain" by Garcia and Paterson.
For further detailed information on each of the three areas visited please click on the links below:
Extremadura           Gredos Area           The Duraton Gorge
In general we found the scenery in the areas we visited to be fairly spectacular, especially in the mountains. The birding was excellent with fantastic views of Eagle Owl and Dupont's Lark being particularly special for me. The flowers were not brilliant and thus neither were the butterflies although we had good views of the species that were around. The soil type was similar in all the areas probably accounting for why there was not a massive variety of different flowering plants. Dragonflies and Damselflies were few and far between but it may not have been the best time of year for these species.|
The Spanish were not the friendliest bunch I have encountered but as only my dad spoke Spanish to a degree this may have been where the problem lay. As it was not in a tourist area hardly anyone spoke English. Therefore, if you intend to visit the area I would suggest that you brush up on the language.
All in all an enjoyable experience with plenty of birds. Click here for a full list of the birds seen during the trip.